Proper pre-shave preparation needs more than just a splash of water

Proper pre-shave preparation needs more than just a splash of water

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”
Alexander Graham Bell (the Scottish chap who invented the telephone, amongst other things)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of the United States)


These sentiments hold true for many things in life. However if we are honest I expect we would all concede there’s been many times when we haven’t found (or perhaps more honestly “made”) the time to prepare properly.


Often preparation can seem dull, boring and all too time consuming. Perhaps not even worth the effort for the better result. How many of us when in DIY mode have bought sugar soap with great intentions of washing the walls down before filling, then sanding, then dusting them, only to end up steaming straight into the tub of emulsion paint in a vain attempt to get it all over and done with as quickly as possible? And the result is simply not as good as it could have been if we had taken our time.

As with DIY, as a small investment in preparation can reap some big and sometimes unexpected benefits when you shave.

Back in our more hirsute days (when we just stopping swinging around in trees), to help protect us from the elements mother nature ensured we kept our hair nicely waterproofed with sebum. Unfortunately evolution is yet to catch up with us, so we still have waterproof stubble.

Evolution forgot about the sebum in our bristles

Now you probably know that wet stubble is much easier for a razor to cut, but to get the best shave you need to spend a little more time preparing your stubble than just giving it a quick splash of warm water.


To allow water to soak into the bristles (making them so much easier to cut) you need to remove the waterproof coating (the previously mentioned sebum) from your beard first

Any wash-type product such as face wash, shower gel, even a shave gel, shampoo or soap (does anyone still use soap?) will do this, but to speed up the water absorption into your bristles it’s best to use a scrub.

Closed and open hair cuticles

Closed (left) and open (right) hair cuticles

A scrub will the open the cuticles on the bristle which lets the water in to the hair shaft much faster. A scrub will also clear away a lot of the old dry skin and dirt from the skin; this means there’s a lot less to clog up the razor. So the blades will sit closer to the surface of the skin cutting the hair shaft as short as possible.

Applying a scrub in a circular motion across the entire beard will also lift the bristles up and away from the skin, which again helps ensure a closer shave with less missed hairs and reduced need for repeated strokes. It also helps stop ingrown hairs and clears out any blocked pores.

A face wash will help prepare your stubble, however for the best results we recommend a scrub formulated for daily use.

Then you just need to rinse the face scrub from your skin and you are ready to apply your favourite shave prep be that a gel, oil, cream, serum or even a foam(!) to your still wet face.


This simple and effective pre-shave preparation routine should not take more than a minute, however it will repay you in spades as...

  • Your razor will feel like a hot knife through butter on your stubble.
  • You’ll not get unpleasant tug or pull.
  • You’ll get a closer shave and one with less passes (repeat strokes).
  • Your blades will last longer (softer bristles wear them out slower than hard bristles).
  • Much lower chance of ingrown hairs.
  • Your skin will look brighter

The longer your stubble, the bigger the potential benefit, so for less regular shavers a good pre-shave scrub is a must.

Simply put, decent pre shave preparation will get you a closer and more comfortable shave, for not a lot of extra effort.