While most products are made primarily of water, there are a number of other shaving cream ingredients that are also typically included in varying amounts to clean and moisturize the skin and soften the hair for an easier shave. Both stearic acid and triethanolamine are commonly included, as they are both surfactants that help cleanse the skin. Polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate and lanolin are usually added as emulsifiers, which act to help the other ingredients blend and hold water to the skin. Softening and moisturizing of the skin is typically accomplished by adding glycerine to the mix. Other common shaving cream ingredients include cocamides, laureth 23, and lauryl sulphate, which can be substituted for other ingredients, as well as fragrances and propellants.
Surfactants are important shaving cream ingredients, as they serve the purpose of soap in the products. This is because the molecules of these substances are able to attract both water and dirt or oil. Some of the most common ones to be used in shaving creams are stearic acid and triethanolamine. Triethanolamine also works to keep the pH balance of the cream from being overly alkaline or acidic.
Another type of ingredient commonly included in shaving creams are emulsifiers. Some of the most frequently used emulsifiers are lanolin and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate, though others including lanolin derivatives are sometimes substituted in. These substances serve two purposes in a shaving cream. One is to help hold water to the skin, which is important for the ease of shaving. They also serve to combine other ingredients, such as oil and water, that would normally separate from each other.
Glycerine is also one of the common shaving cream ingredients. It is an emollient, which means it softens, soothes, and relaxes the skin, and it also acts as a moisturizer. The end result is that the area being shaved is left feeling smooth and supple after shaving.
A number of other ingredients are also frequently included in shaving creams. Cocamides, laureth 23, and lauryl sulphate may be included or substituted for other ingredients, as they all work to help cleanse the skin and make the cream foamy. Perfumes are often included to improve the odor of the shaving cream. There is usually also one or more aerosol propellants involved to allow the cream to be squirted out of the can; some common propellants used for this purpose are propane, butane, and isobutane.