When it comes to shaving, some would deem me old-fashioned with my handy straight-edge razor and a badger-tip brush to apply my cream, but some devices were just more effective before the invention of plastic. Even with my arrogant shaving routine, my experience using Menza Clarifying Wash – Deep Clean ($48) as a pre-shave was gratifying.

I should disclaim that I have highly sensitive skin on my face; I can easily count three or more cuts on my face even after the most cautious shave. With this in mind, it is essential that my pre-shave and cleanser do a thorough job of ensuring my facial hair doesn’t grow inward and my open pores are cleansed.

On the bottle, the ingredients look promising; there are host of anti-inflammatory actives. Among these, zinc and soy are highlighted, along with evening primrose oil. I was also pleased to see antioxidant-rich green tea extract.

According to the promises of this cleanser, it certainly does good work. As a pre-shave, it preps my face nicely, making my hairs prick up a bit more nicely when mixed with hot water, which makes the first few blade strokes much easier. After using the cleanser, I found myself with fewer ingrown hairs and blackheads throughout the week. Yet I was turned off by the rough application – there are grainy, almost sand-like chunks, which I could only assume are working as exfoliators, but it’s too abrasive for my skin. I also can’t say my skin felt any more hydrated than usual, but I can tell you it’s not oily.

Overall, this cleanser gets my vote for doing what it promises and is very effective pre-shave.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Cetearyl Alcohol and Ceteareth-20, Caprylic / Capric Triglycerides, Sunflower Seed Oil, Micronized Zinc Oxide, Glyceryl Stearate, USP Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Sesame Seed Oil, Camphor, Polyethylene Beads, Hyaluronic Acid, Wheat Protein Amino Acids, Soy Isoflavonoids, Evening Primrose Oil, Ground Walnut Shells, Sodium PCA, Ginseng, Grape Seed, Alpha Bisabolol (Chamomile), Green Tea Extract, Horse Chestnut Extract, Sodium Lactate, Allantoin, Phenoxyethanol and Sodium Chlorophyllin