Why your shaving cream is watery and what to do about it?

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In this response post, I will discuss the reasons for your shaving cream turning watery or runny. I will also provide the most applicable suggestions to prevent your shaving cream from turning watery. I will tell you how to fix a runny shaving cream instead of wasting or replacing it with a new one.

Shaving creams have propellent added to them. The most common pressurized propellant gases are butane, isobutane, and propane. Sometimes this pressurized propellent gas runs out earlier than the cream itself, leaving it watery, runny and thin.

Please keep on reading, as I will explore in detail all the scientific facts that are responsible for making your shaving cream watery. 

Why your shaving cream is watery and what to do about it? 1

Your shaving cream exists in all states of matter:

Your shaving cream is a compressed gas when it is inside the can. As soon as you spray it out, your shaving cream is released in the form of a solid. Later on, when you lather, it condenses to a liquid.

What’s in your shaving cream?

Shaving cream has eighty percent of water in it. It has twenty percent ingredients that propel it out of the can. These ingredients bind it together, create the lather, soften your skin and preserve the cream for prolonged shelf life.

  1. Solvents: Water is a universal solvent that is used in a large quantity in your shaving cream. It dissolves the ingredients, together.
  2. Propellants: are compressed gases found inside a pressurized can, an aerosol can, that helps to expel out its contents. These gases push the liquid out of the can and help in foam formation. The propellants that are found in your shaving cream are butane, isobutane, and propane.

Your shaving cream is an aerosol spray. It is convenient to use. It is so easy to use because it provides a targeted stream that reduces waste. A key part of any aerosol spray is water.

Why your shaving cream is watery and what to do about it? 2

Reasons for separation of water, gas, and solids:

As you already know, your shaving cream is a mixture of liquefied gas and water, that is packed inside a pressurized container with a valve. When you open the valve by pushing the button on the top of your can, the inner pressure pushes the aerosol up the dip tube and out of the valve.

It is really necessary to SHAKE the can of your shaving cream before use to completely mix the gasses, water, and solids. Failure to SHAKE the can may result in the gas part (propellant) to be used first and trap the water inside the can.

You are responsible for making your shaving cream watery, runny or thin by NOT SHAKING it before every push of the button. Sometimes, common people have a misconception that extremely high temperature is responsible for watery shaving cream, yes, you should keep the can away from flames, but refrigerating it is not the solution after you have wasted all the gas by letting it diffuse prior to completion of your product.

The primary function of water in the spray can is to keep the entire formulation evenly mixed to assure the proper ingredient proportion of your shaving cream is the same throughout its complete use, until the very last droplet.

Encouraging even mixing helps extend the life of your shaving cream. The same is necessary for paint sprays. It will be as usable today as it was a couple of years ago if you have the habit of shaking your can on a regular basis, before and after every use.

Another important function of water in the spray can is to help produce a spray with a specific particle size. Air fresheners have the smallest invisible particles called mist, paint sprays have a medium particle size which will not drip or sag. Shaving cream has large particle size to maintain the flow and leveling, to promote a uniform film thickness and ensure a foamy lather is made out of it.

Water helps aerosol products in different ways. It holds the formulation together inside the can and it helps maintain the right particle size. Water prolongs the shelf life of your shaving cream and can lend important performance characteristics to it. Water simply makes it happen.

A combination of other ingredients like glycerine, lanoline and stearic acid gives your shaving cream its foamy, velvety texture. A combination of gases, solids and solvents (liquids) is necessary for a long-lasting, well-preserved and well-performing shaving cream to give you a comfortable, healthy and hygienic shave.

Why your shaving cream is watery and what to do about it? 3

The basic mechanism of shaving cream can:

As you already know that your shaving cream is an aerosol can, it uses compressed gas or liquefied gas as a propellant. The propellant will take liquid form when highly compressed, while it is well above its boiling point. Your shaving cream is liquid at room temperature, it is filled in before the can is sealed.

The propellant is pumped in under high pressure after the can is sealed. When the propellant is stored under very high pressure, it does not have enough space to expand into a gas. It has to stay in the liquid form as long as the pressure is maintained.

The basic mechanism at work is the same for all aerosol cans, whether the expelled product is thick shaving cream, whipped cream or any other household product.

What happens when you push the button?

As soon as the valve is opened the pressure on the liquefied gas is instantly reduced. After the reduction of the pressure, it begins to boil.  Its particles break free forming a layer of gas at the top of your can.

This layer of pressurized gas pushes the liquid cream out and also some liquid propellant up the tube to the nozzle. Some cans have a ball bearing inside them. When you shake the can, the rattling ball mix up the cream and the propellant, so the cream is pushed out in the form of fine foam.

When your shaving cream flows through the nozzle, its propellant continuously expands into a gas. The evaporating propellant forms bubbles in the cream, creating a foam. The consistency of the shaving cream depends on various factors like: the chemical composition of your cream and its propellant, the ratio of propellant to cream, the pressure of propellant and shape/size of the valve.

Why your shaving cream is watery and what to do about it? 4

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can refrigeration help improve the lifespan of my shaving cream?

“Soaps don’t have a ‘use by’ date. But creams do. The lifespan of your shaving cream is supposedly improved by storing your shaving cream in a cool place – what is a cool place throughout the summer? the fridge, probably the veggie drawer but shaving with cold cream somehow doesn’t sound appealing. So, use some Fuji film canisters and fill them with a bit of cream (enough for at least a week), keep those in the bathroom and keep the tubs in the fridge. Another advantage is that it definitely saves shelf space.”

  1. Is shaving cream a colloid?

Shaving cream is a special type of mixture called a colloid, consisting of tiny air bubbles dispersed in a liquid. This particular type of colloid can further be classified as a foam. Since the mixture itself consists of two distinct phases, it doesn’t really make sense to classify the entire mixture as one phase. If you had to pick one though, it is most nearly a liquid since that is the dispersion medium.

“Shaving cream is an example of a colloid, a gas dissolved in a liquid. After some time they separate. The thin watery liquid is the result. I suspect it’s a cheap brand with a limited lifespan as a colloid.”

So, to conclude this entire blog post, I would say that your shaving cream becomes watery because the compressed gas (propellant) found inside its can sometimes runs out before the shaving cream itself. Your shaving cream can is filled with both the cream and gasses like butane, isobutane, propane or pentane. When the propellant runs out it does not have enough pressure to aerate your shaving cream, so it comes out watery.

The best solution is to shake the container. Shaking it can emulsify the propellant into the water. When you push the button on the top of the can, the shaving cream comes out and any dissolved or emulsified propellant in the cream will instantly expand, creating bubbles.

This is very important for shaving cream because you want these bubbles to give you fluffy, foamy texture. When the solubility of the gas is low for the water then you will notice the propellant pushing out of the water, but the water will not contain enough propellant within it to produce a nice foam. You will only get watery, runny and flowing shaving cream.

Remember to shake the can of your shaving cream really hard for at least thirty seconds before every push of the button. This really necessary to keep all of the water, solids and compressed gasses well dissolved into each other.