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What Shaving Products are Harmful to Skin?

What Shaving Products are Harmful to Skin?

Published by Tim Finney on Jun 19th 2023

Ever since entering into the market in the 1940s, shaving products have provided people with fast and easy access to a smoother shave. There’s significant value in using gel and cream, offering benefits such as skin moisturization, helping to prevent nicks and shaving irritation, and enabling your razor to easily glide on your skin. Unfortunately, many shaving gels and creams contain less-than-helpful ingredients in their formulas – leaving your open pores vulnerable to a host of skin irritations.

Timothy’s Skincare Shave Cream and Shave Gel have been specifically formulated to be free of common skin irritants, and all our products are HRIPT tested to ensure they are hypoallergenic Here are a few harmful shaving cream ingredients to avoid and which are purposefully not in Timothy’s Skincare products.


When shaving, as with any other skin care, you want moisturization. However, many shaving products contain alcohol – an ingredient known for being dehydrating. Since the alcohol family is large, it can be labeled under a myriad of names in your products, from ethylene glycol to benzyl alcohol. The problem is that alcohol also causes shaving irritations like dry skin, rashes, and dermatitis – all of which are the last things you want from your moisturizing shaving cream.

Sulfates (SLS or SLES)

Why are sulfates a shaving cream ingredient to avoid? Sulfates are extremely harsh and corrosive mineral salts that are often found in shaving creams and gels for their ability to help the product foam. They are also considered surfactants (detergents), because they bind to oils, fats, and dirt, and remove them from the surface. That’s why they can be found in so many cleansing products like soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents.

Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, or SLS/SLES are all sulfates. These ingredients have been linked with shaving irritations like rashes and dry skin. This is the exact opposite effect you want during and after a shave. Dry skin in particular is one of the most common effects of sulfates, especially for those with sensitive skin. This is because sulfates can often end up removing too much oil, which removes the skin’s protective barrier and causes red, itchy, or dry skin.


man shaving without irritation

One of the most common ingredients found in shaving products – and really most cosmetic products in general – is fragrance. Though they provide a range of scents that many love after grooming, the common allergen is also a huge contributor to shaving irritation for those of all skin types. It’s one of the leading reasons behind a long list of sensitivities, allergies, and reactions, including dry skin, contact dermatitis, rashes, and redness. For those with sensitive skin, it can also exacerbate inflammation, rosacea, and eczema, and cause other skin irritations.

Fragrances in shaving products and other skin care products are often made using a combination of chemicals. But what’s even worse is that companies do not legally have to publicly disclose what specific chemicals those fragrances are made of. Whether it’s labeled as fragrance or as parfum, this is definitely one shaving cream ingredient to avoid.


Another shaving cream ingredient to avoid is isopentane, a colorless liquid that’s used as a solvent. It essentially helps the other chemicals and ingredients dissolve into others. Isopentane can also be used as an aerosol propellant, meaning it helps expel the shaving product from aerosol cans. While it seems harmless enough, this ingredient is a source of shaving irritation. Possible reactions to isopentane include dry skin and contact dermatitis.


man applying shaving cream to face

Parabens are a group of preservatives that are widely used in topical pharmaceutical products, skin care products, cosmetics, and even food. They’ve been used since the 1950s to extend products’ shelf life and prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Why are they a shaving cream ingredient to avoid? Besides being linked to health conditions, parabens can cause shaving irritations and allergic reactions like dermatitis. They can be found by many names, all ending in “paraben,” such as methylparaben and butylparaben.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

When it comes to shaving products, you definitely don’t want anything that could potentially be harmful to your skin – which is why you should avoid butylated hydroxytoluene or BHT. This ingredient is toluene-based, a chemical that is federally recognized as being one of the most toxic chemicals. Commonly used as a preservative in shaving creams and gels, it can cause serious skin and shaving irritation, along with other harmful conditions.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Believe it or not, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) – an ingredient often found in shaving products – is also the same chemical used to make Teflon, the non-stick cooking surface. It’s been linked to a host of shaving irritations and health conditions, like heart disease, osteoarthritis, and breast cancer. While we should note that PTFE needs to be heated to release its toxic fumes, it’s still not great to see it on a list of ingredients you’re applying to your skin, so you may want to avoid this shaving cream ingredient.

Avoiding Shaving Irritation from Your Products

Your skin is extremely vulnerable when you shave. In addition to exfoliating the top layer of your skin after shaving, the warm water that you use has opened your pores, enabling your shaving products to penetrate the skin even deeper. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the ingredients that are harmful to the skin and can cause shaving irritation.

Timothy’s high-quality formulas are free from skin irritants, like parabens, fragrances, alcohol, and sulfates, so you can get a better, more comfortable shave that keeps your skin happy. Learn more about our story or shop our shaving products designed for all skin today.

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About the Author

Tim Finney is the Founder/CEO of Timothy's Skincare. He grew up with sensitive skin and quickly learned the value of quality shave products. He started Timothy's when he noticed a lack of true sensitive skin shaving products for men. With a background in medicine, Tim decided to develop an innovative, clinically significant shaving gel and cream. He designed the products to deliver a clean, comfortable shave without irritation. Timothy’s shave cream and gel are hypo-allergenic and free of common skin irritants. Tim is an accomplished entrepreneur with years of experience in sales and marketing of medical equipment.