Pre-shaving oil is a type of lubricant that's applied to the skin prior to shaving unwanted hair. Using pre-shaving oil allows the razor to glide on the skin's surface which reduces irritation and provides a closer, smoother shave. Shaving oils come in a large variety of preparations. Some shaving oil formulations contain a combination of different skin-protecting oils as well as fragrance and ingredients that heal skin irritation.
Both men and women benefit from the use of a pre-shaving oil. The main difference between shaving oil targeted to men versus women is the scent of the product, as men and women often favor different fragrances. A pre-shaving oil can be something as simple and basic as a common plant or vegetable oil such as olive, sunflower, or coconut oil, or it can be a highly formulated product containing numerous oils, plant extracts, and fragrances.
Many people can safely use a simple plant oil to get a close comfortable shave, but those with delicate skin types benefit the most from a specialized formulation. For example, people with sensitive skin not only need the buffer between the skin and razor that shaving oil provides, but they also need extra ingredients that prevent and heal nicks, cuts, razor burn, and irritation. People who are prone to breakouts or blemishes need a shaving product that's noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn't clog pores, and also has skin healing properties.
In order for pre-shaving oil to be effective, it must be used correctly. Normally, pre-shaving oil is applied after softening the beard or other body hair by bathing or other methods. The area to be shaved must be clean to remove old skin and other accumulated dirt that will obstruct the function of the razor and cause skin irritation.
A small amount of shaving oil is applied to the area that's prepared for shaving and worked into the skin. Using too much is messy and can clog a multi-blade razor as well as the skin's pores. Shaving cream, soap, or gel is applied after the oil, although some shavers prefer to use only shaving oil, and the shaving process can begin.
Some shavers re-apply pre-shaving oil after shaving as an extra measure of skin protection, or use it in place of an aftershave lotion, balm, or moisturizer. Applying shaving oil post-shave is particularly popular with shavers who use aftershaves that contain a large amount of alcohol. The oil reduces both the burning sensation and skin dryness caused by the alcohol.