Can you use baby oil to shave?

By: Jeff Harder  | 

Personal Hygiene Image Gallery Baby oil has moisturizing qualities you won't find in many shaving creams. See personal hygiene pictures.
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You turn on the hot water in the bathroom sink, grab your razor and prepare to scrape off a few days' worth of stubble just before a big job interview. But when you press the button on the can of shaving cream, that aerosol hiss is gone. Scrambling for the nearest bottle of liquid you can find, you discover the only option is baby oil.

So, can you shave with it?

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Baby oil is a generic term for mineral oils with added fragrance. These clear liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons are refined from petroleum and often used as a moisturizer in cosmetic products. Typically, people apply baby oil after showering. Bathing in hot water removes the natural protective oils from the skin, allowing moisture to escape, which contributes to dry skin [source: Newsweek]. Mineral oil creates a layer that absorbs moisture, prevents water loss and eliminates the appearance of wrinkles due to dry skin [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Mineral oil is also a common ingredient in many aftershave lotions.

If you're out of options, baby oil can be used as a replacement for shaving cream. Just apply a few drops over the area you intend to shave, spread it around and get to work. There's little to no difference in the closeness of a shave you'll receive, and because it's translucent you might have an easier time getting your sideburns straight. In addition, baby oil's moisturizing qualities reduce the incidence of nicks, razor bumps and other skin irritations. Baby oil is also very inexpensive, particularly compared to the costs of boutique shaving creams. Even a few ounces will last a long time, which could be a cost-saver for competitive swimmers, cyclists, bodybuilders and other folks who otherwise need to regularly shave large segments of their bodies.

There are some drawbacks to shaving with baby oil. First of all, it's greasy. It takes a rigorous washing to clean baby oil from your hands, and it can clog your razor blade with shorn stubble, so use a disposable razor and prepare to get messy. If you shave in the shower, be careful -- baby oil will make the floor slick. The fragrance of baby oil can also be an irritant [source: Palo Alto Medical Foundation]. Some proponents of mineral oil alternatives even claim mineral oil is carcinogenic, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the highly refined form found in baby oil. Be sure to check with a dermatologist before using baby oil, and stop using it if your skin becomes inflamed.

You might not want to make a permanent switch to baby oil, but it'll work just fine in a pinch.

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Originally Published: Dec 7, 2010

Baby Oil FAQ

Can you use baby oil to shave pubic hair?
Yes, it's gentle enough to be used down there. Rub the area with baby oil beforehand to soften the hair and skin, then get to work.
Can I use baby oil to shave?
If you're out of options, baby oil can be used as a replacement for shaving cream. Just apply a few drops, spread it around, and start shaving.
Do you use baby oil before or after you shave?
You can use it before shaving to soften hair and skin and help the razor easily glide over the skin. You can also put it on after shaving to lock in and add moisture. Just make sure you wash it all off (which can be quite a task) in between so that pores don't get clogged.
Why is baby oil good?
It has moisturizing qualities that reduce the occurrence of nicks, razor bumps, and other irritations that often happen when shaving. Baby oil is also very inexpensive compared to the cost of shaving creams and gels, making it a budget-friendly option.
Is it better to shave with baby oil?
Baby oil can be used in a pinch as a replacement for shaving cream, but isn't necessarily the best option for regular use. It's greasy and messy, so it takes a lot to clean it off your skin. It can clog your razor blade with shorn stubble, so if you're shaving a large area, you may need to stop in between to clean off the blade. Plus, if you shave in the shower, be careful not to slip on the oily floor. You'll also want to watch for skin irritation, as the fragrance of baby oil can be an irritant for people with sensitive skin.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts and your Skin." 2009. (Jan. 3, 2011) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
  • Fordyce, Moira. "Patient Education Forum -- Dry Skin." AGS Foundation for Health in Aging. 2009. (Dec. 30, 2010)http://www.healthinaging.org/public_education/pef/dry_skin.php
  • Green, Joey. "Joey Green's Supermarket Spa: Hundreds of Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself With Brand-Name Products You've Already Got Around the House." Fair Winds Press. 2005. (Dec. 30, 2010) http://books.google.com/books?id=aC1-22-DmegC&printsec=frontcover&dq=joey+green+supermarket+spa&source=bl&ots=wW_O3YeKVh&sig=O7hzl_eiSiY2Rlsefgu2Z6Yp5QY&hl=en&ei=1qQkTdjKDMaAlAfdzKCQAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22baby%20oil%22&f=false
  • Newsweek. "Do Long, Hot Showers Dry Your Skin?" Nov. 27, 2007. (Jan. 3, 2011) http://www.newsweek.com/2007/11/27/do-long-hot-showers-dry-your-skin.html
  • Palo Alto Medical Foundation. "Pubic Hair Removal: Shaving." 2010. (Jan. 5, 2011) http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/skin/pubichairremoval.html
  • Personal Care Products Council. "Mineral Oil." (Dec. 30, 2010) http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient_details.php?ingredient_id=922
  • Real Simple. "New Uses for Baby Oil - Baby Oil as Chrome Polish." (Jan. 3, 2011) http://www.realsimple.com/new-uses-for-old-things/new-uses-baby-oil/polish-chrome-with-baby-oil-10000001602500/index.html
  • Toedt, John; Darrell Koza and Kathleen Van Cleef-Toedt."Chemical Composition of Everyday Products." Greenwood Press. 2005. (Dec. 30, 2010) http://books.google.com/books?id=UnjD4aBm9ZcC&pg=PA139&dq=%22baby+oil%22&hl=en&ei=Ta0gTdbsIoKBlAfQwaDiDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&sqi=2&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22baby%20oil%22&f=false
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "CFR-Code of Federal Regulations 21, Volume 5." April 21, 2010. (Jan. 3, 2011) http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=347.10&SearchTerm=mineral%20oil

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