We asked shaving expert Mark Herro, aka @Mantic59 and the man behind Sharpologist, to weigh in on some of the ways to ensure a great shave, every time. This is the second in a series featuring his advice.


Water is an important aspect of shaving, even for those using electric shavers. But for those wet shaving, such as OneBlade users, water is even more important.

One Real Benefit Of Water (Hot And Cold)

So what is the real benefit of water (hot or cold) as it relates to shaving?

In a 1937 paper “Factors Involved In Satisfactory Shaving” for the American Medical Association by Lester Hollander (MD) and Elbridge Casselman (MD), the effect of water was one of the factors examined. The most relevant section of this paper:

“The tensile strength and consequently the hardness of hair are lessened by water absorption.

“Hair also takes up sebacceus secretion, which retards water absorption–an important factor in shaving, because in hair covered in sebacceus secretion there is a delay in water absorption during lathering.”

In 1976 a paper for the Society Of Cosmetic Chemists by Donald Deem (MS) and Martin Eiger (PhD) studied the use and temperature of water for shaving:

“Synopsis: Device is described which permits measurement of the force required to CUT a BEARD HAIR FIBER under a variety of conditions. Studies with this device show ​that the force required to cut wet beard fibers with commercial razor blades is about 65 per cent less than that of dry fibers. Beard hair is almost completely hydrated by exposure to water for about 2 minutes at room temperature, and this hydration is accelerated by an increase in temperature.”

Water does the “heavy lifting” of a shave, preparing the skin and the hair. But water alone is usually too “volatile” to use by itself. Shaving products exist to stabilize and hold water against the skin–and yes, provide even more lubrication and cushion–with additional skin-friendly ingredients.

Getting Poor Lather? You May Have Hard Water

I think it's safe to say everyone has experienced trouble making traditional shaving lather at one time or another. But if you are consistently getting poor performance it might be due to the mineral content of the water you are using–AKA “hard water.” Here are 3 shortcuts to making a better lather with hard water.

Distilled Water

If you have hard water try adding some distilled water. Distilled water is widely available at most grocery stores and "mega-marts." Simply pour a little into the water you're going to use for your shave. How much depends on the mineral content of the water so you may have to experiment a little. But I suggest not using just distilled water alone. Most people find that the lather made with just distilled water tends to be lighter and foamier, and does not provide the same level of cushioning and lubrication.


“Uberlather” is the term many shave enthusiasts use for the process of adding a few drops of pure glycerin to the shaving brush before lathering. The extra glycerin will create a more stable, longer-lasting lather. Glycerin can be found fairly easily: look for it at your local mega-mart, drug store, or large grocery store. It is often in either the skin care or first aid aisle.

Citric Acid

Another tactic to try for hard water is a small amount of citric acid. Citric acid is used in do-it-yourself home food canning so it can often be found with the canning supplies at large groceries and mega-marts. Again, you may need to experiment a little with the amount to add but start out with just a tiny bit--just a pinch of citric acid to a whole sink full of water. Using too much citric acid will change the pH of the water and you may not get any lather at all!

Mark, AKA @Mantic59, and the man behind Sharpologist, is helping men around the globe with everything your father didn’t teach you about shaving. Want to learn more about the art of shaving? Read more from @Mantic59 over on!


Mark Herro shaved with an electric razor for 30 years until he got a professional barber shave. He was so impressed with the results that he delved into the world of traditional wet shaving and his website soon became an authoritative destination. The Wall Street Journal called Sharpologist "a kind of online bible of shaving."

Just Add Water

20mm Knot Premium Synthetic Shaving Brush


Related Articles