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by Sarah Masters
Whatever your shaving practices may be, shaving cream is a popular consumer product that isn’t going away any time soon. Our skin needs protection from bare razor blades and today’s shaving products have enticing scents that people can’t get enough of. However, these scents are often thanks to toxic chemicals that harm ecosystems once they enter the water system. Many main ingredients in shaving cream are palm-oil based, and the palm oil industry has contributed greatly to deforestation of rainforests. Needless to say, using a nice-smelling shaving cream to moisturize your skin has many more impacts than what meets the eye. Let’s explore how to have a sustainable shave:
What to look for/avoid
It turns out that you can make your own shaving cream out of just a few ingredients. Going the DIY route is one of the most sustainable options because you can use ingredients you already have at home (especially if you’re already making your own makeup remover and/or lip balm after reading these articles!). So why don’t we all use simple ingredients to shave? Why are shaving creams a thing? It’s because of the lather they create on your skin. Shaving creams contain between 30-50% fat which makes them lather on the skin and provide protection from the blade. However, you can still protect your skin using things like cooking oils- you just won’t have the luxury of foaming bubbles.
Buying fewer new products is always preferred because it means less new waste from manufacturing, shipping, disposal, etc. Buy a few ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil every few months and you’re set for DIY lip balm, shaving cream, makeup remover, and many more cosmetic products. There are plenty of DIY shaving cream recipes out there in addition to the one linked above, like this one and this one.
If you do opt to buy a shaving cream product, it’s best to avoid ingredient lists that contain long words you need a biochemistry degree to understand. Many ingredients in shaving cream can pollute ecosystems, be unethically sourced, be toxic to your skin, etc. Some ingredients to steer clear from include sulfates, emulsifiers, phthalates, and parabens. Check here for a comprehensive guide. While the palm oil industry has done a great deal of harm to the environment, it’s now Indonesia and Malaysia’s most important agricultural export, so boycotting it completely might harm local communities whose lifestyles rely on it. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has a certification for palm oil that traces it back to the field and ensures it was grown sustainably and ethically. If a product contains palm oil, make sure it’s RSPO-certified.
There’s also the problem of packaging. While most shaving creams come in aluminum cans which are more recyclable than plastic, I like to focus on biodegradable or compostable packaging instead of putting full faith into the US recycling system. This way, no matter where the packaging of your product ends up, it doesn’t contaminate the environment. Opt for plastic-free packaging like cardboard and kraft paper.
When it comes to certifications, look out for the Leaping Bunny to signify cruelty-free companies. 1% for the Planet and B Corporation both have well-known certifications for a company’s environmental and social impact. I also included products that are made in renewable-powered factories, meaning the company has a reduced carbon footprint.
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