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confused by pre-shave

I noticed that after the first pass and rinse that there's no pre-shave left. I use Castle Forbes pre-shave. Maybe 9 months ago, I experimented with oils versus water soluble and settled on the Caste Forbes. That was my DE shave days and it worked for me then. I now shave with an SR. I'm working through some scentless shave soaps, so that is a variable in my shave.

What role does the pre-shave have and what should I expect?
I never found any benefit to pre shave although I only tried Proraso. At times I thought it hindered my lathering and I have not used it for some years now. I am doubtful that any real benefit exists in using pre shave, except in the minds of those that do so; that is of course reason enough for them to keep using it. In my experience, if you think it works, then it works 👍
I tend to use paa cubes and they do soften my beard a bit more and tend to give a better glide.

For my last pass atg I use some Hyaluronic acid gel or shave oil from floid especially handy with allu coated razors which suck a bit.


More Deep Thoughts than Jack Handy
I'm no expert on this, but I understand the OP's experience...pre-shave is pretty much gone after the first pass. I suppose, depending on the pre-shave, it might leave some residual slickness, but its been my experience that its pretty much gone after pass one also. I use it nevertheless as it does provide some additional slickness for that first pass which removes a good deal of the stubble.
I'm no expert on this, but I understand the OP's experience...pre-shave is pretty much gone after the first pass. I suppose, depending on the pre-shave, it might leave some residual slickness, but its been my experience that its pretty much gone after pass one also. I use it nevertheless as it does provide some additional slickness for that first pass which removes a good deal of the stubble.
Same with me. I just find for my amazing combination of having coarse hair and sensitive skin, using Pre Shave makes the first pass a little easier to reduce the bulk of the hair. I have tried without it many years but I just find it enjoyable to use for that first pass for myself
I can‘t detect any difference with most pre-shave treatments, although I think King Of Shaves pre-shave oil did work well for me - just can’t get it where I currently live and other pre-shave oils I’ve tried definitely don’t work. It is also reasonable to expect that shaving soap would remove the oil on the first pass, since that’s exactly what soap molecules do.

Anyway, no pre-shave treatment is as effective as soaking or washing my beard in warm water for longer. A good soaking softens the hair and that does continue throughout the shave. Think about how soft your fingernails are to trim after a hot bath, compared to how brittle and hard they are normally. Nails are made of hair (or rather both nails and hair are made of keratin).
Some people like using preshaves, but as the OP said, it only works for the 1st pass unless you reapply. I like using high quality shave soaps that have everything they need in the formulation so I do not need a preshave, or a postshave product for that matter.
My unproven theory is that for me it makes that first pass just a little easier, which helps because the most "work" is done on pass #1.

I recently got a jar of Noxema for $3-something and it seems to work just as well as the more expensive stuff like Proraso. Doesn't smell too bad, either; I think they may have changed the scent. Doesn't smell as good as Proraso, though.
I believe a pre shave is to hydrate the skin and whiskers for easier slicing of the whiskers. When you do the first pass and slice the beard is still hydrated making other passes easier to slice through.
I use CeraVe hand bar cleanser for a pre shave & brush wash whole face with a dedicated Yaqi Cashmere knot and then a dollop of clear Aloe Vera gel on the cleaned beard area.
I have been doing this for well over 2 years and it helps I believe and also it does not gum up my shave gear like brushes and razors.

Z-Pre shave products (2).jpg

Have some great shaves!


Cheaper than ink
My shower is my pre-shave. Hot soaking wash towels work too. Splashing water on the stubble.

Try lathering up, then doing something else in the sink like brushing your teeth. Time while whiskers are hydrating.

I tried a few pre-shaves and they didn't do it for me plus one clogged my razor's lather slots. That's when I quit.


Girls call me Makaluod
@gregory56 your pre-shave worked with DE shaving. Now you find that it is all removed when SR shaving. There is a reason and I doubt that it has much to do with your shaving soap.

It is well accepted (believed?) by most SR shavers that a SR shaving gives a closer shave than a DE razor. I suspect that this is also true for you and that your SR is removing most or all of your pre-shave with the first pass. It you want/need pre-shave for your subsequent passes, you will need to reapply between passes.

Personally, I found no benefit using pre-shave (Proraso) with SR shaving when using decent shaving soaps that work well with SR's. I currently use (face lather):
  • Arko stick
  • Tallow Tabac stick
  • Proraso cream (green)
  • Palmolive cream
  • Nivea Sensitive Men cream
  • Derby stick
I am only up to a little over 700 SR shaves, so still have a lot more to learn.
With pre-shave we're getting into voodoo. It works for some, doesn't for others. I think it makes your skin more supple and your beard softer. The slickness is there, yes, but slickness isn't the whole point.
A Hot shower and good lather building skills is all you need.

I see them as a crutch for weak lathers.

My Floid pre-shave sits on my shelf as a reminder of my early days of shaving.

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Pre-shaves help with poor lathers, poor technique and poor product. They can boost slickness (glycerine based), density (oil based) and can provide an additional layer of protection.

As the issues above are all more pronounced with newer shavers, they have their place. As people get more experience, technique and better products, they find they don't need them, like the OP.

Best, JM
Thank you everyone for reminding me of the purpose of the pre-shave. I look back at my notes from Jul 23 when I concluded a comparison of various pre-shaves. First, pre-shave oil was too persistent and left behind a residue and a small reaction that I didn't like. My conclusion was that water soluble was the best, with Castle Forbes being my choice. The Proraso Sensitive (white label) was also good, but the menthol is not for me. I did compare using the Castle Forbes or forgoing a pre-shave, and the pre-shave did improve the shave (I used a Rockwell 2C, plate 3 with a Parker/Wilkinson Sword (Germany)/Treet Platinum/Dorco Titan blade).

I can get behind the the concept of a pre-shave being needed for the first pass due to the whiskers being the thickest (I can also see this justifying using the pre-shave before the ATG to minimize irritation). I'm not sure this applies to SR shaving, however, given how handily it sheers off the whiskers.

For those of you who believe a pre-shave is a crutch for a bad lather, switching to SR shaving did force me to up my game on lather production. I have a much better lather today than in July. What started my thoughts on eliminating the pres-shave was how slick the Martin de Candre Natural is right after loading the brush. The residual on the jar (or envelope in my case), would be the pre-shave. The reduction of product needed appeals to me.

Regarding prep, I shower and wash my face prior to shaving. If I were to put something on my face to further hydrate, it would need to be something like a pre-shave. I put a fair bit of time creating an awesome lather, :) , which I use promptly when it's ready.
Great post, thank you for explaining why you used preshave & what your new findings are. Personally, I have tried various preshaves but have concluded that for me, it is not necessary. My preshave is a hot shower immediately before shaving, & that is more than adequate to hydrate my whiskers. My choice of quality soaps does the rest.
When I first started shaving as a teenager I used a pre-shave oil that my barber gave me. My young skin was tender and I did find it helpful. However, in time I found that the only pre-shave I need is to wash my face and wet my face with each pass. My lather takes the place of any pres-shave product.
Toughness/coarseness and moisture absorption of your whiskers need to be considered. In addition to whether you have sensitive skin before coming to a 'judgement' about the value of pre shave in your shaving routine. Tougher the whiskers the more time it takes for optimum hydration for a close comfortable and efficient shave
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