Pre shave butter is essentially the same as the pre shave oil but in a solid form. It is a mix of various oils intended to provide lubrication and capture moisture for a great shaving experience.
Pre shave butters are usually made with coconut oil as a base. At a room temperature coconut oil stays solid and easily spreadable. Other oils (e.g. apricot oil, olive oil, avocado oil) and glycerin can be added to the mix to enhance the performance of the pre shave butter.
How is Pre Shave Butter Different than Pre Shave Oil?
The major difference between pre shave butter and pre shave oil is in its texture. Pre shave butters are solid and pre shave oils are liquid. All other ingredients are virtually the same.
By nature, pre shave butters tend to be thicker and richer than pre shave oils. Because they are often made with coconut oil, pre shave oils could be comedogenic. This is a fancy way to say that it can clog your pores.
Does it really?
Not in my experience. I have normal skin and have been using coconut oil-base pre shave butter (Mickey Lee's) for months now and have not experienced any pore clogging. I also use apricot oil (also considered comedogenic) as part of my night facial treatment and have gotten only positive results.
Pre shave oils, on the other hand, can be blended only by using non-comedogenic oils (e.g. castor, olive, almond). If you have an oily acne-prone skin you may be better off using a pre shave oil instead of butter.
In theory, pre shave butters can also be made with any fat that maintains a semi solid state at room temperature. Animal fat could be another base for a pre shave butter. A potential problem in using animal fat is that it could go rancid and may be even more pore clogging than coconut oil. If you are one of the brave among us, try shaving with a bacon fat and let us know how it works out. We're curious to hear about that experience.
What are Pre Shave Butters Like?
The pre shave butters I've come across are usually made with coconut oil. Therefore, their texture and consistency is very similar to that of a coconut oil.
Mickey Lee Soapworks pre shave butter has the consistency of a whipped butter. It is solid but very easy to scoop up and apply on your face. Since it has coconut oil as a base, Mickey Lee's pre shave butter turns liquid when you rub it against your skin. It absorbs quickly and provides for a smooth shave.
To get what it is like using a pre shave butter, use some coconut oil as a pre shave treatment. The texture is very close to what you can get from the Mickey Lee's butters minus the scent and the silky feel coming from the glycerin.
Using coconut oil as a replacement of a shaving cream is quite common. The word of caution here is that coconut oil could clog your pores if you have oily skin.
In my experience, pre shave butters rinse off easily leaving your face soft and well moisturized. As always, following up your shave with an aftershave balm is a must.
Where to Buy Pre Shave Butter
Mickey Lee has a line of pre shave butters that are reasonably priced and perform well. For US$10 you can get a 4oz tub. Mickey Lee's butters smell great and absorb very easily. You can choose from a sandalwood, lavender, peppermind and unscented.
Besides the performance, I love that Mickey Lee's pre shave butter are ultra clean. They are made with five natural ingredients: coconut oil, glycerin, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and fragrant essential oils.
You can buy them from the company's website.
Besides Mickey Lee Soapworks, I haven't come across other brands making pre shave butter commercially. If you are aware of any, post in the comments below.