True Cellular Formulas Team - February 2, 2024

Rethinking Your Shave

The Hidden Dangers of Lubricating Strips in Razors


Shaving is a routine part of personal grooming for many, but it can sometimes lead to unexpected skin irritation. While we often blame the razor or our technique, there's another potential culprit: the lubricating strip on disposable razors. These strips, designed for skin protection, may contain harmful chemicals like Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs), commonly used in products from popular brands. This blog delves into the hidden dangers these substances pose, not just in contact with our skin, but potentially absorbed into our bloodstream.

Understanding the Lubricating Strip

When it comes to shaving, the razor you use plays a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth, irritation-free experience. Central to this process is the lubricating strip, a feature found on most modern disposable razors. This small, often colored strip located at the top of the razor blade is designed to reduce friction, providing a smoother glide over the skin to minimize nicks, cuts, and irritation.

The lubricating strip typically contains a combination of ingredients intended to moisturize and protect the skin during shaving. Common components include polyethylene glycol (PEG), aloe vera, vitamin E, and other lubricants. These ingredients are selected to create a more comfortable shaving experience by providing a thin layer of protection between the blade and the skin. While these strips may seem beneficial, recent findings raise concerns about certain chemicals commonly used in them, which leads us to the next critical section of our discussion.

Spotlight on Harmful Chemicals

Among the various ingredients used in lubricating strips, two have drawn significant attention due to their potential health risks: Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs).[1-4]

BHT, a synthetic antioxidant, is widely used in cosmetics and food products. However, its presence in the lubricating strips of razors is concerning due to its classification as a potential hormonal disruptor. Hormonal disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the endocrine system, the network of glands that produce and regulate hormones in the body. Research has suggested that exposure to hormonal disruptors may lead to various health issues, including reproductive problems and increased cancer risk.[1-4]

PEGs, on the other hand, are compounds used for their moisturizing properties. They are commonly found in a range of personal care products, including lubricating strips.[5-7] The concern with PEGs lies in their potential contamination with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane during the manufacturing process. Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen, while 1,4-dioxane is a suspected human carcinogen. The presence of these contaminants in products applied directly to the skin, like razors, raises questions about the potential for nervous system damage and increased cancer risk.

The revelation of these chemicals in everyday shaving products underscores the importance of scrutinizing the ingredients in personal care items. As consumers become more aware of the potential risks associated with these substances, the demand for safer, more transparent products grows.

Brands Under the Microscope

When examining the use of potentially harmful chemicals in razor lubricating strips, it's important to scrutinize the products of popular brands, as they are widely used by consumers worldwide. Giants in the industry like Gillette and BIC often come under the spotlight due to their extensive market presence. These companies, known for their innovation in personal grooming products, have incorporated various chemicals into their razor strips for added comfort and efficiency in shaving.

However, the presence of chemicals like BHT and PEGs in their products has raised significant health concerns. BHT, used for its antioxidant properties, and PEGs, used for moisture retention, are common in many personal care products but have controversial reputations due to their potential health risks. While these companies adhere to safety regulations and standards, the long-term effects of regular exposure to these chemicals through shaving are not fully understood. This lack of clarity calls for more transparency and research from these brands, as well as a push for safer alternatives in the industry.

The Impact on Your Health

The skin, being the largest organ of the body, is a significant point of entry for substances applied to it. When you shave, the lubricating strip on the razor directly contacts your skin, potentially allowing chemicals like BHT and PEGs to be absorbed. The concern is not just about the immediate effects, such as skin irritation or allergic reactions, but also about the long-term implications of these chemicals entering the bloodstream.

Hormonal disruptors like BHT can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system, potentially leading to reproductive health issues and increased cancer risk. Similarly, the contaminants in PEGs, such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, are associated with nervous system damage and cancer. The risk is particularly concerning given the frequency of shaving for many individuals, leading to regular and prolonged exposure to these chemicals.

Understanding the potential health impacts of these ingredients is crucial for making informed decisions about personal care products. It's not just about avoiding immediate skin irritation, but also about being mindful of the long-term health risks associated with the chemicals we expose our bodies to. This knowledge empowers consumers to choose products that are not only effective but also safe for their overall health.

Safer Alternatives and Practices

In light of the concerns surrounding traditional disposable razors, it's essential to explore safer alternatives and practices for shaving. One effective option is to switch to safety razors, which typically do not have lubricating strips and offer a close shave with reduced chemical exposure. These razors have the added benefit of being eco-friendly, as they are often made from durable materials and use replaceable single blades, reducing plastic waste.

For those who prefer the convenience of disposable razors, look for brands that use natural ingredients in their lubricating strips. Some companies are now offering razors with strips containing aloe vera, shea butter, or other natural moisturizers, avoiding the use of BHT and PEGs. Additionally, incorporating natural shaving creams or gels into your routine can enhance skin protection and reduce the reliance on the lubricating strip for a smooth shave.

Proper skin care post-shave is also crucial. Using alcohol-free, gentle moisturizers or aftershave products can help soothe the skin without exposing it to harmful chemicals. It's also beneficial to stay informed about the ingredients in your skincare products, opting for those with fewer synthetic compounds and more natural, skin-friendly ingredients.


The discovery of potentially harmful chemicals in the lubricating strips of razors is a reminder of the importance of being aware of what we're putting on our skin. While these strips are designed to protect and soothe, they can carry hidden risks that impact our health in the long run. By making informed choices about our shaving tools and practices, we can better protect our skin and overall health.

This exploration into the ingredients of razor lubricating strips is not just about finding safer alternatives but is also a call to action for greater transparency and responsibility in the personal care industry. As consumers become more informed, it's hoped that companies will respond by developing products that are safe, effective, and environmentally friendly. Until then, being vigilant about the products we use and choosing safer options is a significant step towards healthier skin and a healthier life.

  1. “Butylated Hydroxytoluene.” Butylated Hydroxytoluene - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024. 
  2. Baur, A.K. et al., “The lung tumor promoter, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), causes chronic inflammation in promotion-sensitive BALB/cByJ mice but not in promotion-resistant CXB4 mice,” Toxicology 169, no. 1 (December 2001): 1-15.
  3. Wada, H. et al., “In vitro estrogenicity of resin composites,” Journal of Dental Research 83, no. 3 (March 2004): 222-6.
  4. Schrader, TJ and GM Cooke, “Examination of selected food additives and organochlorine food contaminants for androgenic activity in vitro,” Toxicological Sciences 53, no. 2 (February 2000): 278-88.
  5. Black RE, Hurley FJ, and Havery DC. “Occurrence of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic raw materials and finished cosmetic products.” Int J PharJ AOAC Int. 84, 3 (May-Jun 2001):666-70.
  6. Brashear, A. et al. “Ethylene oxide neurotoxicity: a cluster of 12 nurses with peripheral and central nervous system toxicity.” Neurology 46, 4 (Apr 1996):992-8.
  7. California. EPA. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity. February 5, 2010.

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