Best Pre-Shave Cream (All Skin Types Buyers Guide 2023)
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Pre-shave oils and creams are important products for men into wet shaving and who have sensitive skin. The good news is that there’s an abundance of pre-shave and creams oils on the market. Unfortunately, they are not all created equal, and some have underwhelming results.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you make the right purchase. After reading this post, you should know what constitutes a quality pre-shave oil, how it helps sensitive skin, how to use it, and some top recommendations to get you started.
But before we dive into that:
Top 3 Best Pre Shave Creams at a Glance
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
How Do You Know You Have Sensitive Skin?
It sounds like an obvious question, but you’ll be shocked at how many people claim they have sensitive skin while, in truth, they don’t. And some don’t even know they have sensitive skin.
This determination is difficult because facial skin is more sensitive than other body parts. So, what might be okay for your legs, chest, and arms may irritate your face. You can only get an accurate and medically sensitive skin diagnosis from your dermatologist. But even then, there are some clues you should look out for:
- You notice itching, a razor burn, and redness
- Your skin reacts to topical fragrances and soaps
- You feel a burning and stinging sensation when you use powerful cleansers that contain alcohol
- Your skin is flaky and dry
- You get sunburned easily
- You get frequent breakouts
If you notice any of the above, you might have sensitive facial skin, and you should treat it accordingly.
Note: there’s more to razor burns than the shaving soaps, shave creams, and pre-shave products you use. Some guys may have to reevaluate their razor or shaver and shaving style. For straight razors, the razor’s aggressiveness and shaving angle are important.
What is Pre-shave Cream/Oil, and What Does It Do?
Pre-shave creams and oils are products you should add to your pre-shave routine to aid your dry, oily and sensitive skin. They are designed to make shaving easier and quicker.
Before shaving, massage some cream or oil on your face and give it a couple of seconds to soak in. The oil or cream will allow the razor to glide smoothly over the skin and ensures you use fewer strokes, thus protecting your skin. You’ll notice you get lesser nicks, irritation, and razor burns using pre-shave oils and creams.
Some experts argue that while pre-shave products reduce shaving time, you rack up more time in their application. While there’s some truth to this, the overall shaving experience is better and more efficient.
Aside from lubrication, pre-shave oils and creams also condition your skin. Some of the best pre-shave oils blend essential and carrier oils that condition the skin. These oils moisturize the skin as well as cleanse and tone skin pores. This yields smoother, healthier, and more elastic skin.
What to Look for in Pre-shave Oil/Cream
Some pre-shave oil and cream brands claim to achieve a comfortable shave, yet they have zero effect on your skin.
We’ve prepared a list of pre-shave creams and oils that you should consider, but if you come across one we’ve not covered, use the information in this guide to determine if it’s a good pre shave oil purchase.
Ingredients It Should Have
Going through the complete list of must-have ingredients is an enormous task, so we’ve settled on a general guideline to determine if your choice is natural or not.
All your pre-shave oil needs are essential oil, carrier oil, or both. Essential oils are highly potent, so most brands dilute them with carrier oils to ensure you reap the maximum benefits.
Some good carrier oils to have include:
- Coconut oil – For facial skin, there are limited oils that are better than coconut oil. Coconut oil moisturizes and kills bacteria.
- Argan oil – this is the most popular carrier oil for most hair and skin products, including hand lotions and shampoos. It moisturizes and repairs skin damage.
- Jojoba oil – without knowing it, you strip the skin of a natural oil called sebum every time you shave. Jojoba oil mimics the function of sebum and ensures your skin remains healthy and elastic.
- Castor oil – Castor oil is known as a clarifying oil, meaning it’s fast absorbing, balances oiliness, refines skin pores’ appearance, and reduces the appearance of blemishes for a beautiful and calm complexion. It’s also a disinfectant that helps clear our bacteria from skin pores. Because of its properties, it’s not ideal for people with dry skin.
Some good essential oils to have include:
- Peppermint oil –stimulates the skin and increases blood circulation. The result is more nutrients and oxygen reach the skin’s outer layer giving you a beautiful, healthy glow.
- Rosemary oil – if you have acne-prone skin, rosemary oil will help to clear the pores of bacteria and prevent acne from reoccurring. Rosemary oil is gentle on the skin.
- Sandalwood oil – if you fancy the classic barbershop scent, get a pre-shave cream or oil with a sandalwood scent.
- Vitamin E – is a great moisturizer but also a good antioxidant that removes toxins from skin cells, leaving your skin healthy.
If you see a blend of these ingredients, you are about to purchase quality shaving pre shave oil or cream.
Ingredients to Avoid
Unfortunately, some brands cut corners and sneak some ingredients in pre-shave oils and creams to maximize profits, often to your skin’s detriment. Some of these ingredients include:
- Parabens – these are included to extend a product’s shelf life. Many cosmetic brands use parabens since they are good microbial agents. But it’s also a strong xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen) and can mess with your hormones. In men, this might lead to reduced testosterone levels and slow-moving and abnormally shaped sperms. Common parabens types include propyl-, butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, isopropyl-, and isobutylparaben.
- Petrolatum – is a by-product of petroleum that’s used to provide lubrication. While it does help to achieve a smooth shave and is approved by dermatologists to be skin safe, there are some concerns. When not properly refined, petrolatum can be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). And since it’s difficult to determine if it’s fully refined or not, we advise avoiding it.
- Parfum or fragrance –synthetic scents added to make the pre-shave cream or oil shave smell nice. This is a plus on many fronts, but the problem is that the ingredients manufacturers use to produce the scents aren’t disclosed. If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid synthetic fragrances as they can be drying and harsh on the skin.
Volume and Price Point
Money is always a big factor when purchasing grooming products. While you only need a dollop or a couple of drops each time, these small amounts add up fast over time. The fewer times you reorder, the better it is for your pocket. Once you find a product you like in a small size, test it and like it; consider getting a larger tub, bottle, or tube the next time or a pack of three for a discount.
Note: When testing a new shaving oils, try it on your hand, wrist, or arm first. This is to ensure it doesn’t cause skin irritation or a rash. Everyone’s skin is different, and there’s a possibility you’ve had a specific skin allergy without knowing it. It’s best for a rash to break out on your wrist than on your arm.
Best Pre-shave Cream/ Oil/ Gel (Summary)
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. The Art of Shaving – Best Pre-shave Cream/ Oil
If you are looking for the best pre-shave oil that’ll protect your skin against ingrown hairs and razor burns, then the Art of shaving is it for you. The Art of Shaving has been producing quality men grooming products for decades, so you can trust this preshave oil to deliver as described. With this oil, your razor will glide smoothly without causing hurt.
This popular brand made a unique blend of essential oils and natural ingredients. The moisture will soften your beard, ensuring a smooth and comfortable shaving experience. We especially loved that the oil is non-sticky and doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue.
If you love a classic scent, you’ll love the soothing sandalwood aroma. The fragrance is subtle and doesn’t affect the eyes when applied.
It’s also noteworthy that it’s rich in antioxidants and olive oil that hydrates the skin. The preshave oil has antimicrobial properties, which keep bacteria out, reducing your chances of developing acne. Last but not least, it has castor oil that reduces pull and tug, which is one of the leading causes of razor bumps.
2. Proraso Pre-Shave Cream (White) – Sensitive Skin
Proraso Pre-shave cream is a well-kept secret.
This is yet another quality product from Proraso. The Proraso Pre-shave Cream has been used for shaving preparations by several generations of Italian barbers. It is created in Italy and is also great as a post-shave moisturizer; in that, it helps in preventing noticeable razor rashes and softens and protects the skin and beard during the shaving process.
Below is a breakdown of what this product offers. Note it is perfect for both shaving beginners and pros looking for a close shave.
While most pre-shave creams tend to be slightly pricey, this Proraso pre-post-shave white cream is justified for the price it fetches. Unlike most pre-shaving products, the Proraso white does not contain ingredients that will clog your pores. Its list of ingredients is; glycerin, water, oats, fragrance, coconut oil, and green tea. When you read the long list of ingredients the product is made up of, you will notice that it does not contain Isopropyl Myristate which tends to cause clogging of pores after continuous use.
The oats and green tea contained in this product are beneficial to sensitive skin. Green tea is rich in antioxidants which are warriors against aging effects. Oats, on the other hand, are natural exfoliators and moisturizers.
Last but not least, coconut oil treats and moisturizes sensitive skin. Overall this pre-shave product will smoothen and moisturize your skin. It will also act as a shield on your skin. When paired with high-quality shaving soap, you will quickly achieve a close shave – free of irritations.
It is easy to get caught up in what this pre-shave cream can do for your skin. However, while the three ingredients listed are its strengths, it is also important to take note of its scent. It is fruity and fresh. It has hints of apple and lime which men seem to love. Note that the scent is not too overwhelming – it is just enough to be noticed. The smell lingers for a while even after you are done shaving. It gives the face a refreshing feeling.
While it is true that this product feels a little dry, it is rich and creamy. This more than makes up for its rather ‘dry’ feeling. But the beauty of it all is that the dryness can be counteracted by moistening the skin before its use. It is this rich cream that does the actual protection of the skin and beard.
3. Proraso Pre-Shave Cream (Green) – Refreshing
There’s no way to avoid talking about Proraso when reviewing pre-shave creams. This green variation is similar to the white-cap option regarding their goal. However, there are some slight differences.
The green cap Proraso pre-shave cream is the OG pre-shave of the Proraso company. It’s designed to be used with any beard type and contains a blend of Menthol, and Eucalyptus, which opens your pores and sinuses every morning and toning and purifies the skin. This option is great if you want to get energized in the morning.
4. Proraso Pre-Shave Cream (Red) – Manly Smell
The red-cap Proraso shave cream is designed for heavy and coarse beards, so it’s perfect for guys with cheeks like sandpaper. The Shea butter it contains nourishes the skin, and the classic Sandalwood fragrance is icing on the cake. Overall, the Red-cap Proraso Shave cream is a great nourishing cream.
- No silicone
- No mineral oil
- No artificial colorants
5. Proraso Pre-Shave Cream (Blue) – Good for Dry Skin
The blue-cap Proraso pre-shave cream is a protective cream. It has a heavier and thicker consistency than the rest, providing a good shield to avoid irritation and razor burns. It’s mixed with aloe vera, vitamin E, and Licorice Root Extract to keep your skin safe. However, it has a musky scent which may not be for everyone.
- No Paraben
- No Alcohol
- No silicone
- No mineral oil
- No artificial colorants
6. The Art of Shaving Pre-Shaving Gel – High-Quality Gel
This is yet another product from Art of Shaving. Like the preshave oil, the pre-shaving gel is of outstanding quality. The gel helps to prepare facial hair for a close shave. It’s a hybrid pre-shave gel that’s a lightweight alternative to heavy shave creams. The gel was designed with a unique Power Brush that gently massages and exfoliates the skin. Together with the gel, the Power Brush helps reduce instances of ingrown hair by 85% over 12 weeks
The gel forms a thin layer of protection between the shaving cream and the skin while it hydrates it. It contains emollients that increase lubrication and helps in reducing the pull and tug while you shave.
While the gel is white, it’s activated using the Power Brush, and it turns clear. You should leave it on your face for between 1 and 2 minutes for best results.
Aside from these, the Art of Shaving Gel has the following additional features:
- A touch of shea butter that helps infuse light moisture and ensure the skin remains hydrated throughout the shave
- Water-based formula that makes it easier to wash off without leaving a greasy residue
7. Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil – All Skin Types
Taylor of Old Bond is right up there with the Art of Shaving. It started its operations in 1854 by Jeremiah Taylor and has remained a family-owned business to date. The family tradition and dedication have been to produce quality products for men using natural or pure ingredients. Over the years, they’ve perfected their formulas, and this Sandalwood Pre-shave oil is a testament to this.
As a preshave oil, Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood preshave oil should be used before shaving to ensure a smoother shaving experience. The preshave oil contains several natural ingredients, including:
- Aloe vera which soothes sensitive and irritated skin
- It’s perfect for all types
- It contains grapeseed oil, which lubricates the skin and locks in moisture
- Improves the shaving routine
How to Apply Pre-shave Creams, Oils, and Gels
Luckily, using pre-shave creams, gels and oils isn’t a complex process, but it isn’t too simple either. You must follow specific steps to yield maximum benefit from these products. Below are the steps to follow:
Open Your Skin Pores
This step is important so that the skin can be ready to absorb the oil’s or cream’s ingredients. You can do this by taking a hot shower, holding a warm wet towel after face wash to your face, or both. Before you jump into the shower, place a small towel in your bathroom sink filled with hot water. Once you step out of the shower and dry yourself, wring the towel and put it over your face for about five minutes.
Apply the oil or cream to your stubble. Pour a couple of drops onto your palm, rub it and then apply it to your beard. Be careful not to use too much since you’ll still use shaving cream. Too much pre-shave oil or cream may cause clogging, especially if using an electric razor.
However, massage the oil vigorously into your stubble for 30 seconds so that the hairs lift from the face and you can achieve a close shave. Let the oil be absorbed for about 30 seconds before you proceed to the next step.
Remember to wash your hands to get rid of the oil and avoid having a loose grip when handling a razor.
Put on Shaving Cream
Some pre-shave oils and creams can be used alone, but some are designed to be applied under shaving cream. If you’re using the latter, proceed to apply your shaving cream as normal.
Use Hot Water
Whether you’re using a straight razor, a safety razor, or a cartridge, you should fill your sink with hot water and use it to rinse off oils from the razor to avoid clogging. This is especially important if you’re using a four-blade (or more) cartridge. These blades are usually too close together that they easily trap the mixture of hair, oil, and shaving cream. If you don’t deal with it on the spot, it can be a pain to remove it later.
After finishing your shave, rinse your face to remove the oil. Your face should feel refreshed, clean and non-greasy. Learn more about post-shaving routines.
It’s easy to find the right grooming product for your needs. Hopefully, our pre-shaving creams and oils review has helped you get closer to finding the best preshave oil and cream for your sensitive skin. Remember, if you come across a preshave cream or oil that’s not on our list, reviewing the list of ingredients can help you determine if it’s a good buy or not.
Also, while these products work for most men, they may not necessarily work for you – every man’s skin is different. In light of this, you should always try the preshave products on your wrist or arm before using them on your face. If you react, only a small hidden portion of your skin will suffer.
Can I use Beard Oil as a Preshave Oil?
It depends. Most beard oil formula is thick, perfect for softening itchy and dry beards, hydrating facial hair, and adding a healthy shine to your beard. But when it comes to shaving, beard oil isn't readily absorbed into the skin, a process that's important for a smooth glide. Applying beard oil directly to the skin, like pre-shave oil, may result in clogged pores. However, if you have a thin beard oil, you may use it. Just be forewarned it may not yield the same results as a pre-shave oil.
Can I Use Pre-shave Oil With Electric Razors?
Pre-shave oils can be used with either straight razors or electric razors. The trick is to find one that forms a thin layer since thick pre-shave oils easily clog electric razors leading to an unsatisfactory experience.
Can I Use Preshave Oil as an Aftershave Balm?
Well, that's not the idea, but it's not like you cannot do it. If the oil is light and is absorbed fast, it's a plus. Moreover, preshave oils have soothing ingredients that'll leave your face feeling refreshed.
Can You Apply Preshave Oil on Your Body or Head?
Although preshave oil is mostly used on the face, it can be used on the body and head too. Actually, you can use it anywhere on the body because it helps to lift hairs to achieve a closer and smoother shave. To improve your head shaving experience, it's important to get the best razors for head shaving.
Do Preshave Oils Cause Acne?
Preshave oils with low-quality ingredients might be harder to rinse off. They'll leave a greasy residue that might clog pores leading to acne. If you choose an all-natural preshave oil with quality products, the oils should rinse off easily with warm water.
Can Coconut Oil Double as a Preshave Oil?
If you're a minimalist, you can use coconut oil as a pre-shaving oil. Many men have used it in the past and claim it reduces irritation and moisturizes the skin. The benefit of knowing it's natural and free of harmful synthetic ingredients.
Does preshave cream and oils prevent ingrown hairs?
Preshave oils soften beard hair and moisturize the skin in readiness for a close shave. The result is a reduced chance of getting ingrown hairs. In addition, you'll also realize reduced instances of razor burns, bumps, nicks, and cuts. This is because it creates another layer of protection (aside from shaving cream) for men with sensitive skin.