Choose appropriate shaving products for optimum results

February 3, 2010

Skincare products developed for a specific purpose work best. Most companies put a lot of time and effort into formulation, and there is no doubt that shaving cream is the best product for any shave in any area in both sexes.

Key Points

Q: Can soap be used instead of shaving cream when shaving the legs and the face?

It goes without saying that skincare products developed for a specific purpose work best. Most companies put a lot of time and effort into formulation, and there is no doubt that shaving cream is the best product for any shave in any area in both sexes.

Bar soap, hair conditioner and body wash leave a film on the blade. This does not allow the blade to rinse clean and results in a poorer-quality shave and reduced blade life. Mouthwash results in no reduction in friction and can remove the protective coating over the blades. All in all, shaving cream is the best shaving product on the market.

Q: What is sensitive skin?

A: Sensitive skin can be anything the manufacturer wants it to be. Why? Because sensitive skin is a marketing term with no scientific meaning! Even consumers do not know what constitutes sensitive skin.

About 60 percent of the population will profess to being affected by sensitive skin. If this is true, then sensitive skin is normal skin, since the majority of the population has this need. Based on this perception, products for sensitive skin are the fastest-growing segment in skincare.

From a scientific standpoint, "appropriate for sensitive skin" can have several meanings. It can mean that the product has no irritants and is unlikely to cause irritant contact dermatitis. It can also mean that the product was tested on persons with atopic dermatitis, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and acne and that it did not cause any problems. Thus, sensitive skin speaks to something appealing to consumers, but it remains scientifically ambiguous.

Q: Can a moisturizer damage the skin after repeated use?

A: Many patients with dry skin will apply a hand lotion every hour on the hour to combat dry skin. This may not be the best use of hand lotion and can damage the skin, especially if the hand lotion has a high water content. The repeated wetting and drying of the skin with the hand lotion can damage the skin barrier.

Thus, a hand lotion should be selected that has more moisturizers and emollients to obviate the need for hourly application. A quality hand lotion should last at least four hours and preferably 12-plus hours. Products that must be applied hourly are not of therapeutic value and are either inexpensive formulations, or designed primarily to fragrance the hands and not to moisturize.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a Dermatology Times editorial adviser and consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net

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