There plenty of great debates in the wet shaving world, and the “shave before or after shower” question is one of them. Today, we’ll share what the experts have to say in some of the web’s most trusted publications, and then you’ll learn our opinion on the best option. We’ll reveal: should you shave before or after a shower?
Let’s dive in head first. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of showering after a shave, the advantages and disadvantages of showering before a shave, and (in case you like to take the road less traveled) the pros and cons of shaving in the shower.
Just looking for a quick summary and key take-aways? Here is our best advice:
We have some more detail on each of these recommendations below.
But first we’ll start with…
Pros and Cons of Shaving After Showering
First, we’ll look at the advantages of shaving after showering. You’ll learn about the disadvantages after that.
Advantages of Shaving After Showering
Let’s start with a big reason:
You’re Shaving Clean Skin
Unless you’re doing things wrong, you come out of the shower super clean. That’s important for two reasons:
- You were probably way dirtier than you thought you were, and
- It’s a bad idea to shave your face when your skin is still grimy.
Let’s take a closer look at those two ideas.
Even though you may feel somewhat clean, you’re skin is picking up pollutants and grit and grime all day long. The oils on your skin is basically a trap for airborne funk, and it catches dust and dirt and debris all day long.
Not only that, but your body is producing its own grit and grime, in the form of sweat and odor and even more oil. If it’s been a little while since you’ve showered, you’re almost certainly a little scuzzy—even if you don’t smell bad.
And not only THAT, but there are billions and trillions of living things living on your body. Each of us is actually an incredible environment, and we share our bodies with an estimated 90 trillion microbes. Pretty mind-blowing.
While that may seem a little gross, it’s actually normal—and even a good thing.
Many of the bacteria on your body are actually important to keeping you healthy. Your body reacts to them with a strengthened immune system, and that’s a good thing. It keeps you vital.
So, why are we making such a big deal about all that dirt? Well, it’s because it’s important that you remove it before you shave.
That’s because you can end up nicking or cutting your skin when you shave, and the bacteria from your skin could cause an infection.
An infection on your face is something you definitely don’t want. If you end up with a skin infection on your face and don’t address it, you could wind up in a dangerous situation.
There you have it. The fact that their skin is clean after a shower is the main reason men shave after they shower.
And, not only that, but…
You’re Shaving Skin That’s Been Prepped for a Shave
As we mentioned, shaving is a traumatic event for your skin. It’s not really a natural process, and our skin isn’t really made for shaving.
If you doubt that, try taking an extra pass on your next shave—one more than you usually do. You’ll probably end up with irritation, bumps, and general pain.
Now imagine doing an extra five passes. It would be agony, and you could do permanent damage to your skin.
That’s why you need to be careful when you’re shaving. You should also take safeguards to help protect yourself, and one of the best safeguards is a nice, warm shower.
When you spend time in a warm shower, several things happen: you scrape away the layer of dead cells on your skin’s surface (that’s a process called exfoliation), and much of the dirt and grime we just discussed goes with it.
You open up the pores on your skin (and that’s your body’s natural reaction to the warmth of the water). Also, your skin and whiskers become supple and malleable.
Skin is Supple After Your Shower
That malleability is important, because malleable skin is much less likely to get cut during shaving.
Think of it this way: ordinary skin is taught and dry and inelastic. When you drag a razor across an area of your face that doesn’t want to bend, you’re going to cut it. In a head-to-head match-up between blade and skin, blade always wins. No fun.
If, however, you were to drag a razor blade over supple skin, it will “give” a little bit when the blade comes across it.
Shaving over elastic skin is the best way to avoid nicks, cuts, razor burn, and irritation in general.
If you try to shave dry and unwashed skin, you’re almost certain to end up with irritation, a rash, or some nasty nicks and cuts. Those nicks and cuts could end up infected because of the bacteria on your skin.
In fact, most of wet shaving—the shower, the pre-shave oil, the lather, and so on—is simply a strategy to prepare the skin for the blade, and provide the safest shave possible.
New shavers often think that a good shave is the result of the blade you’re using, and while that’s true—a sharp, well-honed blade is incredibly important—there are other factors that go into a close shave.
One of the most important among them is a warm shower to make your skin loose and elastic.
Showering Softens Your Whiskers
In the same way that a warm shower readies your skin for the blade, a warm shower readies your whiskers, too.
Those things are surprisingly wiry, and even with a sharp blade, they can be tough to cut. A warm shower will loosen them up, and not only will that protect your skin a little bit, it will allow you to get a closer shave, too.
You Gotta Shower Sometime, Man
And since you’ve got to shower, why not shave afterward? I mean, you’re there. Why not?
So, those are some pretty strong arguments in favor of shaving after you shower: to avoid infection and irritation, to get a close shave, and to get clean.
Now let’s take a look at some of the “cons” of shaving after you shower.
Disadvantages of Shaving After a Shower
We’ll start with a cold hard fact:
It Feels Weird for Some Guys
This is particularly true for younger guys, who are new to shaving: it feels weird to shower, and get all that gunk off your body, and then step out of the shower, and put more gunk on your face.
That’s a pretty common mindset. If you’ve just spent all that time getting substances OFF your skin, why would you step out of the shower and re-gunk-ify yourself?
It’s actually easy to forget that shaving products—and in particular, wet shaving products, like pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and aftershave balm—actually benefit your skin.
Many of them contain essential oils and vitamins and moisturizers that invigorate and strengthen the skin.
Also, after using those shaving products, your skin is even clearer and better prepared to face (pardon the pun) the world.
You Don’t Always Have Time for a Shower
Sometimes you roll out of bed and you have to get to work, but you simply don’t have time for a shower.
We’ve all been there, and for a lot of guys, those extra minutes of sleep in the morning are worth their weight in gold. But you need to shave before heading out to work.
If this ever happens to you, there’s actually a really good work-around that will allow you to shave without showering first (and we discuss that below).
And.. that’s it! There aren’t really too many “cons” to shaving after you shower. For most men, it’s the usual—a shave after a shower is the way they do things.
OK, now let’s explore the flip side of things: pros and cons of shaving before showering.
Pros and Cons of Shaving Before You Shower
This section is going to be a lot shorter.
Advantages of Shaving Before Showering (or skipping the shower)
Here are the pros of getting your shave done before you hop in the shower (or without getting into the shower at all).
You’ll Wash Away Any Loose Whiskers
Some guys prefer to shave before they shower, because if they don’t shower after doing the shave, there can be shaved-off whiskers that cling to the skin and irritate them during the day.
We’ve all been there, guys – and that’s no fun.
Your Mirror Won’t Be Foggy
Some guys really hate shaving after showering, as the bathroom mirror is foggy and they have trouble seeing their reflection.
You Won’t Be Sweaty
For a lot of guys who like very hot showers, that “after-shower” time period is a sweat-a-thon. It can be a drag to stand in front of a mirror and try to shave when you’ve got sweat running down your face.
Plus, taking a shower feels like a lot of work, especially when you’re tired or still blurry eyed on an early morning. Once you’ve got that done, you might not feel like having to do another chore.
You Can Skip the Shower
For most of us, jumping in the shower is a no-brainer. No big deal.
But for a lot of guys—servicemen, workers with jobs out in nature or in the middle of nowhere, truckers, and so on—showers aren’t always available. Sometimes skipping the shower is a necessity.
We’ll talk more about shaving without showering in a moment, because there are some important things you’ll need to do to do this successfully.
That’s it for the pros! Now for the cons.
Disadvantages of Shaving Before Your Shower
These are pretty much the inverse of the “pros” we listed above. Here they are below.
Your Shave Won’t Be as Effective
Skin that’s been recently showered simply reacts better to the blade. It’s much more supple, and that results in fewer nicks and a closer shave.
That’s true even if you wash your face—washing your face is a good substitute, but it’s not the same thing.
Two minutes spent washing your face with warm water is simply not the same as showering with warm water for ten minutes and filling a bathroom full of steam.
Irritation and Infection is a Lot More Likely
You’ll remember we mentioned that dragging a razor blade over a dirty face is a really bad idea. It causes skin irritation and you’re at higher risk of ending up with rashes and even infections.
Those are the most important disadvantages of shaving without showering first.
And that brings us to…
So, Should I Shave Before or After a Shower? (our verdict)
If your primary aims are to 1) protect your skin, and 2) get the closest shave possible, then it is almost always better to shave AFTER you shower.
As we mentioned earlier, shaving is a traumatic event. And if you think about it, it’s pretty hard-core: you’re taking a slab of metal so extremely sharp it could do you damage, and you’re scraping it across your skin, again and again.
So, if you’re not doing it properly, shaving can really do a number on your skin—and when you think of how many times you shave over the course of your lifetime, that damage can increase exponentially.
Let’s do some garbage math: let’s say you start shaving at age 18, and shave four times a week until you’re 40. That’s 208 times a year, multiplied by 22 years = 4,576 shaves.
And if you’re shaving both with and against the grain, that number doubles to 9,152 passes with a razor blade of your face. That’s… kind of terrifying, honestly.
The take away? If you’re going to swipe a sharpened blade over the soft skin on your face 9,152 times, you want to make sure you’re doing so in a way that isn’t going to harm you.
So, if at all possible, we surmise it’s best to shave after showering.
If, however, you are dead set against shaving after your shower…
You’ve Got Some Options if You Want to Skip the Shower
For some guys, a shower is simply not on the menu, and that’s not a problem. You’ve got options. You can:
Give Your Face a Good Scrub
Wash your face with warm water, soap, and a washcloth, and then give yourself a quick shave, and you’re good to go.
Bada bing, bada boop, you’re done. For many men—particularly college students, men with early-morning jobs, or dads who have to get the kids out the front door and on their way to school—”speed” is a big deal, and sometimes they need to skip the shower.
But, we need to remind you: washing your face is hugely important if you’re going to skip the shower.
It’ll take the dead skin cells of your face, clean your pores, and loosen your skin to protect you against cuts. Also, it will remove dirt and bacteria that could get into nicks and cuts, causing infection.
It’s sounds like an extra step, but it’s important. Plus, you’ve got to wash your face at some point, right? Might as well do it now.
And, for some proof, think about how the professionals do it. Have you ever gotten a shave and a haircut from a high-end barber shop? (If not, you really should—it’s fantastic).
The first thing they do before shaving your face is place a warm, wet towel over your forehead, cheeks, and jaw, to steam your face a little bit and open your pores. We’ve been getting barbershop shaves for years, and not once has a barber ever skipped that step. It’s important.
So don’t deny it for yourself. If you’re going to skip the shower before you shave, be sure to wash your face with a warm washcloth, warm water, and some soap.
Use an Electric Razor
Electric shavers are actually made to be used on dry, pre-showered skin, so that means you can skip the shower and still get a (decent) shave.
You may have even seen some men shaving with an electric shaver as they drive, which, obviously, you shouldn’t do—if you’re going to drive, man, put down the shaver and drive.
But you can certainly pace around your house or apartment as you get ready for your day.
Believe it or not, it’s actually BETTER to use an electric shaver before you shower, because when you loosen the whiskers on your face, it makes it more difficult for the electric shaver to catch them.
Also, because many men report that electric shaving with a with a just-showered face is uncomfortable, electric shaving before a shower is the way to go.
That said, if you want to use an electric shaver and you still want to shave after you shower, there are “wet” electric shavers available that you can use in the shower. There are also some models that you can use in front of the mirror after you’re done.
So, as you can see here, if you like electric shavers, you’ve got options.
Keep in mind, there are some negatives to electric shavers—you’ll never get as close a shave from an electric shaver as you will from traditional wet shaving razors.
Also, guys with sensitive skin tend to experience a lot of irritation with them—but for many men, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
But What About Shaving in the Shower?
This is also an option! If we had to rank them, we’d put this above “washing your face before a shave” and underneath “shaving after you shower.”
If you’d like to shave in the shower, there are some things you should keep in mind:
Shave at the End of Your Shower
As we mentioned above, you’ll get fewer nicks and cuts if you shave over skin that’s moisturized and supple. That happens after you’ve been in the shower for a bit, and the warm water and steam have opened up your pores and made your skin relaxed.
This is perhaps the best bit of advice in this section—wait until the end of your shower to shave, and then make sure all the whisker bits have fully washed off you.
Think About Getting a Fogless Mirror
It’s a small investment, and they’re incredibly helpful. You can shave blind in the shower, and we’ve gone without a mirror while camping or on the road.
After a few years of shaving, you can feel your way through the process. However, it really does help to see what you’re doing.
If you’re an inexperienced shaver, a mirror is a must. It will be key in helping you get a close and precise shave without nicks and cuts.
Traditional Wet Shaving is Difficult to Do in the Shower
As you may have gathered from some of our other posts, we’re really into wet shaving. That is, using small-batch pre-shave oils, shaving creams and soaps, safety razors and straight razors, and aftershave balms.
It is, in our opinion, the best and most enjoyable way to shave, and it can be difficult to do in the shower.
There’s a lot of equipment you need—a shaving brush to build a lather, a scuttle or bowl to house that lather, etc.—and it can be difficult to use all that gear in a running shower.
If you’re going to do some traditional wet shaving, it’s easiest to do that in front of the mirror after you’re done showering.
"If you're starting out with wet shaving, this safety razor kit from Viking Revolution has everything you need for a special shaving experience. From razor, to balm, to badger brush and bowl - you're all set for an amazing shave. We recommend it."
- RTG Editorial
Don’t Get in the Shower with An Electric Shaver That’s Not Meant for Showering
Why? Because you will get electrocuted.
That seems like an obvious one, but seriously, you would not believe some of the questions that we get.
If you’re going to use an electric shaver in the shower, make sure that electric shaver is waterproof and specifically designed for shaving in the shower.
Replace Your Razors More Frequently
If you shave in the shower, chances are you keep your razor in there, too. If that’s the case, you may want to replace it more frequently than if you had kept it in the cabinet.
Showers get very moist during a shower, and they stay moist afterwards, and that can be brutal on a blade and make it a lot less effective.
And the Best Option Is…
So, to sum up, here’s how it plays out:
- If you’re using a disposable razor, a cartridge razor, a safety razor, or a straight razor, it’s better to shave AFTER you shower.
- If you’re using an electric shaver, it’s better to shave BEFORE you shower.
- If you shave before you shower, you need to wash your face with warm water, soap, and a wash cloth, in order to prepare you skin for a shave, and get any harmful gunk off your face.
There you go! We hope that helps. Enjoy your next shave, and be good!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.