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And that’s what this guide is all about. To help you understand what pre shave oil to buy and the things your need to pay attention to when doing it.
Pre shave oil is one of the most underappreciated products when it comes to wet shaving. That’s because most men don’t know how it can change their shaving experience. Especially for the ones with sensitive skin.
Speaking of sensitive skin, there is a great number of guys (not to say the majority) that shave frequently and have skin prone to irritation.
And these are the exact same people that completely ignore the existence of pre shave oil.
Being a guy with sensitive skin, I’ve had the chance to discover the oil’s benefits. And this is why I know from experience that selecting a good shave oil is of crucial importance when it comes to enjoying your shaving.
Here at The Manliness Kit, we had the chance to test a good number of wet shaving products in the past and determined what makes a product top of the list.
The secret stands in giving you a great wet shaving experience while at the same time, benefiting from a good price to value ratio.
Now, about the post that you’re reading.
I concluded to five products that I consider to be the top pre shave oils based on several criteria.
You can have a look at the below table to get a quick idea and a taste of the details that follow.
Here are 5 of the best pre shave oils reviewed today:
The 5 Best Pre Shave Oils
|The Art of Shaving
|Truefitt & Hill
|Pacific Shaving Company
|Country of Origin
|2 fl oz / 60 ml
|2 fl oz / 60 ml
|2 fl oz / 60 ml
|0.5 fl oz / 15 ml
|3.3 fl oz / 100 ml
|Organic saflower oil
Organic castor oil
Organic grapeseed oil
|Sunflower Seed Oil
Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Kukui Seed Oil
Grapefruit Peel Oil
Tangerine Peel Oil
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
Cucumber Fruit Extract
Safflower Seed Oil
|Sunflower Seed Oil
Bergamot Fruit Oil
Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Cucumber Fruit Extract,
Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
Kukui Nut Oil
Tangerine Peel Oil
Grapefruit Peel Oil
|Sweet Almond Oil
Grape Seed Oil
Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
Cinnamomum Camphora Bark Oil (Camphor)
Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Spearmint Leaf Oil
Peppermint Leaf Oil
Tea Tree Oil
|Lathering required, 1=No Need
|Ease Of Use
|Value for Money
I started working on this post almost five months ago and it took me a while to complete since I couldn’t find more than 3 products that I actually liked.
My first attempt was with all the samples that I received from time to time from different vendors that kindly asked me for a review.
Unfortunately, there were only a few that I would consider decent and yet, none of them made it to my top list.
Leaving aside all the product samples, I decided on the top 5 pre shave oils after testing 12 pre shave oils in total. Seven of which were purchased by me over the course of three years and the rest, I bought them for the sake of this post.
That being said, I’m not affiliated with any of the reviewed pre shave oil brands and everything that you read is based on my personal and unbiased experience with these oils.
Before we dig into the details of each oil, let’s try to get a better understanding of what pre shave oil is and what makes one better than the others.
What is pre shave oil and what’s the use of it
The easy answer is that it’s an oil that is primarily used prior to shaving. But there’s more to this.
By definition, pre shave oil is a combination of natural oils (and sometimes synthetic ingredients) and vitamins.
It’s fairly common to find a lot of carrier oils that are widely used in skincare and hair care products. And there’s a good reason why this happens.
Carrier oils like jojoba, argan or even olive oil offer great lubricity and moisturize the skin, giving you a protective layer between the blade and your skin. Apart from that, these oils make your beard soft and thus, making it easier to cut.
Besides carrier oils, you’ll also find essential oils like tea tree and lavender which are known to be antiseptic and help the skin heal faster. On top of these, other essential oils may be also used to offer unique scent to a product. The oil combinations are literally endless.
Other familiar ingredients in a pre shave oils are vitamins and plant extracts that offer extra properties and protection to your skin.
Lastly, a pre-shave oil doesn’t necessarily consist of 100% natural ingredients. There a few ingredients that offer antiseptic and antibacterial action that are also included in many formulations.
How to use pre-shave oil
First of all, let’s find out the when before the how to use one.
A pre shave oil is normally used prior to lathering for three reasons:
- Makes your beard softer
- Lubricates the skin and adds a protection layer
- Keeps the skin hydrated
However, you can use it for other purposes like a shaving cream alternative or as a beard shaping product.
But first, let’s see the main use of a pre shave oil.
Prior to lathering
As noted, it’s best to apply it on your face before any shaving cream or soap. Ideally, you’ve washed your face beforehand and your beard is already softened by the warm water.
Using a pre shave oil makes a huge difference for guys that suffer from skin irritation as it minimizes the chances of getting razor burn. Besides this, it reduces nicks and cuts while making shaving a more comfortable experience.
Guys with normal skin can find pre shave oils of great use, as well. These are usually the guys that make a 3 or 4 pass shave and are looking to get a close shave with a goal of a smooth, beardless skin.
We already indicated that it’s possible to use it even without lathering products.
The oils give enough lubricity to the skin so that facial hair is cut without too much effort. But keep in mind that this can be the case only if you don’t have a thick beard.
Shaping your beard
Lastly, it’s a product that is highly preferred by bearded men who want to shape their cheek and neck line.
The application is fairly simple and it gives you great results. All you have to do is apply the oil on the area you want to shave and go for it.
I find it very useful for beard shaping since the oil gives you great precision and visibility as opposed to shaving cream that covers your beard with white lather.
I believe that getting the best pre shave oil is crucial for a comfortable shave and not to mention, for guys with sensitive skin. For the rest of the men, it’s also important to give them a nice, close shave.
This is why you need to pay attention to the quality element by comparison with other oils. Even though the below criteria aren’t a guarantee that you’ll get a good product, it certainly guides you towards the correct decision.
So, here’s what you need to pay attention to when you consider getting one. Based on these, I made the selection of oils in this article.
Ease of application
This mostly refers to the dispenser of the oil.
More particularly, it’s important to dispense the exact amount of oil you want to use easily, without wasting any extra product in the process.
During your search, you’ll find different types of containers with sprayers, pumps, caps and droppers.
I personally prefer the ones that come with droppers or pumps. With these, you don’t waste any product and at the same time, you don’t make a mess like you (happens to me as well) would do with the other types.
There are so many different container types that I won’t dig into too much detail.
One thing to keep in mind is that the oil needs to remain fresh and intact without any oxidation and deterioration from cold or hot environments.
My personal preference is amber glass bottles when possible, that are also able to block the sun rays effectively and keep the shelf life unaffected.
This is the most important criteria to consider for your selection.
Even though you’re not supposed to be familiar with all the ingredients a product contains, the best pre-shave oils are normally the ones that contain all natural ingredients.
More specifically, prefer the ones that are proven to moisturize the skin, give your face enough slickness and making your beard soft before you apply lather.
With a wide selection of products, there’s no reason to choose something that contains synthetic chemicals just for the sake of price.
And speaking of price, you’ll notice that the difference isn’t even considerable to convince you to get a product that contains synthetic chemicals.
This is also a factor that is heavily determined by the blend of ingredients a pre-shave oil has.
Together with the face protection, slickness is the one thing that you’re looking for when you want to use a pre-shave oil.
It doesn’t have to be a viscous oil but it’s important to give enough lubricity to the skin so that the razor doesn’t get stuck with every stroke. As the razor glides effortlessly, you avoid razor burns and cuts.
Certainly, not the most important factor that should affect your decision. But in any case, you don’t want a product with a smell that you hate or with an active ingredient you’re allergic to.
Basically, you have to, pay attention to the ingredients of the pre shave product and make sure that it doesn’t contain essential oils that you may be allergic to.
And for the sensitive noses, you’ll find out that a pre shave oil can come with a nice scent but it can also be scent-free.
If you want to combine the oil with a shaving soap or cream that contains strong scent, you might want to look into getting a scentless pre shave oil. This way, the two products don’t end up in any unpleasant mix.
The pre shaving oils being reviewed in this post come at approximately the same price per oz which is around $10-15 per fl oz.
It’s important to note that even though the prices seem to have big variations, all you have to do is look at the container sizes and compare the prices.
Another thing to note is that the price tag might seem pretty similar but this doesn’t mean that all oils have same performance or last a long time. You’ll see later in this guide that some shaving oils last way longer than their peers since you don’t have to use that much product on every shaving session.
This brings us to the next question.
What about the price to value ratio?
Well, have some patience and we’ll soon find out.
What is the best pre-shave oil for for men and why not, women
- Organic safflower oil
- Organic castor oil
- Organic grapeseed oil
- Vitamin E
The first pre shave oil of that we’re going to be dealing with, comes from Taconic.
I’ve tried their aftershave balm before as well as their shaving cream and I only have good experiences with them. Fortunately, this oil doesn’t come far from those standards.
Made from an exceptionally good blend of all natural and organic oils, the Taconic offers a great shaving experience.
Most of its great performance is due to the combination of castor, safflower and grapeseed oil.
There’s a particular reason for the particular oil selection.
Safflower has moisturizing properties and it’s been used for thousands of years for healing wounds.
As for castor oil, it’s also something very familiar in hair care and skincare for its antibacterial properties while making the hair and skin softer.
Lastly, grapeseed oil is able to penetrate the skin effectively to reach deep into the roots of the facial hair. It’s also known for its great lubricating capability.
As far as concerned the application and performance, we’ve got the following.
It’s not a very viscous oil and compared to others being reviewed today, it doesn’t feel very thick.
You might be thinking that because it isn’t thick enough, it doesn’t lubricate and protect the skin sufficiently. But that’s not the case here.
A non-viscous oil is by no means a bad performer.
In my opinion, when a pre shave oil is less viscous makes shaving easier since it doesn’t gunk up the razor and works best with latherers.
I’ve tried it both with and without shaving cream. With shaving cream, it does an excellent job. Without, it makes things a bit challenging.
Paired with a shaving soap or cream, this oil does an excellent job lubricating the skin and offering great slickness.
As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t clog up the razor and protects your skin effectively. Even with quick passes, I didn’t feel anywhere close to getting a nick and cut.
When I used it without the cream, I tried to shave only a small part of my cheek and it struggled a bit. But again, this isn’t supposed to work without a shaving cream or soap.
A quick note here is that I’ve got thick beard and I wouldn’t recommend you trying using this Taconic pre shave oil without shaving cream.
Both times I applied a bit less than 3 squirts, which isn’t considered a big amount. But the amount you apply also depends on how long it’s been since you last shaved and how thick your beard is.
Overall, I’m very happy with the performance and being a man with a sensitive skin that is prone to irritation, it left me overly pleased.
The scent is fairly subtle and it doesn’t interfere too much with the scent of the shaving cream or soap you want to use.
One thing that I particularly like is the no-mess dispenser. It’s a pump which makes application easy and clean.
If all comes down to price, you won’t be disappointed. It’s more like on the lower side compared to the other products, considering the size of the bottle.
Would I recommend this to you?
I would say that there’s not much to think about. I definitely consider it the best pre shave oil for this value.
- Castor oil
- Olive oil
- Hexyl Cinnamal
- Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
I think that this is the most popular pre shave oil option. There’s a strong marketing team behind this brand, especially after their acquisition few years ago by P&G.
Even though I’m not so impressed by their shaving creams, this pre shave oil compensates by a lot.
The art of shaving pre shave oil is easily one of the best pre shave oils a man can get.
First, it’s the protection that it offers you. Being fairly viscous, it feels that even if you try to slice your face open, the layer of oil will protect your face. This is just a figure of speech, so don’t even think about trying it.
There’s a reason why this oil is thick.
The combination of castor and olive oil is the one that makes the oil so viscous while allowing the razor to glide nicely on your skin.
As for the ingredients, it contains all natural extracts and derivatives of natural essential oils such as Hexyl Cinnamal, that is normally a derivative of chamomile.
My main objection has to do mainly with the Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, which could have been replaced with a natural ingredient as a fragrance compound.
In terms of application, I can’t say that I’m very happy with it since it doesn’t come with any easy dispenser. In such case, you either make a mess or put too much product in your hands or both.
Talking about the amount, you really need a few drops to cover your entire face. Be careful not to apply too much of it because you’ll have trouble shaving with it.
The shaving experience is fairly pleasant with this pre shave oil. Satisfactory slickness and enough protection for your skin.
A few words of advice.
If you use it with a shaving cream, rinse the razor often after each stroke.
The oil is very thick and tends to gunk up the razor. Because of this, hair gets stuck in between the blades.
When the short, cut hair is stuck in between blades, the razor might scrape your skin with every stroke and irritate the skin.
Next, is my attempt to shave with the pre shave oil without the use of shaving cream. Again, I tried it on the top of my cheeks where the skin is thicker.
Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t as pleasant as I thought it would be.
Because of the high viscosity of this oil, the razor constantly gunked up with oil and hair. My suggestion is to avoid using it without a latherer. This is also the way this pre shave oil performs the best.
Lastly, once you’re done shaving, have a look at the blades and check to see if there’s oil stuck on them. Since it’s fairly thick, even if you rinse it with water, there might still be oil residues on the blades.
The particular scent that I shaved with is sandalwood but there are way more to choose from. I wouldn’t consider the smell overpowering but you can definitely notice it and it’s very pleasant. Find your favorite scent and go for it.
- Sunflower Seed Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Meadowfoam Seed Oil
- Glyceryl Oleate
- Fume Silica
- Kukui Seed Oil
- Grapefruit Peel Oil
- Tangerine Peel Oil
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
- Cucumber Fruit Extract
- Canola Oil
- Safflower Seed Oil
Truefitt & Hill is a fairly well-known company from England for its high quality, traditional wet shaving products.
I had the chance to use their shaving cream which is also one of the best I’ve ever used. I’m afraid that this pre shave oil doesn’t reach the same high standards.
I don’t mean that it’s not a good oil but when you have a top notch shaving cream, you set the bar high for the rest of the products.
If you ask me, there are a few things that could have been better, considering the cost of this oil.
Let’s start with the combination of ingredients, which I consider a bit controversial.
It contains some great natural oils that are among the best when it comes to beard softening and skin moisturizing. These are, unfortunately, topped up by Laureth-4 and TBHQ.
To get a better understanding what these ingredients are all about, let’s see what they are and what they do.
- Laureth-4 is a polyoxyethers of lauryl alcohol and functions as a surfactant in skincare and hair care.
- TBHQ, or t-Butyl Hydroquinone, is used in cosmetics as preservative to maintain the shelf life of a product and doesn’t let it deteriorate from oxygen.
I don’t believe that all synthetic chemicals are bad but I don’t see a great need in including such in a pre shave oil when there are so many all natural oils that offer the same or even better results.
Again, that’s solely my opinion.
When it comes to thickness, the particular oil is neither too thick nor too thin. Maybe it closely resembles that feeling that you get with the Taconic pre shave oil but on the thicker side.
In terms of performance, I like it a lot and works perfectly with any lathering product.
It doesn’t gunk up the razor and it’s easily rinsed with water from both your face and razor.
Without shaving cream, it performs surprisingly well. If I wasn’t too afraid of shaving without a lathering product, I think I might have been able to go through the entire face with no problems.
One thing that didn’t excite me is the choice of a plastic bottle. I would think that a premium shaving product needs to come with a bottle of equal quality and performance.
One the contrary, the small size and durable material makes it easy to carry it with you when you travel.
The scent is citrusy, I think more like lemon, and I would consider it fairly strong. Feels very refreshing though. If you decide on buying this, it might be a good idea to pair it with a scentless shaving cream.
The price is a bit steep for this oil but not more expensive than the Art of Shaving product. Though, it lasts for a quite a long time since you don’t use too much every time you shave with it.
Is it the best pre shave oil to buy for the first time? I’m not sure.
Would I recommend this pre shave oil to give it a try?
I would say yes, considering the small convenient size, the great performance and the refreshing scent. Unless you’re not a big fan of citrusy scents.
- Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
- Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Plant Derived)
- Sorbitan Oleate (Plant Derived)
- Polysorbate-20 (Coconut Derived)
- Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil
- Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
- Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil
- Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract
- Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice
- Aleurites Moluccana Seed (Kukui Nut) Oil
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
- Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil
- Menthol (Analgesic)
- Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil
The pacific shaving company pre shave oil was definitely a very pleasant surprise.
I hadn’t tried it before I decided to write this article. And I must say, I’m happy to report that their good reviews that they receive online have some valid ground.
I wasn’t familiar with the brand and I purchased it after reading some very promising opinions on amazon. After thorough research, I decided to give it a try.
There are two different containers, one with 0.5 oz and one with 2 oz. The one that I got is the small one but here comes the first surprise.
The bottle could have been better, maybe if it was made out of glass. Same thing with the dispenser which can make a mess in your bathroom even if you’re careful with your aim while putting it in your hands.
After using this product these two issues were fairly compensated by the other positive features of the oil. In any case, I do consider both of them important.
You only need a few drops to have a great shave and it seems that this small bottle is going to last even close to the advertised 100 shaves. So far 12 down and 88 to follow.
When it comes to performance, it might be probably the only pre shave oil I’ve used with and without shaving cream that performed amazingly well.
Again, I didn’t try shaving my entire face without shaving cream. However, with good shaving preparation and the right wet shaving set up, it would probably do a great job, shaving the entire face.
I used several shaving creams and soaps and the shaving oil performed very well each time, giving a close shave without compromising comfort.
The thickness of the pacific shaving pre shave oil is exactly what I like: neither too thick nor thin.
It feels on the face almost similar to the Truefitt and Hill.
It gives great lubricity and doesn’t gunk up the razor. Not to mention how comfortable the shave gets when you use your very best safety razor.
Similar to other pre shave oils, it’s got a citrusy scent which feels like a combination of lime, orange and lemon with woody afternotes.
Not too overpowering but it might be noticeable even when you’re using a shaving cream. Therefore, it’s better to build lather with a scentless product.
I think that with the right shaving razor and with a great shaving cream, you’re not only going to prevent razor burns but there’s also very low chance you’ll ever get a nick or cut, given that you’re not feeling adventurous while shaving.
It’s not the cheapest product you can get but not the most expensive either. However, if you’re looking for the best pre shave oil, this one from Pacific Shaving is most probably among the strongest candidates.
- Prunus Dulcis (Sweet Almond)
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil (Grape)
- Aloe Barbadensis (Leaf Juice)
- Hydrogenated Castor Oil
- Cinnamomum Camphora Bark Oil (Camphor)
- Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil
- Mentha Viridis Leaf Oil (Spearmint)
- Tocopherol, Mentha Piperita Leaf Oil (Peppermint)
- Melaleuca Alternifolia Oil (Tea Tree)
Last but not least, the Portuguese Musgo.
Having used their tube shaving cream, I only have good memories with this brand. And luckily, the pre shave oil didn’t disappoint me.
Let’s start with the container.
It’s a heavy glass bottle that reminds me a lot of perfume bottles. It feels premium but the only thing that I would consider a drawback is the wide open neck.
Every time I wanted to use some of the pre shave oil, I ended up using way more than I wanted. Not to mention the mess on my hands and sink. This is something that could use some improvement.
The oil is a bit thinner than all the pre shave oils reviewed within this post. As expected, it doesn’t get stuck on the razor blades and it’s easily rinsed off with water.
It lubricates the skin very well when paired with a good shaving cream.
If you make more than one pass, you might need to add a bit more oil right after you rinse your face once the first pass is done. But that’s not such a big deal if you ask me. But it’s not as long lasting as other pre shave oils.
The ingredient list includes some premium oils that are considered ideal for skin care products such as sweet almond, grapeseed, castor and tea tree.
The scent is a bit strange in the sense that you would expect this kind of smell in aftershaves.
It’s got tea tree oil, eucalyptus, peppermint and spearmint which gives you a nice refreshing scent. I also used it as an aftershave oil and it feels great.
Great scent while keeping the skin well moisturized and soft.
I haven’t used it a lot but it seems that with daily use it may last from 3 to 7 months depending on the amount you put and the number of passes you make on every shaving session.
It’s a bit pricier than others but it worths the money. Not as cost effective as the Pacific Shaving but it’s not too far from it. If I compare it with the AoS, it lasts longer and it comes in a larger bottle for almost the same price.
If you liked this article, we believe you might be interested in the following:
- Finding the best safety razor for men.
- Selecting the best shaving cream for all skin types.
- How to use shaving cream and apply it effortlessly.
- How to lather a shaving soap.
- Learn how to use a shaving brush with shaving cream or soap.
- Understanding what aftershave is and how to use it.
- The best shaving set for your ultimate wet shave experience.
Main image courtesy: isn5000/BigStock.com