Having the right tools is crucial to getting the perfect shave. Some men prefer to shave with an electric razor or trimmer, which doesn't require any shaving cream.
If you prefer that super-clean razor-smooth shave, shaving cream makes an incredible difference. Minimizing the friction between the razor and your skin is a game-changer that helps you get the close shave you’re after without causing razor bumps or ingrown hairs. There will be moments, however, that you need to get rid of your scruff and there’s no shaving cream anywhere in sight.
Or, maybe you want to avoid specific shaving cream ingredients, or perhaps you just want to shave a few minutes off of your morning routine. Knowing how to shave without shaving cream can make all the difference in these moments.
Why Is Shaving Cream Important?
Let’s first understand why shaving cream is so important. What does shaving cream actually do?
- Shaving cream acts as a lubricating layer between your skin and the blade– and we all know that lubrication is key, right? Razors are designed to cut through your wiry facial hair, but your skin is soft and sensitive. So when the tiny imperfections in your skin cause any resistance with that blade, the friction can lead to razor burn, cuts, and irritation of hair follicles. Shaving cream acts to level the playing field, so to speak, while also adding the lubrication that helps the blade to glide smoothly over your skin resistance-free.
- Many shaving creams also contain ingredients that moisturize your face. Shaving over-dry skin increases the risk of damaging or irritating the top layer of your skin, which can lead to nicks, cuts, breakouts, or razor burn. Alcohol-based creams are likely to dry out your skin, but natural products contain emollient ingredients like coconut and jojoba oils or shea butter that seal in your skin’s natural moisture.
- Shaving gels and creams moisturize and hydrate your scruff, too - the foam helps your beard and your shaved head, too, retain its moisture while you shave. Wetting your whiskers for a few minutes before you shave will give them a quick hydrating boost - a few minutes in the shower will do the trick - and locking in that extra moisture keeps your beard from drying back out when you shave. The softer hair your whiskers are, the easier they will be to cut because soft hair offers less resistance against your razor blade than stiff, brittle hair. This leads to less skin irritation and a better shaving experience.
If you want to go without shaving cream, you’ll want to make sure that your skincare routine incorporates products that will help to compensate for the benefits that shaving cream has to offer.
If you’re already using a natural moisturizer with emollient ingredients, for example, your skin will be better prepped for your shave before you even pick up your razor. A solid skincare routine isn’t just about keeping pimples at bay - it sets the foundation for healthy skin across the board.
Substitutions For Shaving Cream
If you’re staring at a travel bag devoid of shaving cream for the first time, you’re probably running through a list of potential shaving cream alternatives: Can I use soap as shaving cream? What about my girlfriend’s body lotion? How about just tap water? Will I damage my skin if I just do this dry?
You’re in luck; you can use other standard bathroom products in place of shaving cream in a pinch. When weighing your options, you’ll want to grab something that will provide some of the benefits of your usual product.
Body soap, which you should be able to find in any bathroom that has a shower, can be used to provide the lubrication layer that will protect your skin from the razor blade. Similarly, a standard hair conditioner is great for softening up your facial hair pre-shave and will also help your beard retain its moisture during the process. You could even use body lotion, but you’ll have to rinse out your razor more frequently as the lotion will clog up your blades way faster than shaving cream.
If you do shave without shaving cream, or a dry shave, make sure you’re still incorporating the skincare steps that will keep your skin supple and smooth post-shave:
- Wash your face with warm water before you shave. You should do this every time you shave, but it’s especially important if you’re going without shaving cream. If your skin does get irritated during your shave it’ll be extra prone to breakouts, so getting all of the gunk out of the picture pre-shave is key. Using a gentle lathering cleanser to wash your face with warm water will remove excess oils, dead skin, and germs from your face.
- Exfoliate! An exfoliating scrub, or even just using a loofah or washcloth with your usual cleanser, will go the extra mile to remove dead skin and gunk from your complexion, which can clog up your razor or cause extra irritation when you’re shaving without shaving cream. However, be careful not to overdo the exfoliation, as this can cause micro-abrasions on your skin. Opt for a gentle exfoliating face scrub that incorporates soothing products like aloe and chamomile, which will soothe and repair your skin while the exfoliating particles slough off that excess muck.
- Shave towards the end of your shower, or right after you towel off. All of that heat and steam will soften your skin and your facial hair which, as we now know, reduces the risk of irritation. The steam also opens up your pores, so this is the perfect time to reach for your face wash to maximize the cleansing benefits. Then, right when you jump out of the shower, strike while the iron (and your skin) is hot and shave right away while your skin and scruff are clean, soft, and supple.
- Moisturize your face before and after you shave. Using a good moisturizer with ingredients like Vitamin E oil, which has widely touted moisturizing benefits, to condition your skin before you shave will help you to avoid irritating your face while you’re shaving. You should always moisturize after you shave, but this is even more important if you’re substituting for shaving cream, which usually has some built-in moisturizing component.
If for some reason you find yourself out of your usual shaving soap and usual bathroom products, other less conventional shaving cream alternatives include olive oil, peanut butter, coconut oil, baby oil, and aloe vera.
Keep in mind that skincare is self-care. Shaving can be rough on your skin - especially if you forego using shaving cream - and lots of guys inadvertently damage their skin by using the wrong products or skipping steps.
A skincare routine that incorporates products with beneficial natural ingredients will prep your skin for the perfect shave and minimize the potential for breakouts, razor burn, and irritation.