The RoyalShave Guide to Pre-Shave Treatments

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As with everything in wet shaving, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to pre-shave treatments. Some men can’t live without them, others notice no difference, and some even find their shaves to be better without a pre-shave. The best way to determine if you should be using a pre-shave treatment is to try shaving 1 – 2 weeks with, then 1 – 2 weeks without, then with again. You can also experiment with applying the treatment only before your shave, or applying before each pass.

There are a couple pre-shave options available: pre-shave oil, gel, and cream. Here, we break down the benefits of each option.

Pre-shave oil

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What is it?

A pre-shave oil makes your skin softer and more supple for a shave, which means you won’t experience as much irritation. Oils penetrate the skin better than creams or gels, so they are able to retain water in your skin and keep it strong during a shave. As noted on Badger and blade, “when a blade drags across the well-moisturized skin, the skin ‘gives’ to the blade and will bend or conform significantly to the shape of the blade BEFORE it will be torn or cut by the blade…on the other hand, if the skin is dry…the skin will not give or conform to the blade but will instantly tear.”

Who should use a pre-shave oil?

We recommend pre-shave oils for any man with sensitive skin, as it will protect you from razor burn and razor bumps.

How do I use pre-shave oil?

It must first be noted that a pre-shave oil is not effective without water. This is because the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) absorbs water with ease, but does not keep it in well. Thus, an oily substance – a pre-shave oil – is needed to trap the water in the skin.

To optimize a pre-shave oil’s benefits, apply it in the shower, where the steam will open up pores for deeper penetration. Or apply it right before a hot towel treatment to similar effect. Wait until your skin feels ultra soft, then commence lathering.

What are some good pre-shave oils to try?

Highly absorptive oils include jojoba oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, castor oil, and sunflower oil. You can simply use a few drops of any of these oils (or a blend) for a pre-shave.

In the realm of commercially prepared oils, St. James of London Pre-Shave Oil has excellent reviews. It contains sunflower oil and jojoba oil to leave your skin feeling smooth as silk.

SHOP: St. James of London Pre-Shave Oil

Pre-shave cream/Gel

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What is it?

Whereas pre-shave oil makes the skin itself softer, thereby preventing nicks and cuts, pre-shave creams and gels create a cushion between your skin and the blade. This cushion allows the blade to slide more easily across the surface. Pre-shave creams and gels simultaneously soften the beard, making your hair more pliable and easy to cut.

Who should use a pre-shave cream or gel?

The best way to determine if a pre-shave cream or gel will make your shave better is to try one out for yourself (see method in first paragraph).

How do I use a pre-shave cream or gel?

Apply to damp skin prior to shaving. We suggest applying the cream or gel right before you start building lather. By the time your lather is ready to go, your skin should be thoroughly lubricated.

If you shower before you shave, apply the pre-shave cream or gel right before you shower.

What are some good pre-shave oils or gels to try?

Proraso Pre-Shave Cream – Green, Refreshing and Toning has been said to not only improve shaves, but also to reduce acne and razor burn. It has the added benefit of refreshing your skin with a minty, tingling sensation as you shave.

If you have reactive skin, The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Pre-Shave Gel is highly effective for men with sensitive skin and thick beards. Glycerin coats the skin for enhanced glide, and the alcohol-free formula reduces irritation.

SHOP: Proraso Pre-Shave Cream – Green, Refreshing and Toning and The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Pre-Shave Gel

A note on Geo. F. Trumper Skin Food

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If you find yourself short on time or just looking for a multitasking product, Geo. F. Trumper Skin Food makes a good pre-shave and aftershave balm. Its glycerin base protects the skin. You can also place a few drops onto your puck or brush to combat lathering issues with hard-to-lather soaps like Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap.

Tip: For a step-by-step guide to producing lather with the Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap, see our blog post here.

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5 Wet Shaving Mistakes to Avoid

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Maybe you’re transitioning over from electric razors for the first time, or maybe you’re a veteran shaver who’s looking to fine tune your craft. No matter how experienced you are with wet shaving, there are things we can all learn from the following 5 common wet shaving mistakes. Thankfully, each one is easily remedied.

Read on for the list, and let us know if there’s one you’d like to add in the comments below!

Not listening to the sound

Are you paying attention to the sound your razor makes when it glides across your stubble? If you listen, you’ll be able to hear auditory feedback when your hair growth changes direction. This is especially important because when your face is covered with lather, it’s hard to see the different hair growth patterns underneath. Your razor will make different sounds depending on if you’re going with the grain, across the grain, or against the grain. Scraping sounds are bad; crisp cutting sounds are good.

Our advice is to shave in a quiet bathroom so you can only hear the sound of your shaving. Be sure to turn off running water.

Shaving on unlathered skin

So you’ve just made a not-so-good pass on your neck area. Your natural instinct is to quickly go over the same area again, even though the lather has been removed by your previous pass.

But that’s a one-way ticket to razor burn, nicks, and cuts. Resist the temptation and apply lather, or at least water, before going at the spot again. A little protection is better than no protection.

Not rinsing the razor and shaking water off between passes

Don’t just run your razor under water, or dip it in water, to remove lather between passes. If you don’t flick the water off afterwards, your razor will create a dripping mess once it hits your skin again.

Not creating good lather

Lather should not feel like a thick paste. If it does, it means your lather is too dry. Add a small amount of water to your lather to correct. If the lather is already on your face, dip your brush in water and run it over your face until you get a fluffier consistency.

Globbing lather onto your skin

Are you just globbing lather onto your face with no particular direction or motion?

Use your shaving brush as a tool to both build lather and paint the lather onto your skin. Lathering will always be a somewhat messy process, but to get it evenly onto your skin, apply lather by making circular motions with your brush. Brushing it on like this will also ensure the lather penetrates into your skin, so its hydrating qualities will keep your skin protected during the shave.

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What are the Best DE Razors for Beginners?

Between specs like closed comb, open comb, adjustable, slant bar, and 2-piece vs. 3-piece vs. butterfly, deciding on your first double edge razor can make your head spin. We’re here to simplify the process by giving you a solid starting place.

One of our most frequently asked questions is what razor is best for beginners, and in order to give a qualified response, we have to consider two things: beard hair type and blade selection (since the blade is what ultimately does the cutting). We covered how to find the right DE razor blade for you in another post, so today we’ll discuss great beginner DE razors, broken down into razors for fine/medium hair and medium/thick hair.

It’s important to select a razor in tune with the density of your hair, since a razor that’s too aggressive may be overkill (and even quite damaging) for men with fine hair, but a perfect match for those with thick hair. Conversely, if you are a man with a sizable, coarse beard, a beginner DE razor with low to medium aggressiveness will produce an unclean shave.

Read on for our DE razor picks!

Fine/Medium Hair

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Parker 22R Butterfly Brass Safety Razor

The Parker 22R’s closed-comb butterfly head makes blade changing a cinch, so there’s less chance of nicking your finger. The extra long, ridged handle adds balance and control for beginners.

Made of heavy brass, the 22R’s hefty weight means it sits tangent to your skin, swooping in easily for a clean pass.

SHOP: Parker 22R Butterfly Brass Safety Razor – Gun Metal Finish

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Muhle R89 Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor

The Muhle R89 Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor is a forgiving first razor, with a closed comb construction that exposes less of the blade, so it provides a less aggressive shave. Because of its lighter weight, it will give you more feedback as you make passes over your skin, as well as enhance maneuverability.

The 3-piece construction means simple blade changing and cleaning.

SHOP: Muhle R89 Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor

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Parker 60R Nickel-Plated Butterfly Safety Razor

With an extra-long handle for better control in larger hands, the Parker 60R gets in for an irritation-free close cut. Closed comb construction means it’s forgiving if you’re still nailing down your technique, and the textured grip gives you excellent control.

It shaves with a medium aggressiveness that can easily tidy up fine to medium hair.

SHOP: Parker 60R Nickel-Plated Butterfly Safety Razor

Medium/Thick Hair

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Edwin Jagger DE89 or DE8911 Double Edge Safety Razor

The Edwin Jagger DE89 is designed to make shaving a breeze, even if you’ve got a bad case of shaky hands. 3-piece, closed comb construction means reduced possibility of a bloodbath, and the fluted handle is especially desirable because it’ll give you a solid grip, even in wet and soapy conditions. Weight is distributed evenly across the handle, enhancing balance and control.

The resulting shave is somewhere between mild and aggressive.

Beyond just being beginner-friendly, the DE89 is chrome-plated to resist rust and will last you a long time. Though we recommend this razor to those just getting started in the world of wet shaving, its precision and durability have made it a favorite of veteran wet shavers.

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE8911 Double Edge Safety Razor

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Merkur 34C Classic Safety Razor

The Merkur 34C is one of our top-selling razors, and for good reason. The balance on this razor is near perfect, with a shorter handle than the other models to counterbalance the head. Plus, the knurled handle makes it easy to grip.

Amongst our customers, longtime wet shavers have told us how they’ve returned to this razor after many years and remembered how effective it was, while a gentleman trying wet shaving for the first time mentioned he was “impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

At an affordable $39.99, it’s a fantastic entryway into wet shaving.

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Merkur Long Handle Progress Adjustable Safety Razor

If you’re a man with particularly coarse hair, deciding on your first DE razor can present a conundrum – you need a razor (and blade) strong enough to cut through your thick beard, but not so aggressive that you end up with razor burn and irritation.

This is why we recommend the Merkur Long Handle Progress Adjustable Safety Razor, which features an adjustable knob with five aggressiveness settings so you can either dial it up or down to the exact blade angle you need hit your hair shaft just right.

As you start, begin with the least aggressive setting, then increase aggressiveness gradually as you hone your wet shaving technique.

SHOP: Merkur Long Handle Progress Adjustable Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Infographic: How to Shave and Groom Like Mad Men’s Don Draper

If you’re like us, you’re still suffering from a bit of Mad Men withdrawal. The series played a not-so-small role in the resurgence of the well-kept male: Don Draper’s slicked-back hair, freshly shaven face, and impeccable executive suits sent many of us to our barbers and tailors.

The series concluded in May after seven seasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to act on the style cues laid out so sportingly on the show. Specifically, let’s turn our attention to Don Draper’s grooming habits. Throughout the series, we got glimpses into the products he used to look so dashing, from the mention of Brylcreem in Season 1 to his preferred razor – the Gillette Black Handle Super Speed – in Season 2.

The following infographic lays out all the major grooming tools Draper was spotted with in Mad Men, as well as similar modern-day products you can purchase. What’s great is that several of the original products that date back to the Mad Men era (1960s) are still available today.

We’re curious – do you own any of the products mentioned in this infographic?

Scroll below the infographic for a Mad Men shopping list. Also, for more Mad Men style, see our post on our favorite Don Draper outfits from each season of Mad Men.

Shaving and Grooming Like Don Draper #infographic

You can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Shop the Story:

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SHOP: 1. Jade East Cologne, 2. Edwin Jagger DE86 Double Edge Razor with Ebony Handle, 3. Remington Smart Edge Shaver, 4. Kent AP12 Large Opaque Silvertip Badger Brush, 5. Murray’s Superior Hair Dressing Pomade 3 oz, 6. Kent Hand Made Sawcut OT Hair Comb.

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