Have you ever sat there, after a nice smooth shave, pondering the question “Why am I using this shaving cream/foam/gel? Do I really need to?” What does shaving cream do?
Well, existential questions regarding hygiene products aside, it’s a question worth answering. Shaving cream was invented by Frank Shields and the first shaving product, Barbasol, hit the market in 1919 and changed the course of shaving history forever.
Gone were the days of dry shaving or simply using soap and water to create a lather, and humanity then entered a new era of comfortable shaves without much irritation. How exactly did this happen, and why do we even use it? Let’s find out!
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WHAT IS SHAVING CREAM?
Shaving cream is a compound made to hold on to both water and oil-like substances, which are necessary for its lubricating qualities. This aids in holding on to and removing dirt, dead skin, and other nasty stuff on your face that you don’t want.
Shaving cream also has triethanolamine, which is a surface agent that does the job of soap, but more effectively in this case. Glycerin is another important ingredient that softens the skin and hairs, making for a much smoother shave.
SHAVING CREAM VS GEL VS FOAM
We’ve all had to make this destined choice at the pharmacy one day. After cutting yourself shaving as a teenager, you decide to do like adults and use that white stuff they lather their face within movies, then you’re shocked to find a gazillion products and you’re overwhelmed.
Simply, there are players in this game: Shaving cream, shaving foam, and shaving gel. Shaving cream is the oldest one that was invented by Frank Shields, it comes in tubes and it’s sort of like a paste that you have to mix with water to create a lather. You then use this lather on your face.
Shaving foam is the most common and widely used product, that comes in aerosol cans and instantly gives you a lather with a click. While it’s more convenient, it contains a large amount of water and alcohol, and the bubbly texture makes shaving harder.
With foam, you have to apply more pressure which can lead to razor burns. What about shaving gel? The gel has become a fan-favorite in recent years, as it’s transparent, so you can see more clearly where you’re shaving. It’s recommended for men with sensitive skin, as it’s lighter, but its thickness can sometimes clog your razor.
DO I NEED TO USE A BRUSH?
A brush isn’t mandatory by any means, and most men just use their palms to spread the lather around. However, the brush does have its benefits. It lifts the hairs on your face up, and exfoliates your skin, allowing for a cleaner shave.
IS SHAVING CREAM REALLY NECESSARY?
Listen, the human body is weird; the hairs on your face are tough, sharp, and wiry, while the skin on your face is soft, smooth, and sensitive.
This creates a sort of grooming paradox, where you can’t just shave the tough hairs as they are. Long ago (Like really long ago…), man used to pluck his hair with a shell.
Centuries later, the man used a dagger or knife to just dry shave with nothing (I can’t imagine it was very comfortable), then the man just used soap with some water (Which was terrible for sensitive skin). Now, technology has evolved with creams and foams, and gels.
Shaving without any product leads to redness, irritation, razor burns, ingrown hairs, and even scraping of the layer of skin.
Remember the soft face, hard hairs paradox? Well, shaving cream evens the playing field; it makes the hairs soft, as well, so you can shave without an issue. Besides, who wouldn’t want more comfort?
WHAT DO YOU USE SHAVING CREAM FOR?
Moisturizing The Hairs
Shaving cream hydrates those sharp hairs on your face, making them softer and easier to cut. The softer the hair, the smoother the shave.
When those hairs aren’t hydrated or moisturized, they become harder to glide through, which causes the razor to tug on them and leads to discomfort, irritation, and ingrown hairs.
Lubricating The Skin
Think of shaving cream-like motor oil (Just go along with it…), it creates a thin surface or layer of protection between your skin and hair, which makes the razor just glide seamlessly like a knife through butter. This prevents razor burns or skipping.
Tracing Where You Shaved
Yes, it’s tricky sometimes to know which parts you’ve shaved and which parts you didn’t (It’s easy getting distracted). But the cream forms a kind of coloring line that you know not to go over.
This is a kind of visual aid, that will ensure you don’t miss any hairs or spots, or go over one spot too many times. Of course, this is easier with cream, as the gel is transparent, and foam makes it harder to see while shaving in the first place.
Freshening Up Your Face
Most shaving creams include ingredients like aloe vera or lanolin that keep your skin and face refreshed and smooth after a shave.
We all know that sizzling minty fresh feeling after a shave. Since shaving itself is irritating, the cream counteracts that and eases it.
Without it, you get redness, itchiness, and irritation. Pair it up with an aftershave, and you get fresher than Kevin McCallister in Home Alone.
WHY IS SHAVING CREAM BAD?
Now let’s hold our horses there for a second, shaving cream is bad? Well, not really, but some shaving creams and foams are bad as they contain certain bad chemicals that seep into your skin as the pores open.
Such creams or foams include triethanolamine, which irritates the skin and is a respiratory toxin. Another bad chemical to watch out for is phthalates, which can cause some hormone imbalances, obesity, and insulin resistance.
Now there’s a label called ‘fragrances’, which are a bunch of unlabeled chemicals and preservatives which can cause irritations or allergic reactions.
Listen, it sounds scary but it’s not that bad, just make sure you search for creams that don’t include these labels and opt for more natural ones. Millions of men use them without any issues.
SHOULD I USE SHAVING CREAM FOR PUBIC HAIR?
The answer is undoubted YES. Remember all this bad stuff that happens when you dry shave: the irritation, redness, ingrown hairs, inflammations?
Yeah, imagine all that happening down there where you really, really don’t want it to happen. Make sure you apply a generous amount (And you can let go of the brush this time, since you’re using it on your face and…. ew).
The cream will make the blade move smoothly over those sensitive areas, preventing any bumps, nicks, or cuts. Make sure to have wet the area first, so the cream can form a soft lather.
It’s preferable that you also trim your pubic hair first with a trimmer, and shave when the hair is as short as possible, as longer hairs make for a more difficult razor shave.
Overall, we’ve come a long way since using shells to pluck hairs or using soap. Technology has allowed for the advancement of hygiene and shaving products and we now have an almost limitless supply of products to choose from.
Even though it’s the oldest, shaving cream still reigns supreme in the grooming kingdom. It softens, moisturizes, hydrates, traces, and all-around allows for a smoother, closer, and fresher shave that will leave you satisfied till the next one in the morning.
It’s necessary if you’re going clean-shaven, or if you need to clean up your neck, cheeks, or even body hair all the way down to the pubes. Make sure you choose products with natural ingredients and have a slick shave!