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Cosmetic Formulation Basics – Shaving Cream

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Shaving Cream

Shaving cream is a product put on the skin (primarily face and legs) to provide lubrication which helps prevent razor burn and discomfort during shaving.  It comes in a wide variety of formats including creams, gels and most commonly foams.

What shaving creams do

Shaving creams are placed on the area of the skin in which shaving will take place.  The cream is spread in a thick layer where it coats the hair that will be removed.  One benefit of the foam is that it lets the consumer know where they still need to shave.  The consumer (or operator) then takes a razor and slowly runs it through the shaving cream.  This removes the cream and hair.  The razor is rinsed and subsequent passes of it on the skin removes the rest of the unwanted hair.

How shaving cream works

Shaving cream formulations have a number of different ways in which they help in the removal of unwanted hair.  One function is to soften the hair via moisturization to make cutting easier.  Wet hair is easier to cut.  Another function is to act as a lubricant between the razor and the skin.  This inhibits cuts and knicks but does not interfere with hair removal.

Shaving Cream ingredients

While shaving creams can take many forms from liquids, lotions, gels, and creams, they all contain ingredients that help soften the hair and lubricate the skin.  The primary ingredients include surfactants, solvents, humectants, conditioning agents, lubricants and aesthetic ingredients.

The most common surfactants used in shaving creams are soap based surfactants such as Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, or other coconut fatty acids.  These are neutralized with TEA, NaOH, or KOH.  Additional foam stabilizing surfactants may also be used such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  The surfactant system typcially makes up about 10% of the formulation.

To lubricate and moisturize the skin, humectants and other conditioning ingredients are included.  These can be mineral oil, lanolin, glycerin, guar gums, or a variety of polyquaternium compounds.  These ingredients make up around 5-10% of the formula.

The other ingredients include aesthetic materials like fragrance, preservatives, pH adjusting materials and sometimes colorants.  For aerosol systems a propellant is needed.  This can be something like Isobutane.  In California, there is a 5% limit on the amount of VOCs that can be used in a shaving cream foam.  Fortunately, the typical propellant level is between 3 and 4%.

Below is an example of a typical shaving cream formula (click to enlarge).*
*Formula from HallStar.

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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • rajan.k 09/26/2013, 9:21 am

    dear sir / madam
    pls email me about details of “learning cream hair colors ”
    i wanna learn cream hair color chemist course pls send me details
    i look forward to receiving your all courses details , and if you have books and dvds pls send me details
    thank you

  • sabah obaidi 08/28/2013, 3:39 am

    Can you please suggest a starting formula for hair removing cream
    with moisturiser

    • Perry Romanowski 08/28/2013, 3:12 pm

      Look through the sources on our “free starting formulation” page.

  • sri 07/09/2013, 11:58 pm


    I need your help. in my shaving cream formulation, we found there is little more gumming and little less viscous and less softness as compare to standard. How to avoid these problems .? Suggest me…

  • Samrand Hassanzadeh 05/08/2013, 6:42 am

    Regards .
    I am a chemical engineer with experience in manufacturing cleaning and detergents products.Now I am also launched a line of cosmetics.I want you learn to me how making cosmetics products along their formulations for manufacturing these materials in the our industry.
    I am waiting for your response.
    Great thanks.
    Samrand Hassanzadeh

    • Perry Romanowski 05/08/2013, 10:14 am

      Hello Samrand,

      Please see our free ereport on the subject. You can get it here Start a cosmetic line

  • mohdshafiqsiddiqui 02/04/2013, 11:32 pm

    thanks very usefull.

  • sufia 01/06/2013, 6:51 am

    Dear perry,
    Thanks a lot for the information, I want to make soap paste but I could not, can you help me.

    • Perry 01/06/2013, 9:03 pm

      Hello – see our article on where to find free cosmetic formulas. You might find one there.

  • vijoy pratap tewary 10/18/2012, 3:52 am

    i want to open my own saving cream manufacturing industry. please give me following information:
    1.formulation with industrial methods of preperation
    2. tests for saving cream
    3.machines for industry
    4.books for it

  • Paula 09/23/2012, 11:49 am

    Dear Perry,

    Thanks a lot for the information, it is really useful, can you help me now? by the way, do you have information about the manufacturing process of a shaving foam?

    Thanks again

    Best Regards

  • saleem 09/15/2012, 1:19 am

    if you want to become a practical formulator of top industries including cosmetic ,soap industry and many more formulation then visit at
    Here is a simple formulation of shaving cream with its simple procedure.
    Stearic acid = 30.00%
    Coconut oil = 10.00%
    Palm Oil = 5.00%
    Caustic pottash = 7.00%
    Soda caustic = 1.50%
    Glycerine = 10.00%
    water = 36.50%

    Part (A) and Part ( B) separately Heated in the vessels at 75 centigrade temp
    After this mix both parts till it become homogeneously.
    Add the perfume in the end at 35 centigrade.
    It is a simple formulation which raw material easily available in the market.

  • saleem 09/12/2012, 7:58 am

    It is the industrial formulation of shaving cream with the help of it you can make your business.
    Stearic acid=38.80 parts
    Coconut oil=9.70 parts
    potassium hydroxide=8.00 parts
    Sodium Hydroxide=1.60 parts
    Glycerol=11.60 parts
    Water=30.30 parts
    Methylparaben=0.10 parts
    perfume=0.25 parts

  • saleem 09/12/2012, 7:50 am

    here is the simple formulation of shaving cream.

  • Jenny 08/27/2012, 10:34 am

    Dear Perry,
    Great works !!!
    By the way, can you help me with the basic formulations of hair color products (including Color cream, Cream developer and Post-coloration treatment and/or Pre-coloration treatment)
    I’m working on a project to develop those products (a hair color kit used at-home and/or beauty salon, like the L’oréal Paris Récital Préférence Hair Color Kit)
    Thank you very much, have a nice day

  • SAP1 08/09/2012, 10:52 am

    I make a olive oil soap using only olive oil, water, and NaOH. I was surprised to find out that many of my customers inform me that they use this soap to shave (beards) and wash their hair. Is this a good thing.

    • Perry 08/09/2012, 11:00 am

      It’s a fine enough thing to do. It will not be as good as a standard shaving cream but anything that gives you some slip is better than water alone.

      • Shahid Abbas 05/28/2013, 10:30 pm

        Respected all,I am chemical engineer i want to manufacture hair hold spray on industriale scale.Please tell me about ingreidients,formulation,lab testing appratus and machinery.

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