Why on earth would you want to throw cold water on your face to shave? Isn’t a nice, hot towel far more inviting in preparation for that first scrape of the razor?
We are going to look at the advantages & negatives of shaving with cold water.
Cold water shaving has been around ever since man decided to remove his whiskers. In fact around the turn of last century, a book named “Shaving Made Easy” published in 1905, recommended using cold water to shave with.
Why do barbers use hot towels? It’s simple really.
Firstly, a hot towel just feels more pleasant than a cold one. Secondly, the barber would probably lose your business. Society has conditioned we men to expect hot towels when we plant our butts in the barbers chair.
Yes, I’ll agree that a warm towel massaging your face into a tender, pliable piece of meat, waiting for your razor’s caress is inviting. But is it the most effective way to shave?
Warm water certainly will soften your beard & moisten your face, but so does cold water. Interestingly, warm water has been shown to evaporate quicker off the face, leaving it to feel drier. Cold water helps your skin remain hydrated for longer.
But Andrew, warm water will soften the skin & make the whiskers easier to cut through! Yes that’s partly true, however making your beard soft & limp doesn’t always amount to a good shave. Many experts suggest that when the whiskers are too pliable, the blade will be more likely to glide over them or shear them off at an angle rather than cut them close to the skin.
Cold water has the effect of tightening your skin & making your beard stand more upright. Isn’t that what we’re after for a close shave? Think about it for a moment. What would be easier to manoeuvre over. A soft rubbery face, or one that is more taut? You are far more likely to nick yourself if your skin is moving under the blade.
Another huge advantage of cold water shaving is you lessen the risk of razor burn. I personally found that when I started cold water shaving, the instances of nicks & razor burn decreased dramatically. The less of that the better right? Your skin is kept cool rather than being subjected to heat as you perform your shave.
I regularly experience temperatures of 40° C (104° F) and over in my little patch of heaven here in Australia. Even the thought of putting hot water on your face makes you break out into a sweat. As you can imagine, for people that enjoy warmer temperatures, the colder the water…the more pleasurable the shave.
Blade sharpness is another by-product of shaving with cold water. If you recall the droning tone of your science teacher, you’ll recall that metal contracts when it cools. This innocuous chemical reaction causes the molecules in your blade to contract, giving it a keener edge.
Let’s look at the pros & cons of cold water shaving!
- It’s bloody cold! Particularly if you live in a cooler climate
- Some gents find the beard can feel a little firmer (but not uncomfortable) to cut through
- The whiskers stand up making them easier to cut
- The face remains taut allowing the razor to move easier over the surface
- Saves money on hot water
- Blade stays sharper
- Fewer nicks
- Less razor burn
- Relieving on a hot day, exhilarating on a cold one
- Just as easy to clean razor & brush
If you want to delve into the world of cold water shaving, give yourself a week to become accustomed to the cold water. I also recommend not to try and draw more shaves out of your razor than necessary. Blades are cheap. Chuck it out & pop in a new one.
My final suggestion to you would be…just give it a go! From time to time, I’ll have a hot shave to see what I’m missing. Then I remember why I switched.
At the end of the day, if you’re using a safety razor and good products, the differences between using hot or cold water will not be overly dramatic. And because of this, cold water shaving won’t suit everyone. Some gents find the lure of that warm water just too inviting. In saying that, after their first cold water shave, many blokes swear they’ll never go back to shaving with hot water!
I’d love to hear about your experiences. Hot or cold water shaving. Which method do you enjoy? Let me know all about it in the comments section.
Time to get your shave on! 😉