The Art of Shaving needs no introduction. If you are looking for great shaving products and don't care much about the price, The Art of Shaving is the way to go.
As much as I like their products, I love the humble roots of the company. Myriam Zaoui met her husband, Eric Malka, on her vacation in Miami. Myriam was a Paris-native aromatherapist working at a spa and Eric, born in Morocco, was a financial consultant working for a men's cosmetics and perfume distributor.
Things were going great but Eric had one nagging problem: every time he shaved his skin turned red and irritated.
To help Eric fight his skin irritation, Myriam, well-versed in skin care and aromatherapy, put together a mix of oils for Eric to use before shaving. A New York Times article explains that Myriam got the inspiration for the pre-shave oil from her grandfather who used baby oil to fight his own skin irritation.
This was the humble beginning of an iconic brand of shaving products whose name has become synonymous with luxury shaving.
As the story of the company suggests itself, making a pre-shave oil is just a matter of mixing various oils. (Check out our guide of pre-shave oil recipes to find out what oils to blend.) The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil is no different. The recipe I want to share with you here is based on the ingredients listed on the bottle of the original The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil. With a little experimentation and great advice from a couple of wet shaving forums, I came up with a blend that comes really close to the original pre-shave oil.
Before we get to blending, let's have a look what's in the Art of Shaving pre-shave oil. The list of ingredients on the official website for the lavender pre-shave oil are: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Water/Aqua, Geraniol, Limonene, and Linalool.
Some of the names on the list look familiar but others are way beyond my humble Chemistry knowledge. I did some research on each ingredient and here is what I found.
Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil
This is simply castor oil. It's a colourless, thick oil that comes from the castor oil plant. Chemists often use it in skin care products for its moisturizing properties. It is also commonly used in many commercial pre-shave oils to add thickness. Read 8 Pre Shave Oil Recipes for an Amazing Shave to learn more about castor oil and how to mix it.
I use the Now Solutions Castor Oil. You can get it on Amazon for $10.
Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil
This is just olive oil. It has been used in skin and hair care for centuries. Olive oil is a staple not only in the Mediterranean cuisine but also in the beauty treatments of the region. An old trick to maintain slick and healthy hair is to put olive oil in it, as any Italian nonna will tell you.
Olive oil moisturizes the skin by helping retain moisture in it. It is not as thick as the castor oil and adding it to your pre-shave oil blend will make it runnier and not as sticky.
Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
The lavender oil used in The Art of Shaving and other brands of pre-shave oils is an essential oil added for its soothing aroma. When making a blend with a castor oil, it is a good idea to add some essential oils to cover up its "beany" smell.
Instead of a lavender essential oil, you can add any other type of aroma you like: vanilla, geranium, rose, etc.
The Majestic Cosmeceuticals Lavender Oil is a premium Bulgarian lavender oil you can get on Amazon for about $10.
This one needs no explanation - it's just water. Even though the water is the most straightforward ingredient on the list, it is also the most mysterious one. Here's why:
First, if you add water to the oil mix, you will see a separation of the two. Oil and water don't mix naturally. I don't see any such separation in The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil, so there is probably no water added to it.
Second, you can get oil and water to mix by adding an emulsifier. According to AOCS, the commonly used emulsifiers in making personal care products are ethoxylated alcohols, carboxylates, and sodium isethionate.
Adding water and an emulsifier to the oil mix, however, will make it opaque. The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil is clear, which leads me to believe that there is no added water or emulsifier. I also don't see an emulsifier on the ingredients list.
To end this conundrum, I decided to skip adding water to my mix.
EWG's SkinDeep cosmetics database lists geraniol a naturally occurring scent ingredient found in various flowers (e.g. rose, lavender, citronella). Since The Art of Shaving uses lavender oil in its lavender pre-shave oil, naturally, the mix contains small amounts of Geraniol. I doubt The Art of Shaving adds Geraniol separately in addition to the lavender oil, so I leave it out of my mix.
It is another ingredient naturally occurring in citrus fruits. Considering that it is at the end of the ingredient list, there may be some trace amounts of it, which won't make much difference to the texture of the oil mix.
Linalool is a natural chemical found in lavender. Some companies add it to their cosmetic products as a fragrance enhancer but I suspect it appears on the ingredient list here because it occurs naturally in the lavender oil.
To sum it up, of the ingredients listed on the label of The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil, we'll use castor oil, olive oil and an essential oil. You'll notice that these are the top three ingredients on the list. This means that they are the ones with the highest concentration in the mix. The rest of the ingredients (water, Geraniol, Limonene and Linalool) are found in the essential oil and not likely additives to the mix.
I used the following proportions of castor oil and olive oil to get a texture very close to the one of The Art of Shaving pre-shave oil:
That's it. Mix the two oils in a bottle and shake it well. Take the essential oil and start adding drops until you get enough strong enough aroma. How many drops you add would depend on the essential oil you choose and how much oil you are mixing. Generally speaking, for 60 ml of pre-shave oil, you can add about 15 drops of essential oil.
Making It Your Own
You don't have to follow The Art of Shaving recipe to a t. Feel free to make it your own. Instead of castor oil you can add sweet almond oil. It is not as thick as castor oil but is full of vitamins and antioxidants.