Gel versus shaving oil

Which one to buy? The voluminous, foaming and velvety-soft shaving gel which froths up in your fingers and lathers your skin, or the light, bright, viscous shaving oil which is harder to see, and harder to know that your skin is adequately covered? Here we review the pros and cons of each to help you make a choice that’s right for you.

Shaving oil versus foam

First, the shaving oil

Light, bright, slick on your finger tips and wonderfully aromatic, shaving oils smell and feel wonderful. Being natural, the oils work in connection with your skin, seeping deep into the surface layer and nourishing the skin with essential vitamins and minerals. On top, the slippery upper layers are where the real shave magic happens with shaving oil, working in two ways…

They first provide a protective glide layer for the razor to pass over your skin, evening out minor bumps and helping create a friction free shave. But natural shave oils also do one vital function – the oils themselves penetrate the hair blade, softening it ready for shaving. It is this combination of skin surface protection and glide, along with softening the hair means it’s easier to cut hair blades. This is why many people find shaving with oils smoother, easier and with less ‘pulling’ or scratching that happens when even perfectly-sharp razor blades try to cut coarse or dry hair.

The downsides are clear, literally. Shaving oils are harder to see, and harder to gauge how much is on your skin, and if you’ve got enough on. Rather than using loads of product, we recommend using an oil-based pre-wash and scrub. As this product lathers up, you can see that your skin is fully covered in oil. Then, when applying a shaving oil, you can rest assured that you have complete coverage of the right amount of oil for that wonderfully smooth shave.

Shaving oil

What about shaving gels?

Their generous, huge cans fill us with the reassurance that shaving gels often last for ages – perhaps even longer than plastic bottles or nappies. And with the depression of a button out bundles a bounty of gel which generously turns into a mountain of foam – easily and clearly covering your skin with a protective blanket of creaminess. It’s easy to see, and help your razor glide across your skin.

Gels sit on the top of your skin, helping the blade pass over the surface layer and sheathing the hair to try and aid the razor to do its work. The cons; they don’t penetrate the skin as natural oils do, nor the hair itself, and so blades can often scrape or pull when you shave – even with brand new blades. And the most annoying thing of all – it’s that the stuff keeps coming out even after you’ve stopped pushing the button. But that’s easily corrected with a quick wipe.

The verdict

If it’s value for money you’re after, then the long long long lasting gels are the way to go. But if it’s about shave quality and skin health, natural shave oils protect and nourish your skin whilst softening the hair. And therefore are the way to go.

Just remember… keep your blade sharp

One thing to remember is that it’s really important to always keep your blade sharp. Using a leather strop – our unique version is called the Blaidmat – in between each pass of your razor helps remove debris and keep your razor as sharp as possible. Make a Blaidmat part of each and every shave you do.  

Blaidmat leather strop

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