Gone are the days when men would lather up their face with whatever bar of soap they found lying around the sink. It might have been good enough for your father, but nowadays most guys know that they need to put a little more effort into their daily shave if they want to look their best.
And even if you already feel like you’ve put together the perfect shaving kit for the perfect shave, there’s one item that you may still be missing: shaving oil. Shaving oils are not yet commonplace to the average dopp kit, but that’s changing.
Add shaving oil to your morning routine and you’ll reduce irritation and enjoy a more comfortable shave. Rub 3-4 drops on your fingertips and apply to the skin of your face and neck. Then add your favorite shaving cream for extra lubrication and enjoy the best shave of your life!
Read on to find out why:
What’s Shaving Oil?
You’ve probably been following the same shaving routine for years now, if not decades. And there’s nothing wrong with what you’ve been doing. After all, lathering up with a high-quality cream, shaving with good technique and applying a favorite post-shave treatment are the foundation of your grooming routine.
If you’re wondering why you’d even want to mess with something that clearly works fine, just take a few moments to discover why more and more men are adding a shaving oil to their daily ritual.
Put simply, a shaving oil is a product you layer on your skin underneath your chosen cream or gel. It works by adding more lubrication and moisture to your face, and for many fans it offers them a closer, more comfortable shave with less irritation.
Some men use a shaving oil exclusively during their shave, with nothing else on the surface of the skin. This has the advantage of being transparent, making it easier to see where you’re shaving. But it’s better to use these products as a pre-shave treatment, so you can combine their benefits with those of your favorite shaving cream.
How to use a shaving oil
Once you’ve found your shaving oil, it’s time to put it to work. Even if it’s the first time you’ve ever used an oil, just follow these simple steps for the best results:
Before shaving oil or cream get anywhere near your face, the first step is to prepare your skin. Start by splashing warm water on your face and neck, and follow up with a gentle cleanser. If it suits your routine, you can easily do this while you shower.
This will remove oil, dead cells and debris from the surface of your skin so that your shaving oil and cream have a clean slate to work with. Once you’re done with this stage, splash lots of warm water on your face to wash aways the suds.
Once you’ve washed away the cleanser, squeeze a few drops of your chosen shaving oil into the palm of your hand. On your first few occasions, you’ll need to estimate how much to dispense but to begin with try 3-4 drops.
Gently spread the oil on your fingertips to warm it up, before applying it to the areas of your face and neck that you’ll be shaving. Remember you only need a thin layer of shaving oil because you’ll be adding cream or gel on top of it.
Work the oil into the beard in circular, uplifting motions. You want to encourage the hairs to lift away from the face, ready to be sliced off.
Resist the temptation to add shaving cream immediately afterwards. By pausing for a minute or so, you’re giving the oil a little extra time to soften the hairs of your beard and soak into the skin.
Add Shaving Cream
Now that you’ve covered your face and neck with oil, it’s time to add your usual shaving cream. Given that you’ve already got a layer of oil on your skin, you may want to consider reducing the amount of cream that you dispense. You can always add more later if necessary.
Start your shave. If you’ve faithfully followed the steps so far, you should find that you enjoy a smoother, more comfortable shave than usual. Rinse your blade frequently between passes. A shaving oil can encourage hairs to accumulate on the blade, so you’ll need to look out for this.
If you need to return to stubborn areas or even make a complete second pass, don’t forget to re-apply the oil. This will replace any of the lubrication that you lost during the first pass and minimize the irritation to your skin.
Once you’re done shaving, wash your face and neck with cold water to cleanse and soothe the skin. Rehydrate with a good-quality moisturizer and add a spash of your favorite aftershave.
Bonus Step: Scrub
If you’re prone to ingrowing hairs or if acne has been a problem, you may want to add just one more step to the process. For many men, a gentle exfoliation with a high-quality scrub can be great for brightening your skin and reducing blemishes.
Premium scrubs use natural elements like apricot or walnut derivatives to gently buff away dead cells and impurities from your face. Some also include low concentrations of fruit acids to dissolve away anything that’s clogging up your pores.
Cream + oil = the perfect shave
You may not be eager to add another step to your familiar morning routine, but there’s a lot to be said for bringing a shaving oil into the rotation.
If you’ve found a cream or gel that suits your skin, it should be doing a great job of softening your beard and providing slip for the razor blade. But because it contains soap, it’s also going to be drying out your skin. This will make it feel tight and uncomfortable, and may make you look older too.
A good shaving oil, on the other hand, will be rich and nourishing and will help to balance out the tendency of your cream to dehydrate your skin. But if oils are so great, why not use one on its own…?
Unfortunately, it’s one of those cases of too much of a good thing: the more oil you use, the greasier your skin will feel and the more likely you are to clog up your pores.
So there in a nutshell is why shaving creams play together so well with oils. You get softening and slip from your cream, and hydration and even more slip from your oil.
What to look for in a shaving oil
Shaving oils used to be a little exotic. Years ago, if you were scouring the aisles of your local supermarket looking for an oil, there’s a good chance that you’d have come up blank. But times have changed, and now you’ll find a good selection in most well-stocked supermarkets and drugstores.
If the wide choice on the shelves leaves you overwhelmed, here are a few things to look out for in your first shaving oil:
Synthetic vs natural
One of the most obvious differences between shaving oils is whether they’re made of synthetic or natural oils. Synthetic oils (also known as mineral oils) are a refined by-product of the processing of petroleum (the same process that produces gasoline for your car).
Perhaps the mineral oil that’s familiar to most people is baby oil. This product is soothing, hydrating and hypoallergenic. It’s safe to apply to the face as a pre-shave oil, but in recent years there has been resistance to the usage of petroleum derivatives for environmental reasons.
If these concerns or personal preference mean that you don’t want to use a synthetic oil, your alternative is some kind of natural oil. Natural oils come from the leaves, seeds or nuts of plants. Given that they come from wide range of sources, their properties vary widely. But most are nourishing, protective and ideal as a pre-shave treatment.
Here are some ingredients to look out for in a natural shaving oil:
If you’re new to shaving oils and looking for a good place to start, then look no further than coconut oil. This natural oil is intensively hydrating and provides excellent lubrication and protection during your shave.
On top of all this, coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. This makes it an excellent choice if you’ve experienced skin irritation or infection in the past.
You can use coconut oil on its own, or cocktail it with other beneficial ingredients like aloe vera.
Don’t let the wonders of this versatile oil pass you by simply because you’ve always relegated it to the kitchen. Olive oil has been known for hundreds of years for its superb moisturizing properties and more recently its been praised for its anti-oxidant action.
Whatever you’ve been using in your frying pan, select an extra-virgin olive oil when preparing for a shave (you’ll find this clearly labelled on the bottle). Because it has been less intensively processed than other varieties, you’ll enjoy much more anti-inflammatory action.
Shaving oils: the upgrade you never knew you needed
Shaving oils are far from mainstream yet, but lots of men know the difference it makes to the look and feel of their skin. Add a premium-quality oil to your morning routine and get ready for the shave of your life!
Hi, I’m Theo, and I started Shaving Parlour to help men everywhere get the best shave of their lives. Check out my popular guides on Safety Razors, Shaving Cream, Shaving Brushes, Beard Oil, and more!