Why Choose Eco-Friendly Razors and Non-Toxic Shaving Cream?

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT


Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.


Believe it or not, the choices we make with shaving products have a big impact on the planet. Here are some things to think about when choosing razors and shaving cream.

It probably only takes you a few minutes to shave every day, and you rinse off any shaving cream or oil, so why bother seeking out safe, non-toxic, and eco-friendly shaving products? The reality is that the nature of shaving makes your skin more vulnerable to anything you put on it.

Add to that the fact that an estimated 2 billion pounds of disposable razors and blades were thrown away each year in America in the 1990s and it’s hard to feel good about shaving with whatever disposable blades and run of the mill shaving foam you pick up at the grocery store.

In this Leaf Score series on shaving, I’ll look at how this small daily habit can have a big impact on your health and the environment. I’ll also offer recommendations and reviews of excellent, eco-friendly, non-toxic shaving creams, gels, soaps, and oils, as well as my top picks for razors and shaving brushes. Feel free to skip right to the links at the bottom of this article if you want product recommendations. Otherwise, if you’re not yet convinced that the products you use in those few minutes a day make a difference, read on.

Why does it matter what you shave with?

Before you shave, you probably apply warm water or a warm damp towel to your face to soften the hairs. This makes shaving easier, but it also opens up your pores, enabling deeper absorption of any lotions, gels, oils, and creams. Shaving also exfoliates the outer layer of dead skin cells, exposing fresh, new skin to the elements and to whatever is in your shaving products.

Like other areas of the toiletries and cosmetics industry, shaving products are not well regulated in the US. Companies don’t have to and don’t like to list what’s in their products, which makes it difficult to figure out if your favorite shaving cream contains toxic chemicals that many of us are sensitive to.

Even shaving creams that are advertised as ‘natural’ frequently list ingredients such as triethanolamine and phthalates alongside jojoba oil and essential oils. And, where a company wants to avoid listing specific ingredients consumers might recognize as toxic chemicals, they lump these nasty ingredients together under the handy catch-all ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’.

Most shaving creams comprise around 80% water mixed with lathering ingredients, emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, solvents, and other chemicals. Just a few of the things you’ll find in most shaving creams, gels, and oils include sulfates, phthalates, parabens, benzene, glycols, formaldehyde, isopentane, polytetrafluoroethylene, butylated hydroxytoluene.

I could go on, but I’ll explain what to watch out for in toxic shaving cream here.

A better way to shave

For every synthetic chemical used in making shaving products, there’s almost always an excellent natural, non-toxic, alternative. Choosing effective non-toxic shaving products is better for your health and the environment and can also be more affordable, both in direct costs and indirect costs from better health.

So, how can you tell the good from the bad and how can you avoid piling up nearly 1200 pounds of plastic trash in disposable razors in a lifetime?

In this Leaf Score series, I’ll look at:

Following these deep dives into the regulations, certifications, and science, I offer my recommendations for Companies to Consider for Eco-Friendly Shaving Products and more How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Razor.

Our shaving product reviews

We have spent close to 100 hours analyzing different shaving products and narrowing down the list to those brands that qualify for a leaf rating. Below, you’ll find reviews for the shaving products that made the cut as eco-friendly and sustainable: 

If you’ve got a hot tip on an eco-friendly, non-toxic shaving product, let me know!

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