What's the deal with self-heating shaving creams?

One particular shaving cream claims to deliver a heating sensation that helps open up pores. Find out if my dad thinks it will live up to its marketing claims.

Recently, I spotted an interesting product at the drugstore: a shaving cream that claimed to be “self-heating” and had a giant “PATENT PENDING” stamp on its label. I was intrigued, to say the least—so I snapped a picture and made a mental note to check it out later. One of my dad’s specialties was developing shave prep products, so I thought it would be interesting to get his perspective on this product. Here’s what he had to say about Van Der Hagen Self-Heating Shave Cream, based on its ingredient list.

Van Der Hagen Self-Heating Shave Cream

zeolite, peg-4, peg-8, pvp, glycerin, polyacrylic acid, fragrance, propylene glycol, water, decyl glucoside, sodium lauroyl lactylate, cyclomethicone, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, silicone, quaternium-17, acrylic acid, titanium dioxide, aminomethyl propanol, butylphenyl methylpropional, methyl ionones, hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, benzyl salicylate, d-limonene, linalool

My Dad the Chemist’s review of Van Der Hagen Self-Heating Shave Cream

Dear Emily, this Shave cream can be used for shaving, but has potential to clog the razor or reduce the life of the razor (usually not cheap).

The “Self-heating“ is a false claim, a slight warming effect may be from silica material Zeolite when comes contact with water (needs to wet face before applying so that slight warming may be felt, but many people don’t feel it at all).

I had experienced with Zeolite type of Shave cream in the past, not too positive result from our test panels.

Love,
Dad

My dad identified a few potentially problems about this shaving cream formula. One is that he thinks the ingredients have the potential to clog the razor, which could shorten the life of the razor. Razors may seem cheap, but they actually don’t last that long, so you certainly don’t want to shorten the life of your razor even further by clogging the blades.

He also noted that the “self heating” claim may come from combining zeolite (the first ingredient) with water. However, he has tested this before, which indicates that it’s not a new idea in the industry…so maybe it’s not always good to place too much weight behind a “patent pending” icon on a marketing label. When he teste zeolite shave creams in the past, he found that people don’t react that positively to the effect (if they perceived the “warming” sensation at all).

In this case, my dad’s prior work experience in developing shave prep formulas came in handy for spotting that the heating effects of zeolite + water are not a particularly new or noteworthy innovation in the shaving world. Still, it’s wise to keep in mind that my dad hasn’t specifically tried this formula, so he’s just speculating based on the ingredient list. But based on his past experiments with including zeolite (the main ingredient in this Van Der Hagen formula) in shave creams, he doesn’t think that the formula will be kind to your razor…and it may not even deliver any perceivable heating sensation.

Brownie points for effort

I like it when companies think outside the box and deliver intriguing and/or unusual personal care products, but it’s not always easy to see what’s marketing and what’s really innovative.

Other unusual products we’ve filed under innovation on this blog include:
- In-shower body lotion
- Liquid bandage
- Aluminum-free deodorant
- Hydrocolloid bandages, aka pimple patches
- Whipped sunscreen

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