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?
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.
Originally Published: Dec 7, 2010