Trying to determine what the best pre shave oil for your face, head, or body can be a difficult challenge. Undoubtedly though, a quality pre shave oil can make a huge difference for some men in terms of comfort.
We have all been there before!
Just when you take a peak at some of the popular shaving forums, subreddits, or Quora entries, there is a lot of ambiguity of the practicality of actually using a shaving oil to begin with.
For the most part it comes with the territory of the entire shave routine (both pre and post shave). When you step back and look at all the steps necessary to shaving, it can be quite overwhelming at first. From shave brushes, shave creams, the types of razor blades, to how long you need to shower in order to prep your follicles, simply put, there is a lot going on.
At Tools of Men, we promise to give you all the information necessary so you can pick up the very best pre shave oil that will work for you.
In order to understand what to look for when selecting the best shaving oil, we are going to break down everything that makes up a top shaving oil and why its a staple of every man’s (and even some women’s) cabinets in order to deliver a much more comfortable shave.
Needless to say we have spent countless hours on researching pre shave oils and this is a summary of our findings:
|Title||The Gentlemen’s Refinery ‘The Standard’ Pre-Shave Oil||Pacific Shaving Company Shaving Oil||Proraso Pre-Shave Cream for Sensitive Skin||The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil||Bull and Bell Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil||Taylor of Old Bond Street Pre-Shave Oil||eShave Pre-Shave Oil||Premium Lubricating Pre-Shave Oil by Shaveology||Shave Secret Shaving Oil||American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil||Anthony Pre-Shave Oil|
|Product Detail Page||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price|
|Dimensions||1 x 1 x 6 inches||6 x 9 x 1 inches||2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches||2 x 2 x 3.5 inches||1 x 1 x 3 inches||2 x 2 x 4.7 inches||1.5 x 1.5 x 1 inches||1 x 1 x 2 inches||3.3 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches||1.2 x 1.2 x 3.9 inches||2 x 2 x 3.7 inches|
|Peer Review Rating|
|Expert Review Rating|
|Learn More||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review||Read review|
Every man should know the proper shave routine – if not here’s a quick recap:
As outlined above, you can see that pre shave oil is worked into both steps 2 and 5.
The purpose of the shaving oil before shaving cream application is that the oil provides a terrific extra layer of lubrication for your skin in combination with the shaving cream immediately thereafter.
While your follicles are swollen from the pre-shower, shaving oil will actually help the razor blade, be it a double edge safety razor, straight edge razor, or even cartridge razor glide effortlessly through the follicle in order to make a cleaner cut than if you were not using any extra lubrication.
The core purpose of shaving oil is to additional comfort in combination with your shaving cream when making the appropriate passes. So if you experience general skin irritation (i.e razor burn) or even razor bumps, shaving oil may be a critical component to helping you achieve a much more comfortable shave.
But the benefits definitely don’t end with just a comfortable shave, the ingredients used in pre shave oil provide so much more extra goodness.
Check this out:
To understand the benefits of using a shaving oil, you first need to understand the ingredients that make up the solution:
Any quality pre shave oil is made out of three core ingredients: carrier oils, essential oils, and vitamin oils.
Of all the the ingredients, by and far the most important one is going to be the carrier oil.
Carrier oils will make up the majority of any solution (typically north of 90%).
If you aren’t aware, carrier oils are typically derived from trees and seeds and are actually used in a plethora of beauty products on the market today for both men and women.
In fact you have probably been using them for years and never realized it (this is especially true if you tend to use all natural products).
By and far some of the most popular carrier oils that are widely used are going to be jojoba, argan, sweet almond, and grapeseed just to name a few.
You will typically see these carrier oils used in hand soaps, lotions, shampoos, and several other skin care products.
Within pre shave oil, you will see some of the above carrier oils used sparingly as they have a bit more thicker of a viscosity. One of the most popular carrier oils used within pre shave oils is castor oil since its a thinner oil (relatively speaking).
Castor oil (botanical name: Ricinus communis) is derived from the castor oil plant and may actually sound familiar. In fact back in the day (and even current day) castor oil was used as a laxative and was sold heavily within pharmacies. Even the the FDA classified castor oil as generally recognized as safe and effective for ingestion in the use of as stimulate laxative as cited in this abstracted over at the NIH.
Laxatives aside – here’s where castor really shines:
The actual skin benefits of castor oil, it is generally recognized across various sources and sites that castor oil helps heal inflamed skin, reduces pigmentation, fades blemishes, helps generally fight aging signs and stretch marks, reduces the occurrences of acne, and ultimately (and more importantly for shaving oil) helps moisturizes the skin.
Many carrier oils carry a lot of the same benefits as castor oil. However if you are looking for a particular set of benefits for any carrier oil, a simple Google search (i.e. [CARRER OIL] + benefits) will guide you in the right direction with plenty of articles out there to serve you.
One word to note when it comes to carrier oils (and also essential oils) is that you may notice that some companies like to use the botanical name on the label (i.e. Ricinus communis instead of just simply castor oil). Personally I am not a huge fan when companies do this as I am not a botanist, but this practice is widely used as it makes the product sound fancy/premium.
Speaking of ingredients, if a pre shave oil doesn’t have them listed on the bottle, we always recommend that you just simply select another one. We never recommend to get a “mystery” product in fear of any sort of allergic reaction.
If you are ever curious about a specific ingredient, a simple search will be able to provide you guidance.
Another common ingredient found in shaving oil is going to be the essential oil. Typically coming in several different varieties, essential oils inject a lot of the fragrances into shaving oil and an additional set of benefits.
While carrier oils are pretty muted in scents, essential oils can be really potent.
Even though essential oils provide scents, they typically dissipate after about an hour or two and shouldn’t be used in substitution of a cologne. Essential oils are simply a nice compliment to any additional scents you are using.
Like a carrier oil, essential oils vary greatly in the benefits they deliver. However as an example, sandalwood oil (which is found in many shaving creams and other mens products), is commonly believed to deliver some of the following benefits:
Since there are a plethora of essential oils on the market, we couldn’t easily list out all their benefits within this post, however just like carrier oils, a quick Google search should give you some great info on whatever is contained within a shaving oil.
The last common ingredient that you will find in shaving oil, and one that is highly regulated to the more premium brands will be the use of vitamin oils.
While an oil like Vitamin E oil will provide a bit more lubrication, it really shines when it comes to the skin benefits.
Vitamin E plays a key role in helping with anti-aging effects. Vitamin E is widely believed to “help to repair and improve the appearance of the damaged tissue” of scars.
Not only does it help make your skin look great, but also Vitamin E can help with the circulation of your blood and provide a terrific amount of moisture to your skin.
So when looking to pick up your next shaving oil, at a minimum we recommend selecting one that has both carrier oils and vitamin oils for maximum benefits. Essential oils are optional, but still deliver additional benefits and scents that also can smell amazing.
Now a quick word about ingredients of mass produced or really cheap shaving oils: Some products exist on the market that contain chemical based ingredients. We recommend that you steer clear of using these products. Many of these man made chemicals (typically ending in “cone”) aren’t going to easily absorb into your skin and don’t really provide any sort of natural benefits.
As you can see there are a lot of benefits derived from the core ingredients, we really recommend to be pretty liberal with this product and apply it both pre and post shave.
The skin healing and anti-aging benefits coupled with the antiseptic properties of some essential oils can help make your face (or head) both look and feel great.
However this will largely be dependent on your budget, as you can see below, the cost of pre shave oil can start to add up over time as it typically retails for about $15 an ounce.
Since any great pre shave oil only needs a few select ingredients, making your own is incredibly easy to do. In fact we have an entire post dedicated to the process on how to make your own pre shave oil.
When all is said and done, the total cost just weighs in at about $5.25 an ounce. In addition to the huge savings, when you make your own pre shave oil you have full and complete control to concoct any scent you want and the level of lubrication for maximum performance.
Lastly, if its your first ever time using a pre shave oil, we do recommend buying a bottle first so you can use it as a guideline of what your own pre shave oil should be like when made.
Measuring a pre shave oil isn’t easy as there are just simply some metrics that are subjective. How does one measure the “comfort of the shave” objectively? Every persons skin is different as well as the sharpness of the razor blade making the pass in combination of the padding of the shaving cream, and ultimately the technique being used with each pass.
To try and make the review as objective as possible (while still letting you know our thoughts), each review is broken down accordingly:
Scent – One of the most subjective categories of this review process, we will examine the essential oils used within the pre shave oil and a few of their benefits. Historically speaking, we prefer more natural scents that some would classify as “manly” including products that contain sandalwood, pine, cedar, clove, and tea tree essential oils. So if you personally prefer likewise scents – keep this in mind. The amount of weight that is placed on this category is relatively low compared to the other metrics considered and has a low impact on the overall score.
Cost – Unless its a value size bottle, the cost of pre shave oil should never exceed more than $20 an ounce, especially given how easy it is to make. With that being said, we give more weight of the cost per ounce instead of the ultimate retail cost for the bottle.
Peer Reviews – Looking at both quantitative and qualitative metrics, we see what the general consensus is on why a pre shave oil is so great. Similar to what we did with our comparison of 80 different beard oils, we will also utilize our access to Amazon’s API to see what others think.
Performance – As we mentioned above, the most important but also subjective category is going is the ultimate performance of the shaving oil. Does your skin feel great afterwards? Any noticeable razor burn or general skin irritation? What are the benefits outlined from the carrier oils being used in the product? We will try our best to give you all the information necessary to make an informed decision.
Overall – Lastly we take all the metrics listed above and give the pre shave oil a final score – who will reign the winner of the best pre shave oil of 2017?
If you have super sensitive skin, then get ready to be introduced to the perfect product for you.
The Gentlemen’s Refinery has made an all-natural and all organic pre-shave oil that is specifically designed for sensitive skin.
It provides excellent protection from the shaving blade and won’t create any build up between the blades.
This is excellent news for any shave; because really, who has time to try and wash out pesky oil from your blades? With this pre-shave oil, you won’t have to worry about all that extra hassle. So let’s take a look at the main ingredients in this product that contribute to its quality:
All of these ingredients are certifiably organic, meaning that your sensitive skin has nothing to fear here. Our peers have nothing but good things to say about this product.
It is easy to apply, rinses well, smells great, and will last forever!
You only need one pump of this product to create the perfect amount of protection on your face. This means that you will be able to stretch this pre-shave oil out over a course of many months. Thanks to that little feature, the price tag (which is relatively high for a shaving product) is well worth it.
Simply one of the best pre shave oils that we reviewed comes from the Pacific Shaving Company, and here’s why:
You can look at every single metric, and they are all critical, but the key point you are looking for when it comes to any shaving oil is going to ultimately be the performance of the actual product.
In this instance Pacific Shaving Company’s shaving oil delivers in a great delicate balance in the viscosity of the oil. Not so thick that it feels like you are going to be scrubbing it off for the next day and not so thin that you feel like it doesn’t actually do anything.
In addition to having a great viscosity, it also doesn’t feel sticky like some of the other popular shaving oils on the market today.
When used with a double edge safety razor or cartridge razor, this shaving oil will help make the blade glide effortlessly with no rubbing, tugging, or bumpiness. Which will ultimately deliver a pretty comfortable shave that should be razor burn and razor bump free.
Being compromised of all natural ingredients that are both eco and animal friendly, this shaving oil contains the following:
In addition to all the great carrier and essential oils, it also contains tocopherol which provides Vitamin E. As we covered at the beginning of this article, Vitamin E is key for anti aging as well as a few other skin care benefits.
If we had one gripe about this product, it would be the same as the Shave Secret, the price.
On a price per ounce, its relatively expensive (roughly $14). This shaving oil comes in a .5oz size and will typically cost about $7 online.
A added bonus of this product is that its made in the USA.
The general consensus for this oil online in both a qualitative and quantitative perspective are pretty favorable.
While all pre-shaving oils tend to be on the pricier side, the Proraso oil has a great excuse for its price tag. The first thing that needs to be considered when you look at a pre-shave product, is whether or not it will have any ingredients that clog your pores. Check out the ingredients list for Proraso:
Now, while this is a whole lot of large words with unfamiliar chemical reactions, this product does not have any Isopropyl Mysristate, which after repeated use can clog the pores. Within this product, we actually find ingredients such as oats and green tea (Camellia sinensis Leaf extract). Both of these elements are extremely beneficial to the skin. Oats are an exfoliate and natural moisturizer, while green tea has a lot of antioxidants to help fight of the effects of aging.
The only down side to this product is that it uses a lot more chemical elements as opposed to natural essential oils. We would suggest that you look for something like the Pacific Shaving Company Shaving Oil if you are more keen to using products with lots of essential oils. However, on the plus side, when using this product, you will not end up with a clogged razor; and your skin will be smooth and moisturized. Acting as an invisible shield for your skin, when this pre-shave cream is paired with your favorite shaving soap, you will get a close shave free of any skin irritation.
Of all the shaving oils reviewed, this one ranked up there with being at the top of the game. However, as with many of the Art of Shaving products available, they are a bit expensive for the initial purchase. At the time of writing, this bottle costs $25 for a total of 2oz (12.50/ounce) of shaving oil. However, as we mentioned in our review outline above, the cost per ounce is actually cheaper than the other oils being reviewed (namely Shave Secret and Pacific Shaving Company).
Initial price aside though, how does the actual oil perform?
Based on both castor and olive carrier oils, this shaving oil is a bit thicker, but does provide a terrific lubrication in order to deliver a pretty comfortable shave that will likely help make your face (or head) feel incredibly smooth.
With this oil being of a thicker viscosity, it does have a few drawbacks. Namely with any thicker oil, they are going to be a bit harder to wash off post shave. Unlike the thinner American Crew shaving oil reviewed above, this oil may require an additional wash of your face if you are looking to use an aftershave instead of a pre shave oil post shave.
However, on the flip-side to a bit of extra scrubbing post shave, you will likely not have to use much oil when applying this to your face. In fact a little bit of this oil will go a long way. So expect to see this oil to see a pretty lengthy shelf-life.
While the oil itself is marked as “unscented”, since this product is all natural, it does actually provide a very subtle earthy scent. We found that it is a hybrid scent between eucalyptus, clove, and pine – which we thought smelt terrific.
We do like that there is no ambiguity of the ingredients within this product. Listed on the side of the box you will find the following:
The last few products listed above might seem like strange man made chemicals, but all of them are actually derived from plants and oils (both carrier and essential oils).
Generally the consensus on Art of Shaving’s pre shave oil is pretty favorable online. From a quantitative perspective, on Amazon this product is rated a 4.5 out of 5. The biggest gripe from wet shaving aficionados is the initial price of this product.
One of the best reasons for purchasing a pre-shave oil is that you can get a great conditioning from them.
Conditioning your skin is extremely important because it allows moisture retention, and helps to achieve an irritation free shave.
When you consider the fact that Bull and Bell Pre-shave oil is designed to be a conditioner as well, that sounds excellent! But, just like any product, before we get too excited we need to check out the ingredient list.
Listed on the bottle is:
The only negative ingredient on this list is the fragrance.
Anything that has this element will have a more chemically enhanced smell, such as a cologne, than a natural smell. However, this doesn’t diminish the quality of this product. The sandalwood smell is both manly and elegant, leaving just a trace of the earthy aroma after it has been washed off of your face. This subtle scent will not interfere with your favorite cologne and will honestly be quite pleasant.
A little goes a long way when using this product, so there is no fear of it running out in any reasonable amount of time. Because the oils used are from natural ingredients, there shouldn’t be any issue with the product rinsing out of the razor blades with ease.
This 1.06 fluid oz. bottle of shaving oil will take you right back to the good ol’ barber shop days.
With its vintage style packaging and straight to the point instructions, you can’t go wrong with Taylor’s Pre-Shave oil. At least you’d like to think so. The major problem with this product is purely its ingredient list.
There are absolutely no essential oils included and some of the top ingredients used are:
Now, there is nothing particularly wrong with these elements due to the fact that they are commonly found in grooming products.
The issue is just that, when looking for any kind of skin care item, it is best to find one that uses more natural ingredients. Essential oils and natural oils full of useful vitamins are the best for taking care of your skin; especially if it is sensitive.
Most reviewers were a bit taken aback by this product for a couple of reasons. The first of which being, that while the product has a slight scent of cloves, there is no designated scent on the bottle.
Secondly, despite being packaged in an insanely small bottle, the product is very thick; thankfully a little goes a long way, so you won’t run out quickly and the oil doesn’t clog blades. So, overall, if you don’t mind a little mystery in regards to what scent you are receiving, this oil is pretty decent.
The eShave product line is one of the best that you could ever hope to find; but when it comes to the pre-shave oil, there may be better options out there for the same value.
The reason behind this comes in three different forms; scent, price, efficiency.
Before we dive into any of that, however, let’s take a look at some of the best ingredients included in this product.
This particular ingredients list is for the White Tea oil.
There are six different scents available, each one different for specific skin types.
This fact alone is a huge benefit of choosing eShave Pre-Shave Oil; however, is it worth the price?
There are a lot of really great pre-shave oils out there, one of which is The Art of Shaving shave oil, which is around an average of $5 cheaper than eShave. Either way, if you are willing to pay the price, this oil is one of the best on the market.
With all natural ingredients and subtle scents that take care of all skin types, the only real down side is the price. This oil washes out of your razor easily and a little goes a long way, so you won’t need to worry about washing your money down the drain.
Designed with the dream of making the task of shaving all the easier, Shaveology pre-shave oil has a lot going for it. This product would be perfect for those young (or older) men who are just getting started in the shaving business. We can say this with confidence because Shaveology has created a safety razor that is intended to make shaving an enjoyable experience for all levels of expertise and works perfectly with this oil.
As a family owned business, they pride themselves on making products with the customer’s best interest at heart.
Assumedly, this would reach all the way down to the ingredients, and we would hope that what we will find there is all natural.
Here are some of the ingredients that can be found on the bottle:
Not a single one of these ingredients are damaging to the skin, and actually have great properties that will make shaving a great overall experience. Since all of these ingredients are natural, the scent is very pleasant.
When first opening the bottle the aroma is a little strong. But, thanks to needing only a little bit of the oil at a time, the scent completely fades and leaves no lingering odor. This is perfect for those who really like to wear cologne or prefer to have a scentless product on their face; no need to worry about overpowering aromas hanging around all day.
The many natural oils all work together to make your face soft and well moisturized. While this oil works great on its own, it also plays well with the other products in the Shaveology line. Add as many as you’d like in order to achieve a truly fantastic shave.
We were excited to review this product for several reasons. First and foremost, Shave Secret shaving oil is by and far one of the most widely discussed and recommended products within the wet shaving enthusiast circles.
There are a few reasons for this, but the most obvious point will be its rock bottom initial price of only about $7 for a bottle. Shave Secret is available at Wal-Mart’s nationwide for a couple of bucks cheaper, making this one of the most accessible products you can purchase from this list of pre shave oil reviews.
Don’t be fooled by the rock bottom price, the bottle of Shave Secret is substantially smaller when compared to the others that are also being reviewed. In fact a bottle of Shave Secret only contains 18.75ml total (roughly .5 ounce). On a cost per ounce basis its coming in at $14 a bottle. When compared to the Art of Shaving oil, its actually more expensive ($28 for 2 ounces)!
However if you are looking to save a few bucks and just want to try out a pre shave oil, then this product will be a good first step.
Now as highly recommended as Shave Secret is, its not without its faults. The biggest gripe we have around this product is the ambiguity of the ingredients listed.
While we can have some peace of mind that this product is made within the USA and has been around since 1991, we do wish that the ingredients were listed. When visiting the Shave Secret website we did find the following from their FAQs:
Q: What are the ingredients in Shave Secret?
A: A proprietary blend of base oils (cold pressed seed and nut oils), essential oils, RX grade menthol and natural fragrance oil.
While it sounds like its an all natural product, if you have any specific nut allergies, we would recommend steering clear of this product due to its ambiguity.
Regarding the actual performance of the oil, it actually does perform pretty darn good. Overall you should be able to get a pretty close and comfortable shave whether you are using a cartridge, double edge safety razor, or even an electric shaver.
The viscosity of this oil is spot on only requiring a few drops to get adequate coverage with ample lubrication.
Generally speaking, we found that the scent of this product was a bit more clove focused, however was pretty subtle.
Last but not least, our qualitative research on what others thought around the web about this product, especially in the very vocal Badger & Blade forums was that wet shaving enthusiasts really liked this stuff. On a quantitative side of things, this product was rated fairly well when we checked out a few online vendors ranking on average at about 4.3 out of 5.
This pre shave oil from American Crew was largely a miss compared the other shaving oils that we checked out. When going through and measuring each important facet of this oil, it seemed to just fall short.
One of the biggest turn offs on this oil was the fact that the ingredients weren’t actually listed on the bottle nor the American Crew website other than a generic description of “Natural Oil Blend, Rosemary & Clove Extracts, Light Oil”.
This sort of vagueness was incredibly concerning. What we were able to find on their Amazon pages was the list of the following ingredients:
So take the ingredient list for what its worth.
If the above ingredient list is accurate here are our thoughts:
Overall its a decent mix of ingredients until we get to the bottom of the list and saw Isopropyl Myristate. If you are unaware of this ingredient just know this: Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil and is used primarily as a thickening agent in several different types of beauty products (just like carragean in food products). Isopropyl Myristate (with repeated use) may actually clog you pores. If the shaving oil is comprised of more than 5% of Isopropyl Myristate, it may also cause skin irritation.
Therefore we generally recommend that you check out other shaving oils that exist on the market that are completely all natural without the use of additional man made products.
With that being said, the viscosity (thickness) of the oil is a bit on the thinner side compared to some of the other shaving oils that we are also covering.
An oil that is too thin may actually cause the razor to drag a bit more across the skin causing an increase in discomfort and ultimately no real benefits actually obtained from using a shaving oil in the first place.
A side effect of such a thin oil will also mean that it will likely be taken away from the skin when you are applying your shaving cream or soap to your face. This will not form an effective lubrication layer between both shaving cream and face. This directly means that you will have to use more oil in order to come close to achieving the same results as other quality shaving oils.
The actual appearance of the oil is going to be a bit lighter in color. The best way we could describe it is as being clear with a hint of yellow. Compared to other shaving oils, it is a bit more on the lighter side.
With such a complex mixture of oils within this shaving oil, the general scent is going to be one that is a bit more heavier on the clove side (although the fragrance isn’t overpowering), with a subtle hint of rosemary.
The general consensus from other shaving enthusiast for this product online is a bit mixed. People seemed to either love or hate this oil. As a objective quantitative comparison, this product was rated a 4.2 out of 5 on Amazon.
Despite Anthony usually being a well renown skin care company, you may want to seriously rethink buying this product. At the time of this article being written, you can purchase this oil from around $32 per 2 oz. bottle.
Now, for a pre-shaving oil with high quality ingredients and an easy removal process, that amount of money would be worth it. However, when it comes to this oil, there are a few things that would make us set it back on the shelf.
The first of which being that two of the main ingredients are olive oil and castor oil. Other than that the typical essential oils are listed; such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
Regardless of the benefits essential oils possess, there is a serious problem with the oils used.
Both of those ingredients make it extremely difficult to wash the oil completely off of your skin.
If you are the type of person that actually finds left over oil on your skin refreshing, then you won’t have a problem with this product.
However, for the price of this oil, there should be no trace of oil left behind and your skin should feel completely fresh and clean. Despite this tendency for remaining oil, Anthony has made this pre-shave product very light weight.
With a lovely scent of eucalyptus and peppermint, you will feel wide awake and refreshed after a morning shave. The oil will still preform its job of lifting and softening facial hair, allowing a decent shave to occur.
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