You’re doing it wrong: using Noxzema as a pre-shave preparation

Posted: July 25, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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There are a variety of products you’ll find on the shelves of your nearby drug store that you may discover can be used as substitutes for your normal shave items. In some cases, they may work as well or better than the products that have been produced specifically for shaving. One thing you’ll almost certainly find is this: they will be less expensive than the purpose-built stuff.

Why would you want to use some random product, rather than things that are marketed for shaving? Well, let me take you through it.

First, you may find that there is a time when you have to really tighten your belt, using the most economically feasible products around. There’s no substituting some things – the razor, the blade, the brush. Notice I didn’t say “the soap”. Yes, you should use shaving soap built for that purpose, but there are ways around that, if you really need to. If you can get compelling deals on some things, you sometimes need to take those deals.

Second, you may simply not be able to find shave-specific gear where you are. Perhaps your beloved products opened in your shaving kit and spilled during a trip. Maybe you forgot something at home, and can’t find the stuff you’re used to in the area you’re visiting.

Third, you may simply want to experiment and find some interesting work-around products you can have on hand and utilize as interesting substitutes.

Noxzema Classic (in the tub) has been around for a long, long time. I remember watching my dad shave with it for years. Yeah. As a soap. I’ve done it. Actually, I did it quite a lot, back in my cartridge razor days (the dark times). It actually works quite well. It is great for your skin, and protects pretty well. You have to make sure that your face has plenty of water on it, and it can clog a razor a bit more than a normal soap, but it works.

That’s not what we’re talking about today, but it’s something to consider, if you’re caught without gear someday, or just have an attack of the curious bug.

Now, before we go further, you’ll want to consider if there’s anything in Noxzema that you might not tolerate. It’s not too bad, in regard to its ingredient list. Try a little as a face wash (its actual usage case) and see if you react poorly. That’s not something you want to discover mid-shave.

Also, keep in mind that there are virtually identical store brands, that are often quite a lot less expensive, and work equally well. I’m currently using the Rite-Aid brand equivalent, and it smells, feels, and performs exactly the same as the name brand.

What do preshave preparations do?
Ideally, they can do four things. First, they clean the dirt and skin oils from the surface of the skin and the hair follicles. This allows the incoming soap to lather, get into the hairs to stand them up, and not be dissipated by encountering the gunk we create via our biotic process. Second, they tone the skin, putting down a layer of protective moisture before the soap goes on. Third, they can increase the slickness of the skin below the soap, acting as a last layer of comfort. Last, they might slightly numb the skin, so that the process of shaving is a bit more comfortable.

Noxzema cleansing cream really hits most of these things quite well. Because it’s meant as a gentle, fortifying facial cleanser, it obviously cleans the face. Because it has plenty of ingredients like linseed oil and soybean oil, it doesn’t dry the face out. Because it has camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol, it prepares the skin for the insult of a blade shave. As mentioned before, it can be used as a shave soap (non-lathering) itself, so it has some slickness to it. Thus, it checks enough boxes to be considered.

I’ve tried a few methods for employing Noxzema as a preshave, and this is the one I’d recommend:

1) Rub a modest amount (a few daubs per facial quadrant) onto a dry face.
2) Let the Noxzema sit on your face for a few minutes as you make preparations for a shave.
3) Rinse off while doing final hydration of your face.
4) Carry on with your lathering and shaving as usual.

You’ll notice that you feel the menthol/camphor/eucalyptus hit almost immediatly. You’ll also notice when you rinse off that your face may feel very clean and almost “tacky”. Don’t worry about this. Your shave soap or cream will build well and be on top of clean, hydrated skin.

I am sold on Noxzema or a derivative as a preshave. I’ve gotten a lot of superb shaves of late using it as an ingredient. It’s pretty cheap, good for many alternative purposes, and really works. Especially if you don’t shower before your shave, but prefer to simply hydrate your face, as I do. When you compare this product, especially the store brand versions, to anything marketed to shavers, it is a screaming deal. It also works great, and is available almost anywhere. Every drug store and market with a pharmacy should have it. Certainly worth your time to try.

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