Difference Between Pre-Shave Oil, Aftershave & Shaving Cream

Posted by Rocky Mountain Barber on

When life gets hectic, it’s tempting to cut corners. For a quick-fix grooming job, the average guy skips straight to the shaving cream. Fail. One, because it’s faster and two, because many guys assume using the various facial goops and lotions are an over-inflated luxury meant for the picky, diva-type dude. Here’s the real T: Sticking to a one-product grooming routine might be quicker, but it’s abusive to your face (yes, we’re saying abusive). 

When skipping the pre and post shave steps, your skin isn’t protected or hydrated enough to prevent redness, irritation and bumps. For this reason, fellas, we must respect the shaving trio: pre-shave oil, aftershave and of course, shaving cream. Let’s review why these essentials matter. 

Here’s the difference between pre-shave oil, aftershave and shaving cream. 

Why you need pre-shave oil

Shaving without pre-shave oil is like driving a car without oil. When the car parts grind together, the engine dies-- similar idea to razor burn. When there’s not enough lubrication, the shaving friction is too abrasive on your face.  

This is why a nutrient rich pre-shave oil is the backbone to any great shave. 

How pre-shave oil works

A pre-shave oil helps hydrate and protect your skin before shaving. This way, the razor can slaw off your beard more smoothly. 

Your face needs to be moisturized for the razor to glide along, meaning there’s less "tug and pull" while you shave. The result? Almost no irritation or razor burn. 

A safer shave 

There’s another reason we use pre-shave oil: its anti-inflammatory benefits. The best versions, like the Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil, also acts as a disinfectant, preventing any bacteria or other nasties from the blade entering your pores. So not only are you nourishing and moisturizing your skin, you’re also defending against acne. 

The Sandalwood Pre-Shave oil includes Hemp Seed Oil, Camillia Oil and Safflower Oil. These vitamin-rich botanicals nourish your skin, making your face ripe for razor action. To apply, put a few drops onto your fingertips and massage the serum into your beard or scruff. Let the oil work its magic for a minute before slathering on the shaving cream.

Shaving cream: the halfway mark

Once you’re primed and ready, the next move is your shaving cream. This step, as most know, involves applying a creamy lather onto your face, allowing the razor skim over more easily. 

Now you might be thinking, “this sounds similar to pre-shave oil”. Funny enough, it’s not. These two products actually prep you face for totally different phases of the shaving process. 

Let’s learn how these phases work.

The difference between shaving cream and pre-shave oil

At a closer glance, these two products penetrate your skin at different levels. Pre-shave oil nourishes your pores and hair follicles at a micro-close reach, while shaving cream conditions the face and beard more superficially for a better razor flow. 

You must always first prep your face on a deeper level before using shaving cream. 

To understand why, imagine the structure of a hair follicle: inside the pore, the hair’s root is thick and tough. You need to soften that area, making it more supple and flexible, to prevent any dragging action from the razor. Then, by applying the shaving cream afterwards, the milky froth softens the beard tips, so they surrender more easily to the blade. 

Always remember that a well-hydrated beard is the key to safe babyface making.

Stay natural

For even more protection, choose a shaving cream that includes natural ingredients. Currently, most guys are loyal to that toxic gunk compressed into an aerosol can. But behind the fun, whipped cream-looking puddy, there’s a landfill of chemicals like nitrates, sulfates and other hormone-disrupting additives. Assuming you’re a believer in clean and healthy living, you shouldn’t be decorating your face with chemicals. Obviously.

Anything that gets absorbed into your skin should be as pure as the open wilderness. Rather than using chemicals in a can, consider using a natural, oil-rich formula in a jar like the Sandalwood Shaving Cream to bring you out from the stone age of grooming. It features both coconut oil and glycerin to protect your face organically against nicks and cuts. 

There’s also the Barbershop Shaving Cream, an elevated formula with aloe, potassium and other detoxing ingredients. Giving you that barber-grade shave, it’s a premium dose of skin pampering for a polished finish.  

Aftershave: Your last move

Some final touches are non-negotiable. Put it this way: would you skip a protein shake after your workout? Just like how you repair those injured muscles after exercise, you must nourish and heal your face after a shave. 

Your skin takes quite a beating from razor blades. And keep in mind that naturally, we were never meant to be scraping off our facial hair. But since we’re evolved homo sapiens, shaving is part of hiding our gorilla genes. The catch, however, is that shaving can leave our face chaffed, dry and irritated. That’s when aftershave is needed to soothe the burn. It’s made with calming oils to restore our skin (and to reconcile the loss of our caveman roots).

The difference of aftershave

Aftershave differs from pre-shave oil, which acts as the prep work for softening your pores and hair follicles before you begin. Shaving cream, however, focuses on lubricating your beard. 

Once you’ve shaved, using an after-care serum helps your skin recover with rejuvenating healing properties. Then there’s an added benefit: you’re left with a natural, handsome musk. You smell like you’ve just bathed in a waterfall of tree-scented goodness. 

Natural, non-toxic aftershave

Unlike most alcohol-based aftershaves that dry your skin, the Sandalwood Aftershave Balm is derived from pure ingredients. There’s shea butter, mango butter and coconut oil-- a hydrating jackpot for guys with sensitive skin, dryness or acne. 

Another unique ingredient is allantoin-- an extract from the root of the comfrey plant. It promotes healing for minor cuts and abrasions by stimulating cell regeneration. 

The perfect grooming routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Except it also shouldn’t be rushed with a one-step fix. By sticking to the grooming trio-- pre-shave oil, aftershave and shaving cream-- you’ll get barber-level results every time. Keep those grooming standards high and the rest will follow.

Rocky Mountain Barber Company


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