I remember wearing backwards button down shirts and loading up my kindergarten desks with mountains of shaving cream. It was a fun, clean activity. But recently, the rise of slime and puffy paint recipes using the stuff has parents wondering, "What is a safe shaving cream for toddlers to play with?"
Now, I'm not talking about the fancy hipster stuff my husband uses. This isn't the soap and brush in a dish made of recycled beer bottles and the tears of their fathers' disappointment. I'm talking about the white, aerosol foam that comes out of an almost generic-looking canister that is frequently buy-one-get-one. There is a positive outcry over the stuff. Entire forums are flourishing with the evils of the white foam monster. Basically, if the boogie man could bottle his ectoplasm with just enough propellant to get it out of the canister, that is apparently what shaving foam could be.
And then there's the other side. The crafty people. The people who use enough of the fluffy stuff in their crafting recipes that you would think it's the mystical clouds of Rivendell, gifted to us from the prettiest of all of the elves. It can marble paper, make a gooey slime, a washable paint, flubber-y stuff — anything you can think of, it can do.
But really, is it safe? Is one better than another? Is there such a thing as a shaving cream safe for toddlers to play with?
According to Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, in his article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, shaving cream is "not very toxic." What does that mean for parents and educators looking for a safe shaving cream for toddlers and children? It means to follow the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for shaving cream. Don't let your toddlers eat it like fluffy magic snow, and be careful they don't touch their eyes — I put goggles on my kids when we played with it. (I think I should've worn them changing my son's diaper. Goggles are good.) If you're avoiding the eyes and mouth, the pediatricians at HealthyChildren.org maintained that it is a safe household item.
So what's the fuss? It is essentially soaps, surfactant, and propellant, according to the previous article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If you look at the ingredients of shaving cream, and compare them to the ingredients in baby soap, they look similar, because they are. Only baby soap has coloring, and shaving cream has propellant, in very small quantities, noted the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. But, the can reads "keep out of reach of children," because it's not a food product. Toothpaste reads the same, but everyone still brushes their teeth. If you're reasonably careful, go ahead and make the goop. Most of the cheap shaving creams have the same ingredients, so go cheap or go home.