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Shaving Saviors: The Pre-Shave Solution

If you’re generally happy with your shaving routine, but want to add some extra lubrication to the whole procedure, try a pre-shave solution. A good one will soften hair, hydrate the skin, and keep the skin calm. Think of it as a mediator between razor, cream, and cheek. Or think of it as a shaving baselayer. Or best of all—a Zamboni. Yeah, a Zamboni smoothing over your face so it’s easier for your blade to glide effortlessly.

Here’s how it works: after washing your face, apply a small amount of solution to the shaving area before spreading your preferred shaving cream or gel on top of it. The great thing about a solid pre-shave solution is that it makes its shaving teammates better–your razor will feel as sharp as it did the first day, and your everyday shaving cream will feel richer. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • John Allan’s Slickwater has anti-inflammatory oat kernel and cucumber extracts that work together with antiseptic tea tree oil to make your face slippery for super smooth razor glide.

  • Kiehl's Pre Shave Oil, Formula #31-0 “acts as a lubricating layer to protect the skin and helps to soften the hair further and has a great spearmint/cedarwood fragrance,” says Justin Virgil, Master Barber at Kiehl’s Spa in New York City. “It also has a nice warming sensation upon application.”

  • Billy Jealousy Hot Towel is named for the old school hot towel compress that would precede a straight razor shave (still not a bad idea if you want a smooth shave).

  • The “home brew” solution is easy enough—you can whip up your own custom pre-shave solution with glycerin and rose water. There’s some lively conversation about this process over at Badger and Blade and elsewhere.

Check out our full collection of shaving saviors where we examine shaving techniques, instruments, and practices from the mundane to obscure, from cutting edge to old school.

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