Shaving Soap Ingredients – Lather Insights

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Shaving Soap Ingredients – Lather Insights

Shaving Soap Ingredients

Often when we are making the decision to purchase a new shaving soap, we tend take a look at the shaving soap ingredients list for a better understanding of soap composition.  Of course, we’ve also picked-up plenty of soaps without much scrutinizing over the ingredients.  We’re suckers for cool labels and hype!  Nevertheless, we’ve often come across shaving soap ingredients that are foreign to us.  We tend to write down those shaving soap ingredients and, when time permits, do a little internet research on why they might be in a shaving soap to satisfy our curiosity.  Overtime, this list has grown rather large, and we felt that other wet shavers might find this consolidated information useful as well.

So, we’ve compiled the alphabetized list below of shaving soap ingredients directly off of soap labels and provided a little blurb regarding what the ingredient is and why it might be in a shaving soap.  This list is targeted more at the curious wetshaver rather than the chemist or soap maker.  We’ve tried to simply provide some basic facts specific to shaving soap rather than the multitude of other uses these ingredients may have, e.g., medical, industrial, etc.  We also intentionally left out commentary and opinions on ethics, effectiveness, environmental concerns, or the tired old argument on what “good” or “real” soaps do or don’t contain.  Folks can follow those rabbits down the hole with there own internet searches as there is certainly no lack of discussion on all of that. This list will be updated as we come across new shaving soap ingredients and as our understanding of ingredients expands.

A.

Allantoin – A chemical compound found naturally in the comfrey plant and the urine of most mammals.  It can also be produced synthetically, the origin of most cosmetic allantoin used today.  Allantoin has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce skin irritation.  It also acts as a skin protectant and moisturizer.

Aloe Barbadebsis Leaf Juicesee Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera Juice – The liquid of the aloe plant leaf.  It has skin conditioning properties and is an excellent moisturizer.

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone – A synthetic scent chemical used in perfuming with a woody/floral aroma.

Aqua see Water.

Argan Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the kernel of the argan tree.  Argan oil has strong antioxidant properties and is rich in vitamin E.  It adds moisturizing, skin nourishing properties to soaps.

Argania Spinosa Oil – see Argan Oil

Avocado Oil – A vegetable oil derived from pressed avocado fruit flesh.  Avocado oil is high in vitamin E and is added to shaving soaps to increase skin conditioning properties.  Avocado oil is also known as Persea Americana Oil and Persea Gratissima Oil.

B.

Beeswax – A natural wax produced by honey bees.  Beeswax is added to shaving soaps as an emollient (skin conditioning) and to harden the product.

Benzyl Alcohol – An aromatic alcohol used in perfuming and found in several essential oils.  Benzyl alcohol has a sweet floral scent.  It can also be used as a preservative.

Benzyl Salicylate – A naturally occurring or synthetically produced scent chemical used in perfuming for sweet, floral, musky fragrances.

BHT – A chemical preservative that extends the shelf life of products.  Also known as Butylated Hydroxy Tolulene.

Butylphenyl Methylpropional – A perfume chemical used for its strong floral scent.

Butyrospermum Parkii see Shea Butter

C.

Caprylyl Glycol – a humectant that occurs naturally and can be synthetically produced that aids in skin conditioning and moisturizing.

Carthamus Tinctorius Hybrid Seed Oilsee Safflower Oil

Castor Oil – A vegetable oil derived from castor beans.  As a shaving soap ingredient, castor oil can act similar to glycerin providing lubricating and moisturizing properties to the soap, aids in thickening, and provides for a fluffy lather.  Castor oil is also known as Ricinus Communis Seed Oil.

Cetearyl Alcohol – A chemical used as an emulsifier, thickening agent, and carrier product for other soap ingredients.

Cetyl Betaine – A surfactant used to thicken soaps and aid in forming of lather.

CI ##### – Usually seen in the form of “CI” followed by a 5-digit number, e.g., CI 11680.  This is a coloring agent or pigment.

Cinnamyl Alcohol – A perfume chemical found in many essential oils.  Cinnamyl has a floral, hyacinth-like aroma.

Citral – A perfume chemical that has a lemon, citrus-like aroma.

Citronellol – A perfume chemical compound found in many essential oils.  Citronellol has a floral, rose-like aroma.

Cocamide DEA – A chemical derived from the fatty acids in coconut oil that acts as a foaming agent and emulsifier.

Cocoa Butter – An oil derived from the seeds of the Cacao plant.  Due to the high amounts of saturated fats in Cocoa Butter, it is solid at room temperature, hence the “butter” terminology.  Cocoa butter adds moisturizing and skin conditioning properties to soap without hardening it.  Also known as Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter.

Coconut Acid – A mixture of fatty acids derived from coconut oil.  see Coconut Oil

Coconut Milk – A liquid derived from the grated white flesh of the coconut and is high in saturated fat content.  It is added during the soap making process and aids in the creamy texture of soap lather.

Coconut Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the flesh of coconuts.  It is often used in the soap making process and produces soaps with fluffy lathers and can have high cleansing properties.  Coconut oil can add hardness to soaps and, when used in moderation, is capable of providing moisturizing properties.  In excess, coconut oil can be drying to the skin.  Also known as Cocos Nucifera Oil.

Cocos Nucifera Oilsee Coconut Oil

Coumarin – A chemical compound used for fragrance.  Coumarin has a sweet, nutty, vanilla-like scent likened to fresh mowed hay.  The word Coumarin is derived from the French word for Tonka Bean, the plant part in which coumarin was originally derived from.  Today, coumarin is manufactured synthetically.

E.

Elaeis Guineensissee Palm Oil

Essential Oil – An oil derived from the pure distillation of a plant.  Essential oils are used for their potent scents and also contain the chemicals (both good and bad) from the derived plant.  While many essential oils are prized for their premium fragrances, they can be incredibly expensive and vary in quality, consistency, and availability based on the plant crop they are derived from.  Although many essential oils provide skin nourishing properties along with their scent, some are also known as strong skin irritants for some people.

Evening Primrose Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the evening primrose wildflower.  Evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is added to shaving soaps to increase moisturizing and softening skin conditioning qualities.

Ethylene Brassylate – A chemical used in perfuming that provides a sweet, floral, musky odor.

Eugenol – A perfume chemical found in many essential oils.  Eugenol has a spicy, clove-like scent.

F.

Fragrance Oil – Usually refers to a synthetic oil that imparts a specific aroma to a shaving soap.  Synthetic oils are used solely for their fragrance and lack the essence of the actual plant that the essential oil is derived from.  The benefit of a synthetic fragrance oil is that a specific scent can be imparted in a product from a plant that has skin irritant properties that would be included in an essential oil.  Fragrance oils also tend to be more cost effective when compared to essential oils.  A drawback of fragrance oil is that the variety of chemicals used in the synthetic creation of the oil can be a skin irritant for some people.

G.

Garcinia Indica Seed Butter –  see Kokum Butter

Geraniol – A perfume chemical found in many essential oils.  Geraniol has a floral, rose-like odor.

Glyceryl Stearate – A chemical that softens the skin and is used as a lubricating agent in soaps.

Glycerin – A liquid derived from plant or animal fats or made synthetically.  Glycerin is also a by-product of the soap making process and is often added to shaving soaps.  Glycerin is a humectant that acts as a moisturizer and lubricant in shaving soaps.

Goat Milk – High in alpha hydroxyl acids and vitamin A, goat milk adds skin conditioning and moisturizing properties to soaps.

H.

Hexyl Cinnamalsee Cinnamal Alcohol

Hydrolyzed Silk Protein –  see Silk Protein 

Hydroxycitronellal – A perfume chemical composed of citral and geraniol.  Hydroxycitronellal has a sweet floral aroma and is found in many essential oils.

Hydroxyethylcellulose – a polymer derived from cellulose, it is used and a gelling and thickening agent in soap making.

Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde –  A perfume chemical that has a light, sweet, floral odor.

I.

Iron Oxide – A pigment used to color soap.

Isoeugenol – A perfume chemical that can be found in some essential oils.  Isoeugenol has a spicy, floral scent.

J.

Jojoba Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the seeds of the jojoba plant.  While referred to as an oil, it is actually a wax with properties similar to human skin sebum.  Jojoba oil has a high vitamin E content, acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, and protects the skin surface while leaving it felling soft and conditioned.

K.

Kaolin – A natural clay that is added to soaps to provide slickness.

Kokum Butter – A vegetable oil derived from the fruit/seeds of the kokum tree.  The oil is high in saturated fat so, at room temperature, it is a solid or “butter”.  Kokum butter is an emollient and is excellent at moisturizing, softening, and conditioning skin.  It also can add a creamy texture to soap lathers.  Kokum butter is also known as Garcinia Indica Seed Butter.

L.

Lactic Acid – Mixing lactic acid and sodium hydroxide results in sodium lactate.  See Sodium Lactate. 

Lanolin – A wax that is secreted by domestic sheep to help protect their skin and wool from the elements.  Lanolin is extracted by washing shorn wool with detergents.  Lanolin has similar properties to sebum, a human secretion that protects the skin surface.  As a shaving soap ingredient, lanolin acts as a skin protectant and adds to a soft, supple post-shave skin feel.

Limonene – A citrus oil derived from the rinds of citrus fruit.  Limonene has a lemon-orange aroma and is found in many essential oils.  It also can be used as a powerful cleaning and degreasing agent.

Linalool – A perfume chemical compound found in many essential oils.  Linalool has a spicy, floral aroma.

Lye see Sodium Hydroxide

M.

Mangifera Indica Butter see Mango Seed Butter

Mango Seed Butter – A vegetable oil derived from the fruit/seeds of the mango tree.  The oil is high in saturated fat so, at room temperature, it is a solid or “butter”.  Mango butter is excellent at moisturizing, softening, and conditioning skin.  When saponified it produces a harder soap with a stable, creamy lather texture.  Also known as Mangifera Indica Butter.

Meadow Foam Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the meadowfoam plant.  It is added to shaving soaps to increase skin conditioning and moisturizing properties of the lather.  Meadowfoam oil shares similar qualities with jojoba oil.

Menthol – Menthol occurs naturally in mint plants or can be manufactured synthetically.  Menthol crystals act as a local anesthetic for a mild numbing effect and can add a very strong, concentrated mint-like scent to shave soaps depending on the quantity used.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone – A chemical preservative used to increase product shelf life by acting as an antibacterial and antifungal.

Methylisothiazolinone – A strong chemical preservative and biocide that increases product shelf life by not allowing fungal or bacterial growth.

Mica – A mineral used as a colorant in soaps.  Mica can also have a slight glittery effect in addition to dying the soap.

Mineral Salts – When added to soap these tend to act as a hardener and reduce lather.  Mineral salts can also feel slick on the skin.  These salts can be drying to the skin if oils and fats are not added to balance the soap formula.

O.

O-tolyl Biguanide – An antioxidant that serves as a preservative in soaps.

Olea Europaeasee Olive Oil

Olive Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the olive tree.  It has skin conditioning and moisturizing properties.  Soap made with olive oil can take longer to cure and can have slick lathers of low density.

P.

Palm Kernel Acid – The fatty acids derived from palm kernel oil which is high in saturated fats.  Soaps made with palm kernel oils have similar fluffy lathers like coconut oil soaps, but can be less drying.

Palm Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the flesh of fruit of the palm tree.  Soaps made with palm oil have stable, skin conditioning lathers.

Panthenol – a humectant that provides skin conditioning and moisturizing properties to soaps.

Parfum – Perfume in French.  Parfum can be a mix of fragrance and essential oils, aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents.  Thousands of chemicals can go into the creation of parfum, and these chemicals are usually not disclosed by companies that use this ingredient.  Parfum is added to shaving soaps for scent.

PEG-12 Dimethicone – A silicone based polymer used to smooth product consistency and add lubrication.

Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate – a chemical used an emollient, binder, skin conditioning agent, and viscosity increasing agent.

Pentasodium Pentetate – A chelating agent that softens water and aids in lather forming in shaving soaps.

Persea Americana Oilsee Avocado Oil

Persea Gratissima Oilsee Avocado Oil

Petrolatum – A mineral oil often called petroleum jelly.  It has skin protectant properties and my also serve to thicken and stabilize lather.

Phenethyl Alcohol – a chemical preservative that prolongs product shelf life by inhibiting bacterial growth.  It is also used for its fragrance, a floral odor.

Phenoxyethannol – a chemical preservative that prolongs product shelf life by inhibiting bacteria.

Polyacrylamidomethylpropane Sulfonic Acid – A polymer used to form films on the skin or hair surface.

Potassium Argonate – Saponified argan oil which results from the synthesis of argan oil and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  see Argan Oil

Potassium Castorate – Saponified castor oil.  see Potassium Ricinoleate, Castor Oil

Potassium Hydroxide – An alkali/base that is an essential ingredient in the soap making process.  When mixed with fats/oils, potassium hydroxide causes a chemical reaction called saponification.  The result of the reaction is soap.  The use of potassium hydroxide tends to create softer soaps or liquid soaps when compared with sodium hydroxide.  Both sodium and potassium hydroxides are often used in the soap making process to achieve the desired consistency of the final product.  Potassium hydroxide is also called potash.

Potassium Kokum Butterate – Saponified kokum butter which results from the synthesis of kokum butter and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Kokum butter adds a variety of skin conditioning properties to shaving soaps and increases the creaminess of soap lathers.  See Kokum Butter

Potassium Cocoate – Saponified coconut oil which results from the synthesis of coconut oil and potassium hydroxide in the soap making process.  Potassium cocoate soap produces a fluffy lather, but in excessive quantities can be drying.  See Coconut Oil

Potassium Hydrogenated Tallowate – Saponified tallow.  See Potassium Tallowate

Potassium Myristate – Saponified myristic acid which results from the synthesis of myristic acid and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium myristate is a surfactant and emulsifier.

Potassium Palm Kernelate – Saponified palm kernel oil which results from the synthesis of palm kernel oil and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium palm kernelate is used in shaving soaps to aid in fluffy lathering similar to coconut oil.  In excess, potassium palm kernelate can be drying to the skin.

Potassium Palmate – Saponified palm oil.  Potassium palmate is the result of the synthesis of palm oil and potassium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium palmate acts as a surfactant and emulsifying agent in soaps.

Potassium Palmitate see Potassium Palmate

Potassium Ricinoleate – Saponified castor oil which results from the synthesis of castor oil and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium ricinoleate is used in shaving soaps to aid in fluffy, creamy, stable lathering and has skin conditioning qualities.  It can also act as a surfactant and emulsifier. see Castor Oil

Potassium Shea Butterate – Saponified shea butter which results from the synthesis of shea butter and potassium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Shea butter provides slickness and skin nourishing properties to shaving soaps.  see Shea Butter

Potassium Stearate – Potassium stearate results from the synthesis of stearic acid and potassium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium stearate soaps tend to be softer and more water soluble than sodium stearate soaps and is commonly found in liquid soaps.  see Stearic Acid

Potassium Tallowate – Another word for soap.  Potassium tallowate results from the synthesis of tallow and potassium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Potassium tallowate provides the dense, slick lather qualities to many non-vegan shaving soaps.  see Tallow

Propylene Glycol – A syrup-like liquid that is a main ingredient in some melt-and-pour soaps.  When mixed with sodium stearate (also found in many soaps), propylene glycol becomes a solid.  Propylene glycol is a humectant (attracts and retains moisture) and is considered a “carrier” ingredient helping to deliver other ingredients in the soap to the skin.

R.

Ricinus Communis Seed Oilsee Castor Oil

S.

Safflower Oil – A vegetable oil derived from the safflower seed.  Safflower oil is and emmolient and is added to shaving soaps as a moisturizer to increase skin conditioning qualities of the lather.

Silk Protein – A protein produced by the silk worm also sometimes called tussah silk.  As a shaving soap ingredient, silk protein slightly boosts lather, increases slickness, and adds a bit of shine.

Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil see Jojoba Oil

Shea Butter – A vegetable oil derived from the nut of the Shea Tree.  The oil is high in saturated fats so, at room temperature, it is a solid or “butter”.  Shea butter is an emollient and is excellent at moisturizing, softening, and conditioning skin.  It can also add slickness and creaminess to soap lathers.  There are different grades to shea butters.  Unrefined shea butter, the highest grade, is extracted with water rather than solvents and contains no contaminants.  Shea butter is also known as Butyrospermum Parkii Butter.

Sodium Argonate – Saponified argan oil which results from the synthesis of argan oil and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  see Argan Oil

Sodium Castorate – Saponified castor oil.  see Sodium Ricinoleate, Castor Oil

Sodium Citrate – A chemical compound created by the reaction of citric acid with sodium hydroxide.  Sodium citrate is added to shaving soaps as a chelating agent (water softener) that helps reduce film build-up or soap scum and boosts lather.

Sodium Chloride – Common table salt.  It serves to thicken and harden soaps.

Sodium Coco-Sulfate – A synthetic detergent that uses coconut oil fatty acids in their creation.  see Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Cocoate – Saponified coconut oil which results from the synthesis of coconut oil and sodium hydroxide in the soap making process.  Sodium cocoate soap produces a fluffy lather, but in excessive quantities can be drying.  See Coconut Oil

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate – A surfactant based on the fatty acids found in coconut oil and a sulfonic acid.  Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate helps aid water in washing away oils and dirt.  It acts as a cleanser.

Sodium Hydroxide – An alkali/base that is an essential ingredient in the soap making process.  When mixed with fats/oils, sodium hydroxide causes a chemical reaction called saponification.  The result of the reaction is soap.  The use of sodium hydroxide tends to create harder soaps when compared with potassium hydroxide.  Both sodium and potassium hydroxides are often used in the soap making process to achieve the desired consistency of the final product.  Sodium hydroxide is also called lye.

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – a chemical derived from the amino acid glycine.  It is used as a preservative to prolong the shelf life of products.

Sodium Kokum Butterate – Saponified kokum butter which results from the synthesis of kokum butter and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Kokum butter adds a variety of skin conditioning properties to shaving soaps and increases the creaminess of soap lathers.  see Kokum Butter.

Sodium Lactate – A salt compound that is produced from the fermentation of corn or beet sugars.  As a shaving soap ingredient, sodium lactate helps to harden and even the consistency of the soap.  Sodium lactate is also a natural humectant, providing moisturizing and slickness properties similar to glycerin.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate – A synthetic surfactant and detergent.  It acts as a foaming agent in shaving soaps producing foam somewhat similar to a soap lather.

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate – a surfactant that acts as foaming and cleansing agent.

Sodium Myristate – Saponified myristic acid which results from the synthesis of myristic acid and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium myristate is a surfactant and emulsifier and is used to harden soaps.

Sodium Palm Kernelate – Saponified palm kernel oil which results from the synthesis of palm kernel oil and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium palm kernelate is used in shaving soaps to aid in fluffy lathering similar to coconut oil.  In excess, sodium palm kernelate can be drying to the skin.

Sodium Palmate – Saponified palm oil.  Sodium palmate is the result of the synthesis of palm oil and sodium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium palmate acts as a surfactant and emulsifying agent in soaps.

Sodium Palmitatesee Sodium Palmate

Sodium Ricinoleate – Saponified castor oil which results from the synthesis of castor oil and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium ricinoleate is used in shaving soaps to aid in fluffy, creamy, stable lathering and has skin conditioning qualities.  It can also act as a surfactant and emulsifier.  see Castor Oil

Sodium Shea Butterate – Saponified shea butter which results from the synthesis of shea butter and sodium hydroxide during the soap making process (saponification).  Shea butter provides slickness and skin nourishing properties to shaving soaps.   see Shea Butter

Sodium Stearate – Sodium stearate results from the synthesis of stearic acid and sodium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium stearate soaps tend to harder and less water soluble than potassium stearate soaps.  Many sodium stearate soaps are found in the bar form and used for cleaning and personal care.  see Stearic Acid

Sodium Tallowate – Another word for soap.  Sodium tallowate results from the synthesis of tallow and sodium hydroxide in the soap making process (saponification).  Sodium tallowate provides the dense, slick lather qualities to many non-vegan shaving soaps.  see Tallow

Sorbitol – A sugar alcohol mainly derived from fruits.  In soaps, sorbitol acts as a humectant providing moisturizing properties similar to glycerin. It also acts as a thickener.

Stearic Acid – A saturated fatty acid found in vegetable and animal fats and used in the soap making (saponification) process.  The higher quantity of stearic acid used in shaving soaps result in the lathering, slickness, and whisker softening qualities different from many soaps that are used for cleaning purposes.  Often fats/oils with higher amounts of stearic acid are used to produce shaving soaps.

Sweet Almond Oil – Derived from almonds, sweet almond oil is high in vitamins E, A, and D and also fatty acids.  It serves as a humectant and emollient providing skin conditioning properties to lathers.

T.

Tallow – Rendered animal fat.  Most tallow is derived from cattle or sheep.  Fat rendered from hogs is primarily known as lard but is sometimes referred to as tallow.  Tallow is high in stearic acid and is a major component in the non-vegan soap making process (saponification).

Tetrasodium EDTA – A chemical compound that is a chelating agent (water softener) that reduces soap scum and film build-up and boosts lather.  Tetrasodium EDTA is also a preservative that extends product shelf life by inhibiting bacterial and mold growth.

Tetrasodium Etidronatesee Tetrasodium EDTA

Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter see Cocoa Butter

Tin Oxide – A pigment used to color soap.

Titanium Dioxide – Used as a colorant or pigment in soaps.  Titanium dioxide gives soaps a natural white color and opacity.

Tocopherolsee Vitamin E

Tocopherol Acetate – A form of vitamin E that is less acidic and more stable than pure tocopherol.  See Vitamin E

Triethanolamine – A synthetic emulsifier and surfactant that is a strong base and is used to help balance the PH of products.  Also known as TEA.

Tussah Silk see Silk Protein

V.

Valeriana Celtica Extract – A natural extract derived from the speick plant that has a spicy, floral odor.  Spieck claims the extract also has properties that heal the body and mind and was first used by Egyptians 2500 years ago.

Vitamin E – An oil that is a fat soluble antioxidant.  Vitamin E can act as a skin protectant by neutralizing the oxidant effects of free radicals that damage skin and result in wrinkles and lines.  Vitamin E also increases the shelf life of products by preventing oxidization and rancidity of oils.  While sometimes referred to as a “natural preservative”, vitamin E is not a true preservative because it does not prevent bacterial or mold growth.  Pure vitamin E is also known as Tocopherol.

W.

Water – H2O.  A liquid that covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and is the major constituent of the fluids of organisms.  Water is also a major component in the soap making process.  Distilled water is often used in the making of shaving soaps so that the soap does not react with minerals in harder water which can create insoluble salts such as calcium stearate.  These insoluble salts are responsible for the film build-up, soap scum, or “bathtub ring effect” many soaps can have.


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2017-03-18T09:46:54+00:00By |