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My Adventure With Cold Water Shaving

Updated on April 12, 2013

Cold Water Shaving

Most people who shave wet, whether it be traditional, or non-traditional, use warm or hot water. However there is a significant minority that advocates for shaving with cold water. The main reasons they claim are:

1. Cold water is more soothing to the skin. Hot water does not hydrate the skin as well and in fact somewhat dries it out and tenderizes it, making it more susceptible to razor burn.

2. Hair treated with hot water is rendered more oily and softer, which actually makes it more difficult to cut.

After some reading, and finding out that there were actually a few old time barbers who shaved their clients with cold water, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Advocates also claim that cold water might feel unsatisfactory when you first begin the method, but once your skin gets used to it, it feels much better than hot water shaving. So, I committed myself to a month of cold water shaving.

My Month of Cold Water Shaving

The first day, it was not what I expected. I expected it to be somewhat shocking and discomforting to my skin, just due to the fact that I have never done it before. The only discomforting part was it did make me a bit chilly. It did make my hands cold, both from the washing, the rinsing between passes, and the cold razor. The cold lather was definitely a new experience.

Due to those mild but significant discomforts, the next time I turned the hot water on slightly so the water was still cold, but not as cold as the first time. I did have to do the same amount of passes as I did with hot water, usually two, occasionally three. I attribute three passes usually to the blade getting dull, not the temperature of the water or the lather. I did not suffer from razor burn, but since going into traditional wet shaving I have also not had that problem with hot water either. So no advantage or disadvantage either way on that point.

As the month went on, I didn't find what the advocates of cold shaving claimed, that my skin would somehow adapt and I would find it vastly more comfortable and easier on my skin than hot water shaving. However, I also came to realize that, at least for me and some others, that hot water is also not a NECESSITY for the shave to be comfortable and effective.


Some of the claims made by the cold water shavers appear to be false. I was not able to save time by doing less passes due to my hair supposedly being easier to cut. Also, hot water does not dry out the face. It is true that hot water evaporates faster than cold water. But it doesn't evaporate anywhere near dryness in only seconds after being applied to the face. And when you apply the lather, it will hold the water on and provide a protective layer. Whether hot water makes your skin more tender may vary with the individual, but it does not make my skin any more tender, and I have more sensitive than average skin.

Cold water shaving, in terms of effectiveness and time, is not significantly different from hot water shaving. In terms of comfort, it will probably be a matter of personal preference. Sometimes the temperature of the water will exacerbate or balance how hot or cold you are feeling at the time. So what I will probably end up doing from now on is cold water shaving during the warmer months when I am more susceptible to getting hot, and hot water shaving during the cold months.


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