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.
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
A cup or mug for the cream
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 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.