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Homemade Shaving Cream? Yeah…that’s right!

February 19, 2008

In an attempt to reduce chemicals and the containers they come in, N and I recently went the way of homemade shaving cream.  Now, I know what you may be thinking…ew and/or ouch!  Not quite.N has basically digested an entire book about better home basics, called (fittingly) Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living.  Our local library has it (by “it” I mean one copy which we had to return yesterday).  If you find the following at all useful or interesting, we recommend picking up a copy.  You’ll probably find something you can use in your own greener life.  But I digress…Having recently switched to shaving with stainless steal (N with a Safety Razor, and I with a straight razor – see earlier post), we discovered that they work best with a different kind of shaving cream called emulsified shaving cream.  It’s not really any great secret, but it has become a bit of a lost commodity in the last few decades. Here is the recipe as prescribed by Better Basics for the Home:

  • Emollient Cocoa Butter Mug Soap: 8 ounces grated castile soap (just use your cheese grater, unless concerned with getting it too clean:)
  • 8 ounces rose water (add boiling water a few dozen rose petals and let steep for a while)
  • 2 ounces cocoa butter
  • 4 ounces of vegetable glycerin equal parts essential oils of peppermint and eucalyptus (about 25 drops)
  • Soak the soap in the rose water overnight.  
  • Heat the cocoa butter and glycerin in a double boiler over low heat.  Remove from the heat once the cocoa butter is melted, and add the soap mixture.  
  • Blend with an electric handheld mixer until creamy.  Blend in the essential oils, and pour into a cereal-sized bowl or larger mug. 

Observations, recommendations and variations:

  • Our raw ingredients: We used solid glycerin soap that had been infused eucalyptus (365 Organics from Whole Foods), and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap, and Queen Helene Cocoa Butter.
  • When in the double boiler, the cocoa butter will melt very quickly.  If you add the glycerin soap to the cocoa butter, and wait for it melt at the same temperature you will be waiting a long, long time.  I would use a liquid glycerin soap next time, or blend (as in use a blender) the cocoa butter/ glycerin soap mixture to incorporate.  We didn’t do either, and ended up with a few chunks or glycerin soap.  I did have moderate success with mixing these chunks into mixture with the hand mixer, but that method will never completely incorporate the mixture.
  • When added to the cocoa butter mixture, the castile soap and rose water blended quite well.  Aside from the chunks of glycerin soap, the mixture does turn into a nice cream.   
  • We didn’t really do the conversions correctly (some might say that we straight-up didn’t pay attention) when we added the rose water to the grated castile soap.  You’re supposed to add 8 ounces.  We added 2 full cups.   Oops. 

None the less, we decided to shave with it today.  N observed that it didn’t stay as creamy as normal shaving cream might but it did work as well if not better. I found that it came back with a little water and also that has a very persistent consistency with a nice refreshing feeling.  As opposed to the shaving gel I had been using with my straight razor, it has a tendency to stick around longer while shaving rather than dissipate around the exposed shaving surface which…well, hurts. Castile Soap in way too much rose waterroses, pre-waterMelting the cocoa butter and glycerin soap)Final product (whip it good!)So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the shaving creams you find in the store, you might consider giving this a shot.  Let us know how it turns out!   

You can also check out how we made our own soap here.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2008 6:22 am

    That is a lot of work. I get lazy about it and just shave with dr. Browners soap. I got a hand it to you though, nice work.

  2. April 16, 2008 9:35 am

    Just came across this blog and am hopping around to different posts. Great reads so far!

    Agreed with mig – I’ve got some pretty intense facial hair, and I always just end up using dr. B’s, which works fine, and leaves me all nice and peppermint-y.

    But kudos to you on makin’ this – looks creamy!

  3. October 15, 2008 2:36 pm

    Does this lather well with a brush?

  4. badhuman permalink*
    October 17, 2008 5:05 pm

    It doesn’t lather the same way that storebought shaving cream does but it lathers well when used with a shaving brush. It does very poorly without it. At least those were J.’s experiences. I (N) found that while it didn’t lather it was fairly persistent so it stayed on my leg long enough to shave. Eventually I just used the safety razor without it or anything else.

  5. Lizzie permalink
    November 19, 2008 5:20 pm

    Hi, thanks for the recipe. My son & I usually make a couple things en masse this time of year to give so we are wondering how well this keeps, if it hardens or is more like a liquid. Would it need a lid if we give it away? Thanks so much! We’ve only talked about making soap & just started with laundry soap etc.

  6. badhuman permalink*
    November 20, 2008 5:54 am

    When we made it, it made enough for two medium size tupperware containers. We kept one in the bathroom and it was closer to a liquid then a solid, but not exactly. It’s a little more liquid then storebought shaving cream. The one we put in the fridge hardened up from the cold but loosened once it returned to room temperature and we are still using it.

    I guess it wouldn’t need a lid but I would put one on it just so nothing gets in to it.

    I think you’ll really like it, we made our own bar soap and have a kit to make laundry soap as soon as our storebought laundry stuff runs out. Good luck!

  7. rask permalink
    December 15, 2008 5:07 pm

    I was under the impression that before mass production was common barbers would traditionally make their own shaving cream, this seems like a fine idea.

  8. March 14, 2009 5:21 pm

    great recipe! thanks. I love trying all this made from scratch stuff>

  9. June 9, 2009 2:27 pm

    Hmmm … intriguing! I will look into this when my bought shaving-stuff runs out.


  1. Toothbrush? « Bad Human! Don’t take chemicals from strangers!
  2. Homemade shaving cream recipe · Bath and Body @ CraftGossip

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