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Thread: ABC vs SMN Pre-Shave

  1. #1
    Senior Member Steve56's Avatar
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    Default ABC vs SMN Pre-Shave


    If you read the forum posts here and yon, you’ll find that opinions about the value of pre-shave products range from rubbish to essential. I’ve been testing the ABC Almond Oil and Aloe Pre-Shave Cream and the Santa Maria Novella ‘Before and After Shave Cream’.

    My opinion is and has always been, that these products do very little for hair, they’re primarily skin conditioners. If you don’t have a skin condition that they are effective at improving, there’s little reason to use them. They might increase soap slickness marginally, but if your soap isn’t slick enough you need to be using better soap not a pre-shave product. That said, I have an area of ruddy dry skin on my upper face, around the lower forehead and upper cheeks, and both these products are quite effective at diminishing that condition, so I am a fan.

    What are they though, cosmetically? Both are ‘active ingredients’, like almond oil, aloe, and other familiar oils and butters in a vegetable triglyceride base. Both also contain a couple of other moisturizing ingredients frequently found in other cosmetics and face creams.

    How do they compare? The SMN product is interesting because you can use it as a pre-shave product, a shaving cream, and a post shave balm. I’ve tried it in all three modes and it does not excel as a shaving cream compared to traditional offerings but it will work especially if you wet it down a good bit. But stick to the 3Ts for shaving cream. As a pre-shave or after shave balm, it works well. It’s a heavier product then ABC and takes longer to rinse it off if that’s what you desire. The scent is a powdery pomegranate scent that would pair well with Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap.

    The ABC product is lighter product, rinses easily, and is almost scentless. It is described only as a pre-shave product. I did the above ingredient research because SMN says that it can be used post shave, so how about ABC which is cosmetically quite similar? Why yes it can! I’ve tried it and it is an excellent balm, especially if you like lighter ones. It is not greasy and absorbs quickly, and leaves an excellent skin feel. The lack of a noticeable scent is a plus for ABC as an AS balm if you‘re following it with fragrance.

    Neither of these products are cheap, ABC is about $47 US and SMN even more, about $58 US. Both are 100ml. They are ‘rich’ products and you would typically only use about 1/4 ml per day, so that’s about a year‘s worth. If you have dry or ruddy skin, they might well be worth it, and traveling with a bit of ABC means that you likely don’t need AS. If you have a normal non-fussy complexion or oily skin, they probably aren’t going to do much for you.

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  2. #2
    STF is online now
    Senior Member blabbermouth STF's Avatar
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    An interesting and informative post, thank you.

    For me personally, when I first started straight shaving I used pre shaves for maybe 3 months or so but I don't have any skin issues and didn't find them helpful for my shaving.

    I stopped bothering with pre shaves.

    I get out of the shower, in front of the mirror, lather up and have at it.

    Should probly put some shorts on but I haven't seen anything under my belly for so long that if I dropped my razor and chopped it off I doubt I would notice the difference although it might be a bit much for cut of the day
    - - Steve

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  3. #3
    The Hurdy Gurdy Man thebigspendur's Avatar
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    I think you will find most of us used various preshaves and pre shave techniques when we started out in the wet shave journey.

    Most put them by the wayside because they did little if anything.

    Some with specialized skin or beard issues found use in these products.
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  4. #4
    Skeptical Member Gasman's Avatar
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    Nice write-up, Steve.
    I too have some spots on my face that are patches of dryness. But they are up higher than the shaving field. The wife always makes sure to have some kind of stuff for me to slather on in those spots. What it is called I never pay close attension. Face lotion of some sort for women. I'm guessing.
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