Getting a nice, close shave requires that you shave as close to the skin as possible. But that presents the risk of developing ingrown hairs, razor burn, rashes or even nicks and cuts due to the friction of the skin against the blade. The answer? Reduce the friction as much as possible with a pre shave oil. This is an essential part of the toilette of any self-respecting gentleman. Read on to find out what a pre shave oil is and how to use it to make your shaving experience a smooth one.
10 Notes on Choosing and Using a Pre Shave Oil
Note 1. The True Purpose of Pre Shave Oil
The purpose of pre shave oil is to ease the shaving process so you can get a closer shave with less chance of damage to sensitive facial skin. The way this works is that the oil lubricates your skin, allowing a sharpened blade to glide harmlessly against it while slicing through any unlucky hairs in its path.
Note 2. Apply Pre Shave Oil in the Shower for Maximum Moisturizing Power
The best time to apply a pre shave oil is in the shower after you’ve washed your face. Massage it into your skin, allowing it to soak in. Your facial skin will soon feel more pliable and moisturized. It’ll also make your beard hairs softer and easier for the razor to cut.
Note 3. Yes, You Can Use Lather Too
Some folks think that it’s necessary to wash off a pre shave oil before applying their lather. While you do have the option of washing it off if there’s still excess oil, most people have excellent results when they go ahead and apply lather on top of their oiled skin.
Note 4. Reapply Your Oil with Every Pass of the Blade
If you’re using a straight razor, your shaving process may involve up to three passes with the blade over your facial hair. In that case, it’s a good idea to reapply the oil before each additional pass. This is especially important when shaving across or against the grain of your hair growth since this is when you’re at maximum risk of facial skin damage.
Note 5. Common Oils to Look for
What kinds of oils can you use? Anything plant based, which means that you’ll have a lot of options from which to choose. There are many commercial blends that incorporate all manner of exotic ingredients; tea tree, sandalwood, jojoba, grapeseed, avocado, and orange oils are just some of the many oils on offer.
Note 6. You can make your own homemade blends
For those low on funds or just wanting to test how easy it is to incorporate pre shave oil into their daily routine, oils from your kitchen work just as well as oils from the body shop.
Coconut oil is a popular choice that’s generally easy to handle since it’s a solid at room temperature. Olive oil is an ubiquitous kitchen staple that has a long history of being used as a moisturizer in the Mediterranean countries. Even boring old canola oil can be used in a pinch. You can mix oils in different proportions to get the right blend for your skin.
Note 7. Vegetable glycerin is a great oil-free alternative
Many substances commonly thought of as pre shave oil are actually oil-free. Glycerin is a great alternative to oil that has the same friction-reducing properties, but with less damage done to brush bristles should you choose to apply it that way.
Glycerin also has the added benefit of increasing the lather of soap. Mix a few drops into your lather mug and watch the foam multiply.
Note 8. Select a complementary scent
The scent of the products you use has an impact on your mood and on the impression you make upon others. Traditional scents such as sandalwood and musk are perfect for the office, while fruity and coconut scents are good for weekends and evenings. Watch out for scents such as patchouli, which are appropriate for music festivals but maybe not for that first meeting with your significant other’s parents.
Note 9. Cleaning your razor will be more important than ever
Some oils can gum up a razor blade. When using a straight razor, this can make it harder to strop at the beginning of your next shave. If you’re the type to neglect your razor cleaning, now’s the time to make it a habit. Carefully use soap to clean the oil from your blade, and dry with a towel, making sure to protect yourself from the sharp edge of the blade. To protect the blade from rust, invest in pure mineral oil, which will seal the blade, keeping out moisture in the air without any undesirable gumminess.
Note 10. Experimentation is your friend
Everyone has a different face, a different type of skin, a different scent preference. You might find that some oils cause breakouts or discomfort, in which case you should be sure to switch to a different oil. You may find yourself needing much less or much more oil to achieve the same effect as another person.
Just because someone else reports good results with a routine doesn’t mean it’s right for you. That’s why it’s important to decide for yourself what your perfect pre shave routine will consist of.
A pre shave routine is a highly personal aspect of a man’s morning shave. Pre shave oil is a primary element of that routine and can set the tone of the whole day. Now is the time to begin your own journey into the world of pre shave oils; be sure to report back to us on your discoveries and successes.