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Is Shaving Cream Toxic? And Its Alternatives

By Laura
May 8, 2024
6 minutes
Shaving Cream

Shaving creams are commonly used to provide protection between the sharp blade and your skin to allow smooth and safe shaving. Although it appear harmless, shaving creams also contain a long list of chemicals just like depilatory creams

These creams have been used for a long time to remove unwanted hair. But, recently, people have become more aware and want to use products that have gentle and safe ingredients.

Therefore, there is a controversy related to the ingredients of shaving creams and their safety. So, are you wondering “Is shaving cream toxic to use”? If yes, this article is for you.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: What Are The Main Ingredients of Shaving Creams?

What Are The Main Ingredients of Shaving Creams?Shaving creams are foam-like substances that come in a small bottle but go a long way. These creams contain several ingredients, including common emollients, surfactants, and chemicals.

While the ingredients are almost the same in all shaving creams, the concentration of the ingredients used plays an important role in determining its safety. So, here are the main ingredients of the shaving creams that are generally considered safe.

  • Water 
  • Myristic acid
  • Stearic acid 
  • Fatty acids
  • Glycerine 
  • Linalool
  • Benzyl Benzoate 
  • Benzyl Cinnamate 
  • Fruit Extracts for fragrance 
  • Coumarin in low-concentration
  • Allantoin 

In addition to these ingredients, shaving creams contain many ingredients that are considered toxic or harmful to the skin. These ingredients include along with their major side effect include,

  • Limonene: Skin Irritation
  • Eugenol: Liver damage if used in high concentration 
  • Geraniol: Immune suppression in high-concentration 
    • MIT: Contact allergy 
    • MCI: Allergic reactions and chemical burns at low concentrations plus carcinogen in high concentration 
    • Benzyl Alcohol: Contact dermatitis 
    • Sodium hydroxide: Corrosive burns and damage to eyes if come in contact with them 
    • TEA: Harmful for skin, immune system, and lungs
    • Potassium hydroxide: Irritation of eyes, skin, and lower respiratory tract 
  • Mineral Oils: Cause closed comedones

While the ingredients on the top list raise no concerns, some of the ingredients given in the list below are harmful in high concentrations, and minor quantities of some cause damage even in low concentrations. 

So, carefully read the list of your shaving cream to determine the concentration of any ingredient and guess its toxicity. 

Part 2: Potential Health Hazards of Shaving Creams

Now we know what shaving creams do and what ingredients they have. Let us move to the potential hazards of shaving creams. 

Acne Breakouts 

One of the most common side effects of shaving creams that people might not consider a health hazard is the closing of the comedones. Mineral oils present in shaving creams close pores, cause acne, and prevent the removal of toxins from the body through the skin.

Dryness of the Skin

Dryness of the SkinWhile several emollients are used in shaving creams, many ingredients cause skin dryness. These mostly include chemical surfactants, glycols, fragrances, and isopentane. Also, remember that dry skin is prone to premature aging. 

Skin Irritation 

Skin irritation and burning of the eyes often occur on using shaving creams. The ingredients that are considered culprits in this case include surfactants, perfume, BHT, preservatives, glycols, and mineral oils. 

This effect of surfactants has been demonstrated in a study [1]

Numbness of the Skin 

Shaving creams also have topical anesthetic agents in mild concentrations to make your skin numb. As a result, you will get nicks, cuts, and razor burns without you knowing. 

Neurological Symptoms 

The use of fragrance and perfume in shaving creams can cause symptoms like headaches and dizziness. How perfume causes headaches is explained in an article by Medical News Today [2]

Blood and Kidney Disorders 

Shaving creams used in large quantities or used too often can get absorbed into the blood. Also, they can become concentrated in the kidney. Glycols are the main ingredients involved in this. 

A case of glycol causing Acute Renal Failure has been studied already [3]

Nose and Throat Irritation 

Nose and Throat Irritation The Inhalation of ingredients like isopentane and BHT present in shaving creams can cause nose and throat irritation. A list of side effects of isopentane shows that it causes respiratory symptoms [4]


Many ingredients like palmitic acid, alcohol, and more are known to cause contact dermatitis. Detailed information about how shaving creams cause dermatitis has been shared by Harlan MD [5].  

Part 3: What to Use Instead of Shaving Creams

Reading the ingredient list every time you buy shaving cream or being dubious about it does not sound convenient, right? So, let us ditch the shaving creams and find other options. 

Alternative Products to Shaving Creams

If you want to shave without shaving creams, here are the products you can use to lubricate the skin.

  • Body Lotion or Oil: You can use a rich body lotion or a non-comedogenic body oil to create a layer of lubrication on the skin before shaving. 
  • Conditioner: Being thick, moisturizing, and sticky, hair conditioners serve as a great alternative to shaving cream.
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera gel is a foolproof substitute for shaving cream as it is organic, gentle, and hydrating. 
  • Body Wash or Soap: If you do not have any other product to use before shaving, simply make leather of some soap or a body wash and use it. 

Alternative Hair Removal Methods 

Ulike AirShaving is not a safe method of hair removal because of its side effects as mentioned in the risks and side effects of shaving. Therefore, we suggest you try some gentle, long-lasting, and skin-friendly methods of hair removal. 

These include, 

  • Laser hair removal
  • Electrolysis
  • Home remedies 
  • At-home IPL hair removal 

While the first two methods are too expensive and too time-consuming, the 3rd method does not provide immediate results. Under such circumstances, Ulike Air 3 IPL Hair Removal for Face, Pubic & Body Hair can save you from shaving.

We suggest this device because, 

  • It is economical in the long run
  • It is safe, almost painless, and gentle
  • It provides results within 2 to 4 weeks 

Part 4: FAQs Related to Shaving Creams

1. Is Shaving Cream Toxic for Toddlers?

While a shaving cream might not harm a toddler if he plays with it carefully, we all know that kids are uncontrollable. So, shaving cream can irritate his/her skin in case of sensitive skin.

Furthermore, it can irritate the eyes if the cream gets into the eyes. Lastly, ingestion of a shaving cream might prove toxic. Therefore, it is best to keep shaving creams away from the reach of toddlers. 

2. Is Shaving Cream Toxic to Animals?

Although ingesting shaving cream will not kill an animal. But it will definitely cause diarrhea, abdominal aches, vomiting, and in some cases damage to the kidneys of the animals. So, do not let your pet or other animals inhale or lick shaving cream. 

3. Can You Eat Shaving Cream?

No, you cannot eat shaving cream. Many ingredients in shaving creams are not safe for ingestion. Also, they might damage your organs. However, accidental intake of a small quantity of shaving cream is not toxic. 


Shaving creams might appear harmless because people have been using them for a long time. However, many ingredients in shaving creams are not safe to be used regularly or in a high concentration.

Each of such ingredients with its details is mentioned in this article. Therefore, it is best to avoid shaving creams and try other hair removal methods like IPL devices. 


  1. Mechanism of Skin Irritation by Surfactants and Anti-Irritants for Surfactant-Based Products. C.T. Jackson, Marc Paye, H.I. Mailbach. April 2014. DOI:10.1201/b16716-33. Research Gate.
  2. Why does perfume give me a headache? Medically reviewed by William C Lloyd III, MD, FACS — By Rachel Ann Tee-Melegrito on May 16, 2023. Medical News Today.
  3. A Case of Ethylene Glycol Intoxication with Acute Renal Injury. Chang Hun Song, Hong Jin Bae, Young Rok Ham. Electrolyte Blood Press. 2017 Dec; 15(2): 47–51. PubMed Central.
  4. ISOPENTANE: Health Hazards. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  5. Shaving Rash, Irritant Dermatitis, and Male Friction Rash. JUNE 15, 2023. Harlan MD.
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