Camphor, Clove Oil, and Wheat Germ Extract in Pre-Shave Products

Discussion in 'General Shaving Discussion' started by SiBurning, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. SiBurning

    SiBurning Steward Contributor

    A recent thread mentioned how the following ingredients might be beneficial for shaving.

    • Camphor: a natural antiseptic that helps firm skin to lift the beard.
    • Clove Flower Oil: helps open the pores while softening the beard to prevent scraping and tugging of the hair.
    • Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate: add additional lubricity and hydration during shaving.
    • Wheat Germ Extract and Yeast Extract: combat irritation and redness while reinforcing the barrier lipid layer."

    Rather that argue the merits of these ingredients, I decided to try it for myself. I only found one or two products that had these ingredients.

    dermalogica has two pre-shave products. A deodorant stick style "guard" that's known for gunking up blades, and a pre-shave oil. The pre-shave oil has some, but not all of these ingredients. The pre-shave guard contains all four ingredients, so I chose that. The first four ingredients (Water, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Glycerin) are what you might except to find in a shaving cream. It makes me wonder whether you can use this straight, or whether you need a lather on top.

    1. pre-shave guard
    Water (Aqua), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Glycerin, Camphor, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Methol, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl PCA, Eugenol.

    2. close shave oil (has some, but not all ingredients)
    Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, Dimethiconol, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citris Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Ocimum Basililicum (Basil) Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang) Flower Oil, Pinus Palustris (Pine) Oil, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Oil, Eugenia Carypophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Bark Oil, Melaleuca Leucadendron Cajaput Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Camphor, Limonene, Linalool.

    I did a 2.5 minute hot towel prep, rubbed the pre-shave stick on my face, rubbed it in with a little water, and made a quick lather in a bowl--I usually face lather, but didn't want to gunk up my brush.

    I did an aggressive two-pass shave, hitting my most difficult spots ATG. My difficult area is back to front on the sides of my adam's apple. I have to be careful in this area to get anything approaching BBS, relathering the area several times. It's typical for me to lather my cheeks and chin only once, and only relather my neck and maybe the moustache. I often get a little burn from an alcoholic aftershave when I go ATG around my adam's apple.

    The shave was definitely more comfortable that it usually is, given the aggressive way I shaved. The alcohol burned normally, not excessively, and it should have been worse given how quickly and carelessly I shaved, and how quickly I made a shaving lather. Let's face it, this product isn't for very careful shavers, it's for folks that have trouble, so I tried to give myself a little. There's little doubt in my mind that this shave should have burned more. I wonder how much of this is from the anesthetic properties of camphor & clove oil. "Look Mom, it doesn't hurt" when shaving under anesthetic.

    As for the gunk, it wasnt bad using my Merkur slant. It did stick a bit on my sink, but it rinsed off easily enough without any scrubbing. I could see a tighter razor getting gunked up, especially a multi-blade thing.

    I don't want to put too much emphasis on a single shave, but this product seems to have a benefit. I've never seriously tried a pre-shave oil, so I can't do that comparison here and now. Those that do use pre-shave products might enjoy this poduct, if you can get past shaving to the scent of Vick's vapor rub.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  2. Nice review... I am still not sure about oils, either. I have used a few - Jack Black Nourishing, African Black Soap, but I don't know if they really helped the shave or my technique improved.
    I like the way the JB oil makes my skin feel, but it has something like 10 oils, so it's hard to say what each one does with respect to my skin. It actually works great on heels and as a general moisturizer, too.
  3. I would think it should be easy enough to purchase these separate items and make your own pre-shave oil.
  4. SiBurning

    SiBurning Steward Contributor

    Probably could whip something up at home.

    I think there's a couple of small batch producers that have something similar. I didn't recognize any names when I searched, and didn't see all the ingredients, so I chose this one beause it's available. It's also a lot more expensive.
  5. The Dermalogica pre-shave guard isn't an oil - it's a solid stick you rub across your face. I've not used it myself, but I've seen it in-store. My first thought was that it was a more solid version of the Proraso pre-post cream; it even has a similar scent. I checked to see where it was made, just to make sure Dermalogica wasn't rebranding a Martelli-made product and inflating the price. But it's made in the USA. I'm curious to try it, but unfortunately there's no practical way to sample it.

    Their shave oil is marketed as a stand-alone shave product, rather than a pre-shave. It can be used as a pre-shave as well. It's a silicone-based solution. Again, I've not used it, but I have used other silicone shave oils (Lab Series Smooth Shave Oil, for instance), and I have found them to leave a residue. I did get a sample of the Dermalogica shave oil, along with their shave cream, and will give them a spin soon.
  6. I wish I could find a oil or a combo of oils that won't gum up my razor. :(
  7. Have you tried T&H or TGR? T&H in particular is pretty lightweight. TGR is a bit heavier, but it's still lighter than something like AOS, which is quite viscous. I haven't found either of them clog my razor.
  8. SiBurning

    SiBurning Steward Contributor

    I referenced this thread elsewhere, so I thought an update would be in order.

    Having used this quite a few times, I find the best way to use it is sparingly. A light rub on the face, spread around thinly on a wet face, after a couple minutes being wet. That way it doesn't gunk up the razor as much, and lets the lather do some of the work. Using it does result in less razor burn. Can't vouch for why. Might be the anesthetic. Might be a combination of things. I suspect that's the truth of it--that all of the ingredients listed above help--because several studies have concluded the same thing. Only way to know for sure is to try out the ingredients separately. Then again, if you don't have any burn, you probably don't need this stuff. It doesn't help getting a closer shave unless you count how it lets you be more aggressive with less pain by using more pressure, more passes, or compensating for other issues with lather or technique. For those who do have burn, this or another product with similar ingredients might prove helpful.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015

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