I am a big promoter of mastering the wet shave. That is when you use a high quality shaving soap and a badger hair brush with plenty of water to prep your face. Then you take a wicked sharp blade and banish your facial hair.

It goes against my very nature to then turn around and give tips on how to shave without shaving cream.

And, truth be told, I found myself in a few jams before when I had to forego the foam.

Seeing as how I have been asked a few times, I will take up the challenge. There are some valid reasons for shaving without shaving cream, so I will go over when it is appropriate to do it and then offer up some tips on how.

Reasons for shaving without shaving cream

With shaving cream so readily available, it seems like a lot to go through to avoid using it. But, there are some compelling reasons to try it without. Anyway, shaving without shaving cream doesn’t mean not using any lubrication.

Here are a few reasons you may find yourself needing to know how to shave without shaving cream:

Thin and wispy facial hair

When you are a tee especially, you have hair that just doesn’t have any thickness to it and is not even enough of a beard to be considered patchy.

Why should you go through the whole routine when there is barely anything there to shave?

For some it takes longer to apply the gel or cream than it does to shave it off. Then you have to clean up afterwards.

These guys don’t need shaving cream. If you are one of them then keep reading as I will give some tips later on for how to still give yourself a comfortable shave.

You used the last of the cream and forgot to get more

This is something that has happened to just about every guy at one point or another. You’re frantically trying to get foam out of the aerosol can, thinking that if you press the button harder then something will end up happening besides the sputtering and spraying.

Is there time to jump on down to CVS to get another can? No. Is there time to whip up some soap with a badger hair brush and do a wet shave? Not even close.

So you are forced to go dry. Or at least foamless.

You’re old school

Maybe you just don’t like the idea of using an aerosol can of cream or gel. I’m not a big fan of shaving creams from a can (Except for Proraso in a can from Amazon.com). If you are one of those guys, you’re really onto something and will benefit from this article as there are so many ways to shave without shaving cream. And most of them are actually better than using a foam anyway.

After all, aerosol shaving creams are relatively new, but guys have been shaving for thousands of years. So what did they use back in the day?

You’re a total masochist

You’ve always wondered why we need to use shaving cream anyway. How bad can it burn to do it dry? You need to find out for yourself no matter how badly it will feel.

What could go wrong?

Can you use something other than shaving cream?

No need to go too extreme. You don’t have to torture yourself by using a razor on dry skin to shave if you don’t have any shaving cream.

Here are some things you can use instead:


The way that guys back in Roman times used to shave was with an oil. Usually olive oil. If you are in a jam and have run out of shaving cream then you can absolutely use some olive oil that you would cook with.

In fact it would be really good for your skin anyway. Much better than an aerosol shaving cream, that’s for sure.

Olive oil has a lot of squalene which mimics your sebum. This is the body’s natural oil that hydrates your skin and hair. If you had a beard, your body would excrete this sebum and make your beard soft as long as it isn’t too long.

It also is a very good antioxidant so it will ride the outer layers of your skin of any free radicals for a more youthful appearance.

One word of warning about olive oil is that it can clog the pores.

The way to use it then is to wet your face well with warm water to moisten the skin and whiskers. Then pat your face dry with a towel and rub about a quarter sized amount of olive oil onto your skin. Rub it well so the stubble stands up.

Then shave as normal, making sure to rinse your razor often as the oil can clog it if you are using a multi blade system.

Then when you are done, wash your face well of the oil so your pores aren’t clogged and you’re done. Your face will be left soft and smooth and in better shape than if you had just used a cream.

Now, if you aren’t in a jam because you ran out of foam and just want an alternative to shaving cream, then you can try sole oils especially for shaving.

This Alonzo’s shaving oil from Amazon.com is a great example of a way to avoid using a shaving cream. Your skin will love it when you use this oil as it softens and hydrates your skin wonderfully.

It’s a blend of seed and nut oils that will not only lubricate your skin for a smooth shave, but also nourish it leaving it healthier than ever.

Other oils that would be great to use are sweet almond oil, argan oil and jojoba oil. All of them are great for your skin anyway and will provide all the lubrication you need for a smooth and razor burn free shave.


I hope you are using a good moisturizing soap for washing your face and body and not some industrial soap that dries out your skin and is not good for you.

Whether you are using a natural soap or not, you can easily use your bar soap to shave.

Back in my college days, I did this plenty of times.

Just lather your face up well and shave as you normally would. The only thing to remember is that the soap dries quickly so you will need to freshen it up a few times before you get the razor over that area.

You really need the lather to be charged or you’ll get some drag from the razor and end up with razor burn.

Hair conditioner

If you’re seeing a trend here, then you’ve noticed that anything that is lubricating and moisturizing for your skin or hair will be a good substitute for shaving cream.

If you don’t usually use conditioner, but your wife or girlfriend does, then just use some of hers.

Again, just make sure your face is washed well and very wet so your skin and stubble are both hydrated.

You don’t need to pat dry this time like I suggested if you were using oil.

Add about a quarter sized portion to your palm and then rub it into your face. Rub it in well to get the stubble well coated and standing up away from your skin.

Then shave as normal. This won’t dry out as quickly as soap, but just make sure you are paying attention to how wet or dry it is.

Add some water to any areas that seem to be dried out.

How to shave without foam

As you have seen by the last section, you really don’t have to shave dry. There are options no matter what you’re reasoning is for not using shaving cream. But if you really want to shave without any kind of product here are some tips to keep in mind.

Big no if you have a thick beard

Really, if your 5 o’clock shadow begins right after lunch then your beard is way too thick to be shaving without any lubrication. It’s going to be painful and you’ll end up with the mother of all razor burn. I don’t see how that is worth it.

If you have very light facial hair that isn’t fully grown in then, you should be ok.

Don’t go dry, use water at least

Ok, if you are going to go without any lube then at least soak your face. Get it as wet as possible and keep wetting it as you shave. So, shave a few strokes then add more water and keep repeating.

The best way to go is to do this after a shower when your face is wet and the pores are opened. Actually, even better is to just go ahead and shave in the shower. That way you don’t run the risk of any part of your face drying out.

Use a new razor

You’ll need a very sharp razor, if you have a straight edge or safety razor then that would be best.

If you’re using a disposable, then at least make sure it is new. Even one only used a couple of times is probably duller than you think. The disposable blades are extremely thin so they get dull very fast.

You want to avoid having to go over the same spot multiple times to not get razor burn, so the sharpness of the razor is very important. Though, I’ll reiterate here that the wetness of your face is what will help the shave more than anything.

Only go with the grain

Don’t try to get as close as possible when you shave if you don’t have any cream. Just get to the point where you look presentable at least.

That means just going with the direction of your beard growth.

If your beard grows down, then just shave down. Pay attention to the way to grows all around as your beard probably grows up at the area under your chin around the bottom. If you go against the grain then you are opening yourself up to the possibility of ingrown hairs which would really suck. Razor burn is bad enough but ingrown hairs are painful and unsightly.

Use cold water to rinse your razor

You want your face to be lubed with warm water to keep the blade moving, but using cold water to rinse the blade will allow the blade to contract and have a straighter edge. If you use warm or hot water the blade expands and doesn’t have a straight edge. This could lead to nicks or cuts since your face is not properly lubricated if you’re only using water.

Moisturize after


Now that you have the hair off of your face, and assuming you aren’t in too much pain, you need to heal your skin.

Get a moisturizer lotion or cream and get it into the skin. You’ll soothe any burning and repair any damage you’ve done to your face.

Actually, before you even apply it, douse your face in very cold water to constrict the pores and tighten the skin, then apply the moisturizer.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read the guide, are you sure you want to this? I mean, if you are out of cream you have no choice, but you can at least use a substitute.

If you are just feeling bold, I hope this article has given you some pause.

If not, then just go for it and use it as a learning experience. You can learn about your threshold for discomfort for example!

Unless you do give yourself some ingrown hairs, you’re not doing any lasting damage so at the end of the day it is no big deal.

If you do decide to try it out then report back here with your experience. Good, bad or otherwise we’d love to hear how it went!

Just leave a comment in the box below!

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I’m an outdoor enthusiast and have sported a full beard since I was in my early 20’s. Originally, growing a beard was a way to save time when getting ready each day, but I quickly realized that keeping a neatly trimmed beard takes work and some forethought. That’s where this site comes in.

You get to benefit from my years of experience. I’ve reviewed many of the top hair clippers on the market today and also included some information on what works best for me. A great beard will turn lots of heads in your direction.

Since I never know when I’m going to find myself being photographed, whether it’s climbing in Yosemite, or playing volleyball on the beach, it’s important to me to always look my very best. Maintaining my beard is part of my daily routine and I hope you’ll find some useful tips and information on this site to help you on your journey.