3 Green Shaving Cream Alternatives Better than the Norm

This is step 1 in a three step series on Green Shaving. Part 2 covers choosing the razor and part 3 will cover the aftershave.

Shaving Cream

It’s important to choose the shaving cream well and know how to use it right.

Many people buy canned shaving creams. But those pressurized cans hold surprisingly little cream. They’re also hard to recycle. The final nail in the canned cream coffin is that after using them, you smell like whatever cheap scent comes with the can. Not great if you want to impress your date. You have better options, but first let’s consider how to properly apply shaving cream.

Apply the cream a couple of minutes before shaving. The main purpose of shaving cream is to lubricate between the skin and the razor. Cream also softens the skin and hair before the shave. Give the cream time to do its job by applying the shaving cream a few minutes before starting to shave.

Use a shaving brush, not your hands to lather the cream. Canned creams can make shaving brushes difficult to use, which is a shame because brushes feel, look and work better. Shaving brushes work the cream into the skin and make more lather, which means you get a beter shave. There are lots of different shaving brushes on the market, mostly with bristles made from badger hair. If you’re avoiding plastics, you can easily find brushes with wooden handles. Once you buy it, a good shaving brush should last a long time. Store it by hanging it upside down to dry.

Now here are some of your options when it comes choosing your shaving cream. We’ve arranged the three different options in order of price.

DIY Shaving Cream

The cheapest and easiest method is to just lather with hand soap before you shave. However, having tried this method for several months, I don’t recommend it for shaving the face. Hand soap doesn’t lather as well as shaving cream, so it doesn’t lubricate as well and you may have to reapply the soap in the middle of shaving. You have better DIY choices: Planet Green writer Elizabeth Seward offers this recipe for making your own shaving cream. You can also try Care2 writer Annie Bond’s recipe.

Ingredients for Elizabeth Seward’s recipe:

1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil
1/4 cup of unscented glycerin soap
Double boiler
A cup or mug for the cream

Preparation:

1. In your double boiler, melt chunks of the glycerin soap.

2. Stir in the sunflower oil.

3. Move the mixture into a mug as soon as all of the glycerin chunks are melted.

Shaving Soap

Shaving soap is probably the best alternative to canned shaving cream. It lathers well, especially if applied with a shaving brush, its packaging is minimal and easily biodegradable (usually paper or cardboard), it lasts a long time and it’s cheap. A single cake of soap costs between $2 and $5 and will last dozens of shaves. I’ve used Kent shaving soap (from the UK) and Simmons shaving soap (from California) and would recommend them both equally. There are also a wide array of other shaving soaps out there, so if you’re shopping locally, you can probably find one that’s made close to home.

Bottled Shaving Cream

Anyone who’s bought shaving cream before knows that it also comes in plastic bottles as well as those pressurized cans that we’re trying to avoid. Fewer people know that there are several companies making more environmentally friendly plastic bottles of shaving cream. However, these products have their drawbacks. First, they’re in plastic bottles, which means eventually creating waste since most plastic can, at best, only be recycled once. Also, they’re more expensive than shaving soaps or DIY shaving creams. Still, they’re superior to the canned shaving cream. The companies making them focus on corporate responsibility and the ingredients are more environmentally friendly than the canned ingredients.

Tom’s of Maine uses natural ingredients. Unlike the other products listed below, Tom’s shaving cream is packaged in an aluminum tube (not plastic) and cardboard box made from 40-65% post-consumer recycled materials. You can recycle the aluminum with other metals by following the directions on the Tom’s website. A tube costs $3.75 for 3.6 oz.

Herban Cowboy shaving soap uses organic ingredients. It comes in a plastic bottle. There are different types, which range in price from $7.99 to $10.00 for 6.7 oz.

There are a range of other bottled shaving creams out there from environmentally conscious companies. See Good Guide for sustainability rankings of some of the companies. If you’re still looking, see Green Home for a few more options.

Image credit: scottfeldstein via Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.


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About the Author

Gavin blogs from Zurich, Switzerland. His day job is Digital Media Communications Manager for ABB. Previously, he lived and worked in South Korea, blogging, editing and freelance writing for Green Options and PV Magazine. Gavin's favorite environmental work has included: co-founding the grassroots Nature Conservation Club at about age 8; interning for the Jane Goodall Insitute's Roots & Shoots (R&S) program; representing R&S at the World Social Forum VI in Caracas, Venezuela; volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito; being a research assistant for a CAL lab studying climate change in Colorado; bicycling lots.
  • Very interesting post. Original idea to easy make your own shaving cream, with simple products.

  • Very interesting post. Original idea to easy make your own shaving cream, with simple products.

  • There are two points to wet shaving:

    1. To remove the whiskers as close to the skin (preferably slightly below via mild dermabrasion) as possible
    2. To protect your face from nicks, cuts and razor burn

    Yeah, I know you greens are concerned about the packaging and the ingredients utilized in your favorite shaving products. However, one should be a bit selfish and take care of himself as best he can when dragging a razor blade across his skin. The author mentioned the all-important shaving brush made from badger’s fur. He forgot to mention that the American and European badgers are protected species and are no longer used to make shaving brushes. Today’s brushes are made from Chinese badgers, which are raised like cattle and remain in abundance. He also forgot to mention the importance of hot water to soften the beard. I remember he did a post months ago on the green benefits of taking cold showers, but ignore that bit of advice when preparing your face for a shave. While I agree that almost anything is better than a can-o-foam, most soaps leave a little to be desired in the area of water retention and slipperiness. A cream that can be used with a brush is usually a better choice. I started the wet shaving process in 2006, and the best shave cream that I have used to date is made by Cyril R. Salter. I do not know if it qualifies as a green product but it does the job quite well. Lastly, and I am sure that Gavin will get to this, is good quality razor. A straight razor for the brave or a double-edge razor for the rest of us will prove itself superior to any of the throwaway models or the models that use plastic disposable cartridges.

    The green benefits of wet shaving as seen by a non-green are as follows:

    1. Fewer pressurized steel containers to manufacture and to dispose of.
    2. The superior slipperiness of good quality soaps and creams reduce water consumption by reducing the need to re-wet one’s face.
    3. No disposable plastic razors or cartridges to send to the landfill. The thin piece of steel used for a DE blade will rust away in a few months.

    Good post! I hope that I did not branch into Parts 2 and 3 too much. Looking forward to them.

  • There are two points to wet shaving:

    1. To remove the whiskers as close to the skin (preferably slightly below via mild dermabrasion) as possible
    2. To protect your face from nicks, cuts and razor burn

    Yeah, I know you greens are concerned about the packaging and the ingredients utilized in your favorite shaving products. However, one should be a bit selfish and take care of himself as best he can when dragging a razor blade across his skin. The author mentioned the all-important shaving brush made from badger’s fur. He forgot to mention that the American and European badgers are protected species and are no longer used to make shaving brushes. Today’s brushes are made from Chinese badgers, which are raised like cattle and remain in abundance. He also forgot to mention the importance of hot water to soften the beard. I remember he did a post months ago on the green benefits of taking cold showers, but ignore that bit of advice when preparing your face for a shave. While I agree that almost anything is better than a can-o-foam, most soaps leave a little to be desired in the area of water retention and slipperiness. A cream that can be used with a brush is usually a better choice. I started the wet shaving process in 2006, and the best shave cream that I have used to date is made by Cyril R. Salter. I do not know if it qualifies as a green product but it does the job quite well. Lastly, and I am sure that Gavin will get to this, is good quality razor. A straight razor for the brave or a double-edge razor for the rest of us will prove itself superior to any of the throwaway models or the models that use plastic disposable cartridges.

    The green benefits of wet shaving as seen by a non-green are as follows:

    1. Fewer pressurized steel containers to manufacture and to dispose of.
    2. The superior slipperiness of good quality soaps and creams reduce water consumption by reducing the need to re-wet one’s face.
    3. No disposable plastic razors or cartridges to send to the landfill. The thin piece of steel used for a DE blade will rust away in a few months.

    Good post! I hope that I did not branch into Parts 2 and 3 too much. Looking forward to them.

  • I am going to try one of these tonight. Perfect timing!

  • I am going to try one of these tonight. Perfect timing!

  • Bobby,

    Thanks for these very useful and informed points. I cover straight razors, which I also use and prefer, in part 2, which is available at http://feelgoodstyle.com/2009/05/30/6-greener-alternatives-to-disposable-razors/

  • Bobby,

    Thanks for these very useful and informed points. I cover straight razors, which I also use and prefer, in part 2, which is available at http://feelgoodstyle.com/2009/05/30/6-greener-alternatives-to-disposable-razors/

  • What a great idea! It is good to know that there are now many people who want to go green. In shaving, I prefer to use shaving soaps and I use a badger shaving brush to lather it, to make it thick and foamy. Badger shaving brushes are soft and have supple bristles.

  • What a great idea! It is good to know that there are now many people who want to go green. In shaving, I prefer to use shaving soaps and I use a badger shaving brush to lather it, to make it thick and foamy. Badger shaving brushes are soft and have supple bristles.

  • Hello! Fantastic thought, but could this truly do the job?

  • Hello! Fantastic thought, but could this truly do the job?