Men with tough beards and sensitive skin know that shaving can be both painful and irritating. The best pre-shave oil can help to alleviate such pains and allow you to truly discover the lost art of shaving.
By providing a slick and lubricated base, a pre-shave oil acts as a gentle cushion to your skin so that your trusted razor blade can glide effortlessly across the surface and when removing facial hair.
A quality pre-shave oil, such as the Imperial Barber Pre-shave oil we reviewed, relies on a blend of the finest natural ingredients that not only provide you with a measurably more comfortable shave but also works hard to provide essential nutrients and moisture to your skin so you will look your absolute best.
In this guide, we will review a variety of quality pre-shave oils that meet your shaving needs.
Pre-Shave Oils Compared
|Ranking||Pre-Shave Oil||Size (ounces)||Travel Friendly?||Scent||Contains Natural Ingredients?||Price||Price per Ounce||Award||Rating|
|1||Lather & Wood Pre-Shave Oil||1.00||Yes||Sandalwood, Unscented||Yes||$14||$14.00||Best Overall||99.5|
|2||Imperial Barber Pre-shave Oil||1.00||Yes||Lavender||Yes||$16||$16.00||Upgrade Pick||99.1|
|3||Shave Secret Shaving Oil||0.63||Yes||Mild Eucalyptus / Menthol||Yes||$4||$6.35||Most Popular||98.7|
|4||Proraso Pre-shave Cream for Sensitive Skin||3.60||No||Eucalyptus, Menthol||Yes||$13||$3.61||For Sensitive Skin||98.6|
|5||eShave Pre-shave Oil||2.00||Yes||White Tea, Sandalwood, Lime||Yes||$22||$11.00||Thick & Slick||98.1|
|6||Baxter of California Shave Tonic For Men||4.00||No||Rosemary||Yes||$22||$5.50||High-Quality||97.3|
|7||American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil||1.70||Yes||Rosemary clove||Yes||$11||$6.47||All Razor Types||97.1|
|8||Anthony Pre-shave Oil||2.00||Yes||Rosemary, Peppermint||Yes||$30||$15.00||Made In USA||95.1|
|9||Pacific Shaving Company Shaving Oil||0.50||Yes||Minty||Yes||$10||$20.00||Travel-Friendly||94.7|
|10||Taylor of Old Bond Street Pre-shave Oil||1.06||Yes||Sandalwood||Yes||$17||$16.04||Traditional||93.9|
|11||The Art of Shaving Pre-shave Oil||2.00||Yes||Unscented||Yes||$28||$14.00||All Beard Types||91.5|
The Best Pre-Shave Oils of 2023
Here’s our list of the top pre-shave oils currently available:
Lather & Wood Pre-Shave Oil
This pre-shave oil is a great addition to any grooming routine. By relying on all-natural ingredients, expect your skin to feel softer and look better when using this daily. The USA-made roots ensure quality craftsmanship.
Select blend of natural oils allows for a smooth and irritation-free shave
Pump top design makes it easy to apply while also reducing waste
Made in the USA with quality ingredients
It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular pre-shave oils on the market. By relying on a select blend of natural oils, the Lather & Wood pre-shave oil absorbs easily into your skin and facial hair, allowing for a smooth and irritation-free shave with every stroke of the razor.
Smartly relying on a pump top design, Lather & Wood makes it extremely easy to apply while also reducing excess waste. While the 1oz size may seem a bit small from the onset, a little goes a long way, and a single bottle should serve you for a few months before needing to be restocked.
Lather & Wood makes their oil in the USA – so you can rest assured that it doesn’t contain suspect ingredients nor is made carelessly in some faraway country.
As for the scent, you pick this up in either an unscented or sandalwood blend. Regardless of the smell, the concentration of quality and natural ingredients allows you to not only use this as a trusted pre-shave oil but beard oil as well.
What customers are saying: Most customers appreciate the product’s pleasant scent, smooth feel, and effectiveness in improving the shaving experience. However, some found the product not suitable for electric razors and had issues with packaging and the authenticity of the scent. Overall, the product has a positive rating with a few minor concerns.
Imperial Barber Pre-Shave Oil
The Imperial Barber pre-shave oil is a great option for anyone looking to improve their morning shave routine. Thanks to its all-natural ingredients and easy application, it’s a great choice for both beginners and experienced shavers alike.
Rich and slick blend of natural ingredients
Moisturizes skin and facial hair
A bit pricey
Premium men’s grooming brand Imperial Barber has put together a pre-shave oil that will transform your morning shave experience – here’s how:
By relying on a rich and slick blend of natural ingredients including sunflower seed oil, squalane, kukui seed oil, and countless others, you can expect this oil to work hard to both moisturize your skin and facial hair when being prepped to be shaved.
When introducing this to your shave routine, you can expect your trusty razor blade to glide effortlessly through thick patches of dense facial hair with increased ease – this will result in reduced irritation and smoother results.
The dropper applicator is a nice touch as it reduces waste and makes the application significantly easier. As for the scent, by relying on natural essential oils, you can expect a nice calming lavender aroma – perfect when you are meticulously working the contours of your face.
Lastly, this pre-shave oil is made in the USA, which brings with it an unmatched level of quality ingredients and craftsmanship.
Shave Secret Shaving Oil
A perfect complement when wet shaving, Shave Secret puts together a nice formula that gives you a close and smooth shave.
Lack of ingredient transparency can be a turnoff for some
May not be suitable for those with nut allergies
One of the most widely discussed and recommended shave oils among the wet shave enthusiast circles is the Shave Secret Shaving Oil.
There are a few reasons why a lot of men love this particular shaving oil, but the most obvious point will be its rock bottom sub $10 price tag. It’s an easy way to get a decent shave at an affordable price.
Founded in 1991 and made in the USA – the trust and quality here will be top-notch. However, what some men may find odd is the lack of a proper ingredient list. After a bit of digging, we found on the Shave Secret website the following in their FAQ section:
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 it’s 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 does perform pretty darn well. 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.
Proraso Pre-Shave Cream for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin and are looking for relief in your morning shave, then you should try this pre-shave cream by Proraso. It has been a trusted brand of barbers for generations.
Quality pre-shave cream specifically designed for men with sensitive skin
Provides a slick and cushioned base to protect your skin during shaving
Softens hair significantly for an easier shave
May not be unscented for everyone’s preference
Dermatologist-tested, but not necessarily hypoallergenic
Perfecting the art of shaving before it was cool since 1908, Proraso offers up a quality pre-shave cream that has been specifically designed for men with sensitive skin.
Whether you suffer from irritation, rashes, or simply want a gentle formula, then you should have this pre-shave cream at the top of your list. By relying on a few, but carefully selected ingredients, this pre-shave cream provides that familiar slick and cushioned base that will protect your skin when the razor blade goes to work.
Intended to be worked into a moderate stubble, you can expect this pre-shave cream to soften hair significantly to make for a much easier shave that results in less tugging or pulling on the root – a common cause for irritation in a lot of men.
While not unscented, this pre-shave cream relies on a natural eucalyptus oil that is both soft to the nose, yet invigorating enough to be a welcoming scent to start your day.
Containing no parabens, silicones, or mineral oil, it shouldn’t clog your pores or irritate with continued use. Additionally, this formula has been dermatologist-tested.
Lastly, this pre-shave cream was made in Italy, so quality control should be quite high when compared to other brands available.
What customers are saying: Customers appreciate the effectiveness of the pre-shave oil in improving their shaving experience. However, some customers experienced issues with packaging, including broken lids and unsealed containers, while others did not find the product to be useful. A few also mentioned great customer service and enjoying the combination of pre-shave with other shaving products.
Read the full review of Proraso Pre-Shave Cream
eShave Pre-Shave Oil
Favored for reliance on quality ingredients, this pre-shave oil performs perfectly when paired with a safety razor.
Thick, protective viscosity ideal for straight or safety razor users
Unique blend of natural oils
Available in three invigorating scents
Snap top closure can be messy
Not ideal for cartridge razor users
Men who are rediscovering the popular shaving tools of past generations find that the right pre-shave oil can help to bring out the best qualities of these old-school razors.
While the eShave pre-shave oil can work just fine with most modern cartridge razor systems, we found that a lot of men love this particular oil when used in tandem with a straight or safety razor.
With a naturally thicker viscosity, it allows for a slick base and ample cushion to protect your skin from incredibly sharp blades such as those from Feather, Astra, etc.
eShave relies on several unique oils such as cottonseed oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil, and several others to achieve this thicker viscosity.
When using this oil, you only need to just work in a couple of drops as a little will go a long way. Given that not much oil is required to get the job done, you can expect a single bottle to last you for several months.
Available in three distinct scents including orange sandalwood, verbena lime, and white tea – they are both invigorating and unique.
If there were any drawbacks to this pre-shave oil it would simply be the bottle design. With a snap top closure, it can get a bit messy if you aren’t careful.
Baxter of California Shave Tonic For Men
While this works great with electric shavers, the Baxter of California Shave Tonic For Men is truly in a league all of its own. The quality ingredients coupled with the multi-use product will ensure that you always look your absolute best every single day.
Thin solution works well with electric shavers
Rich blend of high-quality ingredients
Can be used as a pre-shave oil and an aftershave balm
Cumbersome application process
Should you own an electric shaver and want a measurably closer and smoother shave – then you should consider the Baxter of California Shave Tonic For Men.
Unlike virtually all other pre-shave oils on the market that are dense and come in thick oil, balm, or lotion form, the Baxter of California Shave Tonic For Men is a much thinner solution that works extremely well with electric shavers such as those from Philips Norelco or Braun.
Relying on a rich blend of high-quality ingredients including eucalyptus, menthol, spearmint, vitamins E, D, and A, along with several other essential ingredients, expect this oil to be an invigorating way to begin your day.
Once applied to your face it will help to both soften and awaken your whiskers to allow for a noticeably more efficient and closer cut.*
If this weren’t all enough, what is special about this shave tonic is that it is designed to also be applied as an aftershave balm as well.
With all the nourishing ingredients, you can rub this into your skin post-shave to help both tone and moisturize to make you look your absolute best.
*Note: Baxter of California recommends spraying this on a warm towel and then applying it to your face – rather than directly spraying your face (likely so you don’t get it in your eyes).
What customers are saying: Most customers appreciate this pre-shave oil for its pleasant smell, cooling effect, and overall performance in reducing razor burn. However, some customers have reported issues such as receiving empty or partially-empty bottles, and one customer found the product to be more effective as a post-shave tonic than a pre-shave oil.
American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil
If you are looking for an irritation-free shave on your face and want a product that relies on several natural oils, then the American Crew pre-shave oil should be considered. Specially designed for all beard types, we think this is one of the best pre-shave oils for shaving facial hair.
Easy to apply pump top bottle
Formulated for all beard types
Works with any type of razor
Some men may prefer a stronger scent
American Crew has become the go-to product for a lot of men that want barbershop quality grooming products at home. Their pre-shave oil relies on a largely natural base specially formulated to work with all beard types. So whether you have a thin, thick, dense, curly, or textured beard type, you can expect that the solution within the bottle will work well to awaken the follicles and prep them for shaving.
With a pump-top design, it allows for an easy, no-mess application – great when you want to concentrate on shaving rather than containing a mess.
Whether you are using an electric shaver, safety razor, or a standard cartridge razor, the viscosity on this oil is rather mild – making it compatible with just about any type of razor.
Furthermore, the scent is muted at best, so you don’t have to worry about it clashing with your favorite smelling cologne after using.
What customers are saying: Customers praise this pre-shave oil for its effectiveness in providing a smooth, lubricated shave and preventing razor bumps. They also appreciate its pleasant scent, suitability for sensitive skin, and its ability to rinse off with water, making it an easy-to-use and high-quality product.
Anthony Pre-Shave Oil
If you are looking to enhance your shaving routine and want an all-natural pre-shave oil, then this is among the best. The versatile formula allows it to be used whether you are shaving or growing a beard – truly the best of both worlds.
Made in the USA
Reduces skin irritation while shaving
Contains some synthetic ingredients
Anthony Pre-shave oil is a near-perfect pick if you like to pick products based on their ingredient label rather than by the brand name. Relying on a rich blend of essential oils such as soybean oil, castor seed oil, olive oil, orange peel oil, and countless others – you have an effective product that does great for your skin and hair while also smelling quite pleasant.
While this product does rely on a few rare synthetic ingredients to stabilize and preserve the gentle formula, when comparing this to other natural offerings, we think that Anthony beats them all hands-down.
Notably, this oil is free of parabens, phthalates, GMOs, triclosan, and is cruelty-free.
When using this product on your face, or anywhere else on your body for that matter, expect the hairs to become soft and pliable which allows for reduced skin irritation while shaving.
Additionally, this pre-shave oil has been formulated and made here in the USA. Therefore, you can rest assured that quality control is top-notch and made from the finest ingredients.
What customers are saying: Customers appreciate the quality ingredients and effectiveness of this pre-shave oil in providing a smooth, close shave. Some users found the scent to be subtle and pleasant, while others were not too fond of it. A few customers found the price to be on the higher side, but overall, the product receives positive feedback for its performance and the softer, healthier-looking beards it helps maintain.
Pacific Shaving Company Shaving Oil
If you demand a great shaving experience no matter where your travels may take you, then this mini pre-shave oil is a perfect travel companion. The natural formula allows for a close and smooth shave that will allow you to look your absolute best.
Small, TSA-friendly design
Formulated with natural ingredients
Perfect for business travelers
Some may prefer a larger size
‘Small but mighty’ – couldn’t be more true when describing this pre-shave oil from Pacific Shaving. At 0.5oz in size, this is hands-down the best pre-shave oil for travel use. With a small TSA-friendly design, this can easily slide into your favorite Dopp kit or gym bag.
While the 0.5oz design is rated to last you up to 100 shaves, Pacific Shaving Company does make a slightly larger bottle at 2oz. Also TSA-friendly, this larger bottle is perfect for home use when taking a break from extensive travel.
While the size is great, so too is the formulation. Relying on a blend of natural ingredients including cucumber extract, sunflower seed oil, and many others – it allows you to get a nice layer of protection when sculpting your face with your trusty razor.
Lastly, the scent strikes a more muted one – which is perfect for business travelers that don’t want to leave the wrong impression when meeting with clients.
What customers are saying: Some customers find this pre-shave oil to be perfect for travel, providing smooth, soothing shaves with a compact and long-lasting little bottle. However, others felt it didn’t provide the expected results, causing skin irritation, and requiring more product than indicated on the packaging. Overall, opinions on this pre-shave oil are divided.
Taylor of Old Bond Street Pre-Shave Oil
World renown for their quality shave products, Taylor of Old Bond Street is a trusted brand for many men – and it’s easy to see why. The formula is simple and smells great, a safe pick that should allow for a job well done.
Sandalwood scent is soft and welcoming
Castor seed oil is thinner, making it less likely to clog electric or cartridge razors
Small size is convenient for travel
Not as invigorating as some other pre-shave oils
Small size may not last as long as some other options
Since 1854 Taylor of Old Bond Street has been serving men with world-class products that make for the ultimate shaving experience. While their shaving cream was among one of the best that we reviewed, their pre-shave oil is equally well-made – here’s why:
By relying on a sandalwood scent, Taylor of Old Bond Street brings that familiar barbershop smell that so many men love. While not invigorating as some of the other offerings, the smell is soft and welcoming – it’s a nice gentle way to wake up in the morning.
When it comes to application and the quality of the shave, Taylor of Old Bond Street relies primarily on castor seed oil. This oil runs a bit thinner, which is preferred as it likely won’t clog your electric razor or cartridge razor.
At 1.06oz (30ml) in size, the bottle is rather small, making it a good pre-shave oil to bring with you to the gym or on the road.
What customers are saying: Most customers are happy with this pre-shave oil, praising its effectiveness, scent, and improvement in shaving comfort and closeness. Some customers experienced issues with shipping and the packaging, while others initially took time to find the best way to use the product for their desired results.
The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil
If you want a versatile pre-shave oil that can you use everywhere while also providing close shave and comfortable results, then put this at the top of your consideration list.
Ideal for all beard types
High-quality botanical ingredients
Thicker formula ideal for straight, safety, and cartridge razors
Pour-out design can be messy
Premium grooming brand The Art of Shaving serves up an unscented pre-shave oil that is suitable for all beard types. By relying on a blend of high-quality botanical ingredients, this formula shouldn’t cause any irritation even if you have severely sensitive skin.
While this product is intended for facial hair use, given the large size of the bottle (2.0oz), some men find that this oil is indispensable when shaving other areas of their body.
Whether you shave your head, chest, groin, or elsewhere, since a little goes a long way, you can enjoy both a super close and comfortable shave wherever the razor may be used.
This pre-shave oil is not without a few minor drawbacks. Most notably is the applicator or lack thereof. With a pour-out design (rather than pump or dropper), applying this can get a bit messy, so proceed with caution.
Secondly, the formula is a bit thicker making this ideal for straight, safety, and cartridge razors. Some men found that it didn’t work great with electric shavers.
What customers are saying: Many customers appreciate this pre-shave oil for its effectiveness on sensitive skin, helping prevent razor burn, redness, and ingrown hairs. However, some customers found the oil to be too expensive and had issues with the scent being too strong or unpleasant.
7 Tips for Buying Pre-shave Oil
When deciding on a pre-shave oil, we suggest that you take a minute to think about the following:
1. What oil/lubrication base is best?
Pre-shave oils come in many different varieties, including all-natural to synthetically derived. Natural oils are preferred as they are less likely to irritate while also working hard to nourish and hydrate your skin. Synthetic oils are often found in the cheaper brands and provide a slick base due to silicone but may clog your razor or dry out your skin.
2. Does your skin type matter?
Given that pre-shave oils are applied as a thin coat and for a short period, your skin type isn’t all that important.
However, if you have sensitive skin, you will want to consider a pre-shave oil specially formulated to reduce irritation – such as the Prorarso Pre-shave Cream.
3. What size bottle do you need?
If you travel frequently, you may want to consider a small bottle size to reduce weight and spillage. However, if you intend only to use the pre-shave oil at home, size shouldn’t be a concern.
4. Is your razor compatible with your pre-shave oil?
Your preferred razor system may dictate which pre-shave oil is right for you. Pre-shave oils come in various viscosities (thickness of the oil) and may cause clogging with some razor systems – mainly electric, cartridge, and disposable razors. If you use one of these razor systems, you will want to get a thinner pre-shave oil that relies on castor seed oil.
5. Do you want pre-shave oil and beard oil?
Many pre-shave oils rely on the same ingredients as beard oil. This allows them to work for shaving your beard or as a conditioner for your beard if you decide to grow it out. Natural formulas are recommended here as they will be more effective at nourishing and moisturizing both your facial hair and skin when applied.
6. Is scent selection important?
While many pre-shave oils may smell nice, many of their scents will only last for a few minutes before dissipating, as you will be shaving off the oil shortly after application. Therefore, don’t put too much weight on the scent when making your selection.
7. How much should you pay for pre-shave oil?
A good pre-shave oil will cost anywhere between $15 and $30 per ounce. As we found in our reviews, the price varies depending on the quality of the ingredients and the complexity of the formula.
How to Use Pre-Shave Oil
Using pre-shave oil is rather straightforward.
- Prior to shaving, take a hot shower or place a hot towel on your face for several minutes to open up your pores.
- Next, apply a small amount of pre-shave oil to your hands and massage it into the area you will be shaving.
- Be sure to cover all the hair in the area and to pay special attention to any particularly thick patches.
- Once the oil has been evenly applied, go ahead and begin shaving as normal.
You may find that you need to go over some areas more than once to get a close shave, but the pre-shave oil will help to protect your skin from irritation.
When you’re finished shaving, rinse off any remaining oil with warm water and follow up with a cold water rinse to close your pores. Apply a moisturizer or aftershave balm to further soothe your skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here were a few frequently asked questions that we came across while researching pre-shave oil:
Is pre-shave oil necessary?
No, pre-shave oil is not necessary. However, it can help to provide a close shave while also protecting your skin from irritation. Some men find it quite helpful, while others prefer to use shaving cream or gel instead.
How long does pre-shave oil last?
Pre-shave oil can last for several months if stored properly. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dark place and to close tightly between uses.
Can pre-shave oil be used on its own?
Yes, pre-shave oil can be used on its own. However, it works best when used in conjunction with other shaving products, such as shaving cream or gel.