How to Shave Without Shaving Cream Easily in 10 Illustrated Steps

how to shave without a shaving cream

We’ve all been there before.

Unless it’s your first time shaving, that moment where you realize you’ve got no shaving cream is a sobering one. It takes you from full confidence to rock bottom in an instant.

Without shaving cream, how are you going to shave? Surely, you’re just going to rip your skin to shreds and end up looking like a red irritated mess, right?

Other than just going out and picking up some shaving cream, there are alternatives – if you know what you’re doing, that is. Even for the most novice of beginners, just knowing a few simple tips can give you that pain-free shave that we all want.

We all can get good at shaving without shaving cream; it just takes a conscious effort to actually get better.

In this article, we will provide you with some shaving cream alternatives, since there are so many. These range from the standard, conventional alternatives to some that there’s no way that you would have thought of on your own.

So please, don’t fear. Strap in, and get ready to have your life changed.

Let’s do this.

Shaving cream alternatives

If you’ve ever been in a rush to get out the door, you might have noticed some shaving cream alternatives that work just as well. While it’s always best to follow up with moisturizer after shaving, these handy substitutes can help soften your skin and hair before you take the razor to it.

The primary saving grace with forgetting/having no shaving cream is that there is no shortage of alternatives. In fact, we are confident that, regardless of where you are, you will have one of them available.

If you are able to use an alternative to shaving cream, then you will be able to mimic the effect that shaving cream gives you. Sure, it may not be as irritation-free or as close as the best shaving creams, but it will be damn close – and that’s all that truly matters.

Hair Conditioner

Men’s use of hair conditioner is generally few and far between.

It is one of the most underrated segments of the grooming process, and that is because it can genuinely help your hair stay healthy, and it will keep it feeling supple and moist, rather than that feeling after you’ve used shampoo and it goes frizzy and rough.

Financially, it could work out better choosing hair conditioner. It’s a cheap option, and it really doesn’t cost much to get a whole load of conditioner.

But most importantly for us, it can double up as a pretty effective shaving tool. Conditioner works by moisturizing your hairs, therefore loosening them up.

It’s hard to explain, but, if you put your conditioner in your beard, and leave it a few minutes, then you will feel how soft and smooth everything feels. Once you’ve reached your desired level, then you can feel free to begin shaving – we promise that you’ll be fine.

Peanut Butter

peanut butter

We decided to go with this tip closer to the top of this article because it’s one of those that you see and have to look twice. You even may have rolled your eyes, thinking that there’s just no chance that peanut butter can give you a close and irritant-free shave.

However, it can, and there’s a good explanation for it. Peanut butter is full of healthy fats and oils that are actually very well received by your skin. By applying it to your face, you’ll be allowing your skin to soak these oils, and it’ll actually make for a comfortable shave.


It’s the age-old question: can you use soap as shaving cream?

Short answer: yes.
Long answer: yes, but you’ll have to be careful.

To be perfectly honest, it isn’t the best alternative out there. We’d actually rather use peanut butter and smear that all over our face. However, soap is one of the cheapest and one of the most practical.

It will lather over your face easily enough, and you should have absolutely no issues waiting for it to ease up your hairs and make your shaving process easier.

Not only that, but, looking at the science of shaving, you’ll know that opening your pores will allow for your hairs to come out easier. If you are soaking your face with hot water, then you will be sorted.

Having said that, you do need to be careful. People just assume that it is going to be as effective and as lubricating as regular shaving cream, but that just isn’t true. You are more likely to get those little nicks and cuts with soap, but that doesn’t mean that it is not useful.

Our verdict is that soap is a nifty little alternative, but you should focus on finding the right shaving soap. Otherwise, they are not something that you ought to bank on for the long term.

Baby Oils

Whether you’ve got children yourself or not, baby oil is a household essential.

When you realize how effective it is as a shaving cream alternative, we hope that you’ll be pulling it out of the cupboard as quickly as possible.

Women quite often use baby oil to moisturize and shave their legs, the reason being that it is cheaper than shaving cream, yet it provides the same results.

When you think logically about it, it does make sense. A baby has skin that is sensitive to the extreme, especially compared to that of a man. If baby oil is enough to completely protect a baby, then it is definitely enough to protect our faces.

You’ll notice that baby oil gives your hair moisture and keeps things well hydrated for the complete shaving procedure.

The only word of warning that we’d have to give is that you’ll probably be complaining about how your face feels greasy afterwards. So, you’ll probably need to give it a wash.

Essential Oils

essential oils

Essential oils, like baby oils, help to keep your beard lubricated and supple.

You have probably heard of them before, but sticking to olive, almond, or coconut oil is probably going to give you your best shave. They will completely nourish your skin, as well as hydrate your hairs throughout the entire shave.

If you are looking for an oil that is a bit more bougie, then look for something like avocado oil. This is an essential oil with vitamin E, an anti-oxidant that keeps everything healthy throughout the entire shave.

For a list of the best oils on the market, then you should check out this article. You’ll find at least one that grabs your attention.

Aloe Vera Gel

aloe vera

Now, this is one of our favorites primarily because of how underrated it is.

We’ve all seen this on vacation when we’re burnt all over and wishing the sun wasn’t so hot, but what use is it for the beard?

Well, Aloe Vera gel is just generally lovely. It feels great, it’s soothing, it’s moisturizing, and it does everything you could ever want from a shaving perspective.

Aloe Vera gel will do all of this whilst simultaneously giving you that ‘cool down’ feeling that we love so much on those painful sunburnt days.


Yeah, it’s a cop out and involves absolutely zero preparation, but it is still something we have to mention.

It’s an alternative to shaving cream, because many men have skin that is able to take the force of a razor without having to worry about the cuts and nicks that sensitive skin is prone to.

If you are one of the lucky ones, then water could be a good enough alternative to carry on shaving like you usually would.

If you’re not that lucky, then you could try water whilst in the shower or in a room that allows for your skin to become soft and moisturized.

How to shave without shaving cream easily (A simple, illustrated guide)

1. Learn your skin type

Learn your skin type

First things first, get to know yourself.

You know when you’re single, and you’re telling yourself that you should love yourself before letting someone else into your life? It’s exactly the same with your face and shaving.

Rather than just going and using any old alternative to shaving cream, you need to learn your face inside out.

What we mean by that is that you need to know your skin type. If your skin is ultra-sensitive, then you’ll have the make reasonable adjustments, so you’re not affected negatively by it.

For example, this will probably write off any of the shaving options that involve dry shaving or just the use of water. They’ll likely both be too harsh for you. By that same token, you’ll be looking at razors made specifically for sensitive skin and nothing else.

On the other hand, if you’ve got great skin that is unlikely to get irritated with dry or water-shaving, then you can go for it without trouble.

Ultimately, you just need that bit of understanding of your own body. Once you have it, then you’ll be able to shave much easier.

2. Keep everything hydrated. Everything.

Keep everything hydrated. Everything.

Now that you’re ready to start shaving, you need to remember to keep everything hydrated – your neck, your face in general, and, more specifically, your beard.

If you can keep hydrated, then you will find that your skin is softer, your hair is softer, and you’ll be able to get a better shave.

As soon as your skin is dehydrated, it is likely that you’ll begin to get cuts and nicks. Long story short, hydrated skin is happy skin. It will feel a bit happier about being pulled all over the place by a sharp razor, and it’s less likely to cause a lot of pain.

This rule actually does have exceptions. As we will discuss later, using an electric trimmer is one of them. Of course, if you are using a rotary (https://baldingandbeards.com/best-rotary-shaver/) or electric shaver, then it’s likely that you still need hydration.

But if you’re using an electric trimmer, then there’s a high possibility that you’ll require a dry face to get the trim you need.

3. Get your pre-shave alternative ready

Get your pre-shave alternative ready

Well done, your skin is feeling hydrated, wet, and soft. The next step is to make your post-shaving cream arrangements and put together a combination that can give you the same results.

If you remember earlier on in this article, we listed quite a few of the alternatives that you can expect to find. We recommend that you try out one of these and see what works best for you.

For illustration purposes, we will try to describe this step by assuming that you have bought avocado oil.

At this point, you will use avocado oil to soften your hairs even further and provide a smooth layer of deep hydration that will allow your razor to penetrate quicker.

By getting to the root of the hairs quicker, your shave will be comfier.

4. Consider an electric trimmer

Consider an electric trimmer

This is one of those tips that isn’t really an actionable tip if you’re looking to replace a clean shave with shaving cream.

However, this is one that you should consider if you feel you have no other option.

An electric trimmer is excellent in many ways, but the stand-out reason that we recommend it is because you will not have to worry at all about any sort of alternatives. In fact, you typically would use an electric trimmer against your face as it is now.

There’s no need to mess around with any moisturizers, baby oils, or otherwise. It is a simple case of charging up the batteries and then trimming your face.

Even though you won’t be getting the razor-sharp shave that you could be looking for, you’ll be getting something close to that with minimal fuss.

If you’re without shaving cream, and want to minimize the stress of trying to find an alternative, then this should be your alternative instead. It gives a carefree and simple option, and that is always a bonus.

5. Consider shaving in the shower

Consider shaving in the shower

We know, it’s an absolute pain trying to shave without a readily available mirror. You risk missing problem areas, and there are always cases in which you are going to end up shaving bits that you weren’t supposed to.

However, if your trim is typically fairly simple, and an electric trimmer is a no-go, then perhaps you should consider using the shower to get things done.

The rationale behind this is that you’ll want to clear all of the dirt from your face then hydrate it and lubricate it for a good shave. Now, a simple clean and lather of cream will suffice, but, if you’re without the latter, then you could try a shower and steam method.

Doing this will keep your skin moisturized and your pores open, and that means that you’ll be getting the best shave that you can.

Just watch out; don’t run up your water bill too much, and don’t allow your bathroom to get so warm and steamy that you pass out.

Even though there are a few risk factors, shaving in the shower eliminates the necessity of a shaving cream alternative and still offers a way of getting a close shave in a rush.

6. Be careful. Like, really, really careful

Be Careful When Shaving Without a Shaving Cream

We would like to hope that, in the absence of shaving cream, you can all be very careful. It is incredibly easy to cut yourself and turn up at work looking like you’ve been in a fight. So, it’s something to keep in mind.

Being careful will cause little to no irritation of your skin, and, in the long-run, that is a massive bonus.

A key tip in this section is to remember to shave with the grain. Even if you’re using the holy grail of peanut butter as a shaving cream alternative, you probably shouldn’t go against the grain. The risk of cuts and nicks is so much higher, and it’s definitely not worth it.

Instead, go with the grain, and go slowly. This will give you that added layer of protection that you potentially don’t think about when you’re just sitting back with some shaving cream.

7. Invest in high-quality hardware

Invest in high-quality hardware

Shaving cream is hugely important, but it is only one part of the equation. The razor itself is arguably the most important part of the shave, and that is what will cause irritation and cuts or not.

To limit the number of things that can go wrong without shaving cream, it is recommended that you grab the highest-quality razors that you can.

High-quality razors will go that extra mile to protect your face, and that is massively important when you’re riding solo without shaving cream.

Perhaps a good idea would be to go for a safety razor, rather than a straight one. However, it all comes down to your personal preferences, and we feel that you should be going for whatever you feel comfortable with.

8. Keep things functioning properly

Keep things functioning properly

As many of you will experience over time, blades become blunt. And when they do, they hurt.

If you are shaving without shaving cream, this feeling will be magnified.

We don’t wish blunt blades on our worst enemies. They physically tug at the hairs so hard that they feel like you’re undergoing some sort of medieval torture.

What we recommend is that you always keep your blades sharp. The sharper they are, the better you’re going to get that shave.

If you’re without shaving cream, and just using soap and water, then this is going to make a ginormous difference, and it’s something that we certainly believe that you should keep in mind.

Rather strangely, it is actually difficult to know what razor blades you should be buying, but there are plenty of good ones out there on the market.

Alternatively, you could opt for disposable razors and just remember to replace them frequently, so you keep getting a perfect shave at the first time of asking.

9. Make sure that your post-shave routine is immaculate

Make sure that your post-shave routine is immaculate

Here we go.

You’ve shaved. Congratulations! Now what?

This is the part where you can really make all of the difference. For many men with sensitive skin, they will notice that their irritation doesn’t truly flare up until well after they’ve shaved.

You can finish shaving without shaving cream, feel like you’ve completed an impossible mission, but then the pain will set in 20 minutes later, when your entire face has turned bright red.

The post-shave routine is where you can really make an impact, and make sure that you keep a clean and cared-for face.

First of all, we recommend that you immediately moisturize after you’ve shaved.

Even though you probably moisturized beforehand too, it is especially important to do so afterwards, as all of your pores and hair follicles have been pulled apart by the razor, so it is useful to lather them up and allow them to recover.

Secondly, you should consider using aftershave. Many people hate the way that it burns when you first put it on, but it really makes a difference with irritation – and quite often eradicates it altogether.

Some men love it, some men can’t stand it. Either way, it is worth trying out for yourself, if you haven’t yet.

10. Grit your teeth

Grit your teeth

The final shaving tip is to grit your teeth.

Unfortunately, no shave without shaving cream is likely to be perfect. It is a difficult task, and you’ll most likely end up with irritated skin in one way or another.

If you reach the end of your shave and still feel like you’ve done it wrong, then just grit your teeth and move on with it.

Shaving is easy, and it is a very easy process, but certain things can make the actual delivery of the shave harder.

A strong razor, and even stronger mentality, should combat any irritation or issues that you otherwise have with your shave.


Looking at yourself dead in the mirror knowing that you have to attack your facial hair without shaving cream is enough to scare even the hardest of men.

However, there are plenty of things that you can do to increase the effectiveness of your ‘non-shaving-cream’ shave.

From the choice of a top-quality razor to the alternatives, including peanut butter and baby oil, you’ll be able to get a smooth shave relatively easily.

Even though we listed quite a few controversial shaving cream alternatives, we would love to hear your thoughts. What is the strangest thing that you have used to shave, and is it worse than peanut butter?

Let us know in the comments below.

About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

  • Domen, hi! It’s Ryan from Fiverr. I tried messaging you through the site and didn’t get a response. I had to set up a new account, so I hope we can keep working together. I didn’t know any other way to contact you.

  • Hi Domen, a great article from you, however, I don’t use any of that as I have now had a beard for about 4 years now, there is NO shaving stuff in my house whatsoever, I binned all of it about a month after starting to grow my beard.
    You may remember me, Alan in Scotland when I told you about my beard journey in the early months when I was starting to grow my beard, the longest I have not trimmed is 11 months, in that time it grow to 8 inches, /20 centimetres with not much difference from my sideburns or chin, I usually trim it around early December and in June, it shows no sign on slowing down at all, so I think it could be around 1 foot if I did not trim it for 15 months, I think after not trimming it for 6 months is long enough.

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