Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
I travel a lot. Sometimes I'm in a place that has hard water; sometimes I'm in a place that has soft water. Does the kind of water I shave with affect the quality of my shave?
The sort of water you use to shave should not have any effect on the closeness or effectiveness of your shave (though hard water can dull razors -- more on that below). Your skin will typically adapt to the sort of water -- hard or soft -- that you have in your community. That said, if you travel frequently or have just moved to a new area, you may notice a difference in the way your skin reacts after the shave. …
With soft water, which by definition is low in mineral content, you might notice your skin feeling a little smoother or a little more oily.
With hard water, which is high in mineral content, you might feel like there’s residue remaining on your face after you’ve washed or shaved.
While hard water does boast a few benefits -- high quantities of calcium or selenium in your water can help with such problems as seborrhea or psoriasis --water-related skin problems tend to be the result of hard water.
If your exposure to hard water is prolonged, any adverse post-shave reactions should pass after a few weeks as your body creates the right amount of oil to compensate. In the interim, there are a few things you can do to avoid discomfort from shaving with hard water:
- To prevent mineral buildup on the razor blade (which will dull its edge), be sure to wipe it clean after each use. You may also want to rinse it with distilled (not tap) water.
- After your shave, to minimize irritation, follow up with a super-gentle moisturizer.
- If necessary, use a mild cortisone cream to ameliorate skin flare-ups.
- When all else fails, wash and shave with distilled water, and the problem should vanish.
As for anyone who has hard
water at home and whose skin does not react well over the long term, attaching
a device called a water-softener to your incoming water supply may be in order.