Journalistic integrity requires a writer to say when they are reviewing a product whether they paid for it or it was given to them for review, that way people are aware whether there has been inducement.
Or something like that, I think. I’m not a journalist, and I have no idea what their ethical standards happen to be. I just write a blog, and if companies want to send me stuff then so be it. Which Dollar Shave Club (DSC) did, and so here’s my unvarnished opinion on it:
If I didn’t already own a double-edge (DE) razor I would seriously consider getting a subscription.
To get the full experience I decided to go all in: DSC shaving butter, razors, and after shave moisturizer (I’ll review the shave butter and moisturizer as part of DE shaving next week). While the heart of the DSC marketing strategy is selling razor cartridges for cheaper than what you can get Gillette or Schick in stores, and the razor is the most important part of a shave, I’d heard good things about the shave butter and I wanted to judge it with all factors leaning in it’s favor (I went into it skeptical, and I didn’t want any bias against cartridge razors to tip things too much).
The razor itself seems to be solidly built, perhaps more so than a Mach3. The weight feels heavier, and the cartridge seems to fit more securely to the handle, giving it an overall feel of being higher quality. Where it falls short is the ergonomic design they have tried to put into it, while it works well for shaving downward if you try to hold the razor to shave across the grain or against the grain the ergonomic curves made it awkward for me to hold. In that regard the Mach 3, with it’s straighter handle, feels better for those passes, though your mileage may vary.
At first I wasn’t very impressed with the shave results. I started with a two day growth, and the shave I got was, at best, adequate. Without careful attention it was easy to miss spots, making the shave as long as what it normally takes with a DE razor. It took two to three passes, with, across, and against the grain, to get a close shave, which sort of seems to defeat the point of a multi-blade razor. Additionally, the size of the four razor head made it difficult to get right under my nose, and there’s no single blade trimmer on it. However after a couple days of shaving I found the results improving noticeably, which might mean that some of the above problems were user related. Within a few days I was getting consistently good shaves, which while not as close as what a DE razor offers were still rather good.
The shave butter itself seems similar to the shaving cream sold by Trader Joe’s, which worried me a bit at first because when I’ve tried the Trader Joe stuff it (though working well shave wise) had a tendency to clog up my razor. Either the two products are different or I just didn’t notice it this time, because I had no clogging problems with the shave butter. With some hot water it washed out well, and I found that a single application of shave butter was often enough for two or three passes.
The moisturizer took some getting used to. I’ve never used a lotion or moisturizer consistently, and I found the instructions to apply liberally to have been misleading: don’t. A little bit goes a long way, and after using the shave butter it generally took a few moments to really soak in. My face would feel slick, almost oily for several hours afterward, and if I worked out within a few hours of applying the sweat would seem to mix with whatever the moisturizer had left to make it feel like it had just been applied. Perhaps this is a just what having moisturized skin feels like. If it’s not for you, of course, you could always just use a regular aftershave and not order it when you get the razor.
The results have been that after a couple days use I found myself getting good shaves with no irritation. The skin butter seems to work well with the razor, the razor seems to shave as well as any other cartridge blade, and the moisturizer seems to do it’s job of cooling and soothing any potential burn spots.
However, I don’t see myself signing up for it. Were I still using a cartridge razor, then this would be an extremely attractive offer. Cartridges are extremely expensive, and the idea of having new razors for dirt cheap along with shaving lather and aftershave stuff shipped right to the door sounds like a heck of a deal. But at the end of the day the shaves, though quite good, were just…dull. Not the razors themselves, mind you, those were quite sharp. Rather the lack of skill involved, the lack of effort required, it made the experience an extremely easy and effective chore, but a chore non-the-less. Within a few days I found myself missing my DE, not simply because of the shave it gives, but because I missed the detail, the effort, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing the fruits of your own labor.
Cartridge razors simply don’t offer that, and while DSC gives a good shave it’s too simple for my taste. That said, if you’re goal is simply to get a close, clean, irritation free shave, then this is right up your ally. It’s a solid setup, and the price is hard to argue with. At just a few bucks a month it is considerably higher than a safety razor (DSC advertizes on Facebook that it’s razors cost $4 a month, which can get you half a year or more of safety razor blades), but substantially less than if you bought Gillette cartridges in the same amount. If safety razors aren’t for you but you still want to put a hurt on that scruff, then this seems like a good option.