Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: Wet Shave Club for Women

Over a year ago, my fellow reviewer Michael shared his experience with Wet Shave Club - a shaving subscription box that encourages people to discover the clean shave provided by old-fashioned safety razors.  He followed up with a look at a second box, letting us all take a peek at what an ongoing subscription would be like.  Now, Wet Shave Club is making subscription boxes aimed at women, and I was fortunate enough to get to check them out.

When I received my first Wet Shave Club for Women box in the mail, I was expecting the advertised “first box” plus the starter’s equipment — the safety razor and the shaving brush.

However, the first box only arrived with a pink-handled safety razor (sans blades) and shaving brush, plus a leather thing to put over the top of the razor head to protect it.

I was impressed at the excellent quality of the materials that arrived, but it came with no razors, no soaps, nothing  that would allow me to use these.

I emailed the contact for the company and didn’t get a response (I attributed this to being over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’ll forgive them), however the “first box” supplies did arrive a little later.  I am unsure if this was an error or the way the first box is shipped, but I would have preferred it all to arrive at the same time.

Though the box was labeled “Fine Women’s Shaving” on the outside, most of the items inside were clearly those designed for the men’s box: Mulled Hard Cider soap from Redbeard Brew Bars, The Sudsy Soapery’s TwiceMint Supercreamed Triple-Butter Shave Soap, Stirling Soap Co.’s Pre-Shave Soap, a bottle of Ellington’s Wide-Eyed Whiskey Aftershave, and a small packet of “Double-Duty Face Moisturizer”—along with a small box of 10 Crown razor blades. This is a well stocked box, but nothing here seemed specifically directed at me, a woman, other than the label on the outside of the box.

All the shaving products were of the artisanal handcrafted variety, but most had very typically “manly” scents—sandalwood, cinnamon, etc. The exception was the shaving soap, which had a light herbal minty scent. Again, I’m not sure if this was a mistake on the company’s part, or if it’s supposed to come with the men’s supplies.

I’ve only ever used the typical multi-blade razors with the disposable cartridge heads, marketed for use with the canned shaving creams, so shaving with the more traditional supplies took a bit of a different approach. For this experiment I decided I was going to neglect my shaving responsibilities for like a week and a half. For the sake of science, of course.

Generally speaking, women only shave to remove body hair. I was probably the best candidate to try this out, because my hair grows drastically differently in each “region” on my body. So I decided we’re going to go with the ladies’ general shaving pattern—legs, pits, and for the kids these days, “elsewhere”. I’m pretty low maintenance and don’t require anything fancy.
First, I don’t have a whole lot of leg hair, and what I do have is rather fine and only grows below my knee, so I can get away with a couple of half-assed swipes in the shower. The traditional wet shave, however, takes significantly longer and requires you to absolutely not be in the shower. The ladies have significantly more ground to cover, so allot extra time for this whole process. Thankfully, I won the genetic lottery and usually only have to shave my legs once a week.

So using these supplies means filling up the sink with hot water, using a washcloth, and wetting down the heretofore-unshaven plot, opening up the pores and softening the hair. I don’t have a shaving mug or bowl, though I suppose you could probably use a coffee mug. It didn’t come with instructions, so I was just winging it.

Then you soak the brush for a little bit in hot water, then swish it around in the shaving cream stuff until it’s sufficiently lathered and wipe it all over said plot.

The shaving cream in the kit was really nice, thick, and had a hint of minty freshness. It doesn’t have the same texture as canned shaving cream, but has plenty enough lather to get the job done.

This stuff is vastly superior to the crap in the can and probably lasts a lot longer.

The razors are the regular classic double-sided blades that you carefully insert into the head of the safety razor by unscrewing the handle and installing the blade. There aren’t like 17 of them stacked in a row, so you can sort of just swipe back and forth.

Don’t press down, like you would with a cartridge razor. I have read conflicting information about shaving with the grain or against the grain, or both. Well, I have too much ground to cover and not enough hair to be buggered by that, so I just went against the grain like normal. Nothing blew up, and I didn’t get any razor bumps or cut myself.

Ok, so now we move on to the pits. My hair is a little bit darker and thicker here and grows a bit faster. It also grows in like 18 different directions, so I have to switch directions a couple of times. No fuss, no muss.
Now for the piece de resistance. First off, I don’t clear the whole shebang. Apparently I’m still stuck in the 90s, so keeping the hedges trimmed and in order is all the maintenance I require. But for all the ladies out there that do the whole nine from bow to stern on the daily, I pour my heart out to you and sacrifice my bush on the altar of science in the name of dispassionate inquiry. (You’re welcome.) 

This area is significantly darker, thicker, and like a dude’s beard, so for this I must ironically turn to the experts at “The Art of Manliness” on “How To Shave Like Your Grandpa” for more information. I looked for more information on the Wet Shave Club’s blog, “TheManliest”.  For those of us who grew up on disposable razors (and that's anyone younger than Grandpa), clearly findable basic instruction is a must.

So back to my experiment - I do the moistening and slapping on of the cream (again, you’re welcome), then shave with the grain. This is not so terrible, though it takes a bit of plowing. Then I do the wipe down and all that, again with the cream, and do the whole thing in reverse.

I expected my skin to catch on fire, but I actually didn’t get any razor bumps with this method.

On to the aftershave. Thankfully I do like the manly scents of sandalwood, etc., but this will probably be a product that most women are entirely uninterested in applying to their bodies, especially in their nether regions.

However, I wanted to test the products, and I found the prospect of aftershave intriguing. It’s got a little Worcestershire sauce-opening thing at the top, so I sprinkle it all over my hands and do the best Lectric Shave commercial imitation that I can.

It’s nice stuff and I think its purpose is like an astringent to calm your skin down, but it would probably be a good idea to include instructions for those of us who don't shave our faces, and get a floral or herbal scented one in a bigger bottle for the ladies. That would be kinda cool, and you might avoid the third degree from any Gentleman Caller you may have.

I totally forgot about the pre-shave soap, but I used some of it and it’s really soothing and kind of lotion-y feeling, so I’m going to wait until next time and try it out. The Red Beard soap is nice for the shower, but again, its scent is more of a “manly” smell. The "Double Duty Face Moisturizer lotion, while nice, is definitely NOT enough in quantity for even one application to your legs - again, just right for someone who shaves their face, but we women have a lot more surface area to deal with.  

I might suggest to the company to include more feminine scents, or “unisex” scents, or a choice of a few types of scents to include in the box when you first sign up. Like “floral”, “sweet”, “herbal”, etc., that way it can appeal to more women. Maybe include instructions, or at least have instructions on the blog or FAQ, because most women will probably be like me and have no clue how to shave with an antique-style safety razor, which was designed for use by men on their faces.

Since women shave to remove body hair, perhaps Wet Shave Club can find a more creative and practical way to remove so much hair that’s more tailored to a woman’s needs.

While the quality of the shave was noticeably better, the process, in my opinion, is cumbersome and just takes too long to be of use to most women.

Honestly, the Wet Shave Club is far better suited for men. The women’s box feels a little bit like a consolation prize.

When you go to the WetShave Club website and click on the link to the online shop, it even says, “We are Wet Shave Shoppe, and we deliver fine grooming goods for men. Welcome!” The products are of an excellent quality, but they’re men’s products. As much as I enjoyed trying out this process, a Wet Shave Club subscription would make a much better gift for a man in your life.    


  1. This is the best review I've ever read. I laughed, I learned, I cried a little. Thank you for your blunt honesty. Hopefully the company takes your advice and tailors the box a little better.