Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review/Giveaway: Wet Shave Club Subscription Box

As any man with a face knows, shaving can be a tedious chore. I found it so much trouble that I have had a full beard for several years (which brings its own grooming regimen, but that’s not the point.)  
When I agreed to review the Wet Shave Club’s subscription box, my intention was to use it just to shave those areas of my face not covered by beard. As you will see, the contents of the box changed my mind.

The company offers a monthly subscription box, each one filled with a variety of shaving soaps, razor blades, aftershaves and other face-care products. As a bonus, the first box includes a razor and shaving brush.          

The Wet Shave Club specializes in old-fashioned shaving technology. You won’t find the latest plastic sextuple-blade shaving behemoth here. The included razor is a heavy double-sided safety razor, and the brush is needed to generate a lather from the shaving soaps. (You will have to supply your own mug.)

I was immediately impressed with the quality of the items I found on opening the box. The razor is all metal, solid and attractive. Also in the box: The shaving brush, two 1.5-oz. soaps (Red Leaf), two 5-blade packs of blades (Gillette), a bottle of aftershave made from Bay Rum and witch hazel (Forge & Foundry), and a pack of alum "matches" from The Legends, London.

The Hardware

The razor: This is Wet Shave Club’s own branded razor, which they have made just for them. It features a long, grooved handle to provide a sure grip in wet hands. I found it to be balanced perfectly, feeling natural in the hand and effortless to use.

The brush: Your first box includes a boar brush with a wooden handle, and the club promises to send different brushes as your subscription progresses. Again, the item is well-made, easy and comfortable to use.

The blades: I received two types of blades from Gillette, Silver Blue and 7 O’Clock. Both were effective and comfortable, and the differences between them were subtle. I found the Silver Blue to be slightly smoother on the skin, but shaving not quite as close, at least on first pass. There are many different kinds of safety razor blades, from several manufacturers, and I think finding a personal favorite is certain to be a matter of experimentation. However, of the two in this box, I would pick Silver Blue.

The soaps: Wet Shave Club picked two soaps from Red Leaf: Oatmeal, Milk and Honey, and English Coast—the latter features “herbs, mosses, meadow flowers and the scent of coastal air just after a rain.” I have been using the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey exclusively so far. It smells fresh and slightly sweet, and the lather is rich and luxurious on the skin.

The aftershave: Applying the Forge & Foundry aftershave lotion brings a brisk sting to freshly-shaved skin from the witch hazel, and a pleasant aroma that mixes the bay rum, with its bayberry leaves, and the witch hazel. The sting fades after a minute or two, but the scent stays with you for a while and elicited an 'mmmm!' from my wife.

The alum matches: Intended to soothe razor burn and irritated skin, and to stop the bleeding of minor cuts. The matches work, quite well, but applying them feels a bit strange, like pressing a pinhead on your skin.

Bear in mind that my collection is just the first box, and each subsequent box should bring a variety of new things.

The Process

I had let the whiskers on my neck, under the beard line, grow for a few days before giving the razor its first test. 

Following the included step-by-step instructions (“10 Easy Steps to an Awesome Wet Shave,”) I got ready to take it off.

Step One: Prep the razor. 
Here is where I hit the first snag: Having never used this type of shaver, I had no idea how to load a blade into this thing, and there are no instructions in the box. 

A search of the Wet Shave Club website was fruitless, but I finally found a guide on another site. Including instructions in this first box would be a very welcome addition. At a minimum they should be available on the club’s own site.

Once I got the guidance, though, putting in the blade was easy. You simply unscrew the top from the handle. The top is made of two pieces that separate as soon as it is disconnected from the handle. You slip the blade over the three prongs — do be VERY careful to not cut your fingers while doing this — and reattach everything. As it is recommended to do this every three days (or shaves) to ensure the blade is always sharp, it’s good that it’s not complicated.

I received two five-packs of blades, both made by Gillette. With a change every three days, the 10 blades is about a one-month supply. I found the Silver Blue a bit more comfortable to use, but that is a matter of personal preference. 

The Wet Shave Club sends out a variety of blades each month. It is good to have the opportunity to try out various options as you work your way toward determining your favorites.

The instructions do not say anything about disposing of used blades, but it is best to not put them directly into the trash. 

Even after they are dulled enough to need replacing, they are still quite sharp and could potentially injure sanitation workers or wildlife scavenging in the landfill. Check out this article from Greenopedia for some easy disposal ideas. 

Step Two: Prep the brush. Just put it in a mug of hot water for a few minutes to soften the bristles. While that’s underway, you can do step three.

Step Three: Prep your beard. Basically you want to soften up your stubble. The club recommends a hot shower, which worked well for me.

Step Four: Build a lather. Put one of the shaving soaps in the bottom of a mug and squeeze the excess water out of the brush. Swirl the brush in a circular motion across the soap until lather builds up. Adding a bit more water will make the lather foamier. You will probably need to experiment some to find the right level for your own face.

Now, at this point, because you are about to put blade to skin, you might have noticed an omission in these steps. I will go ahead and fill it in:

Step Four(a): Put the lather on your face. (This is important, so assume it even though it isn’t stated.) Use the brush to spread the lather across the area you plan to shave. It will not be as thick as you might be used to if you normally use canned shaving cream or gel, but it will lubricate just fine.

Step Five: Angle your blade. In order to cut your facial hair, you need to find the angle that puts the edge of the blade in contact with it. The club recommends starting with the handle parallel to the floor and then moving it slowly to point towards the floor while pulling the razor down your face, until you find the angle where the blade is cutting the hair.  This method worked well.

Step Six: Shave. Do not press in, as you have to with a cartridge razor. The weight of the razor and gravity will do the work. Shave with smooth strokes, with the grain.

Step Seven: Rinse your face and get ready to do it again.

Step Eight: Reapply lather and shave again. Assume you will need at least two passes each day, and maybe a third if (like me) you had more than a day’s worth of growth.

Step Nine: Third pass if needed, then rinse with warm water and again with cold water. The second rinse closes your pores.

Step Ten: Apply aftershave. Each month, Wet Shave Club will provide an option or two for after shave care.

How It Went

Because my first trial of these products was on a patch of several days’ growth, even three passes was not quite enough to eradicate it. Also, while cutting a sharp beard line is a challenge under any circumstances (this is why bearded men pay barbers for the occasional reshaping), the safety razor does not allow great precision, at least not in my unpracticed hands.

Obviously, using the things in this box for beard maintenance was not going to be a fair test, so I decided to go clean-shaven.

1. Remove most of beard, 2. After 3 passes. 3. After next morning's shave - fully cleanshaven! No nicks!

First, I used my electric trimmer to get rid of as much growth as possible, getting it down to the equivalent of a day or two’s worth of stubble. 

Then I returned to the step-by-step guide, giving myself three passes and a little extra attention on the hairs right beneath my nose, which are both coarse and hard to reach with the blade.

By the end of three passes, I had a little remaining stubble but had gotten almost all of it. 

The next morning, I gave it two more passes and emerged fresh and clean. Since then, I’ve kept it up and a plan to for a while. After the first two days, I've found that a single pass is often enough, but I usually do two.

The alum matches serve the same purpose as a styptic pencil, in a more portable form. If you get a nick, wet the head of one and rub it over the cut a couple of times; the bleeding will usually stop immediately. You can also use them to soothe irritated skin after a shave. I have given myself a minor cut or two and the matches work perfectly.

This has been a new shaving experience for me. In the past I’ve always used either triple-bladed hand razors or electric shavers, and never been happy with the results. This safety razor and its single-edged blade gave me a better, and much more comfortable, shave than anything else I’ve ever used. 

As an added bonus, the process takes a bit more time than most shaving methods, and requires a few steps to be followed, so it creates a small personal ritual and a meditative space, a nice daily touchpoint in this chaotic world.

The Details

The Wet Shave Club offers its monthly subscription box at four different prices, depending on the length of the subscription: It is $29 for one month: $24 a month for three months; $22 per month for six months, and; $19 a month for a year. Gift subscriptions are available, and shipping is free within the continental U.S.

The high quality razor and shaving brush alone make it worthwhile to get at least one box. The promise of a monthly assortment of products to try, including soaps, aftershaves and more brushes, for just $19 a month with a one-year subscription is pretty enticing too. The Wet Shave Club selects products of high quality that should appeal to any man who wants to pay attention to good grooming.  
Wet Shave Club Website
Wet Shave Club on Facebook

The Wet Shave Club is providing a 10 percent discount to our readers. Just enter RCH10 as a discount code during the checkout process. 

They are also offering one box to our readers as a giveaway, featuring the products involved in this review.  This giveaway is for US residents and will end just before midnight ET on November 6.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This lets us contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. The razor looks like it's going to give a very close shave so would love my Dad to try it xxx

  2. The set looks fantastic - this would be an extra special set for my husband. All the lovely little extras which he would not normally have will give him a luxurious close shave :-)

  3. I learned that shipping is free & they ship the same day you place your order! I would love to get the Aftershave Oil for my hubby to try!

  4. This would be perfect for my partner who needs to pamper himself a bit more

  5. Hello! Found your blog through the Thursday Link Party... love this giveaway!! I really hope I win it for my husband, he LOVES things like this! I'd love to network with you, you should stop by my blog sometimes and say hi / keep in touch!

  6. that razor looks fab!.. my hubby used to use one like that with proper blades but went over to electric as its hard to find the blades in high street stores... Id love for him to try this again x

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Sorry, I forgot to pick something in my first comment!!! I think he would love to try all of it, but especially the razor! He has very coarse facial hair and uses at least two plastic razors each shave. I think this razor would be awesome for him!!

  9. My husband really needs to try this! He has such a tough time with ingrown hairs!

  10. I think the razor looks awesome! My husband shaves his face and his head every day with a razor and I think this would be great for him. His neck gets ingrown hairs and he hates it.

  11. I learned that the Wet Shave Club specializes in the old-fashioned shaving technology. They provide you with a razor that is not only safe but it gives you a great shave without any skin irritation. Belonging to the Wet Shave Club will turn the task of shaving from something you had to do to something you want to do.

  12. I love how close the shave is!!! I like that it has no skin irritation! I would love hubby to try something like this in the future!

  13. I think he'd be really interested in the razor.

  14. My dad would love to try the aftershave oil!

  15. I would love my husband and boys to actually use a razer once in a while,thay all seem to avoid shaving like the plague and it really annoys me.

  16. My husband needs this so bad! He would love the razor.

  17. I learned that each box comes with a razor, brush, and premium soap samples.

  18. This'd be great for a friend of mine :)

  19. My husband would love the aftershave lotion!

  20. The Product Vanguard is the name of the gentlemen who test out their products. Love it.

  21. love to win this for myself nice everything you need all together. thankyou, ken

  22. I love an old fashion shave on a man

  23. Me and my man walk past an old fashioned shaving shop for men in our local mall. He coments Everytime how he wants a clean shave like that! Perfect gift idea :)

  24. My husband would love a new shave brush & aftershave oil!

  25. My husband would love the razor. He uses a regular Gillette razor and has talked about getting himself one of these, but never has.

  26. I learned that they offered $5 off for first box!
    Thank You for the review and giveaway

    Fiona N

  27. its a really nice package that they send out, thanks and cheers!

  28. great contest! this looks like a good product

  29. My bf would love this!

  30. I have learned that shipping is free within the US, which is pretty cool!
    I think my hubby would love that nifty razor!

  31. I think my fiance would like the Rock&Roll Suicide Face Scrub!

  32. My boyfriend is always looking at new things to try with his face routine and i think he would really like this!

  33. My husband has been shaving since about 12 this shaving kit would save us a lot of money because of razors lol! I hope Santa brings him this shaving kit this year! I also learned that the wet shave club offers a variety of different after shave care options :)

  34. husband loved double edged razors. i think he'd most like the board brush

  35. Looks like it will give a great shave

  36. free shipping plus $5 off the first box sounds good especially after No Shave November

  37. I like the Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash.

  38. I would love to get my husband the All-in-One Shaving Gift Bundle Set.

    Samantha (samdaleo)

  39. I love the sample soaps that will last a month this would be perfect for my son

  40. My husband would like a good, sturdy razor. I would like the different scented soap- I love the smell of a sexy men's cologne or aftershave.

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  43. Thanks for the information, I was in the market looking for Head Shaving Kit just wanted to know different products available in the market and their reviews.

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