How to Make Pre Shave Oil

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When added to a shaving routine, pre-shave oil can help to deliver close and comfortable results.

Unfortunately, most pre-shave oils are pretty expensive.  

Below we will provide you with a blueprint so you can begin making pre-shave oil at home.  Not only will this save you money, but it will also provide you with nearly identical results from some of your favorite brands.

Additionally, when you learn to make pre-shave oil, you can get creative and develop a blend to your exact specifications. 

Components of Pre-Shave Oil

To make pre-shave oil, you will need three ingredients:

  1. Carrier oils
  2. Essential oils
  3. Vitamin oils (optional)

Here’s what each of these ingredients does:

Carrier Oils

Pre-shave oils are mostly made from carrier oils.  Carrier oils are an all-natural ingredient that has been sourced from various trees and plants.

Roughly 95%+ of a pre-shave oil is a carrier oil.  Carrier oils carry the essential oil (covered next) and are relatively mild.  By themselves, carrier oils are slick, rather thin in viscosity, and mildly scented.  The scent of the carrier oils tends to favor a nutty or earthy aroma.

You can use a bottle of carrier oil as a pre-shave oil.

Below is a table of various popular carrier oils:

Almond, Sweet OilKukui Oil
Apricot Kernel OilMacadamia Nut Oil
Avocado OilPeanut Oil
Borage OilPecan Oil
Castor OilRose Hip Oil
Cocoa ButterSesame Oil
Coconut OilShea Butter
Evening Primrose OilSunflower Oil
Grapeseed OilWalnut Oil
Hazelnut OilWheatgerm Oil
Jojoba Oil 

Many pre-shave oils often contain castor oil.  Castor is naturally thin, making it less likely to clog a multi-blade cartridge razor.

Essential Oils

While pre-shave oil is only applied to the skin for a short amount of time, an invigorating scent can be a great way to start the day.  Essential oils are added to pre-shave oils for fragrance.

When making a pre-shave oil, essential oils only make up a small portion of the entire solution (less than 5%).  Typically, you will only be adding a few drops of essential oils per ounce.

Essential oils come in many different varieties, which include the following:

AllspiceFennelPennyroyal
AngelicaFrankincensePeppermint
AniseGalbanumPetitgrain
BasilGeraniumPimento
BayGingerPine
BenzoinGrapefruitRavensara
BergamotHelicrysumRose
BirchHyssopRosemary
Bitter almondJasmineRosewood
Black pepperJuniperRue
BoldoLavandinSage
BuchuLavenderSandalwood
CajuputLemonSpearmint
CalamusLemongrassSpikenard
CamomileLimeTagetes
CamphorMandarinTangerine
CarawayManukaTansy
CardamomMarjoramTarragon
Carrot seedMelissa (Lemon Balm)Tea Tree
CassiaMugwortThuja
CatnipMulleinThyme
CedarwoodMustardTuberose
CinnamonMyrrhVanilla
CitronellaMyrtleVetiver
Clary SageNeroliWintergreen
CloveNiaouliWormwood
CorianderNutmegYarrow
CuminOakmossYlang Ylang
CypressOrange 
DavanaOregano 
DillPalma Rosa 
ElemiParsley 
EucalyptusPatchouli 

Many of the perceived benefits of essential oils are unproven (source). Additionally, just because essential oils are “natural” doesn’t mean that they are safe.  Some people may develop allergic reactions with continued use (source). 

Never apply essential oils directly to your skin.  You must dilute essential oils with a carrier oil.  When using the diluted solution, always do a patch test before applying it to the intended shaving area.

Vitamin Oils

Like essential oils, vitamin oil’s efficacy may vary.  Here was a study that we came across in our research looking at how Vitamin E reacts to the skin upon application.  

Vitamin oils, like essential oils, should be diluted with a carrier oil.  When making a pre-shave oil, no more than a few drops should be added per ounce.  Vitamin oils are optional.

What You’ll Need when Making Pre-Shave Oil

To make pre-shave oil, you should have the following on hand:

  • Ingredients
    • Carrier oils
    • Essential oils
    • Vitamin oils
  • Pipettes
    • Prevents cross-contamination of oils
  • Amber Bottles
    • For storing your mixed pre-shave oil
  • Sanitizing Station
    • Pot
    • Tongs
    • Oven mitts

How to Make Pre-shave Oil

Once you have all your ingredients and essential supplies ready, take the following steps to make pre-shave oil:

Sanitize

  1. Place freshly washed amber bottles into a pot of water. 
  2. Make sure the bottles are fully submerged with at least 1″ of water above them.
  3. Bring water to a boil.
  4. Boil the amber bottles for five minutes.
  5. Turn off the oven and remove the pot from the burner to cool.
  6. Once cooled, take tongs and remove the bottles.  
  7. Empty the remaining water in the bottles.  
  8. Let air dry.

After sanitizing, mixing can begin.  You can either follow a recipe available below or make one to your preference.  Here’s how you can make your recipe:

Mixing

  1. Begin by filling the amber bottle with 95% in volume of carrier oil.
  2. Add no more than five drops of a single essential oil.
    1. When adding more essential oils, limit the volume to no more than 3-5 drops.
    2. Write down the amounts added for future reference.
  3. Close and shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.
  4. Place a small amount onto your wrist to test the scent.
    1. Smell the pre-shave oil at timed intervals (initial application, 30 seconds, 60 seconds).  You can then smell how the base, middle, and top notes of the fragrance develop over time.

Storage

Amber bottles block UV rays and protect the natural ingredients within your pre-shave oil.  Ideally, you should store your pre-shave oil in a cool, dry, and dark environment.  

Application

Here is a detailed guide on how to apply pre-shave oil for the best results

Pre-shave Oil Recipes You Can Follow

Here are a few pre-shave oils to get you started:

Classic Barbershop Pre Shave Oil

  • 20ml Castor Oil
  • 10ml Olive Oil
  • 5ml Vitamin E Oil
  • 10 drops Sandalwood Oil

Woodsy Pre Shave Oil

  • 15ml Castor Oil
  • 15ml Jojoba Oil
  • 4 drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 4 drops Pine Oil

Festive Holiday Pre Shave Oil

  • 15ml Sweet Almond Oil
  • 15ml Argan Oil
  • 5 drops Nutmeg essential oil
  • 2 drops Vanilla absolute essential oil
  • 3 drops Bay essential oil

Expected Cost Savings

As is the case when making anything yourself, you can expect to save some money.  How much can you expect to save when making pre-shave oil?

We looked at 21 premium pre-shave oil brands and found that the average price per bottle was $21.35.  The most expensive pre-shave oil was Castle Forbes The Pre Shave at $59.99.  The most affordable was Prep Cream at only $10.99.

When making your pre-shave oil, you can expect to pay the following:

Pre-shave-Oil_-Total-Price-and-Price-Per-Ounce

Here’s the supporting data:

Starter SetTotal PricePrice Per Ounce
DIY Pre-shave Oil with 18 Essential Oils$49.00$12.25
DIY Pre-shave Oil with 6 Essential Oils$34.00$8.50

Additionally, here is a further breakdown of the expenses:

Required SuppliesPrice
Amber Bottles – 12ct$10.00
Essential Oils – 18ct$25.00
Essential Oils – 6ct$10.00
Carrier Oil – 4oz$10.00
Pipettes – 50$4.00

Now there are a few things you should know about the above numbers.  Some costs for pre-shave oil are only one-time expenses, such as the amber bottles.

You can use pipettes and essential oils for several batches.  Carrier oil, which makes up the majority of any pre-shave oil, is the most used product.

The prices above are just for a point of reference.  Further savings can be realized if you only use one essential oil, one carrier oil, and reuse an old amber bottle.

Reverse Engineering Your Favorite Brands

Many premium pre-shave oil brands rely on natural ingredients for their products.  By simply looking at the ingredient label, you can see the carrier and essential oils a company uses.  While this doesn’t disclose the amount used for each ingredient, it at least gives you an idea of where to start.

Here are a few examples:

crux pre shave oil ingredients
CRUX Supply-Co Pre-Shave Oil
taconic shave pre shave oil ingredients
Taconic Shave Pre-Shave Oil
art of shaving pre shave oil ingredients
Art of Shaving Pre-shave Oil

Botanical Names / International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI)

You will find that many pre-shave oils list the botanical names of the natural ingredients on the label.  For instance, in the Art of Shaving Pre-shave oil above, you can see it contains fusanus spicatus wood oil; a simple Google search will show that this is sandalwood oil, a classic barbershop scent found in many shaving products.

So don’t be discouraged if some of the ingredients sound unfamiliar.

Beyond the First Bottle

Making pre-shave oil doesn’t end at your first bottle; here are a few other things to be mindful of:

Labels

If you plan to make several bottles of pre-shave oil, labels can help provide easy organization while also keeping track of the ratio of ingredients used.

Gifts

Whether it’s for Father’s Day, birthday, or the holidays, a homemade pre-shave oil is a great and thoughtful gift that anyone will enjoy that shaves regularly.

Sanitize Future Bottles

Once you finish the pre-shave oil, rather than refilling immediately, be sure that you wash and sanitize the bottle between uses.  Sanitizing the bottle will help in stopping the spread of bacteria.

Sell Your Own

With platforms like Shopify and Etsy, there has never been a better time to start your own company.  Not only is this a great way to make some extra money on the side, but you can also share your creations with other men around the world.

Shelf Life

Carrier and essential oils have a reasonably long shelf life.  You can expect your custom pre-shave oil to last you at least one year.

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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