The best pre-shave oil can seriously upgrade your shave. If you have sensitive skin or just want to enjoy an even smoother shave then pre-shave oil can help.
What Is Shaving Oil?
Shaving oils form an extra protective layer over the skin and hair to improve glide and nourish the skin underneath. They are made from a base oil – usually something like castor, olive or almond oil – which is then enriched with essential oils and vitamins.
Scented shaving oil can improve the overall experience of shaving, although if you are choosing preshave oil for sensitive skin then unscented varieties may be a better option for you.
Shaving oils can also help with shaving around facial hair so you aren’t so reliant on a thick lather that obscures your lines.
How To Use Pre-Shave Oil
- Using pre-shave oil is easy. You need to bathe your beard as you normally would – whether that’s by showering or holding a hot damp towel to your face. This is normal to soften the beard but with pre-shave oil you also want to wet the face properly so that you can spread the shave oil evenly.
- Rub a couple of drops of shaving oil between your fingertips and spread it over the area to be shaved. Don’t rub it too much between your hands as it will just soak into them.
- Use your fingertips to ensure maximum spread as its much more difficult if you drop the shaving oil right in the middle of your palms. Notice how your palms have a slight concave shape? Well you were probably going to put your luxurious shave oil right in that dip so you can’t quite transfer it to the face easily.
- At this point it is perfectly possible to have a good shave with oil alone. That can be great if you want a faster shave or have facial hair and want to see precisely where you’re shaving. However, for best results use a shaving brush to lather a shaving cream over your face as normal but on top of the layer of oil.
- Hopefully you should have enough oil remaining on your face if you perform multiple passes. If you shave across or against the grain you may want to re-apply pre-shave oil as this is the prime opportunity for shaving rash where protection is needed.
- After shaving you can even re-apply shaving oil again – especially if yours has soothing oils like tea tree to calm the skin down after shaving and leave you with a great scent.
Our Best Pre-Shave Oils
While The Art of Shaving might now be owned by Proctor & Gamble, let’s not forget where this brand started in 1996 with a husband and wife team creating shaving products with high quality botanical ingredients.
It is for this reason that while we find The Art of Shaving’s accoutrements often lacking, their shaving creams and oils are second to none. The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil in particular comes in the same luxurious scents like Oud, Sandalwood and Bergamot & Neroli and even Bourbon.
Plus if you have sensitive skin and want to avoid scent oils there is an unscented version. The ingredients are all natural castor, olive and almond oil as well as fragrance oils depending one which scent you choose.
Nevertheless The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil is not without its faults. There are a lot of ingredients in there which make it luxurious for most people but increases the chances of irritation for more sensitive skins. It’s also quite thick which makes a good surface to shave on but can gunk up your razor – although that can be helped by switching to a safety razor.
Floris was founded in 1730 as the United Kingdom’s oldest fragrance retailer and is still run by the 9th generation of the same founding family. In fact they have been awarded several royal warrants over the years, but perhaps more impressive for their No.89 fragrance is that it was the choice of James Bond.
They are based at No.89 Jermyn Street – just down from Taylor of Old Bond Street (that’s not a mistake – Taylor moved from Old Bond Street to Jermyn Street but kept the name) and as such reside in the home of the finest men’s grooming establishments.
The Floris No.89 shaving oil is a blend of British blackcurrant, borage and rapeseed oils with added Vitamin E. This is combined with the strong No.89 scent that can be a little overpowering.
The other snag is that this is a very expensive shaving oil. Floris isn’t exactly the kind of house that slaps its logo on an item to hike up the price, but those luxury fragrances do come at a cost.
You can shave with most pre-shave oils alone without shaving cream, but Floris is one of the few brands that actually recommend this with their shaving oil. Of course it can’t hurt to layer this with their shaving soap puck or bottled cream.
Almost certainly the best value option, Proraso pre-shave cream is not a preshave oil but does contain a lot of similar ingredients. It’s somewhere between an oil and the actual shave soap that makes up its shaving cream.
The pre-shave is light and smooth with a strong menthol scent – which may be an issue if you have sensitive skin. Again this can be used instead of shaving cream but for best results apply it first with your fingertips and then lather shaving cream with a brush on top. It can also be applied after shaving to refresh the skin.
êShave offer a very minimalist high quality shaving oil in sandalwood, lime and white tea scents. Don’t expect the white tea to evoke memories of cafes – it’s a very subtle organic scent. All three oils are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A and E.
While the scents are much gentler the oil itself is also very smooth and less gunky than The Art of Shaving. The high price might make you feel like you’re getting less thanks to the thinner viscosity and mild scent but both those features are winners if they suit your taste.
Shaving oil is great for shaving particularly thick and coarse hair. If your hair is thick then it is likely you will need a more aggressive razor and will shave with multiple passes. You may also shave with a harsher technique or more frequently. This can all have a detrimental impact on the skin – making razor burn more likely.
Somersets Tough Stubble Shave Oil is specifically designed to help with this, softening the beard and improve razor glide so that thick stubble takes less effort to shave while the skin beneath is protected.
The lightweight natural plant carrier oils mean shaved bristles pass easily through your razor without clogging while tea tree, menthol and chamomile oil have a soothing effect on the skin.
The price represents excellent value for money and while the bottle is small it does last a long time.