The RoyalShave Guide to Pre-Shave Treatments


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


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



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


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.


Interview: St. James of London


Founded in 1953 St. James Of London is dedicated to serving the grooming needs of today’s gentleman. Their newly reformulated line features excellent shaving and grooming products made from the highest quality all natural ingredients. This unparalleled quality partnered with subtle and exquisite scents will add true luxury to your shaving ritual. We had the privilege of Interviewing the man behind this well established line.

1.  Where are you located? Our headquarters are in Chicago, however majority of our manufacturing still commences at the original location in Peterborough, UK, where the brand was created and developed.

2. When did you start this business? The brand was created in 1953 by the Creightons PLC Group and acquired by St James of London, LLC, Hinsdale, IL in the fall of 2013.  

3. When did you realize that this is what you wanted to pursue? The St James of London team previously established and developed a similar brand in the same space over the past decade.  We’ve worked together for years with the Creightons Group and consider the products and services to be among the best in the industry, so to be a part of history and to own such a luxury brand is a dream come true.  Our customers who have come to know us under a different name know the level of service we provide is second to none.  Plus, we love what we do!

4. Describe a few steps you took to make this happen. We’ve spent 10+ years of introducing and educating American men and retailers to a higher-level of wet-shaving. During this time, we have gotten to know thousands of gentlemen (and ladies) who have now become part of our family.  From day one, our goal has always been to provide the best product at the best price.  We made the decision we could do a better job of providing exceptional products at more reasonable prices, along with being more receptive to our customers’ needs if we owned a brand.  It didn’t hurt either. The St James of London brand is uniquely different from other traditional English brands in the sense our shaving products are 100% natural, free from alcohol, parabens, and SLES.  Top-shelf quality minus the bad synthetics and preservatives that can harm your skin.

5. How would you deal with a customer who didn’t know what they wanted? Fortunately, there’s a plethora of excellent resources which customers can do their research, and more often than not, they have prior to calling/emailing us.  We do receive a fair number who desire to learn more about various products, etc. and we pride ourselves on knowing as much about our competition as we do our own products, which for comparison purposes is key.

6. What are some of your accomplishments as a business? As an older, but newly re-launched brand, we’re proud of St James of London’s half-a-century heritage and reputation for luxury products and building it into something considerably larger than it originally was back in 1953.  We’re also proud of staying true to the brand’s ethos and everything it represents.

7. What do you believe makes a quality product? Obviously quite subjective in nature, however, our belief and confirmation comes directly from our customers when expectations are surpassed.  We’d also like to think it comes from our product/value relationship, which further supports one’s expectations.  It doesn’t hurt either our manufacturing takes place using the best resources in the world to create exceptional natural products.

8. Where do you get your inspiration from? Many of our own customers!  We’re fortunate to be a part of a passionate industry, many of whom absolutely love wet-shaving.  We love hearing from these folks as many of their ideas are really good!  We’re not always in a position to act on some, but we do take many suggestions to heart and do our best to incorporate them into our business.

9. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? Don’t be afraid to take chances.  Start young, don’t put off hoping or waiting for the perfect time (because there isn’t).  Most importantly, don’t chase the money, follow your passion.  Regardless of the outcome, you’ll always look back knowing you took a shot and that’s what counts.

10. Where can readers find out more about you and your work? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter…and we’ll be adding more content to our website in the months ahead.  

We recommend: St. James of London Shaving Cream


It produces a luxuriantly rich lather and offers one of the smoothest shaves around. Made form the best all natural ingredients and essential oils this cream provides an irritation free shave for all skin types. Read more:


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