Stubble Down: The 8 Best Pre-Shave Oils

Jan 14, 2016

Category: Grooming

There’s been a resurgence of the popular wet shaving style that uses a brush, a standard shaving soap, and a safety or straight razor, but there’s actually a better way. Going through the rigors of whipping up your cream, lathering properly, and shaving on a daily basis is tiresome and reduces the amount of time you have for sweet, sweet sleep. The answer to a simpler shave without the pomp is to use a pre-shave oil to soften your hair and lift it up from the skin for easier cutting. The result is a clean, close shave without razor burn or time wasted.

Choosing a good pre-shave oil is the same as finding a quality shaving brush. We look for something that lifts hair properly, reduces razor drag on the skin, penetrates through the hair, and moisturizes all at once. That is the role played by shaving brushes, but with oil the process isn’t as lengthy. It’s all about finding natural ingredients that don’t clog pores and won’t leave an oily residue on your face. If you’re ready to try the oil-based lifestyle, you’re ready for the 8 best pre-shave oils.

American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil

American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil

Pro: Works for sensitive skin
Con: Small bottle for the price

The American Way: American Crew has a deep product line that is priced more for the average buyer. Part of its allure is the fact it can be found almost anywhere. This oil is good for reducing bumps and nicks for a cleaner, smoother shave. The primary ingredients are a mixture of natural oils, including peppermint, clove, and eucalyptus. What you’ll find is this creates a nice way to push your hair up and protect you during shavingm all while adding a refreshing fragrance and healing the dryness of winter or days of summer sun.

Purchase: $11

Badger Man Care Pre-Shave Oil

Badger Man Care Pre-Shave Oil

Pro: USDA Certified Organic
Con: Easy to spill thanks to large bottle opening

Organically Grown: Not just natural, but certified organic, the Badger people have again dazzled with a product for your whiskers that can be used be most vegans, is good for you, and actually does what the label implies. There’s extra virgin olive oil along with some Seabuckthorn and Rosehip Extracts for a botanical infusion that reduces antioxidants and helps keep your pores clean by killing off some of the bacteria that accumulates on your skin, even as it provides a clean shave that’s usually free of nicks and cuts, so long as you aren’t using a rusty lawnmower blade to shave.

Purchase: $15

Baxter of California Shave Tonic

Baxter of California Shave Tonic

Pro: Works as an aftershave when necessary
Con: Heavy mentholated scent

Home Grown: From the Baxter Finley Barber & Shop in California comes a shaving concoction that is worthy of note. The tale here isn’t the silky smooth rosemary, eucalyptus, and camphor oils, or any of the other items that make it an incredible pre-shave oil, which it is. Instead, this adds in fortifying vitamins like E and A which are intended to suffuse skin with more nutrients for a healthier glow and a firmer face that can better endure the ravages of age. You’ll glow like an expectant mother who just won the Powerball jackpot if you use this consistently, and you’ll get a close cut time and again.

Purchase: $18

Dermalogica Close Shave Oil

Dermalogica Close Shave Oil

Pro: Small enough to go into a carry-on
Con: Runs out rapidly

Hard Cuts: Gentility is not in the language of Dermalogica’s Close Shave Oil, but for guys with serious whiskers who are willing to tackle the innumerable cleansers and botanicals will find that they can cut deeper than ever before. With Lavender, orange, basil, pine, and other scented oils you’re going to get a fragrant shave, certainly, but those items can also cause irritation and allergic reactions, so we strongly advise trying before buying. There’s also camphor, which will wake you up and open your pores, but will not make your skin feel soothed. Rough riders only need apply.

Purchase: $20

Lather and Wood Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil

Lather & Wood Shaving Co. Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil

Pro: Works well on body and face
Con: Scent is odd and oily. Dissipates quickly.

Slick Willy: When glide is your goal so as to reduce friction and allow you to cut away even stubborn hairs that insist on lying flat, Lather & Wood are on the job. They use a mixture of 7 natural oils, with grape seed, meadowfoam, and virgin olive oil all making an appearance. The mix manages to push up recalcitrant stubble while still providing a moisture layer on your skin to protect it from dull razors, cold shaves, and fast movement. Only a few drops are necessary, so you can stretch the bottle for ages. It works best with a shaving cream or soap, rather than by itself, but you can use it alone if time is of the essence.

Purchase: $20

Anthony Pre-Shave Oil

Anthony Pre-Shave Oil

Pro: Soothing, aftershave effect
Con: Trouble penetrating thick beards or stubble

The Sensitive One: Anthony prides itself on catering to shavers who have extremely sensitive skin and suffer with razor burn and nicks, not to mention standard dryness, chafing, and chapping. Completely hypoallergenic and made to soothe skin throughout the shaving process by using calendula and Vitamin E, what they lack in flash they more than make up for by helping those cursed with delicate flesh. The key is that they aren’t as natural or organic as some, which reduces allergens. While it might not be completely devoid of synthetics, the ones that are there are only meant to reduce breakouts and inflammation on your epidermis.

Purchase: $24

The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil

The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil

Pro: Increases longevity of razor blades
Con: Sticky thanks to excess castor oil

Thick Cut: You’re going to know the second you put this on that it’s a heavier oil and therefore better at protecting sensitive skin from razor burn and damage, as well as capable of sliding a razor along, smooth as buttermilk. On the other hand, it needs to be fully rinsed away after use, and those with oily skin may find that it’s too much for them and they need something with a few drying agents to combat it. If you do find it too oily, a little alcohol-based aftershave will help. The smells they offer are glorious, with Sandalwood being our natural, woodsy favorite.

Purchase: $24

Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort

Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort

Pro: Can work with long stubble
Con: Thick

Heavy Hitter: If you’re going from a bushy man’s beard or a sweet pornstar ‘stache down to the skin, or just have thick and wiry stubble that dulls razors and resists penetration, then you should grab this. The label says ultimate comfort, and it does create a more comfortable shaving experience for anyone, merely because it does make it easy to cut any hairs, not just the thick ones. You’re going to need to clean your razor more if you use this, and might get some oily residue, but the sheer luxurious comfort which you will have while shaving with this product is so pampering it’s downright decadent.

Purchase: $28

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