DIY Beard/Preshave Oil

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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While to topic of pre-shave preparations can be a social wedge in the wet shaving world, I have come to appreciate the aid of such products at times.

When I first started shaving, I picked up the pre-shave lotions from Proraso in Red, White, and Green. They all function well, while I think that the slight edge may go to the White, in regard to slickness and feel. However, the Red has the nicest scent, as I’m quite fond of the Proraso sandalwood formulation. My usage, in the past, had been to put the pre-shave on and let it sit for a few minutes, then to wet my face and shave as usual. I wasn’t sure about the amount that it impacted the shave. Maybe a little, but not night and day. That was my feeling.

I also tried RazoRock “Mr. Joe” pre-shave glycerin soap. I found this to be a very effective, in regard to its mentholated feel and lather boosting qualities. It’s fairly present lime scent made it a somewhat of a specialist, however, as that scent can clash with some soaps.

Finally, and perhaps most effectively, I’ve been using a coconut oil lotion to prep my skin prior to the shave. I would put this on and let it sit for a good while, which got me thinking.

Because of my experiences with the coconut oil lotion, I changed my approach. Being a night shaver, I began putting my pre-shaves on an hour or two prior to the shave. This, it turned out, made a big difference. Given that additional time, the moisturizing qualities of the pre-shave (not the Mr. Joe, as that’s actually soap itself, and wouldn’t be good to leave on your skin) really made a difference. My skin was slicker, healthier, and better prepared for the shave, regardless of what shave soap I was using to make it happen.

I had looked at the pre-shave oils out there, and while I was intrigued, I wasn’t certain that I was that excited about spending the amount of money that a lot of people were asking. I looked at the ingredients. I felt skeptical. I still wanted to try some, however. Some people had said that they were actually antithetical to getting a good lather, or to getting a close shave. In the name of science, I felt like I had to explore this issue.

The pre-shave oils on offer universally use a mixture of natural vegetable oils, along with some essential oils and perhaps some vitamins. Coconut, grape seed, olive, argan, castor, and a few other oils tend to be in most of them.

In my house, I had extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil. It’s my favorite for cooking. Ingredient one, come on down.

I also had some essential oil of lemon. Bam.

Finally, I had a small bottle with a restrictor cap to mix into.

A bit simple, a bit caveman, but I just poured maybe three ounces of olive oil in, then added a few teaspoons of lemon oil. I shook it up, then put some on my face. And, just for the heck of it, onto my goatee. It could be beard oil, too. Right? I have a chin beard. It sometimes needs some love, too. Hmm…

My experience?

It works great, at least if you leave it on for a good hour or two before the shave. It does well as a moisturizer for chapped elbows and rough hands, too. There’s no dire need for an essential oil to scent it, but putting one or more in just makes things better. Just remember to test yourself for irritation before hand. You don’t want to break out in a rash with your new pre-shave/beard oil. I knew I was fine with lemon, and I had it in house, so that’s my first batch. I found that the gentle lemon scent hid the olive oil smell, especially after a few minutes.

What does my do-it-yourself mixture not do as well as a store-bought mix? Well, it may be a little viscous or “gloopy” in comparison. If you put it on, your face will have a bit of a shine and an oily feel, but that could be overcome with a very gentle rinse and towel-off.

Regardless of the soap I use, I find that the oil prep has made the blade glide better, and removed the need for me to do a moisturizing balm afterward. It’s even obviated witch hazel so far. I’ve had no issues with clogged pores or the like.

What about the beard? My beard can sometimes get a little wild, and I have also had issues with dry skin below the beard. Working a small amount of the olive oil into the old goatee has proven to work great for conditioning the hair and skin.

So, for the cost of, well, nothing, I was able to make my shaves better and more comfortable. If you’re a morning shaver, you could easily put a bit of this oil on prior to going to bed, and have the same benefit (or even better). I’d let it have a few minutes before going head-to-pillow, however, just to make sure you’re not getting oil spots on your bedclothes.

To recap: all you need is some olive oil (coconut would probably work just as well) and some essential oil of your choice to make your own pre-shave. You could cut it 50/50 with castor oil, if you want to get fancy. Fancy, however, may not be strictly necessary. When you look at the price of olive oil, even the highest tier of organic extra virgin stuff, it’s super cheap when used as a shave prep. You only need a few drops, less than a teaspoon full, even if you’re being lavish. If it’s something you can put inside your face, there’s no reason to think that it won’t be find on your face. That’s the reasoning I’ve decided to use. It may be a false premise, but whatever.

In terms of essential oils, you can get a 4 ounce bottle of most of the oils for around $12 to $15 dollars on Amazon (U.S. money, Fall 2016). 4 ounces is a crap ton of essential oil. So, for the cost of one of the high-zoot pre-shave oils or beard oils, you can probably create a decade’s worth of DIY stuff. Not too shabby. Good enough for this cave dweller.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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