Brett, a 25-year-old in Australia, has been shaving for six years. And in that time, he has never once lathered up his face with shaving cream. “My dad never used it, so when he taught me to shave, he just gave me a razor and said, ‘Go nuts,’” Brett tells me.
Nothing has really changed in the years since. When he shaves, there is a razor — and nothing else. “I go down my cheeks to get the majority of hair, then I go up my cheeks to get rid of the base of the hair so I only have to shave every two days rather than daily,” he explains.
Although he can’t compare it against anything else, Brett is certain that dry-shaving provides him with a closer shave. “The only downsides I can see is that when I have the occasional pimple on my face, particularly the upper lip, it can hurt when I accidentally cut it,” he says. The convenience, however, outweighs any pain. “Why add extra steps and mess when I can just grab a razor and shave in a bit over one minute before I go to have a shower?”
Kansas City dermatologist Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin can think of a few reasons. For starters, shaving sans cream can vary widely based on the makeup of an individual’s skin. “Shaving cream moisturizes the hair and the skin, increasing the water content of the hair, which, in turn, makes the hair softer and easier to cut,” Tonkovic-Capin explains. “In addition, shaving cream decreases friction between the skin surface and the razor blade, reducing the chance of razor burns.”
This is especially crucial if you already have dry skin or are prone to eczema, Tonkovic-Capin says.
If you’re still undeterred, Tonkovic-Capin recommends at least using moisturizer once you’ve put down the blade, as scraping a razor across your skin is a pretty extreme form of exfoliation.
To his credit, Derek, a 29-year-old in Arizona who eschews shaving cream, knows his post-shave moisturizing is saving his skin. Interestingly enough, he started out “always using shaving cream.” In fact, he never gave it “a second thought.” As is the shower-shaver’s bargain, however, one day he turned the wrong way and all the shaving cream he’d just applied washed down the drain. “I felt the spot I just shaved [with cream] and noticed that I missed some hairs. But instead of lathering up again, I decided to just go for it with the razor,” he explains. “To my surprise, it went pretty smoothly, and I got a much closer shave than I’d ever had before.”
Derek’s sworn off shaving cream ever since, believing the shower provides enough lubrication on its own to get the job done. Plus, he vows that when it comes to shaving tricky areas like his neck, dry-shaving “works like a dream.” “I don’t think I’ll ever go back!” he claims.
Finally, there’s Scott, a 42-year-old in Canada who’s run the gamut of shaving with everything that’s not shaving cream. For him, it just makes too much financial sense. “The overall purpose of the cream is to provide a smooth glide across the skin for the razor,” he says. “Soap does this in spades for pennies in comparison.” Better yet, he adds, “With the soap, it washes right off and leaves me smelling like Ivory Soap, my favorite.” (He also doesn’t like the mess shaving cream leaves behind: “It’s impossible to find the right amount you need. Too much, and it’s all over the place, falling off your face. Too little, and you’ve lost the reason you bought the stuff in the first place.”)
Scott’s no stranger to dry-shaving either. “This may sound a little rustic, but when camping, I’ll typically just have one knife on me. So if I decide to shave, I’ll ensure it’s nice and sharp and go to town,” he tells me. “Heck, I even used the reflection in a pond one time to help me out.”
As of late, however, Scott has had a slight change of heart. “My wife introduced me to a shaving cream with a brush from The Body Shop of all places,” he explains. “These sorts of kits always seemed like a waste of money to me in the past, but with this one, you get the brush nice and warm and damp and just wipe up a little and start applying a little at a time without all the mess.”
It’s proven to be a gateway drug to a whole new him. “I liked it enough,” he concludes, “that I just bought a whole new tub the other day. Maca root, I think it’s called.”