Pre-electric shave lotions are specifically formulated to improve the closeness and comfort of a dry shave while reducing the time it takes to complete it.
They work by drying any moisture and oils from the skin, making the hairs stand straight to be easily captured by the shaver with fewer strokes.
Pre shaves also provide a layer of lubrication and reduce razor burn.
For most men, the addition of a pre shave will result in a better shave, particularly when there’s still room for improvement.
In this post we’ll take a close look at one of the most popular pre shaves currently available, Williams Lectric Shave, and see if it’s up to the hype.
Williams Lectric Shave history
Introduced during the ’50s by the JB Williams Company, Williams Lectric Shave is one of the most iconic, successful and well-known pre electric shave lotions.
It is currently manufactured by Combe Incorporated, the company that bought JB Williams in October 2002.
Below you can see a commercial from 1958:
The Williams trademark continued to be used even after the Combe Inc acquisition as the name had gained a lot of brand equity throughout the years, particularly in the USA.
Williams Lectric Shave ingredients
The Williams Lectric Shave is an alcohol-based pre electric shave splash/lotion.
Here is the complete ingredient list:
- SD Alcohol 40-B
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract
- Trisodium HEDTA
- Colorants: Green 5, Yellow 10, Orange 4
If you have very sensitive skin or a medical condition that prevents you from using any products that contain alcohol, you may want to skip this one and look at other pre shave options, like the Remington Face Saver powder.
As a side note, I am blessed with dry and sensitive skin, but to my surprise, I had no issues using Lectric Shave or other alcohol-based pre-shaves.
If you take a whiff straight from the bottle, the scent has that classic, old-school, barbershop vibe and you can definitely pick up the alcohol.
Once applied to your face, it is a lot more subdued and the scent seems nicer. The boozy note is also less noticeable.
In my opinion the scent is a lot better compared to another popular pre shave, Afta by Mennen. To my nose that one is off-putting and way too strong.
The fragrance of the Lectric Shave is more discreet and fades quickly after completing your shave and rinsing your face with water.
Does Williams Lectric Shave really work?
Well, let’s find out.
I sometimes use shaving cream with my electric razors as a dry shave isn’t always a viable option for me. I don’t usually manage to get that close shave as in the case of a wet shave and the comfort is not great either.
I can only get a decent dry shave with some Braun shavers, but again, with a trade-off in closeness.
For this review, I decided to test the Lectric Shave along with two electric razors.
The first is a Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A, a reasonably priced mid-range shaver that can give a really close shave, but it’s usually too aggressive for sensitive skin out of the box.
The second one is the Braun Series 5 5090cc, a dry only shaver that is very comfortable to use, but it’s not the closest shaving razor in this price category — definitely not as close as the Panasonic.
So we have two shavers with different shortcomings when being used for a dry shave. This is an ideal scenario for finding out if the addition of a pre shave can improve the results.
A prerequisite of a good dry shave is to have your skin as dry as possible. Any moisture will have a negative impact on the performance of your shaver and the closeness and comfort will suffer.
That’s why one of the main purposes of a pre electric shave lotion is to dry any excess moisture, sweat and oils that exist naturally on the surface of the skin.
Applying the Lectric Shave lotion is as straightforward as it gets: you simply splash it to your face and massage it into your beard, wait for 15 seconds or so for the solution to dry completely and then you can start shaving.
To my surprise, it had a noticeable oily texture after I applied it to my face. In turn, this made the skin feel very smooth, plump and slick. I was actually expecting dry and flaky because of the alcohol in it.
Once I started shaving, the extra slickness really made a difference and the shaver glided on the skin smoothly.
Without the use of a pre shave the razor would sometimes skip, drag or hop on the skin.
The closeness was one of the best I got from a dry shave and the improvement was even more noticeable with the Braun Series 5, a razor that normally fails to match the closeness of other similarly priced razors from the competition.
The Arc 4 from Panasonic is in my opinion the closest shaving electric razor that doesn’t have a prohibitive price, but sometimes when I use it dry it causes mild to nasty razor burn and irritation.
However, when I used it along with Lectric Shave, the post-shave soreness was barely noticeable; an overall massive improvement.
In fact, a good pre shave might make me reconsider my shaving routine. The closeness wasn’t quite as good as in the case of a wet shave, but definitely close enough.
Completing my shave also took less time compared to a normal dry shave.
Because the hairs stand upright, fewer strokes are needed to get a clean, smooth shave and the razor seemed to cut the hairs with less effort.
My face felt really good afterward, but that oily sensation was still noticeable.
After rinsing with cold water and patting dry with a towel the skin simply felt smooth and moisturized.
I checked my shaver and it wasn’t clogged, so that’s definitely another plus for the Lectric Shave.
I could still detect the scent, but it was very faint.
Overall, the Williams Lectric Shave made a significant improvement to my dry shave and I highly recommend you to at least give it a try.
In terms of value for money, Lectric Shaves scores pretty well. It comes in 3 or 7 oz. bottles and it’s reasonably priced. You can also buy it in bulk and save some money.
Where to buy Williams Lectric Shave
You can find the Williams Lectric Shave at your local drug stores (although is getting more difficult to find), but the simplest way is to order it online.
On Amazon you can find it in both the 3 and 7 oz variations. I recommend going for the 7 oz bottle as the price per ounce is usually more convenient.
Lectric Shave Alternatives
The first obvious alternative would be Afta by Mennen. Afta is a pre electric shave gel, so it’s easier to apply.
Afta Pre Electric
It also costs less than Williams Lectric Shave and it’s not that oily.
However, I would still opt for Lectric shave as it does seem to work better, especially when it comes to closeness.
Also, the scent of the Afta is too strong for my liking and the gel tends to gunk up the razor sometimes.
Tabac Pre Electric Shave Solution
The pre-shave from Tabac Original is another excellent product.
The price is higher compared to the other lotions, but it even outperforms the Lectric Shave and has that nice, mild Tabac-specific fragrance.
I personally prefer it because it doesn’t leave any oily residue on the skin.
Speick Pre Electric Shave Lotion
Speick is a German family-owned company that has been making high-quality personal care products for men since the ’20s.
Their pre-electric shave is currently my personal favorite.
It works at least as good as Lectric Shave, it smells better and it’s not oily.
It’s a bit pricey though and not always easy to source outside of Europe.