Who would have thought razor blades came with a long list of ingredients? Unfortunately, most of them do. And some of them aren’t pretty.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t learn about the dangers of razor moisture strips until just a few months ago. I was kind of shocked when I found out. After leading a chemical-free lifestyle for over five years, I was kind of disappointed in myself that I missed out on something I use at least once a week.
Dangers of Razor Moisture Strips
I remember briefly looking at the back of the box of my Schick Quattro refills but was never able to find an ingredient list. I know this is the same for quite a few other popular brands like Venus and Bic.
Why aren’t these companies listing their ingredients on the box? Do they figure that since the moisture strip is so small that it doesn’t affect our bodies in any way?
Let’s say someone is shaving their armpits. The moisture strip makes direct contact with the delicate tissue under the arms, where a high concentration of lymph nodes reside. The chemicals in moisture strips then make their way into our lymphatic system, as well as the tiny capillaries and veins (even more so if a cut is made).
Combine this with the fact that hot water opens up your pores and allows outside particles to enter your bloodstream more quickly, and you’ll be quick to ditch the razors with moisture strips.
And let me tell you. You definitely do not want these chemicals circulating in your body. Here’s why.
To make this easier, I did a little internet search and came across ingredient lists of moisturizing strips of some razors.
Schick Quattro Titanium
Ingredients: PEG-115M, Ceramide NG, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Stearate, Cyclodextrin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Maltodextrin, Water.
Schick Intuition Renewing Moisture with Pomegranate Extract
Ingredients: Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Isostearate, Water, Potassium Palmitate, Glycerin, Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylate, Potassium Cocoate, Kaolin, Potassium Isostearate, Sucrose Cocoate, Titanium Dioxide, Peg-50 Shea Butter, Sodium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Pentasodium Pentetate, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Red 33, Fragrance.
Gillette Venus Olay Women’s Razor Blade
Ingredients: Sodium Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Water/Eau, Sorbitol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Petrolatum, Polybutene, Sodium Myristate, Lauric Acid, PEG-90M, PEG-45M, Garcinia Indica Seed Butter, Fragrance/Parfum, PEG-7M, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Pentasodium Pentetate, Red 4, Yellow 10.
Gillette Venus Sensitive Disposable Razors
Ingredients: PEG-7M; PEG-115M; PEG-100; Silica; Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate; Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice; Tocopheryl Acetate; Tris(Di-T-Butyl)Phosphite; BHT; Glycol, Ribbon Of Moisture: PEG-115M; PEG-7M; PEG-100; Silica; Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate; Tocopheryl Acetate; Tris(Di-t-Butyl)Phosphite; Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil; Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil; BHT; Glycol.
Gillette Mach Disposable Razors
Ingredients: PEG-115M, PEG-7M, PEG-100, Silica, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Tris(Di-T-Butyl)Phosphite, BHT, Glycol.
Gillette Venus Embrace Sensitive Women’s Razor
Ingredients: PEG-115M, PEG-7M, PEG-100, Silica, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tris (Di-T-Butyl) Phosphite, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, BHT, Glycol.
Bic Soleil Lady Disposable Razors
Ingredients: PEG-115M, Tocopherol, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis, BHT.
Yikes – take a look at that list! Who knew!
No wonder so many people get rashes and/or razor burn after using razor blades with moisturizing strips (not to mention the chemical-based shaving creams marketed to those who shave). This is more so an allergic reaction than anything else.
So what’s so bad about these ingredients?
Polyethylene glycol (also known as polyethylene oxide or PEG) is “approved by the FDA for use as excipients or as a carrier in different pharmaceutical formulations, foods, and cosmetics,” according to some manufacturers (1). However, a quick look at an MSDS sheet for PEG says that “After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water,” and “Not for use in Food, Drugs or Cosmetics,” and “May cause skin irritation; May be harmful if absorbed through the skin.”
Polyethylene glycol is also often contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which makes it readily absorb into the skin and into our bloodstream (2). Not only does it increase the permeability of itself, but it allows greater absorption of other products in the ingredient list as well.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen (3). PEG compounds have shown evidence of genotoxicity, and if used on broken skin can cause irritation and systemic toxicity (4). Probably not so safe next to a razor blade on your skin, huh?
This chemical is a moderate concern for cancer, organ system toxicity, and is classified by the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List as toxic or harmful (5).
Similar to PEG, polysorbate 20 is treated with ethylene oxide for use in personal care products (yes, that includes razor blades). Any ingredient treated with ethylene oxide has the ability to become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a dangerous by-product (mentioned above). 1,4-Dioxane is a possible human carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin. It has also been linked with skin allergies (razor burn and rash, anyone?).
The Organic Consumers Organization released a fact sheet on 1,4-dioxane that revealed that this chemical is found in personal care products, 1,000 times higher than those found to cause cancer in animal studies. They add that according to the FDA, “Skin absorption studies demonstrated that dioxane readily penetrates animal and human skin from various types of vehicles.” This is especially concerning if you’re taking a hot bath or shower when your pores open up and take in more of the chemical than would be considered safe.
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a synthetic antioxidant used as preservatives in personal care products. This chemical can induce allergic reactions in the skin (6) and has been labeled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen (7).
There is strong evidence that tocopheryl acetate is a skin toxicant or allergen. There is a small concern that it is linked to cancer (8).
This preservative is restricted in Japan and is classified as an irritant by the European Union (9). Unfortunately, this preservative is manufactured whereby phenol is treated with ethylene oxide. As stated above, treatment with ethylene oxide leaves the concern that the resulting product is contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.
The MSDS on phenoxyethanol states that it can cause skin and lung irritation. It is also noted to be toxic to the kidneys, nervous system, and liver, and repeated, long-term exposure can cause organ damage.
Fragrance in any kind of personal care product is a major problem. Fragrance on an ingredient list refers to an “undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals,” which can be linked to all kinds of things like allergies, dermatitis and respiratory distress (10).
Color additives in personal care products should always be avoided. The most common synthetic colors used in personal care products are called FD&C colors. FD&C colors are derived from coal tar, which in turn is a by-product of petroleum. Some coal tar dyes have been known to cause cancer, due to their high levels of lead and/or arsenic. Other dyes have been associated with thyroid tumors, allergic reactions, hyperactivity and kidney tumors (11).
While the strips on most of these products are tiny (which means the amount of product absorbed into the skin is minimal), I’d still do my best to avoid it. There is no room in our lives for things that bring more toxicity into our bodies (especially when it is avoidable).
What Razor Blades To Use Instead?
While some people will be bummed to hear that their favorite razor blades contain potentially hazardous ingredients, the good news is, is that there are awesome alternatives. Plus, they cost way less and also reduce your carbon footprint.
My soon-to-be solution will be this stainless steel razor. With over 5,700+ positive reviews, this razor blade seems to do the trick. While it may be labeled as a “men’s” razor, does it really matter? A razor is a razor is a razor. Razors don’t discriminate between genders. They work for men, women and everyone in between.
I plan on purchasing this razor once my Schick Quattro razors are all used up (in the meantime, I will pick out the moisture strip with a pin on my remaining ones).
The replacement razors for this stainless steel razor are also incredibly cheap. For just $11.67 USD, you get 100 blades. For that same price, I could get 4-8 razor refills for my Quattro. And because the razors and blade are stainless steel, they don’t rust and last much longer than any plastic alternative.
Plus, you only need to change your blade about once every 2-3 months – that’s 4-6 blades a year. 100 blades could easily last you over 25 years. Incredible!
While you cannot fly with this razor on your carry-on bags, you can still bring along the razor, as long as you remove the blade first. Blades can easily be found at any supermarket in the hygiene section.
If you rather not shave, you can also choose to use body sugar as a way of hair removal. Sugaring removes the entire hair shaft, so when it grows back, it takes a much longer time, and also grows back much softer.