Have you ever seen a homeless person that was clean shaven? You probably have, but you also probably think they’re rare since majority of the ones you see have scraggly beards and neck hair. But there’s actually more clean shaven homeless people than ones who don’t shave. You just won’t notice the majority of them because they aren’t out there holding up signs begging for money, so they look like everyone else.
If you go to any shelter, you’ll notice that at least 90% of those staying at the shelter are clean shaven. So how do all these homeless people shave when they have no home and no private bathroom to spend time in? While I was homeless for 6 months, I shaved my face just about every other day, and I would do it at different locations. I learned all the ways they do it and so here’s a list with just some of the most common methods that homeless people use to shave themselves.
Shelters and Churches
Just about every homeless shelter has a bathroom and a sink somewhere in it, and one of the requirements that most of them have is that you must take a shower before you go to sleep. So a lot of homeless people shave either while taking a shower, or at the sink before or after the shower. Even for those who stay outside, they can usually visit any shelter and use their bathrooms to wash up if they need to.
There were three main shelters in my city that I would use to shower and shave at when I was near any of them. I would usually sleep outdoors, but would stop in to these places halfway through the day or early in the morning just to freshen up. They usually had specific times that you could use their bathrooms, but some shelters allow people to use them 24/7. Churches also allow people to use their bathrooms either during regular mass or during meals or service times set-up just for the homeless. In my area, there was a church that would provide breakfast once a week to the homeless, so I’d often shave there when I needed to, either before or after eating the breakfast.
Public bathrooms are very common places to shave and wash up if you don’t have access to a private one. There were many days throughout the week that I would visit my local library, which was about 6 floors high, and I would go to the top floor where very few people used the bathroom and I would quickly shave up there and wash my neck and face using the sink. There was already mirrors in front of the sinks there so all I had to do was bring my razor and shaving cream.
Bathrooms at gas stations are even more commonly used by homeless people because there’s a lot of them that only allow one person in them at a time and you can lock the door. So anyone using these types of bathrooms to shave doesn’t really have to worry much about someone walking in on them and calling security or causing embarrassment. Sometimes the gas station’s mini-store will require that you buy something before you use their bathroom, but some homeless people will frequent different places each day and beg to use it or they’ll just use their food stamps and buy something cheap. The privacy of public gas station bathrooms can’t be beat. There were many times that people would walk in on me while in the library bathroom and I felt awkward and had to leave quickly in case they were to tell security.
Into the Wild Style
When you’re living on the streets and have no shelters or other facilities nearby, one of your only options is to do what campers do and use a mirror with a bottle of water or a nearby stream or river each day. Some people even use sprinkler systems outside public buildings that are closed at night but leave the sprinklers on. In the movie “Into the Wild” there’s a scene where Chris McCandless is using agriculture sprinklers to shave. This is similar to what a lot of people do but it’s usually not done during the day and most people in real life are more discreet when doing it.
Small cosmetic mirrors can be bought at any dollar store for $1, and it’s easy to get a bottle of water and fill it up somewhere for free. So what a lot of people do when it’s time to shave is they hold the mirror with one hand in front of them while shaving, and then use the bottle of water to wash up afterwards and remove all the shaved hair. They will do this every few days or so or as often as needed, but I would only do it if I was far from town for whatever reason and unable to find a public bathroom.
Friends and Family
There’s a lot of people on the streets who have friends or family members living in homes nearby. The reasons for this are different in many people’s situations, but sometimes their family members or friends will let them use their bathrooms but won’t let them stay there at night. I was in this exact situation with an Aunt of mine, to where she didn’t want me staying in her home for whatever reason but had no problem with me stopping by to use her bathroom if I needed to. She was on the opposite side of town from where my camp was set-up, so I would only go there every few months or so. But there’s probably lots of people like me who have family members that are even closer to where they’re sleeping. So they may visit their houses every other day to clean themselves up. Even if you see clean shaven homeless people on the streets, they may only shave once a week or so but you happen to see them on the day they did it.
Where Do They Get Razors and Shaving Cream?
Razors can be purchased at dollar stores or even Walmart at a pretty cheap price, but even if someone can’t afford them, there’s organizations that hand out them for free to the homeless. Many charities have “survival kits” which have many of the basic things that most people who are without homes need. They’ll typically include a few razors, a toothbrush, sample packets of shaving cream, and possibly some shampoo or other things that are used every day. There’s a lot of shelters that provide these on a weekly or monthly basis, and most people who have been on the streets for some time know the places that have them so they’ll go to a different place every week or every day.