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What is the Difference Between Dry Shaving and Wet Shaving?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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Wet and dry shaving are two different techniques for removing unwanted body hair with the use of a razor, and are usually used in reference to facial hair. Many men make shaving a part of their daily ritual, and refine a technique which works best for them, usually seeking a smooth shave without razor burn and nicks. Wet shaving is the traditional method for accomplishing this, and many men are growing to prefer it, while dry shaving is a much quicker and less involved method.

The primary difference between the two shaving techniques is, as the name would imply, the use of water. A man who wet shaves gets his face thoroughly wet before he starts, rinses his razor frequently while he shaves, and rinses and tones afterwards. Dry shaving, on the other hand, involves just shaving cream and a razor. Wet shaving is commonly done with a double edged safety razor or a similar tool, but a conventional razor could be used as well, especially for men who are just learning the technique. Dry shaving can be accomplished in a hurry over the sink, but it can lead to razor burn, skin infections, and a less than ideal shave.

A proper wet shave is better for the skin and easier on the hair, although it takes time to learn. Ideally, it should be undertaken after a shower, when warm water has fully loosened the pores of the face, relaxed the facial muscles, and softened the beard hair. If this is not an option, a towel should be soaked in warm water and placed over the beard for several minutes to mimic the shower experience. Next, a rich lather of shaving soap is applied to the face, and the face is shaved. Afterwards, the face should be thoroughly rinsed with warm water before being toned, either with the application of toner or with a cold water rinse, and moisturized. This method is less likely to cause razor burn, and actually cuts the hairs of the beard, rather than tugging on them, as frequently happens with dry shaving.

Wet shaving well does take some practice, and numerous websites offer tips to men just learning how to wet shave. A few pointers will make the experience more productive. Men should start by holding the area being shaved taut with the free hand, and gliding the razor over the face with the grain of the beard. Applying pressure to the razor can lead to nicks, and will also start to tug the hair. For final finishing touches, going against the grain of the hair is acceptable. Holding the razor at a 30° angle appears to yield the best cut, and men should remember to take their time while they shave.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon350884 — On Oct 09, 2013

I shave completely dry with a 2 blade disposable Bic razor,

One razor lasts me over three months like this (though I don't have very much beard) I presume because there is no rust/corrosion from water damage.

By anon89673 — On Jun 11, 2010

what about literally shaving dry? no water, no cream, no rinsing.

i have always shaved like this and was wondering if there were any issues possibly incurred from said act.

while i have fairly resilient skin, i generally shave against the grain, and in response have a face smoother than a baby's bottom. lol.

however, it i am concerned about growth patterns, and if this could potentially inhibit spread?

By anon61927 — On Jan 23, 2010

You might want to try EasyShave for dry shaving, without incurring the bumps, irritation and burn because it's a hydrating cream. This is a good product. Don't take my word for it -- check for your self. Just a guy who knows and wants to share.


By perfectshave — On Jul 14, 2009

We should also be aware that different types of skin require different types of razors.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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