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Shaving cream prepared with a shaving brush

Man using shaving cream

Shaving cream or shaving foam is cream applied to the face, or wherever else hair grows, to facilitate shaving. They achieve three effects: lubricate the cutting process; swell keratin; and desensitize skin. Shaving creams commonly consist of an emulsion of oils, soaps or surfactants, and water.


A rudimentary form of shaving cream was documented in Sumer around 3000 BC. This substance combined wood alkali and animal fat and was applied to a beard as a shaving preparation.

Until the early 20th century, bars or sticks of hard shaving soap were used. Later, tubes containing compounds of oils and soft soap were sold. Newer creams introduced in the 1940s neither produced lather nor required brushes, often referred to as brushless creams.


Modern commercial creams are often sold in spray cans, but can also be purchased in tubs or tubes. Shaving creams in a can are commonly dispensed as a foam or a gel. Creams that are in tubes or tubs are commonly used with a shaving brush to produce a rich lather (most often used in wet shaving).


The first can of pressurized shaving cream was Rise shaving cream, which was introduced by Carter-Wallace in 1949. By the following decade this format attained two-thirds of the American market for shaving preparations. The gas in shaving cream canisters originally contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but this substance was increasingly believed to be detrimental to the Earth's ozone layer. This led to restrictions or reductions in CFC use, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency ban in the late 1970s. Gaseous hydrocarbon propellants such as mixtures of pentane, propane, butane and isobutane could be used instead of the CFCs. Because of the large proportion of water in pressurized shaving cream, the risk from the normally flammable hydrocarbons was reduced.

In the 1970s, shaving gel was developed that is dispensed from a pressurized can. In 1993, The Procter & Gamble Company patented a post-foaming gel composition, which turns the gel into a foam after application to the skin, combining properties of both foams and gels.

Aeroshave, the first instant shaving cream in a pressurized can, was introduced in 1947.

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