As we’ve discussed before in our podcast about whether or not it’s possible to have sex in space, floating around in zero gravity comes with its own set of problems. Even mundane chores like brushing your teeth become troublesome, but the one that interested us the most—naturally—is shaving. How do astronauts manage to shave without bits of hair and shave gel floating around the cabin, getting into the equipment and causing electrical malfunctions?
As it turns out, the answer is surprisingly easy, at least when it comes to a wet shave. As explained by beloved astronaut Chris Hadfield—the first Canadian to walk in space and former commander of the International Space Station—in the below video, it’s very similar to your regular shave, using shaving foam and a razor.
The major difference is that, since there’s no running water in space, hair and shave gel is carefully wiped into a tissue after each pass, to prevent any excess from floating off.
Trimming hair, however, is a whole different story. Because there’s no foam to keep the hairs stuck in one place, using a trimmer could spell disaster for a space mission: Hundreds of tiny floating hairs present a serious health hazard to the astronauts floating around in a sealed atmosphere. That’s why any astronauts who want to maintain their sweet beard styles—or just, y’know, cut their hair—have to use a special trimmer that’s been hooked up to a vacuum cleaner. No, really.
That’s former Navy Seal and current Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA Chris Cassidy, demonstrating how to give yourself a mohawk without accidentally destroying your spaceship. Who knew cutting your own hair could be so badass?