Shaving Cream discussion.

Discussion in 'Stone Cottage Shaving' started by MilfordNJGuy, Dec 13, 2015.


    If may have seen this post from Bob (beginish) in the Shaving Cream section:

    Thanks again to Bob for his sincere review of my shaving cream and for your interest in this topic.

    I began to study shaving cream in 2004 and I started by collecting the ingredients lists for about 30 shaving cream products that were available at that time. I grouped them according to category beginning with soap-based creams, then soap/synthetic surfactant creams and finally totally synthetic based products. This enabled me to then decide upon my approach and since I had experienced many of the British creams firsthand from my many trips to the U.K. that was the product I decided to emulate.

    I started searching online, in old soapmaking books, U.S. Patent and other Patent sites from around the world as well as from Cosmetic Chemistry formularies and books. I began to see patterns emerge and to see that basic structure and approaches that had been used over the past 100 to 150 years. The creams we know today as the "British creams" were made here in the U.S. as well but became out of favour when the aerosol can was invented. Fortunately, they are still being made in the U.K. and have come back into favour here in the U.S. and have a resurgence in the male market!

    I took copious notes, read and bought every soapmaking and cosmetic chemistry book I could get my hands on and thoroughly entrenched myself in the process of making shaving cream. I finally came up with a formula which I tried and made some adjustments and refinements as time passed. I am fortunate to have several friends who are cosmetic chemists who were generous with their time and knowledge to help me with this and other projects! The project was put on hold during the time we bought our new building, totally renovated it and readied for opening but I didn't waste any time after we settled in and began work again on the project and finally worked out the techniques involved with taking a sample batch and translating it into what was required to make much larger production batches! Minor adjustments has to be made but by the second or third batch everything fell into place.

    In Bob's post it became obvious that Bob seems to understand the subtleties in this kind of product and what I was attempting to accomplish and I was thrilled when I read "Doesn't it look more like the tub creams you get from Trumper, DR Harris, Truefitt & Hill or St. James of London?" as this was my goal and to compare the Fougere scent to Penhaligon's was icing on the cake as my very first purchase in the Penhaligon's Covent Garden Store over 20 years ago was their "English Fern" and it was that which I was trying to emulate! I am very grateful!

    I have many projects in the planning stages for 2016 and I look forward one of them which will be... Shaving Soap! I have an earlier version that I am using every day and I made it over 6 months ago and still have quite a bit left in my container and a huge "stash" in a container awaiting my attention!

    Thanks for letting me share a little more about my shaving cream and my approach and if you have any questions, fell free to ask and I will be happy to answer to the best of my ability!

    Thanks again to you all for your support!
  1. Thank you for taking the time to explain all this. I am sure its very difficult to create, takes time, etc. I wish you well in your endeavors, sounds like you are well on your way. I will be trying your products soon :001_smile
  2. Interesting research. Thanks for compiling. Looking forward to the product.
  3. captp

    captp Contributor

    David, excellent post. Could you elaborate on the differences between what makes a soap a soap and a cream a cream? Other than consistency, is there a difference in ingredients, or is it the ratio of certain ingredients that make creams so much softer than soaps?
    Subscribing to this thread.
  4. Tag.
  5. Sorry for the delay! I had a ton of orders I had to ship yesterday and today and not much time to do anything else!

    Regular handcrafted soap is made with oils and exotic butters, water and sodium hydroxide.

    Shaving soap can be made with many different ingredients but good quality shaving soap tends to use oils, often stearic acid and sometimes exotic butters and is made with a combination of Sodium and Potassium Hydroxides and water - often commercial soap is made by using each individual oil saponified by one or both of the hydroxide and then each is combined and pressed three times hence the name "triple pressed". More sodium hydroxide is used than potassium hydroxide to create a more solid product.

    Liquid Soap is made with potassium hydroxide because it is the more effective of the bases (hydroxides) to make a liquid product.

    Shaving Cream can be made with a combination of Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide and sometimes TEA (another base) with water and using fatty acids like Stearic Acid and Coconut Fatty Acid, sometimes Palmitic and Myristic Acids. More Potassium Hydroxide is used so that the product is more liquid than solid and the right balance created a pasty "cream" which can be lathered easily with a brush.

    These four descriptions are general for each product and variations can be made of the ingredients including surfactants to create a different product. Each oil or fatty acid that is used in making soap has certain characteristics such as Coconut Oil which is used for it's lather and Stearic Acid which is used for "creaminess" in many products. The right combination with give the product the right characteristics and the right balance with these oils, fatty acids and butters as well as the water amount and the right combination of bases is crucial in making a nicely balanced product!

    Just so you know oils are made of fatty acids which are more "acidic" on the scale and the hydroxides are known as bases which are more "alkaline" and the bases are what saponify the bases and turn them into soap! I hope this helps! Remember there are many variations used in all of these kinds of formulas so they might differ slightly from what I described above!

  6. captp

    captp Contributor

    David, thank you VERY much for that explanation in plain English. So it's mostly the ratio of the 2 hydroxide more than anything else that defines what makes a cream. That's more or less what I was thinking. I have seen some claims that it was just more water in creams, but that didn't ring quite true. I'm assuming that is also what makes for a different lather consistency between the two. I appreciate you taking the time to explain this.
    Now if I can just get parts of your site to display properly on my tablet, I'll be able to check your products. If not, I can get to a real computer where it will display right.
  7. Sorry, this should read:

    Just so you know oils are made of fatty acids which are more "acidic" on the scale and the hydroxides are known as bases which are more "alkaline" and the bases are what saponify the ACIDS and turn them into soap! I hope this helps! Remember there are many variations used in all of these kinds of formulas so they might differ slightly from what I described above!
  8. Yes, the ratio of the hydroxides is very important but the water content is as well. Have you ever had a not-so-great shave in the morning because you loaded your brush with too much water? Well, a cream that has too much water in it can have the same effect. As I approach my shaving cream with the same way a cosmetic chemist does for his or her formula which is based on 100%, I have to make sure the batch is properly weighed and that whatever water has evaporated during the process is then replaced so that my formula again is at 100% and that my product will turn out exactly the same each and every time! I often wonder when I read a post about one of the British creams being lumpy or watery if they are just processing it until it seems to reach a certain consistency without adding back the evaporated water or if they do add it back do they do it by observing the consistency rather than doing by weight! Another aspect to consider are the raw materials! It is very important to get your raw materials from a reliable vendor. Stearic Acid, for example can vary quite a bit as far as its actual stearic acid content. It often contains some Palmitic Acid which is a slightly lower chain fatty acid and that amount can vary quite a bit. So as you can see a good shaving cream is dependent upon many variables, not just the ratio of the hydroxides and TEA! There are lots of variables that can affect the product... even the fragrance can be a factor but careful techniques and good observations work to achieve a good result!


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