A Simple and Effective Pre Electric Shave Routine

One of the key (and often overlooked) elements of a great shave is developing your own personal pre-shave routine.

This is the case with both electric and traditional wet shaving.

Many times we get lost in countless discussions about razors, technologies and the optimal number of blades and we ignore the one thing that can make or break our shaving experience: the prep work.

I’ve written a few general guides in the past on the topic of wet and dry electric shaving, but in this article we’ll focus exclusively on the pre-shave part.

A pre-shave routine represents all the necessary preparations and actions that take place prior to the actual shave.

The goal is pretty straightforward: a closer and more comfortable shave.

And that’s exactly what you’ll get with only a few simple, but important steps.

With that said, I have always made a clear distinction between wet and dry electric shaving; they imply different costs, different razors, different maintenance work and lastly, different pre-shave routines.

While I personally use both methods (depending on time constraints and the actual shaver), this is ultimately a personal choice.

For some men, the addition of a shaving cream just doesn’t make a significant difference in their results.

It also takes more time and requires additional cleaning, so dry shaving is the more sensible choice in this case.

And that’s perfectly fine as shaving should be about what works best for you as an individual.

To keep things consistent (and practical), I will address the pre-shave routines for dry and wet shaving separately.

Assuming you have already bought the right electric razor, let’s check out the things you must do before actually shaving with it.

Pre electric shave routine for dry shaving

1. Eliminate any form of moisture.

In prepping your beard for a dry shave, the most important part has to do with the word dry.

To maximize comfort during the shave and the performance of your razor, you must ensure that your skin and shaver are as dry as possible.

For this reason, do not wash/exfoliate your face or take a shower just before shaving.

Also, if you have cleaned your razor with water make sure it is completely dry before using it.

The best time for a dry shave would be in the morning, right before taking a shower.

2. Use an electric pre-shave lotion.

An electric shaver has to put up with quite a few potential obstacles: flat-lying hairs, lack of lubrication, skin oils and moisture.

An electric pre-shave lotion or powder provides a layer of lubrication (particularly the powders), absorbs and eliminates moisture, tones the skin and causes the hairs to stand straight.

An electric pre-shave lotion can improve the comfort and closeness of the shave.

For most men that shave dry, including a pre-shave in their routine will be beneficial.

It’s difficult to predict the impact it will have on your results, so your best bet would be to actually give it a shot.

Pre-shave lotions are generally inexpensive and will last a long time, so make sure to check out our in-depth article where we discuss the different types of electric pre-shave products.

3. Charge, clean and lubricate your razor.

This may go without saying, but having a properly charged and clean shaver should definitely be on your pre-shave checklist.

Most shavers can’t maintain peak power output when the battery is almost drained and this is when hair pulling and tugging can occur.

Apart from the discomfort, the closeness of the shave will also suffer.

A properly charged electric shaver will perform better.

Regular lubrication of the cutters and foils of your razor is also extremely important.

The blades and foils are components machined with extremely low tolerances, so the friction during operation will cause them to get hot and they will also wear out faster.

A shaving head that gets hot during use can and will cause painful irritation.

To minimize this effect, make sure to use a drop of light lubricating oil on the foils at least two times a week.

4. Trim your beard to a manageable length if you haven’t shaved in a long time.

This is not actually specific to dry shaving, but to electric shaving in general.

Very long facial hair can be problematic even for the most capable electric razors, so just use a regular hair trimmer to reduce it to a reasonable length.

I’ve come across many reviews on Amazon for example where a particular shaver was being bashed for performing poorly on a fully-grown beard.

Electric shavers are designed to work on short facial hair.

5. Always start with the most difficult portions of your face.

For the vast majority of men that would be the neck: flat-lying hairs, sensitive and irritation prone skin, different direction of hair growth.

There are a few reasons why I recommend starting your shave with the trickiest parts.

First of all, they require more time, attention, effort and passes.

Moreover, you’ll be making constant adjustments of angle, direction, and pressure to your razor, so it’s best to be on top of your game and don’t rush through it.

Another reason is that your shaver will continue to get warmer as you use it, so again it’s probably a good idea to start off with the most sensitive and irritation prone areas.

Finally, the battery will drain as you shave, and you’ll want maximum power and performance for this part.

This isn’t a problem if your shaver is fully charged, but there will probably be times when it won’t be.

Pre electric shave routine for wet shaving

1. Wash your face and use plenty of hot water.

Wet shaving is called wet for a reason.

This is in my opinion the most important factor to keep in mind in the context of wet shaving, regardless if you’re using an electric razor or a razor blade.

The principles of traditional wet shaving apply here as well, even if the actual tools we use are different in design and function.

I highly recommend taking a shower beforehand and washing your face with a mild cleansing product and warm water.

This step is extremely important as hot water opens the pores and softens the hairs.

Also, washing your face gets rid of all the dead skin and dirt. It’s also a very good idea to exfoliate your skin a couple of times a week using a gentle facial scrub.

2. Shaving cream is actually the best pre-shave you can use, so give it time to act.

Allow me to further explain this.

A shaving cream must accomplish two main things: provide lubrication and soften the tough outer shell of the hair, called the cuticle.

A quality shaving cream contains a form of alkaline substance (like Potassium Hydroxide or Sodium Hydroxide) that when combined with hot water, is capable of softening this shell, making it much easier for the razor to cut the hairs.

In order for this to happen, we must allow the lather a few minutes to actually act on the hairs before we start the actual shave.

So next time don’t just start shaving right away and you’ll most likely see the benefits of this. Just remember to use a quality shaving cream and plenty of hot water.

3. Massage the lather into the hairs and use just enough to cover them.

When applying the lather to your face, work it gently against the grain using your hand or brush.

This will lift the hairs that lie flat on the skin.

Also, you’ll want to use a thin layer of lather that barely covers the hairs; using too much will negatively impact the performance of the razor and the closeness of the shave will suffer.

Regarding the consistency of the lather, I personally prefer one that is more watery and slick than dry, but you’ll have to experiment for yourself to find the right balance.

4. Thoroughly cleaning and lubricating your razor is particularly important with wet shaving, so make sure this is taken care of.

Using your electric razor with shaving cream makes proper cleaning after every use mandatory.

Hair, dirt and shaving cream that has dried out can form build-ups that will impact the performance of the shaver.

Unless your razor comes with a cleaning station, you’ll most likely use hot tap water and some liquid soap to clean the blades, foils and inner housing of the shaving head.

But in doing so, you also get rid of any lubrication the moving parts might have.

And as I said previously, this can lead to excessive heat and premature wear of the blades and foils. Therefore, make sure to put a drop of lubricant on these parts after you clean them.


A pre-electric shave routine is all about prepping the terrain and making things easier for the electric shaver.

It’s a sum of simple, basic, even trivial adjustments, but when we put them together they have a major impact on the final results and can really transform your shaving experience.

Don’t skimp on any of these steps and, as always, enjoy your shave.

Article by

Hey. I’m Ovidiu, the founder and editor of ShaverCheck. I independently buy and test electric shavers and I’ve been sharing my findings on this site for more than 10 years, hopefully helping others choose a suitable shaver.

If you found the information useful, consider subscribing to the ShaverCheck newsletter as well. It’s free and I only send a few emails a year. Unsubscribe at any time.

42 thoughts on “A Simple and Effective Pre Electric Shave Routine”

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    • Hi Stephen,

      I only used the pre-shave oil from Truefitt & Hill and it did improve my shave, but not to a point where I would consider pre-shave oils necessary (in addition to shaving cream). If you decide to give it a try, I recommend going for a thinner, more watery oil like the one from Truefitt & Hill.

      Hope this helps.


  1. After wet shaving, should I just dump the machine in the cleaning station after rinsing it with water, or should I still use soap? Also, I’m somewhat fuzzy on the lubrication provided by the cleaning solution: Is it enough, or should I still use light oil after wet shaving?

    • Hi,

      Rinsing your shaver with water should suffice. In fact, unless you shave using cream or gel, you could simply dump the shaver in the station without any manual cleaning beforehand. However, it is a good idea to remove the bulk of hairs just to avoid getting the cleaning fluid too contaminated with hair clippings early on. Do keep in mind that Braun’s stations are prone to clogging if the shaver is not dry and free of any lather/foam residues.

      Regarding the lubrication, if you clean the shaver in the cleaning base after every use, there’s no need for any additional oiling. A manual cleaning that involves the use of soap will also get rid of any lubrication. To restore it, you would have to lubricate the cutting parts yourself with a drop of light oil. If instead you also run the shaver through an automatic cleaning cycle, that takes care of the lubrication part as well.

      Hope this helps.


      • Hi Ovidiu,

        Is Panasonic solution (for model ES-LV9N) that comes in small saches and mixes with the water also a lubricant? Unfortunately the instruction manual is not clear if manual lubrication is required on the top of cleaning station use.


        • Hi Miki,

          Yes, the solution also acts as a lubricant, so there’s no need for additional lubrication.


  2. Ovidiu,

    I don’t have my shaver yet, so I’m doing a lot of research. I plan on buying the Panasonic Arc 5 (ES-LV65-S) and wet shave. I’ve already purchased Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream and the Edwin Jagger Best badger brush.

    My pre-shave plan is to let my brush soak in warm water in my mug while I lube the razor with oil or a spray. Then whip up and apply the shave cream. Let the shave cream do it’s thing on my face while I clean the mug and brush. Shave.

    Then post-shave, I’ll rinse my face with cold water, clean the shaver by rinsing it with warm water and let it dry until the next day. Once or twice a week I’ll clean the razor with soap and water. Does that sound like a viable plan?



    • Hi Jim,

      Thank you for your comment. That definitely sounds like a viable plan. The ES-LV65-S works great with shaving cream. Just a quick note– make sure you apply the lather on your face and neck in a very thin, slick layer. I find a more watery lather to work the best. If you’ve been wet shaving with a DE razor for example this may sound a bit odd, but it really works better in this case. Also, since this will be your first shave with an electric razor, the results may not be the best at first. But stick with it and you’ll definitely be rewarded with a very close and comfortable shave. You can check out this post for more tips on wet shaving with electric razors.


  3. Ovidiu,

    I don’t have my shaver yet, so I’m doing a lot of research. I plan on buying the Panasonic Arc 5 (ES-LV65-S) and wet shave. I’ve already purchased Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream and the Edwin Jagger Best badger brush.

    My pre-shave plan is to let my brush soak in warm water in the mug while I lube the razor with oil or a spray. Then whip up and apply the shave cream. Let the shave cream do it’s thing on my face while I clean the mug and brush. Shave.

    Then post-shave, I’ll rinse my face with cold water, clean the shaver by rinsing it with warm water and let it dry until the next day. Once or twice a week I’ll clean the razor with soap and water. Does that sound like a viable plan?



    • I’m not sure if it would be considered a shave butter but I use Trader Joe’s Honey Mango Cream Shave. It comes in a tube. You use a very small amount. I put one pea-size dollop on each cheek and spread it all over my face and neck. It is a very slick lubricant and makes no lather whatsoever so it doesn’t bog down the motor like typical lathers tend to do.

  4. Thanks for the article — it’s a great read and provides a lot of very useful information.

    For step 1 under the dry shaving routine, I agree completely that to keep the air, shaver and skin as dry as possible is excellent advice. However, I have found the routine that gives me the closest *and* most comfortable shave is the following:

    1) Turn on the bathroom extractor fan with the window open.
    2) Turn on the portable dehumidifier that’s kept the bathroom.
    3) Take my morning shower.
    4) Optional step: do other essential stuff (dry hair, brush teeth, etc.)
    5) Electric shave with shaver that’s been stored in drawer under the sink.

    The combination of the extractor fan, open window and dehumidifier (with maybe a bit of time doing other essential stuff) means that the air is plenty dry enough for the purpose of electric shaving. Storing the shaver in a drawer helps too as it won’t be exposed to the steamy air generated while showering.

    The advantage I find using this method is that my stubble has been greatly softened in the shower, which makes the shaving *far* more comfortable than if I had shaved first before taking my shower. I have found this to be true whether I shave with foil or rotary.

    But the key thing is to have a dry shaver, dry air and dry skin. If anyone doesn’t have an extractor fan, or a window to open, or don’t want to purchase a dehumidifier, then an alternative approach could be to shave, for example, in the bedroom after taking a shower in the bathroom, which would essentially achieve the same thing.

    Hope this helps, and if anyone else tries this method I’d love to hear how they get on!


    • Thank you for the very thorough and excellent insights, Robert. I totally agree, humidity can totally interfere with your dry shave. Those are some great tips.


        • In relation to this article, I have tried the following two procedures:

          1) Shave first, then shower.
          2) Shower first (with extractor and dehumidifier), then shave.

          I have tried both of the above over a period of several months, and the clear conclusion I come to is that the second option gives me a much more comfortable shave, usually with superior results. The reason is, as stated in my post above, that the stubble has been greatly softened while showering, which means that the electric shaver is able to cut through the bristles much more easily.

          Given this, I would argue that “all the rest would be moot” is most definitely not the case. In fact, given the logical reasoning that the stubble is softened by the hot water, it seems likely that this method might be suitable for a significant number of others too.

          I must stress, though, that it is imperative to ensure that moisture in the air is eliminated as much as possible after showering. I achieve this by using an extractor fan and dehumidifier, along with a little time (only 2-3 mins) spent doing other things.

          Hope this helps clear up any confusion or lack of clarity in my post above!


          • OK, Robert, you’ve convinced me. I’ll try the post-shower shave. With one alteration. Since it’s too hot/muggy here to open a window and the vent is not very effective, I’ll shower in one bathroom and shave in another.
            And thanks for your tip and clarification.
            Sincerely, Ernie.

    • Ideally, you’d want to use Witch Hazel as an aftershave as it has a calming and anti-inflammatory effect. It could work (to a certain degree) as an electric pre-shave if you’re using a brand that also contains alcohol, but it would be best to stick to a dedicated electric pre-shave.

      • Thank you for the response concerning witch hazel.
        When Kroger stopped selling their house brand I’ve been looking for an effective and reasonably priced replacement.

        On another blog (sorry) someone recommended his homemade pre-shave:
        70% Rubbing Alcohol (7 parts) AND Sweet Almond Oil (1 part)
        I’ve not yet tried it.
        Any thoughts on that?

        • You are very welcome, Ernie.

          In my opinion 7 parts of 70% alcohol is just way too much alcohol. Almost all pre-shave lotions and gels out there contain alcohol which dries and tightens the skin, priming it for the shave, but I am pretty sure they have less alcohol. Also, a quality pre-shave like the one from Speick for example will have other beneficial ingredients as well (various oils, menthol, camphor and so on).

          I am not in any way trying to bash this home-made pre-shave, I guess it works well for the person using it, but it’s basically like splashing rubbing alcohol over your face (with a bit of almond oil). Again, it may work for some. I for example have very dry and sensitive skin, so it wouldn’t be ideal for me.

  5. Hi I am using a new norelco 5100 series and find i can’t get a very smooth shave any longer. I have a slow growing medium beard and currently use electra shave preshave. is there a better product or system. the shave is decent but i keep missing spots that i know i go over.

    • Hi,

      Thank you for your comment. It is a bit unclear whether you used to get a smooth shave with your 5100. If that’s the case, then the blades may need to be replaced (it uses the SH50 replacement blades).

      There are better shavers than the Philips Series 5000 out there, but they usually cost more, especially higher-end rotary shavers from Philips like the 8900, Series 9000 or the Prestige models. You can find really good foil shavers in the Series 5000 price range, for example the Panasonic Arc 4 or the Braun Series 5. I wrote a very comprehensive guide on choosing the right electric shaver where I list some of the best products at various price points. I think you may find it useful.

      As for better pre-shave products, I personally find the Speick Pre Electric lotion to work the best out of everything I’ve tried. If you live in Europe, you should be able to find it online. It’s pretty difficult to get in the USA at this moment though.

      Hope this helps.


    • Hi Dan,

      You can of course continue to use an alum block if you found this to be beneficial (even if you don’t shave with a blade anymore). There is indeed less of a need for an astringent — an electric shaver doesn’t exfoliate the skin and the risk of nicks and razor burn is reduced as well, especially if you shave wet. But by all means, continue using it just as before if you got good results.

      As a side note, alum never really worked that well for me as I have really dry and sensitive skin and it would feel really tight afterward.


  6. Hi everyone. I bought a Panasonic es-lv9q-s electric shaver. Really a sleek shaver but after shaving twice I want to return it. I feel that I can’t get the classes have that the rep said it would give me. My wife told me that the rep did tell me that I would get a closer shave if I shaved in the shower seeing that the warm water and shaving cream would lift the whiskers. I haven’t tried that yet and not sure I want to try. Can anyone confirm that shaving in the shower with my electric razor will indeed give me a closer shave than dry shaving.

    • Hi John,

      The ES-LV9Q (and basically all the models in the second and third Arc 5 generation) are arguably among the best out there when it comes to closeness. Using shaving cream can improve the results, however it’s not really necessary to shave in the shower (I personally find it more cumbersome and it takes a lot of time). You can simply wash your face with warm water beforehand and use a quality shaving cream. Here’s a detailed guide I wrote if you want to give it a try.

      Also, you may want to check out this article for a few more tips on how to get a close shave using an electric razor.


  7. please advise on what you consider the best pre shave cream and best after shave.
    Have recently bought my first electric shaver after using traditional razor blades and need your advice.
    Thanks in advance..

    • Hi Parker,

      Most pre-electric shaves come in the form of lotions or sometimes gels; pre-shave creams are usually intended for traditional wet shaving. My favorite is the Speick pre-electric shave, I find it to work the best out of all brands I’ve tried so far. As for aftershaves, check out this guide where I list a few of my favorites.


  8. I used to purchase a dedicated pre-shave powder, but my national known drug store stopped carrying it. For a good number of years I’ve been using baby powder as a substitute.

    • Thank you for your comment, Dennis. Baby powder or anything that dries the moisture should work as well. I prefer lotions as applying them is not as messy and some talcum powders are mineral-based, which can actually lead to the blades getting dull prematurely.


  9. I ran out of shaving gel and ended buying Clubman Pinaud Shave Butter based on the name and look of the product. Do you know if it works well with the Pany ES-LV65? Do you think it is better than creams or gels?

    • It’s still basically a shaving cream and any good quality shaving cream will work well with (any) electric shavers.


  10. I have a suggestion to consider. Get a washcloth, run the hot water in your sink, soak the wash cloth and apply to the face. It cleans and opens the pores and it works every time.

    • Thank you for the feedback, Elliot. That’s a great suggestion and I know from personal experience that it certainly works, even better than just rinsing the face with hot water. I just wanted to keep the routine as simple as possible so that anyone can stick to it.


  11. I have been shaving with Panasonic ES-LV65 for 4 days. 3 days dry shave and 1 day wet. I have come out with itchy 4 bumps on chin and neck. This is the first time of using electric shaver. Is this a common reaction?


    • Hi Maurice,

      Considering the circumstances, I’d say that it’s quite normal. Your skin needs to adapt to the new shaving method, and your technique will get better as you continue using the shaver. When switching from a manual razor to an electric shaver, it’s very easy to apply too much pressure without even realizing it at the moment. Allow your skin a day or two to heal before shaving again. Here is an article that you may find useful and this one as well in case you’ll want to give wet shaving another try.

      And of course, there’s a basic prep you should follow prior to shaving. For example, do not wash your face before shaving dry. I highly recommend a pre-shave lotion as well (Speick or Tabac are the most effective in my experience).


  12. For traveling (month vacation), is a shave talc (Remingtons or Parks) ok?
    That wont be enough to dull the blades – correct? I have a Panasonic ES-LV65.

  13. hello I m looking for some direction please…i m female, want to electric shave my head and leave an inch of hair…which size blade or attatchment and how do i hold it? tank

    • Hi Wendy,

      In this case a regular hair clipper would be the best option. Just make sure it comes with plenty of different size combs. I have been using Wahl clippers for cutting my hair and they’re really good. I’m now using a Wahl Magic Clipper cordless model, but you can of course get cheaper clippers depending on your budget.



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