The use of shave oil can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where it was used as a way to soften and prepare the skin and hair for shaving. In ancient Egypt, for example, people used oils made from plants and vegetables to soften the skin and beard before shaving. In ancient Rome, people used a mixture of oil and ash to prepare their skin for shaving.
Shave oil continued to be used throughout the centuries, although it fell out of favor in some parts of the world as other types of shaving products, such as creams and soaps, became more popular. In the 20th century, shave oil saw a resurgence in popularity as more people began to recognize the benefits of using natural, plant-based products for grooming and personal care.
After using shave soaps through my younger years, I first discovered shave oil when I was about 30. A barber introduced it to me as a shave lubricant that doesn't dry out & leaves the skin feeling soft. It was also a lot less messy. From then on I was hooked & when I started formulating shaving products for men, this was the first one on my list.
Why is Shave Oil Better than Shave Soap?
1. Shave soap is more irritating to the skin
Our research found that shave creams can actually irritate the skin to the point where it really doesn’t give the best result for some people. Why? There are a few reasons. Firstly, many shave creams have a high pH (>8) which has the potential to help weaken the hairs to facilitate shaving.
Although a high pH might weaken the hair for cutting, it can also disrupt the skin’s acid barrier that protects us from harmful bacteria and foreign particles. The barrier’s destruction can be very irritating for some, resulting in break-outs, dryness and a feeling of tightness in the skin.
2. Shave soaps (especially the high foaming types) don't create a good barrier for the razor blade
A second reason is that some cheaper shave creams lack the ingredients that provide an optimal layer of lubrication and hydration on the skin. In combination with an old or blunt razor, this may cause inflammation on account of a rough shave, which your skin will hate you for.
3. Shave soaps don't allow you to see what you're shaving
On application, shave soaps create a thick white layer over the shaving surface. The downside of this is that it completely obscures the view of the skin underneath. At this point it's easy to accidentally cut into skin tags, pimples, moles, previous shaving nicks etc. A shave oil is superior in this regard because it's crystal clear, so you can navigate around any areas that you don't want to hit with the razor.
4. Shave soaps can dry out mid-way through a shave
The shaving process takes time to do well. Especially when it comes to getting a clean shave around the jawline & chin, where the curvature can be tricky. Some folks find that by the time they're half way through the shave, the shave soap is starting to lose it's lather & dry out.
By the time this area is hit with the blade, the lubrication is sub-standard, increasing the likelihood of shaving rash. Shave oils do not dry out so the length of time it takes you to complete the shave is not a problem. The thin layer of lubrication will be there waiting for you when you're ready to pass the blade over.
What to Look for in a Shave Oil
Shave oils provide a great, and often, cheaper alternative for men with sensitive skin. They can also be used as a ‘pre-shave’ lubricating layer before the application of a shave soap to double down on the lubrication for the ultimate in razor glide. When choosing a shave oil, look for products that contain oils such as rice bran or castor oil. These oils consist of omega-9 fatty acids, which are not readily absorbed by the hair and skin, and thus provide a thick and abundant lubricating layer. Omega-9 fatty acids contained in these oils also have good anti-inflammatory properties!
Side note: we don't recommend using a beard oil for shaving or vice versa. Beard oils are designed to soak into the hair skin whereas shave oils are not.
If your skin is comfortable enough to take on a shave soap, the finest results will come when you first apply a shave oil before lathering up on the shave soap. However, a well formulated shave oil is perfectly fine to use on its own.
Some people out there are still sceptical when it comes to shave oil, often saying that it doesn’t accommodate for a great shave like a cream does. They usually say this because they are razor rookies and don’t use a decent shaving technique. Shaving requires a proper technique for optimal results, no burns, no nicks, and no ingrown hairs.
How to Use Shave Oil
The way you use shave oil will differ depending on whether you're using a blade or an electric shaver (yes shave oil is awesome for both). Here, we'll cover each method in detail so you can get the best shave.
1. Using Shave Oil With a Razor Blade (Wet Shave)
Read below to understand instructions and learn a good technique when shaving with shave oils:
Step 1: Before you shave you need to make sure your face is clean and moist. Shaving is ideal directly after a showering, as your face will be clean, the hot water will soften your skin and facial hair & open up your pores. Remember the golden rule with shaving, pre-soaking your hair with warm water for 2 minutes will drastically reduce the cutting force necessary to slice the hair. Alternatively soak your facial hair with warm water in the sink or apply a clean damp towel to your face.
Step 2: Whilst keeping your face moistened with water, apply a couple of drops of shave oil onto clean palms & rub onto the regions of your face you wish to shave, creating a very thin slick over the surface. Wait momentarily to let the oil absorb a little into your skin & hair.
Step 3 (Optional): Apply shave cream or soap, in an even spread on top of the oil. This is only really necessary for blokes with really sensitive skin or if you need to use a slightly dull razor because you don't have a sharp one to hand (we don't recommend this but sometimes the need may arise).
Step 4: Using a clean, sharp razor blade of your choosing shave your face and remember to use the weight of the razor to guide you rather than applying more force. This will reduce razor rash, nicks and cuts. Remember to shave with the grain (not against) to reduce irritation. If you have some of those stubborn hairs that just won't cut properly with the grain you can go diagonally (not directly) against the grain to get those suckers off your face.
Step 5: Wash and rinse face with cold water to remove excess oil/soap and hair clippings. The cold water will close your pores reducing the capabilities of dirt from entering your skin, therefore minimizing ingrown hairs pimples.
Step 6: Moisturise! Moisturising will assist in cooling down your face, softening the skin, reduce irritation and inject moisture and vitality into your newly shaven face. We recommend a good quality post-shave hydrating gel that contains things like aloe vera and glycerin.
- Make sure your towel, razor and face are clean
- Hot showers or using hot towel will soften your hair
- Cold water will close your pores back up after the shave
2. Using Shave Oil with an Electric Shaver
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