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Problems with pre shave prep

I was browsing on the MSN Wetshavers Group forums, and the topic of pre shave oil came up (the general consensus being that they were of no value, for anyone who's interested) and the subject developed into a discussion about general pre shave preparation. One of the points being argued was that washing the face and applying hot water before you lathered was in fact detrimental as it stripped the skin of it's natural oils, thus increasing the risk of razor burn and irritation. I had always understood that the application of warmth and moisture was vital to a good shave, in order to soften the bristle and open up the pores, and to that end I always wash my face before I shave (with Demologica at the moment, probably switching to Nancy Boy soon) and, if I have the time, applying a warm towel. I do this because I have very tough bristles and I can't get a smooth shave without the prep, however I do notice a slight burning sensation when I shave, oftentimes even before I apply a second lather. In order to facilitate a quality shave I will probably continue to use warm water prior to shaving, but in light of the irritation I suffer I found the above mentioned idea quite interesting. Really, I would like to know what others here think; does the benefit of good prep outweigh the potential negatives? Has anyone tried shaving without the prep and seen a positive result?
As always your input will be appreciated.
I am still fairly new to wetshaving (almost a month in) but the one time I neglected to take a hot shower before shaving (I wash only my forehead and nose area above where I shave) I got cuts, and nicks, and razor burn, boy was it a horrible experience. The prep I had used that day was just splashing hot water on my face before applying the shave cream.
Warm water is a necessary part of prep. There have been many discussions on whether washing the face does more harm then good. It has been proved that washing the face results in a softer beard (it strips the oils and lets the beard soak up more water). BUT, some people find that it also strips too much natural lubricants of the face as well. I'm right on the fence on this one. Washing does result in a softer beard, and therefore, an easier shave. However, I also notice less protection on my skin from removing the natural oils. I like the easier shave so I've been more demanding on the lubricity of my creams/soaps. I'm also using conditioner which seems to help as well.

I have found pre-shave oil to be off some benefit when mixing a few drops with lesser creams/soaps.
Thanks for replying. When it comes to the importance of a good pre shave routine I learned the hard way that the more time you spend getting ready the better the shave. I do not think I would ever seriously entertain the idea of shaving by lathering straight onto the face without warm water; I just find it interesting that there is so much contention concerning (what for me at least) is a really simple concept: GOOD PREP=GREAT SHAVE.
Maybe washing one's face with soap to strip the oils, to better waterlog the beard, followed by preshave oil to better protect the face, is the best of both worlds?

But if the oil protects the face from being cut wouldn't it also protect the beard from being cut?
I shave before I shower but do about a 3 minute prep with hot water and towel before beginning. When I shower first or wash my face first, I find that I have indeed stripped too much oil away and usually suffer. I think the big factor that will determine what is best for each individual will be their skin's level of natural oiliness.
I too have read about this, and found that only washing my "T-Zone" with soap, and just using hot water on the rest of my face. was a good compromise. I don't think just using hot water is going to wash away much of the oil. So far the two days I've been doing it have worked very well. There is really no reason to wash any part of your face that grows hair anyway, the cream/soap and the razor are going to take care of that better than soap and a washrag.
I shave after a shower/face wash and also use hot towels in the shower, For me, there is no comparison in quality of shave. If you are not using super-hot water, and you are getting irritation during the shave, perhaps a closer look at your products and preparations are in order. Feel free to elaborate and perhaps we can chase down the problem.
Hi everyone, thanks for the replies. Like I said I think a lengthy prep with hotwater is best for me and my beard. However I will give a complete rundown of what I do in the hope that the more experienced and sagacious amongst you can offer some extra advice.
Firstly I start by washing my face with the the Dermalogica cleansing bar (changing to NB soon) and rinse with warm water (definitely not uncomfortably hot) if I have the time I apply a warm towel and if not I just splash my face with warm water for a few minutes. During this time my Kent BK4 and my shave bowl are standing in hot water. I shake my brush out and then dip it into my shave cream (have you ever tried getting cream from the tub with a kent? Bristles are way too soft, cue much irritation and gouging) I lather according to Joel's how to build lather pictorial. Normally the mix is quite dry to begin with so I add water in half tsp increments. When its right I lather up and shave. I'm using a futur with merkur blades, and cream wise I started with eshave green tea, Trumpers violet and most recently Taylors avocado. I have seen a definite improvement in most areas, there are just odd little niggles left, like the irritation I mentioned which was the precursor for this thread. I should mention I live in an area with appaling water quality, but that I soak my brush in distilled water.
Well I feel for you! The vexing dilema of to hydrate or not to hydrate ones beard. I've seen this issue of not removing oils by washing because those oils are protecting you from feu de rasage bandied about by the various rocket scientists of the web's wet shaving community to only come away with a hollow feeling. Some of the brain surgeons have added their bit about disturbing the acid mantle with soaps, etc. What's a man to do?
I guess given these arguments then the healthiest complexion is the most sebum dripping one in the area? These things can and are taken to extremes like most other things in the egalitarian climes of the web.
There is all kind of advice you can get, some good, some bad, some of no consequence, and yet other of potentially dire consequence. So with most advice being worth what you paid for it, I reprise "What's a man to do?"
A great deal of this is really related to the individual's complexion, but there is at least one universal truth in all of this. That truth is that your beard can (and should) be hydrated by (a) warm, moist towel(s) if you soak, steam or otherwise intimately apply them to the beard-covered areas of the visage for three or more minutes. Take it for what it is worth. (Note carefully, I did not say scrub, scald or otherwise savage your face.)
"Pay me now or pay me later, but pay me you will" is one old saw that really applies to this situation. The three minutes spent hydrating before the soap and steel hit your visage is time well spent because the costs of not making this early investment are irritation, nicks, and a generally low quality shave. For the frugal, I believe it also tends to dull the blade earlier.
Considering myself a long time practitioner of beard removal, I have learned that (for me and most others)
1. A dry shave with a steel blade is not highly desireable.(Same can be said for a cold water shave..)
2. Most of us don't have enough sebum oozing to protect us and soften our beards while shaving.
3. Nor do we use floor or body soap on our faces to destroy our delicate acid mantel.
We should most probably overcome the impulse to debate the (obvious?) issues of using common sense and products suited to our personal needs.. And remember, opinions are like anal orifi, everyone is entitled to (at least) one!:001_smile
I hope this helps you decide what is best for you..
Thankyou guenron, you've pretty much summed up exactly what I was thinking, albeit with a great deal more eloquence than I have been able to manage lately (strange seeing as I just finished my undergraduate literature studies, still it's only three years wasted:lol: :blushing: :lol:) I should have mentioned from the outset that I have a mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder, and whilst the rational part of my mind is able to accept the theories of the self proclaimed internet experts for what they are, sometimes interesting hypotheses that are not universally applicable, the irrational part of my brain (the larger part by a factor of 10, at least) has an annoying tendency to latch onto ideas like that and not let go.
I tried omitting the face wash from my routine this morning, and I have to say that I am not impressed with the quality of the final result, this is a case of the ends certainly not justifying the means.
When I first set out on the wet shaving adventure, my initial experience was very unsatisfying, day two saw such a marked improvement that I thought I had the whole thing down ( blame it on the arrogance of youth.) Now I find myself in the unenviable position of having numerous small technical details that need ironing out if I am to obtain the results I desire, yet I feel embarassed about having to ask such basic questions after I've been wet shaving for more than a month. Before I go, I would like to remind you that trial and error (essential for the wet shave practitioner) is the mortal enemy of the obsessive compulsive brain (i.e me) Wouldn't it be nice if everything just went perfectly from the outset:lol:
Kind regards,

In the words of a coach who I greatly admire, "Hell, if it was easy we'd just skip practice and show up for the games."

I would guess that every member here, from newbie to guru, has and will continue to find little tweaks that improve the shave. Additionally, it is not difficult to slowly, through successively changing repetition, develop problems that were previously of no issue.

Through conversations, such as the one in this thread, and experimentation we are all looking for a better way to skin the proverbial cat. Good thread, and good luck to you as you continue your journey/quest.
Thanks kyle. I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone else on the forum for their help and input, if it wasn't for B&B I am sure I would have given up (or ripped my face apart) a while ago. Enough of the touchy feely stuff, let's get back to doing what we do best, being macho and dragging sharp steel across our faces:wink:
AJS said:
Thanks kyle. I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone else on the forum for their help and input, if it wasn't for B&B I am sure I would have given up (or ripped my face apart) a while ago. Enough of the touchy feely stuff, let's get back to doing what we do best, being macho and dragging sharp steel across our faces:wink:
Bravo! Well said. Like a true recovering OC!:w00t:

* OC Opts for Cream
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