Dollar Shave Club

Oh Christmas beard, oh Christmas beard…

My wife jokes that when we were first dating and first married she could tell the day of the week by my beard, I’d shave on Sunday for church and then grew it through the week.  While she has been nothing but supportive of this bizarre shaving endeavor, she has at times expressed an interest in me growing something again.  For the Christmas vacation I decided to give her what she wanted and on the 19th the beard began its return.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shaving completely, and for the last two weeks I’ve been working to keep my face from being an uncultivated wild.  For the first week or so, due to us traveling for the holidays, I pulled out the Dollar Shave Club razor they sent me a couple months back.

It was terrible, and here’s why:

When I was a kid my dad wisely made me mow the lawn on Saturday.  He also wanted me to edge the lawn, but I would usually just go over it with the mower and figure it was good (eventually we worked out a compromise where I would mow and he would edge).

Trying to use the DSC razor to fine trim a beard was like trying to use the mower to edge the lawn, it’s just not the right tool for the job.  The razor is great and cutting down lots of hair quickly and without hassle, much like a lawn mower.  But the cartridge head is large, the razor is bulky for anything other than simple passes, and the cutting edge is shrouded for safety’s sake so it is hard to see exactly where the shaving begins and ends.

Once we got back I switched to my DE razor, loaded with a Wilkinson Sword blade (which I thought would be good enough, but not so nice that I dislike using it for so small a job).  Much, much better.  I can see the razor so I can fine tune exactly what is getting shaved, it’s easier to maneuver, and since it shaves closer the line is more defined.  Excellent.

As I’ve watched the beard grow slowly back in, and as I find myself increasingly anticipating shaving it off, I’ve taken the time to reflect: in the last year I’ve tried six shaving creams, three aftershaves, three razors, and a dozen different razor blades.  I’ve liked most of them to some degree, disliked a few, and really enjoyed a small handful.  My top three favorite blades have been Feather, Gillette Silver Blue, and Treet Dura-Sharp, and it’s a close call between them for who’s in first.  So close in fact that I really can’t say, I’ll have to put them head-to-head.

With the new year having arrived I find myself wondering what the future holds.  I don’t know that this time next year I’ll still be writing about shaving, but then again, I wouldn’t have thought a year ago I would now have written over a hundred pages on the subject.

We shall see what happens.  In the mean while, I’ll keep shaving.

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Dollar Shave Club Review- Shave Butter and Moisturizer

As I said in my last review, the DSC shave butter and moisturizer did well as part of the complete DSC experience.  But it’s one thing to keep irritation down when the tool you’re using is a cartridge razor, it’s nigh impossible to cut yourself with one and if your skin isn’t inclined to get sore easily you can shave with just about anything.  For years I simply used water.

But the question remained: how would it do under double-edge conditions?  A DE razor can give you a closer shave with less irritation than any cartridge…if you use it right.  And part of using it right means having a good lather and aftershave to go along with it, or in this case, shave butter and moisturizer.  To find out if it would hold up I loaded up a Feather razor blade and gave it a try.

The results were very promising.  Throughout the testing I noticed no noticeable razor burn from the shave, and my skin definitely felt good especially with a cold wind that settled in the last few days.  Two applications of shave butter was enough to get three passes with the DE, one for the with the grain and across the grain, one for against the grain.  The shave butter rinsed well out of the blade, and what spots that were missed were likely a result of the user.

But for as well as it worked, there were a few things that have left me ready for a change.  First, while it is extremely convenient to just squeeze something out of a tube I miss the enjoyment and ritual (and warmth) that comes from mixing up a warm lather from a block of soap. It’s relaxing and refreshing.  Second, because the shave butter is almost completely clear it makes it difficult to see where you’ve shaved and where you haven’t.  Of course by the end of the shave you should easily see where you still need to shave, but during the initial pass or two when you’re trying to reduce rather than remove it can make it difficult to tell what still needs to be done.

A couple things I’ve noticed about the moisturizer:  First, while it soaks in just fine after you put it on I found that it left my face feeling oily for several hours afterward.  Or maybe that’s just what moisturized skin feels like.  It was especially noticeable after exercising, as sweat would seem to draw it out of where it had soaked in.  Second, I noticed during the time I was using it an increase of smudges and smears on my cell phone.  I think it has been a result of touching my face and picking up some of the lotion residue, then touching the screen.  I don’t know that’s the reason, perhaps I just noticed something that was happening before, but it seemed to be.

Really though these complaints, if they even fall to that level rather than less than enthusiastic noticings, are minor compared to the good results that I have had from using them.  If the DSC razors are up your ally, these likely will be too.  They’ll stay on my shaving counter and I will use them from time to time, but I’m looking forward to getting back to soaps and splashes.

Dollar Shave Club Review- The Whole Kit and Caboodle

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.

What they sent me.

What they sent me.  Apparently the razor they sent is the four bladed “Lover’s Blade.”

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.

A Taste of Things to Come

After a brief lull in experimentation things are back to their uncharted ways around here.

First, a new sampler pack arrived from Bullgoose Shaving bringing with it a slew of new blades to try:

Not one of their pre-made packs, I really just picked a bunch that seemed interesting.

Not one of their pre-made packs, I really just picked a bunch that seemed interesting.

Pol Silver, Gillette Super Thin, Gillette Silver Blue, Perma-Sharp Super, Treet Dura Sharp (my first experience with a carbon steel blade), and Wilkinson Sword. I’ve already started using them and reviews will begin showing up in the near future.

Second, this week I received a package from Dollar Shave Club (well, their PR people):

This picture shows up roughly 800 times a week in my blog feed since I get anything tagged "shaving."

A picture like this shows up roughly 800 times a week in my blog feed since I get anything tagged “shaving.”

Inside I found wet wipes (which I won’t be reviewing), their shave butter (which I guess you use instead of shaving cream), a pack of four blade razors, and some aftershave/skin moisturizer.  Cartridge razors aren’t particularly interesting to me these days, but if they’re going to be nice enough to just give it to me then I’ll take the time to give it a try.  That will likely happen once I wrap up with the current razor brand I’m testing, and I’ll try it both as a full system as well as try out the shave butter and moisturizer with DE razors. 

Looks like October will be an interesting month of shaving!