$7.95 US for 6 fluid ounces ($1.32 per fluid ounce) on Amazon.com
Both the Men’s and Women’s versions have the same ingredients list.
Water (Aqua), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Glycol Distearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Polyether-1, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Xylitol, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit and Carica Papaya Fruit Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Linalool, Limonene, BHT, Perfluoromethyl-cyclopentane, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Titanium Dioxide, Citric Acid, Fragrance (Parfum)
Cremo Cream Shave cream is a detergent based shave cream that is thickened with stearic acid and gums. It is formulated with moisturizers and slip agents like macademia seed oil and perfluoromethylcyclopentane.
The combination of the detergent sodium cocoyl isethionate and stearic acid is quite common among skin cleansers and can be found in Lever, Cetaphil and other brands. These two ingredients comprise the majority of the product.
The ratio of sodium cocoyl isethionate and stearic acid will change how foamy and dense the product is. The more sodium cocoyl istheionate the foamier and more airy the product will be. Higher stearic acid content will make the product denser, less foamy and more creamy.
Because it is detergent based it will not be as strongly affected by hard water as a traditionally saponified oil soap.
Despite the marketing claims, Cremo Cream Shave Cream is not vastly different or unique. What is unique about the product is the inclusion of perfluoromethylcyclopentane. As a perfluorocarbon, it has a low coefficient of friction, making it very slippery on the skin. However the use of perfluorocarbons on the skin has not been thoroughly researched. There are some concerns that perflurocarbons can be an environmental pollutant.
The addition of glycol distearate, polyether-1, hydroxypropyl guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, and macademia seed oil also provide slippery and lubricating properties. Because they are listed higher up on the ingredients list, it’s more likely the slipperiness of the product is due to these ingredients as opposed to the perfluoromethylcyclopentane.
There are also antioxidant and antibacterial plant extracts in the product, but whether or not they remain on the skin long enough to have an effect is unlikely.
Things to Consider…
The product does contain fragrances and may cause irritation or sensitizing effects on the skin. One of these fragrances, lemon extract, is a known phototoxic irritant on the skin.
The product contains linalool. Linalool a component of lavender essential oil and extract has been found to be cytotoxic at minute doses to human fibroblast cells which are responsible for production of collagen and other connective tissue. Linalool also exhibited estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity in a study using human skin cell cultures (in vitro). The product is designed to be washed off, so these effects will likely be minimized, however some may choose to avoid the product because of the risk.
Perfluoromethylcyclopentane is a relatively new ingredient in skin care, its benefits and risks have not been thoroughly (or in this case even begun to be) assessed. Perfluorocarbons in general though are environmental pollutants and can bioaccumulate in the body.
The product is preserved with phenoxyethanol, which some people may have concerns with. However the dangers of phenoxyethanol may be overstated and some have not been fully studied in humans. A preservative is required to reduce bacterial and fungal growth. Cleansers can sometimes require more preservatives due to their high water content.
The Cremo Cream Shave Cream is packaged in a white opaque squeeze bottle, this will reduce the product’s exposure to air and contaminants which will prolong the effectiveness of its ingredients, as well as keep bacterial contamination low. Ideal packaging would be an airless pump packaging, as this would reduce exposure to an absolute minimum. Airless pump packaging is generally more expensive and presents a design challenge.
What’s in it?
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, is a detergent of the family of cocoyl isethionates including ammonium cocoyl isethionate. Cocoyl isethionates are gentle and non-irritating to the skin and are commonly found in baby shampoo formulations. They function best in the pH range of 5-7. One study examining sodium cocoyl isethionate’s mildness theorized that it was due to the relatively large “bubbles” or micelles formed by SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate), and because of this it wasn’t able to penetrate the skin – reducing irritation.
Stearic Acid is a fatty acid which is a hard, white, and waxy solid. It is commonly used to provide body and thickness to a cream product. Stearic acid will provide an emollient feeling to the skin. It is commonly used with detergents, such as sodium cocoyl isethionate, because it adds richness and thickness to the product without significantly reducing its foaming and cleaning ability. Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate also won’t dissolve in water, so mixing it in to a fatty acid like stearic acid is crucial in achieving uniformity throughout the product.
Glycol Distearate acts as an emulsifier and stabilizer in the product, it can also help increase foaminess. It also imparts an emollient feel on the skin, and also adds a pearly sheen to the product.
Cetearyl Alcohol acts as an emulsifier in the product, it can also help increase foaminess.
Polyether-1 is a nonionic gel thickener. It will turn water in to a thick, clear gel. It is generally unaffected by chemical salts, such as sodium cocoyl isethionate, and maintains its thickness and clarity.
Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride is a cationic gel thickener derived from guar gum. It will turn water in to a thick, translucent gel. The cationic property allows it to bind to skin, providing a slippery feel.
Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil is a plant oil which is comprised of 60% oleic fatty acid and 19% palmitoleic fatty acid. It will leave an emollient residue on the skin. It is low in skin beneficial linoleic fatty acid and contains only 1-2% of this fatty acid. People with tree nut allergies will want to stay away from this ingredient as it can act as an allergy trigger.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. It is commonly used in diet foods as it contains about 1/3 of the calories of regular table sugar. Some studies of diebetic rats have found that oral consumption of xylitol increased skin collagen synthesis. Topically it can act as a humectant, binding water from the air in to the skin. It has been used topically in dentistry to help prevent cavities. Studies examining xylitol’s possible antibacterial effect are not conclusive, and it only shows enhancement of other antibacterial ingredients in very specific conditions.
Antioxidants and Actives
Allantoin is an ingredient found in comfrey as well as mammalian urine. Allantoin will help skin shed, and may act as an antioxidant. Allantoin has been shown to increase skin healing in rats. Allantoin is combined with onion extract in a scar treatment gel, though silicone scar gels may be more effective.
Aloe Vera, in common-knowledge is known as a skin soother, healer, and sunburn treatment, However research backing up these claims are a little bit scant and sometimes conflicting (This study found that aloe had both anti-oxidants and pro-oxidants which damaged DNA). Aloe contains salicylic acid, magnesium lactate and gel polysaccharides. Salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory on the skin. Magnesium lactate may also reduce histamine production in the skin which is largely responsible for causing itchiness. Polysaccharides act as moisturizers and water binders. Aloe vera may also possess antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, but that hasn’t been thoroughly researched yet on human skin. In rats, aloe vera gel was found to improve wound healing, specifically a glycoprotein found in aloe vera may be responsible. Aloe vera was shown to reduce erythema (redness and inflammation) caused by UV radiation in a study.
Perfluoromethylcyclopentane is commonly used as a tracer to detect structural leaks and damage in wells and other reservoirs. In skin care, perfluorocarbons are theorized to help deliver oxygen to the skin. Topical oxygen may have some benefit in wound healing, but this does not extrapolate to anti-aging benefits. Not enough studies have been performed on the use of perfluorocarbons topically to verify it’s benefits and possible risks. Perfluorocarbons do have a negative impact on the environment and have been known to bioaccumulate in animals. The ingredient vaporizes above human skin temperature.
Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit extract, is a phototoxic fragrance which can increase sensitivity UV light as well as cause an inflammatory response in UV light. The phototoxicity is likely due to a chemical known as bergapten, but this is likely not the only phototoxic chemical – because of this, it would be wise to avoid all citrus extracts as they provide no benefits to the skin and may act as an irritant.
Linalool, a component of lavender essential oil, has been found to be cytotoxic at minute doses to human fibroblast cells which are responsible for production of collagen and other connective tissue. Linalool also exhibited estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity in a study using human skin cell cultures (in vitro).
Limonene is a common fragrance which has been shown to be a skin irritant. Studies have shown that it may be the result of oxidization that forms these irritating compounds.
BHT or Butylated hydroxytoluene, is an antioxidant preservative. It helps reduce oxidization of other ingredients in the product. Studies have shown that BHT is generally well tolerated by the skin, and does not penetrate the skin barrier.
Phenoxyethanol is a preservative. Phenoxyethanol has allergenic potential, slight irritation potential. A study found that phenoxyethanol may penetrate the skin, though the test was performed on animals. Phenoxyethanol can also break down in to the toxins phenol and acetaldehyde, but only in the presence of very strong acids. I’ve seen mention on-line regarding pheoxyethanol and it’s possible estrogenic effect, but have not seen any studies to corroborate this.
Ethylhexylglycerin is a preservative. It may have some emollient properties on the skin. There have been reports of allergy caused by the ingredient, but is generally well tolerated by the skin.
Fragrance (parfum), can be irritating to the skin and in some cases phototoxic and cytotoxic.
Colorants and Chelators
Titanium Dioxide is used as a colorant in this product, and provides an opaque white effect.
Citric Acid is used to lower the pH of the product, as well it acts as a chelator binding with metal ions reducing their ability to form harmful compounds. It can also be used as a water softener, binding with magnesium and calcium ions.
Quoted from the Cremo Cream website, “Most shave “creams” and “gels” are actually foam–which is primarily air. Visualize a sharp blade scraping across your delicate skin with air as the main lubricant. It tears your skin, creates little cuts and nicks that bleed, and leaves your skin looking and feeling rough.
Cremo has no air: it’s an extremely rich cream. It contains unique, super-lubricating, highly slippery molecules that have been compounded with powerful skin conditioners. Together they make your blade glide effortlessly over your skin like an ice skate. It leaves your skin astonishingly soft and smooth. We think you will find this is better than anything else you have ever used. Try it once to believe it. Enjoy it for life.”
The Match Up
“Cremo has no air: it’s an extremely rich cream” This is just untrue. It contains the surfactant Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate which will form bubbles. While the addition of stearic acid may make the bubbles denser and more “cream” like, it definitely contains air. It also contains oxygen in the form of Perfluoromethylcyclopentane which has dubious effects on the skin.
“It contains unique, super-lubricating, highly slippery molecules” while there are lubricants in the product, many are not unique to the product. Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Aloe Vera and the gums Polyether-1 Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride will provide slip, but can be found in many products. Perfluoromethylcyclopentane is a slippery ingredient and does seem to be unique to Cremo Cream’s product, however its effect on the skin has not been fully studied.