02-09-2014, 08:18 AM
#1
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Once I read a vendor's description of a pre-/post-cream that mentioned that the presence of menthol there helped to "shock" the pores ajar, so that one could sever the whiskers more effectively. And following this, I have been in the habit of using a mentholated pre-shave cream or lotion for this reason--thinking that it might serve the same function as, say, a hot towel prep, but with less barber-shop style drama.

In studying the entry for "menthol" on Wikipedia, I read about menthol's anaesthetic properties, but nothing about it's pore-opening ability. So I'm wondering about the truth of the latter.

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 02-09-2014, 08:41 AM
#2
  • Rufus
  • Senior Member
  • Greater Toronto Area
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This is the first I've heard of menthol's pore-opening quality. I know about its anaesthetic property, which is why I won't use it pre-shave or a soap/cream that contains it. I do, however, love it in my aftershave as it intensifies the feeling of cleanliness and freshness my face has after a wet shave.

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 02-09-2014, 02:51 PM
#3
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That's a claim that I never heard before. I have heard it relative to hot and cold. But even there since menthol is "cooling" (that brings up another question) one would think that the scuttlebutt would state that it closes pores.

But it's hogwash either way. Skin pores don't open and close unless being clogged is what is meant by a closed pore. The pores on a leaf do open and close, but we aren't vegetation.

Possibly what was meant was that the product itself opened pores. Back to the clogged pore... I would think that any alcohol containing after shave product would have a pore clearing effect just by acting as a solvent in the clogged pore. That is pure speculation however. There are ingredients that will clear pores and again, maybe that product contained one of them with the menthol covering up the scent of the active ingredient.

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 02-09-2014, 04:39 PM
#4
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Thank you for the replies. The product in question was Proraso pre-/post shave cream, which I've actually never used. In its place, I've used Vitos pre/post, Prep pre/post, and Myrsol emulsion. All of these contain menthol, which is why I thought it might be the active ingredient here. So if pores don't open, why the reference to the product (not the menthol) opening the pores? And if the product itself (Proraso in this specific case) does open pores, what is the active ingredient?

I use hot water at the start and cold water at the end for similar effect: hot water to "open" the pores prior to the shave, and cold water to "close" the pores after the shave. My understanding is that the "cold" sensation that menthol provides is just an illusion, although its anaesthetic properties are actual.

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 02-09-2014, 05:27 PM
#5
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Pores don't open and/or close, but skin is elastic and it contracts and expands depending on mutiple environmental and biological factors. This gives the illusion of pores opening and closing when, in fact, the skin is contracting and expanding.

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 02-09-2014, 06:20 PM
#6
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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I'm not a menthol person myself, but if you enjoy using menthol products I'd keep on using them, whether or not they open or close pores. Enjoying your shave and how your skin feels afterwards is all that matters (except for how your significant other thinks your skin feels).

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 02-09-2014, 06:21 PM
#7
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(02-09-2014, 06:20 PM)evnpar Wrote: I'm not a menthol person myself, but if you enjoy using menthol products I'd keep on using them, whether or not they open or close pores. Enjoying your shave and how your skin feels afterwards is all that matters (except for how your significant other thinks your skin feels).

+1

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 02-09-2014, 09:29 PM
#8
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(02-09-2014, 05:27 PM)CyanideMetal Wrote: Pores don't open and/or close, but skin is elastic and it contracts and expands depending on mutiple environmental and biological factors. This gives the illusion of pores opening and closing when, in fact, the skin is contracting and expanding.

Following this, I guess what I am seeking here is for the skin to expand from the start, and for the skin to contract at the finish. Thanks. That leave the question of the alcohol splash at the end, as opposed to, say, oil at the start, with water in between.

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 02-09-2014, 09:48 PM
#9
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(02-09-2014, 06:20 PM)evnpar Wrote: I'm not a menthol person myself, but if you enjoy using menthol products I'd keep on using them, whether or not they open or close pores. Enjoying your shave and how your skin feels afterwards is all that matters (except for how your significant other thinks your skin feels).

+2, menthol just feels fantastic!

Why do they make the claim? Because they can get away with it. Most people just believe it since it's been repeated so often it's now accepted as truth. It's the case of the big lie. They are quite numerous. Repeat a lie often enough and people start to believe it.

Another is that lather lifts whiskers. That would be like me lifting an earth mover. Unless the whisker is an inch long or peach fuzz lather can have no such effect. Whiskers are far too stiff and short. But that was started with a canned goop commercial 30 years ago or so. It has never been challenged in a serious way, and it's part of the general knowledge now, so it's accepted as truth.

There are other aspects of life that we run into all the time where the big lie is used even more, but I will not go there.

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 02-09-2014, 10:26 PM
#10
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(02-09-2014, 05:27 PM)CyanideMetal Wrote: Pores don't open and/or close, but skin is elastic and it contracts and expands depending on mutiple environmental and biological factors. This gives the illusion of pores opening and closing when, in fact, the skin is contracting and expanding.

What he said ^

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 02-10-2014, 04:33 AM
#11
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Menthol feels good in shaving cream and after shave for me. Much better than snake oil.

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 02-11-2014, 10:22 PM
#12
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Mentholated soaps work wonders for me. And menthol aftershaves do even better. My favorite aftershave is refrigerated Osage Rub.

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 02-12-2014, 11:33 AM
#13
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It opens my sinuses!

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 02-16-2014, 09:06 AM
#14
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It's a lie. It's probably said by the same people that say menthol makes your nerves become less sensitive.

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 02-16-2014, 08:02 PM
#15
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If it gave you a great shave and had menthol in it, don't stop. If you think you can get a better shave without menthol in the pre-shave, maybe get sample or a very small size of another product. There are even homemade pre-shave recipes you may try and they would cost even less. Or even try not using it for a shave and see how it feels. Just be sure to hydrate your beard well.

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 02-22-2014, 12:50 PM
#16
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I like the sensation of menthol but the theory that it has any effect on pores in horse hockey. I found it interesting that CyanideMetal claims they don't open/close but that the skin contracts and expands. Not arguing at all, it's just that I never heard that and it flies in the face of what I always thought was "common knowledge".

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 02-25-2014, 12:28 PM
#17
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I agree with CyanideMetal that pores do not open and close. As for skin expanding and contracting, I'd argue that it's more like skin swelling and then not swelling. I'd also argue that rather than expanding before the shave and contracting afterward, you would ideally like to be contracted throughout.

Think about it. When the skin gets swollen (edematous), the beard hairs are actually covered by more of the skin, so they cannot be cut as closely; additionally, the skin becomes more sensitive to chafing or irritation from the razor. Conversely, if the skin is contracted (not swollen), the hairs stick out further and more susceptible to the blade, and the skin is more resistant to irritation.

Therefore, I would argue that from the standpoint of maximizing the closeness and minimizing the irritation of a shave, it would make the most sense to decrease swelling as much as possible prior to shaving. How would one do that? First, wait longer after you get up out of bed in the morning to shave, or shave at night. Fluids redistribute when you sleep. Second, prep the face with cold water rather than hot. Hot water causes dilation of the capillaries, which releases fluids from the vessels, which causes swelling/edema.

I'm not a fan of cold-water shaving because I find it uncomfortable, so I don't do it.


And by the way, menthol doesn't open up your sinuses, either. It makes it feel like they are open by allowing you to feel the sensation of air moving through the passageways more acutely. It's not actually cold, either. It tricks the nerves into sending a message of cold to the brain.

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 02-28-2014, 03:49 AM
#18
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I am hearing this for the first time.. I think ill have to research into it..

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 02-28-2014, 07:26 AM
#19
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(02-25-2014, 12:28 PM)kingfisher Wrote: I agree with CyanideMetal that pores do not open and close. As for skin expanding and contracting, I'd argue that it's more like skin swelling and then not swelling. I'd also argue that rather than expanding before the shave and contracting afterward, you would ideally like to be contracted throughout.

Think about it. When the skin gets swollen (edematous), the beard hairs are actually covered by more of the skin, so they cannot be cut as closely; additionally, the skin becomes more sensitive to chafing or irritation from the razor. Conversely, if the skin is contracted (not swollen), the hairs stick out further and more susceptible to the blade, and the skin is more resistant to irritation.

Therefore, I would argue that from the standpoint of maximizing the closeness and minimizing the irritation of a shave, it would make the most sense to decrease swelling as much as possible prior to shaving. How would one do that? First, wait longer after you get up out of bed in the morning to shave, or shave at night. Fluids redistribute when you sleep. Second, prep the face with cold water rather than hot. Hot water causes dilation of the capillaries, which releases fluids from the vessels, which causes swelling/edema.

I'm not a fan of cold-water shaving because I find it uncomfortable, so I don't do it.


And by the way, menthol doesn't open up your sinuses, either. It makes it feel like they are open by allowing you to feel the sensation of air moving through the passageways more acutely. It's not actually cold, either. It tricks the nerves into sending a message of cold to the brain.

This is the best explanation I've seen on this topic. This is why I always cold water shave. I've come to love the feeling of it too, but understand where others wouldn't like it.

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 02-28-2014, 06:26 PM
#20
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(02-25-2014, 12:28 PM)kingfisher Wrote: I agree with CyanideMetal that pores do not open and close. As for skin expanding and contracting, I'd argue that it's more like skin swelling and then not swelling. I'd also argue that rather than expanding before the shave and contracting afterward, you would ideally like to be contracted throughout.

Think about it. When the skin gets swollen (edematous), the beard hairs are actually covered by more of the skin, so they cannot be cut as closely; additionally, the skin becomes more sensitive to chafing or irritation from the razor. Conversely, if the skin is contracted (not swollen), the hairs stick out further and more susceptible to the blade, and the skin is more resistant to irritation.

Therefore, I would argue that from the standpoint of maximizing the closeness and minimizing the irritation of a shave, it would make the most sense to decrease swelling as much as possible prior to shaving. How would one do that? First, wait longer after you get up out of bed in the morning to shave, or shave at night. Fluids redistribute when you sleep. Second, prep the face with cold water rather than hot. Hot water causes dilation of the capillaries, which releases fluids from the vessels, which causes swelling/edema.

I'm not a fan of cold-water shaving because I find it uncomfortable, so I don't do it.


And by the way, menthol doesn't open up your sinuses, either. It makes it feel like they are open by allowing you to feel the sensation of air moving through the passageways more acutely. It's not actually cold, either. It tricks the nerves into sending a message of cold to the brain.

However, there is one possible drawback to shaving when your skin is in a contracted state: the greater risk of ingrowns.

I'm a cold water shaver for a number of reasons with one being it virtually eliminates razor burn.

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