Caregiving: Shaving an Adult


Shaving can help your loved one feel clean and well-groomed. It also might help raise their self-esteem and connect them to a daily routine.

Shaving isn't only for men. As women age, it's common to grow excess hair on the upper lip and chin. They may want to shave these areas or remove the hair with tweezers. It's also common for women to have less body hair as they get older. So they may not need to shave their legs or under their arms.

Allow the person to do the shaving if possible. You can help by gathering the supplies and holding the mirror. If you need to do the shaving, ask if the person wants to be shaved in a certain way, such as starting with the neck and working toward the face.

Getting ready

Start by collecting the supplies you need. You will have to decide if you will use a razor or an electric shaver. For most people, an electric shaver may be the best choice.

Electric shavers are less likely to cause nicks and cuts than a razor. This is especially important if the person is taking medicines called blood thinners, which can cause even minor cuts to bleed more than usual. Also, using an electric shaver may be easier if the person has lost weight, because his or her face may have more angles to shave around. If you feel comfortable shaving your loved one with either a razor or an electric shaver, let them choose which they prefer.

It helps to have the person sit in a chair or sit up in bed. But you can shave a person who is lying down if you need to. Make sure the room has lots of light so that you both can see well.

Shaving with an electric shaver

Place the supplies you'll need in a spot that's easy for you to reach. You'll need a mirror, an electric shaver, and a towel to put on the person's lap or chest to catch hair. If the person uses a shave lotion for an electric shaver, have that nearby as well.

When you're ready to begin shaving, follow these steps:

  1. Wash and towel dry the area you're shaving. Or use an electric-shaver product that's made to clean the skin.
  2. Hold the shaver so that the handle sticks straight out from the area you're shaving (at a 90-degree angle). If possible, ask the person how they hold it and ask about any special techniques.
  3. Use back and forth strokes. If you're using a shaver with round heads (rotary shaver), move the razor in circles.
  4. Apply moisturizer or aftershave, if the person wants it.
  5. Clean the shaver according to the directions on the package.

Shaving with a standard razor

Place the supplies you'll need in a spot that's easy for you to reach. You'll need a mirror, a razor, shaving cream, and a towel to put on the person's lap or chest to catch hair and shaving cream. You'll also need a basin of warm water.

If possible, select a heavier razor. It may help you shave more safely. The weight of the razor helps do the work and may keep you from pressing down too much.

When you're ready to begin shaving, follow these steps:

  1. Wash the face with warm water to soften the hair.
  2. Apply the shaving cream.
  3. Shave with the direction of hair growth. Shaving against it can cause ingrown hairs and can irritate the skin.
  4. Press the razor firmly, but not too much. Ask the person how it feels.
  5. Use short strokes, and be careful around the Adam's apple, mouth, nose, and chin.
  6. Rinse the blade after every few strokes.
  7. Use a warm, moist washcloth to remove leftover lather. Then dry the area.
  8. Apply moisturizer or aftershave, if the person wants it.
  9. Rinse the razor well before storing it.


Current as of: October 18, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse

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