Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The 11 Best Pre-Shave Oils to Prevent Skin Irritation and Razor Burn

The little things, in matters of both men’s style and grooming, assuredly make the biggest difference, right? Right. That’s our core belief when it comes to getting the best and careful shave possible. Even though we live in a beard-centric world right now, there is still good reason to shorten and maintain your stubble — and when you do, it’s good to know how to get the job done right.

Enter the best pre-shave oils for men, a necessary and yet oft-overlooked step in a grooming routine. The best pre-shave oils help soften your skin and your stubble, preparing your face for shaving and preventing nicks, cuts, and scrapes in the process. Whether you’re shaving daily or you’re preparing to seriously tame your beard — or more specifically, you botched your first-ever beard straightening attempt — the best pre-shave oils can absolutely come in handy. These pre-shave oils are like another layer of protection for your skin, and we’ll go over that more before we recommend the best shaving oils. And be sure to grab a post-shave balm for your aftershave.

Related Guides

Best Overall: Bulldog Skincare Original Shave Oil

Bulldog Skincare Original Shave Oil

It’s the unique blend of ingredients, including aloe vera, that helps separate this Bulldog Original Shave Oil from the pack. It’s designed to soften your stubble and provide a close, smooth shave, and it doesn’t hurt that the packaging is pretty neat, either.

Best for Sensitive Skin: American Shaving Pre-Shave Oil 

American Shaving Pre-Shave Oil

American Shaving Pre-Shave Oil is perhaps the definition of the sort of men’s grooming essential that doesn’t draw attention to itself. That is to say, it’s a performance-minded pre-shave oil made with natural ingredients and what the brand calls a clean, masculine scent. A subtle yet crucial addition to your grooming routine? No doubt about it.

Best Luxury Pre-Shave Oil: The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil 

The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil

Now, don’t let the price tag scare you away when it comes to The Art of Shaving’s Pre-Shave Oil, because it’s assuredly one of the best pre-shave oils on the market. With a rich sandalwood scent and the ability to prevent irritation and razor burn, consider it a crucial step in your shaving routine.

Other Pre-Shave Oils We Love

Bevel Pre-Shave Priming Oil

Bevel Pre-Shave Priming Oil

The right pre-shave oil can actually work like, well, a bit of magic for your grooming routine, and this Bevel pre-shave oil is among the best of the bunch. Using unique ingredients like lavender and castor oil, it’s made to prevent nicks and cuts that too often seem to pop up when shaving.

Van Der Hagen Shave Oil 

Van Der Hagen Shave Oil

Add an organic touch to your shaving routine with this natural shave oil, designed to deliver a smooth shaving experience all the way through. You can also use it after your shave to shore up any cuts or bumps, and that’s versatility we can appreciate.

Mountaineer Brand Pre-Shave Oil 

Mountaineer Brand Pre-Shave Oil

The aptly named Mountaineer Brand delivers the kind of care and quality your shaving routine needs, particularly in the form of this soothing mint pre-shave oil. It’s agreeably priced and ready to pair up with other Mountaineer Brand grooming essentials, too.

The Blades Grim Smolder Pre-Shave Oil 

The Blades Grim Smolder Pre-Shave Oil

Whether it’s the use of softening castor and apricot oils or the vivid, masculine Smolder scent, we think it’s safe to say that The Blades Grim has delivered one of the best pre-shave oils on the market. How about it, right?

Fendrihan Osma Tradition Pre-Shave Oil 

Fendrihan Osma Tradition Pre-Shave Oil

Fendrihan delivers the epitome of accessible luxury and refinement with this finely crafted pre-shave oil for a superior shave, all thanks to innovative ingredients like olive and sunflower oils.

Vikings Blade Pre-Shave Oil

Vikings Blade Pre-Shave Oil

With a name like Vikings Blade, can you go wrong when it comes to one of the best pre-shave oils on the market? We certainly think not, and that’s even more so the case when the pre-shave oil in question is made with organic oils for a natural and effective pre-shave treatment.

Lather and Wood Shaving Unscented Pre-Shave Oil

Lather & Wood knocks it out of the park when it comes to producing an affordably priced take on one of the best pre-shave oils, and we couldn’t be more impressed with the all-natural formula or the soft finish.

The Henna Guys Sandalwood Pre Shave Oil for Men

This sandalwood-scented pre-shave oil uses essential oils to hydrate the skin and soothe any minor cuts or wounds. Made with natural ingredients, The Henna Guys places you in good hands.

What Does Pre-Shave Oil Do?

Shaving without pre-shave oil is like driving a car without oil. Pre-shave oil makes sure everything runs smoothly. It hydrates and protects your skin, thus making it easier for your razor to glide instead of tugging and pulling as you go.

Is Pre-Shave Oil Worth It?

Have you experienced razor burn? Pre-shave oil is great at limiting razor burn and shaving irritation. It’s also affordable—think $10-$20 for most oils and $30 for your luxury pre-shave oils.

Can I Use Olive Oil as a Pre-Shave Oil?

While the question itself sounds crazy, the answer is yes; olive oil is a natural alternative to pre-shaving oil. If you think about it, olive oil is not too different from pre-shave oil — they both lubricate and shield the skin at the end of the day. Some even prefer olive oil as it’s naturally nourishing for the skin and rich in antioxidants. One quick note on which type of olive oil to use, many suggest extra virgin olive oil — the least processed of them all.

In addition, check out our list of the best shaving creams that won’t irritate your skin.

Editors' Recommendations

Beau Hayhoe
Beau Hayhoe is a freelance men's style writer, consultant and PR pro based in Brooklyn. Beau's menswear and gear writing has…
5 Rules to Become Your Best Bearded Self This No-Shave November
A man trimming his beard in the mirror.

Yes, gentlemen, it is truly the most wonderful time of the year — that time when we can let nature take its course, grab a few extra minutes of sleep, and skip that morning shaving ritual. As the whiskers grow in, we can point — without compunction — to our favorite social media channel and say “See! It’s No-Shave November!” Everyone will conclude that you are a community-minded, benevolent altruist and not the self-indulgent slob that you truly are.

No Shave November asks its participants (no matter the motivation) to skip shaving for the month  — keeping everything from the five o’clock shadow to full-on beards, mustaches, goatees, Vandykes, love patches, horseshoes, muttonchops, etc. — to raise awareness about cancer; significant because so many cancer patients lose their hair during chemotherapy. Volunteers are then encouraged to donate the money they’d normally spend on hair care in a month to organizations that educate about and fund cancer research and treatment.

Read more
The Best Natural Sunscreen Options for the Environment and Your Skin
best natural sunscreens man applying sunscreen to face with straw hat gettyimages 578460329

It’s high school graduation season, which means just one thing for the post-high school adult who has not yet begun to raise children: A reminder that you were supposed to be wearing sunscreen.

You know what I’m talking about—the tired but nonetheless ubiquitous commencement speech by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich that gets reprinted in every newspaper and referenced at every grad party. In this speech, the author puts “Wear sunscreen” as the top bullet point in her advice to the class of 1997.

Read more
Why You Should Ditch the Disposables and Shave with a Safety Razor
Disposables and Shave with a Safety Razor

Unlike the safety scissors of your childhood (you know, the ones barely capable of cutting construction paper), safety razors are hardly kid’s play.

They are the best option for replicating the close shave of a straight razor without the real chance that you’ll slice your own throat. Compared to four-blade offerings, this no-frills option (basically just a handle and double edge razor) is old-school, but it’s being heralded as the best way to reduce irritation and ingrown hairs.

Read more