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How to Use Pre-Shave Oil

Pre-shave oil can be a helpful product for men who want to reduce irritation during and after shaving.  By providing additional lubrication between the skin and shaving cream, pre-shave oil allows the razor to easily glide and cut facial hair.

While we recently updated our guide explaining what pre-shave oil is, today we wanted to switch gears and share with you a few tips on how to use a pre-shave oil to get optimal results in your shaving routine.  

Let’s begin:

How to Use Pre-shave Oil

Using pre-shave oil is easy; here’s what you should do:

  1. Prep your facial hair and skin by taking a shower, applying a hot towel, or splashing warm water onto your face.
  2. Pour out a dime-sized amount of pre-shave oil into your palm and rub both hands together for an even coating.
  3. Apply evenly to the area of your face that is to be shaved.  Then apply shaving cream on top of the pre-shave oil.

Below, we want to expand just slightly on each of these steps to ensure that you get the best shave experience possible:

Proper Facial Hair Prep

Prior to shaving, it is critical that you get your facial hair and skin prepped accordingly.  By simply just applying a pre-shave oil to the dry skin, you risk irritation.  

There are three ways you can get your facial hair and skin ready for shaving:

  1. Best: Take a warm shower for a few minutes.
  2. Better: Apply a warm, damp towel to your face for one minute.
  3. Good: Splash a liberal amount of warm water to your face.

When you do any one of the above steps, you will help to soften your facial hair and increase the pliability of the skin so it will be less likely to irritate or tear while shaving.

The Correct Amount of Pre-shave Oil Differs Slightly

In the above diagram, we recommend starting with a dime-sized amount.  However, you may need to adjust depending on how large the area is being shaved.

The goal here is to have a nice, light sheen to your face before you apply shaving cream.  

Be sure to massage the pre-shave oil fully onto your skin.

Signs of Dry Skin

If your pre-shave oil or cream absorbs into your skin quickly, not only will you need to add more, but you should also consider applying an aftershave balm or face moisturizer once you are finished shaving as your skin is too dry.

Overapplication Should be Avoided

If pre-shave oil is dripping from your face, then you simply used a bit too much.  When overapplying pre-shave oil, you are not only wasting money, but you also may experience clogging, especially if you are using a multi-blade cartridge or disposable razor.  So make sure to dial it back a little bit.

A Quick Note on Pre-shave Creams

Not all pre-shave treatments are oil-based.  One popular product that comes to mind is Proraso Pre-shave Cream.  This has a thicker body and must be scooped out with a finger. Here, you should start with a fingertip-sized amount and adjust accordingly. 

The Shaving Cream Goes on Top

Some men may assume that pre-shave oil can be used in lieu of shaving cream – this assumption is incorrect.  While it could work in a pinch, you should apply your shaving cream as you normally would on top of the pre-shave oil.  

Pre-shave oil is a complementary product to shaving cream and helps to lessen irritation by increasing lubrication.

Should you reapply pre-shave oil after your first pass?

This is optional, but in most cases, it is not necessary to reapply pre-shave oil. One exception perhaps is if you’ve had considerable beard growth and missed large areas on your initial pass.  

If you simply like using a lot of pre-shave oil, then perhaps you should consider making some yourself and save some money in your grooming budget.  It’s rather easy to do and we also put together this helpful guide.

What razor systems can pre-shave oil be used with?

Pre-shave oil can be used with all shaving systems which include the following:

  • Straight Razors
  • Shavettes
  • Double Edge Safety Razors
  • Cartridge Razors
  • Disposable Razors
  • Electric Shavers*

*Be sure to check the owner’s manual to see if your electric shaver can be used for a wet shave (here’s an explanation of what is wet shaving).  Using pre-shave oil with a “dry-shave only electric shaver” will likely cause it to break.

What if you are still experiencing irritation after using pre-shave oil?

Unfortunately, pre-shave oil isn’t a magic bullet when it comes to delivering a close, comfortable shave.  As we recently outlined here, when diagnosing where razor burn is coming from, there are a lot of moving parts.  Most commonly the issue lies with either a dull blade or technique.  

Therefore, it’s important to have an honest look at your routine to see where you can make improvements.  Of course, if you need help with that, be sure to check out our many shaving guides available for free here on the site.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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