How to Shave Without Shaving Cream.

How to shave without shaving cream because you forgot to buy it, don’t like it, can’t find it, are boycotting anything that automatically foams, hate the rusting cans, think it’s bad for the environment, think it’s good for the environment or just plain old ran out of it?  No problem. There’s a better alternative than regular soap.

Blue and white metal can of Skintimate shaving cream.

Emergency situation! Bear Grylls style.  Imagine it, you’re in the shower and as a modern human you need to shave your legs or private-love-area immediately for one of two reasons. Either … you’re about to go on a 3rd date or you’ve avoided shaving for the past few showers and your legs/between your legs are itching.

They’re itching a lot. It’s as though the hairs growing out of your legs are made of fibreglass insulation dipped in mosquito juice.

So … regardless of the reason, you need to shave your legs.  Unfortunately due to any number of reasons (mentioned above) you’re out of shaving cream.

Your very best alternative if you run out of shaving cream is to use hair conditioner.

Shaving With Conditioner

It’s a real thing, and it works. 

Side by side view of a blue can of shaving cream and a white pump bottle of Smooth as Silk conditioner.

As proof for you,  I conducted a little experiment.


Shaving Cream VS Hair Conditioner

Leg with stubble growing out of it.

The first thing I had to do in the name of science was allow the hair on my legs to grow a little bit for visual purposes.  

Men's stainless steel razor with a double blade razor head in it.

Then I got my 157 year old razor that is almost impossible to find razor cartridges for.

Lathering up lower portion of a woman's leg with shaving cream.

I lathered up my left leg with regular, old shaving cream.

Razor running up a shin lathered with shaving cream.

And then shaved it as per usual.  Done. Good job, the hairs on that leg were cut away.  Next up was the other leg and some hair conditioner.

Hand with hair conditioner on it held out over leg ready for shaving.

I squeezed out a dollop of regular hair conditioner …

Hand rubbing hair conditioner into leg as a shaving cream alternative.

… and slathered that on and shaved with the conditioner.

Using hair conditioner on leg to shave instead of shaving cream.

The Results

I can tell you that both legs felt good after shaving them.  There was no irritation or razor burn on either leg. 

Conclusion? Hair conditioner is not only a perfectly acceptable replacement for shaving cream it works just as well. Maybe better because shaving cream dries out your skin while conditioner moisturizes it.

I have to say, MANY years after running this experiment I still use hair conditioner to shave my legs at least as often as I use shaving cream.

Don’t use conditioner because maybe you have very special self conditioning hair? Or you’re bald?

Shaving Cream Alternatives

Listed in order of effectiveness

  1. Hair Conditioner
  2. Coconut Oil
  3. Body Lotion
  4. Aloe vera gel
  5. Soap

Hair conditioner is going to be more economical than using shaving cream, does at least as good a job, if not better and a bottle of conditioner will last you way longer than a can of shaving cream. PLUS it won’t rust on the bottom.

Coconut oil works great too and like conditioner actually moisturizes your skin a bit. The only caveat to using coconut oil is that you’re sending all that oil down your drain. What with my plumbing problems that led to spending thousands of dollars and installing a new toilet (totally easy, here’s how you can do that) I avoid putting anything down my pipes that could clog them. 

So I choose to use hair conditioner as my shaving cream alternative. You’re welcome for this experiment about whether you can use hair conditioner as a replacement for shaving cream.

The experiment testing whether you can use shaving cream as hair conditioner did not go nearly as well.

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How to Shave Without Shaving Cream.


  1. Quatorze says:

    Karen, your blogs were introduced to me at about the same time I learned my life would be upended by the Coronavirus ( the Peeps as gift wrap, of course!). You have saved me, literally and I thank you. I wish I had come up with hair conditioner as shaving gel but I read about it in a beauty magazine years ago. Thank you for sharing this idea with the world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Quatorze! Welcome to my site! I hope your pandemic life isn’t too burdensome. Mine has changed little, but I know it’s been a HUGE adjustment for most people in so many ways. ~ karen!

  2. Dizzy says:

    This made me giggle, I haven’t shaved for years (I go through the pain of pulling the little blighters out by the roots as it lasts longer and there’s no regrowth itch), but years ago when I did I wouldn’t have dreamt of buying shaving foam/gel etc. I always used plain old well lathered soap, or if my skin was dry in winter, olive or sunflower oil. I suppose back then shaving foam wasn’t really a thing (U.K.), love this post, if nothing else it shows a) those who are a tad younger there was life pre shaving foam and b) those who’ve never had the pleasure of watching our lovely Bear in action something to drool over 😉

  3. Katherine says:

    I have being this for several years, much better and less expensive than shaving cream!! And a frugal choice!

  4. Margot says:

    Hey Karen, nice one but wait, there’s more. Hair conditioner also makes for terrific facial cleanser, including gently dissolving mascara. Then it helps to moisturise. I love it.

    • Karen says:

      I have a certain eye liner that I can never get off. I’ll try it! ~ karen

      • Irene says:

        Baby shampoo (I use Johnsons) for removing make-up!
        It even dissolves water proof mascara!
        And of course, being specifically designed not to sting babies’ eyes, it doesn’t sting adult eyes either; who woulda thunk? :-D
        A bottle also lasts for ages, and works out much cheaper than fancy shmancy removers.

  5. BlueBillieJean says:

    I LOve you Karen ! Please marry me!

  6. Alicia Herron says:

    Karen, I’ve become obsessed with reading your blog posts! I know this one is older but I loved it! I am glad that you conducted this experiment. I have done this as well however, I forgot which leg was which because I suffer from squirrel syndrome. Watch the movie up if you aren’t sure of what that is. Anywho, thanks for another fun post.

  7. Natalie says:

    I’m telling you the best shaving gel is in an orange tube at trader joes. very inexpensive and silky. even some guy friends from sweden swoon over this everytime they visit and buy tubes and tubes. and you know those sweeds the guys only buy the best products.

    • Paige P. says:

      I also love that stuff! Lasts way longer than the Eos brand I used to buy. Smells nice too! But I’ve gone through 2 bottles of shampoo to my one conditioner so…

  8. Heather says:

    I started using conditioner in my teens (because I was too cheap to buy shaving cream). But now I use olive oil. After I get out the shower I slather on olive oil and shave away. My legs feel amazing! Plus my shower is the size of a peanut and contorting my body into odd positions lost it’s novelty.

    • Heather says:

      Oh holy crap, I do know how to write with correct grammar… and in complete sentences.

      • Karen says:

        LOL. I didn’t even notice until I went back and rereaded your comment. :) Don’t worry about it. Nobody’ll notice. ~ karen

      • Doctor Freeworld says:

        Yes but I have had my attention drawn to it now. Which is good because I was getting itchy about the itchiness mentioned in your initial comments.

  9. kasia says:

    Wow, all these years, and I just use plain old water! Never even used soap before! Huh. That explains a lot…

    Going to try this tomorrow morning! :)

  10. sky says:

    Okay Karen, have one for you. A while ago I saw on the internet where this man proved that it was possible to sharpen a razor blade and that we would never have to buy another razor ever again. He showed that if you rub the blade backwards (one direction only here) on the skin of your dry forearm about 10 – 20 times that would keep the blade sharp. He proclaimed that this was akin to how the barbers would sharpen their blades – those single long blades – when they rubbed it against the leather straps. What cha think?

  11. erin says:

    I only shave with conditioner! I haven’t bought shaving cream in at least five years.

  12. Shauna says:

    I once saw the girls on ‘the view’ use cheeze whiz….I still have nightmares!! (just from the thought!!) But the conditioner I will use… Next month, if I have time to shave ;D

  13. Pam'a says:

    I, too, have been doing this one for years, using the turbo conditioner that comes with the stuff I dye my hair with (since they give you enough to condition your own hair and that of everyone else you know).

    My burning question is: Where HAVE you found the Trac II blades, dangit!! I can’t find them either.

  14. maria says:

    First off thanks for the tip — always have conditioner on hand!

    Secondly, WOW!!! I had no idea what “Bear Grylls” was so I googled — it’s not an it — it’s a HIM!

    OMG!! Will have to read up on this adventurer.


  15. Theresa says:

    have tried this too when cream wasn’t available – however this scientific confirmation is greatly appreciated.
    I also find that if its been a really long time say most of the winter cause its cold and you’re wearing pants all the time and well you were always a bit of a hippie – the conditioner is the best way to go.

  16. Robyn L. Lupone says:

    I too have been doing this for years and the money you save is amazing! Love your writing of this blog enjoy every post, Thanks;0)

  17. Cait says:

    LOVE IT! Probably because I have done the same thing in a moment of panic. Its great to see that there are others out there, and its nice to be reminded that there are so many other things out there that do the same job (if not a better job) than the items being marketed for a specific purpose! Thanks for posting!

  18. DzynByJules says:

    I too have been using this method for several years now, but I will be using the “I’m growing my leg hair for science” excuse next time my hubby asks why I have the Clydesdale look going!!! Great post!

    • Langela says:

      “clydesdale look” Love it! My husband and I usually discuss whether I need a mower or a weed-eater to get my leg hair under control.

      • Zina says:

        Moved in with my partner J. Here’s the conversation that took place one morning after I moved in:

        “Where’d my razor go?”

        “in that drawer there. You know, you don’t have to shave for me.”


        “You don’t have to shave for my sake.”


        “I’m saying you don’t have to shave to make me happy.”

        “Well, that’s nice of you to say, honey, but I don’t shave for you, I shave for ME.”

        “Oh. Well, I was just saying. You can do whatever.”

        “Thanks, honey.” (pause) “Hey, waitasecond. Would you rather I *didn’t* shave?”

        “You can do whatever you want.”

        “Yeah, but do you prefer it if I don’t shave?”

        “I was just trying to say if you didn’t want to shave, it doesn’t bother me.”

        “Um. Okay.”

        I have Not Pursued It Further, in case I’m living with the reincarnation of Napolean or something.

  19. StyckyWycket says:

    I had switched from shaving cream to lotion for shaving in high school when my parents had redone the bathroom and the shaving cream can was leaving rust stains on the granite (lotion came in plastic, hence no stains). I then found that I liked lotion so much better for shaving (sensitive skin). Right now, I have a huge bottle of Suave Cocoa Butter lotion in my shower. The best part, it will last me at least 9 months, and cost me $3.88.

  20. magali says:

    I’ve also been doing this for years!!

  21. ModFruGal says:

    I do that too since I hate extra items in the shower..I like multitaskers…oh, and I LOVE Bear Grylls..Like serious crush love.

  22. marilyn says:

    karen this has nothing at all to do with shaving just wanted to say that was the BEST punkin pie EVERand i love you….p.s tell chris i have a nice bottle of maple syrup coming for him…and thanks

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Marilyn! For those of you wondering … I have a pumpkin pie post coming up very soon and Marilyn was a recipient of a piece of pumpkin pie. Apparently Marilyn liked it. :) I’ll let Chris know!

  23. Jamieson says:

    Nice one! I do this (on my FACE, as I am a MAN) when I’m traveling with only carry-on baggage, as I can’t pack shaving cream. Every hotel offers conditioner samples, so I tried it once and now I count on it. First I tried lotion, but it gums up the razor too much and slows down the process. Also, conditioner has more “slide” to it.
    My fear is that some canny terrorist will next invent a dastardly use for the Mach 5 razor cartridge as a deadly weapon, and I’ll be further reduced to shaving with a hotel sewing kit.

  24. Emily says:

    I’ve been doing this for awhile, too. It’s great because it moisturizes your legs while being great for shaving. I especially like using on the often-dry ankle area as the temp has been dropping.

  25. Shea says:

    Been doing this for years. I’m glad you gave me scientific validation.

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