Category Archives: Product review

West Coast Shaving Build Your Own Starter Shaving Kit

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On a rainy Saturday afternoon, I was bouncing around the Internet and came across West Coast Shaving’s Build Your Own Starter Shaving Kit. For $30 plus shipping and tax, you’re given a choice of badger brushes, double edge safety razors, shaving cream and razors to choose from. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could this be? Would I go through the motions only to find out nothing I want is available or worse, the site hadn’t been updated and this offer no longer available? After poking around and building what I thought was a good set, I realize this is happening. This set is priced at $30 plus tax and shipping. I know we’re used to free shipping these days but I was so intrigued by this offering that I wasn’t going to be turned away.

I ordered the set on Saturday afternoon and by Wednesday night, it was waiting for me. Excited see the product, I tore into it that night, took a peak and knew I scored a set that would rival any. I held out though and did an unboxing via Instagram stories. If you missed it, be sure to follow my in the gram.

Out the gate, West Coast Shaving impressed me with it’s packaging. For $30, they are giving you a badger brush, razor, shaving soap and razors. No one could blame them if they bubble wrapped each item and sent it along in a brown box. Instead, each piece is packaged by itself in West Coast Shaving branded packaging. As for the razor, the handle and razor head came in separate boxes.

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The badger brush I choose has an ivory handle and I’m loving the blue tip. Made of synthetic badger hair, the bristles are soft and overall, it’s well constructed.

The stainless steel double edge safety razor is a thing of beauty and by itself, it will last you a lifetime. I’m loving the ergonomic design of the handle and its grip strips. What’s most impressive is its weight. It’s by far the heaviest starter razor I’ve ever held in my hand. This razor is a closed comb, three piece that requires breaking down by unscrewing the handle to dismount the head, which is an additional two pieces. If there’s one criticism, one could argue that a twist to open would be a more appropriate “starter” razor.

Astra Superior Platinum Double Edge Razors were the default or you could pay an additional $7 for a sampler pack. The latter would be a good option if you’re truly purchasing this as a starter kit for someone but kept the Astra blades since I knew I’d use blades I already have at home.

Lastly, the shave soap is West Coast Shaving’s own brand and comes in three scents, bay rum, ocean and lime basil. For a fragrance head like myself, I thought the lime basil would be the most interesting. It’s quite fragrant and I’m liking the juxtaposition of the lime and basil.

Bottom line, this is an excellent kit. It’s remarkable they are offering all of this for $30 plus tax and shipping. What’s pictured above is the set I put together and I love that even at this price, West Coast Shaving offers choices.

Father’s Day is right around the corner and this would make an excellent gift, even for someone who is a seasoned shaver. For a young man graduating college and moving into the professional world, this would make a great gift too.

Well done West Coast Shaving.

This product was purchased by me and all views are my own.

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Frederick Benjamin Shaving Regimen

Frederick Benjamin Shaving Regimen

If there’s one thing I love about shaving, it’s the ritual. I especially love using my badger brush. Yes, it takes more time but it’s time I deserve and love giving to myself. For that reason, I’ve never really been a fan of shaving gels. I have, however, met a few I like and I’ve found another.

Frederick Benjamin Grooming recently launched a three-step system that includes a primer pre-shave oil, hydro-Glaze cooling aloe shave gel and post shave bump treatment. The brand knows that African American men have an aversion to shaving so the shaving gel is touted as see through (cut down on shaving strokes and lessen razor burn) and the bump treatment gets to the heart of the fear, razor bumps. Smart!
This collection of products is fantastic. The pre-shave is light and sits close to the skin. I’ve found some pre-shaves are too thick and as a result feels heavy on the face. Not so here! Avocado, grapeseed soy and olive oil work well together to smoothen and lubricate the skin in preparation for shaving. The shave gel goes on cool (Aloe), which is a nice feature and provides a nice glide. The shaving gel also includes witch hazel, which soothes inflammation and castor oil, good for extra hydration.Together, the pre-shave and gel work well together. I actually found the glide was better when I used the pre-shave. The post shave treatment is good too; not too thick and absorbs into the skin quickly. It contains sunflower oil, which moisturizes and hydrates the skin.
I wish the gel itself provided a bit more after glide. After your first past when your razor and water removes most if not all of your shaving solution, what’s left back can provide enough of a glide that you don’t have to reapply. Perhaps turning up the gels emollients a tad bit more would help this. That said, as is, I’m really impressed and pleased I purchased this collection. I did shave time off my shaving regimen with no noticeable difference in the quality of the shave. I was so pleased with this collection that I didn’t use my badger brush for two weeks straight.
At $36.00 this is pound for pound a worthwhile investment that will deliver many happy returns. Well done Frederick Benjamin Grooming.

Discover Your Aha Moment with Scentbird

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I am a firm believe that sampling a fragrance before purchasing it is a necessity. That would seem like a no-brainer but retail isn’t set up to accommodate that. In my experience, often, a quick spritz is all you can expect. It’s likely it’s cost prohibitive but some offer it without hesitation. It’s also likely that some retailers believe if they give you a sample vial, you won’t buy. I was in Sephora once and overheard a guy asking for a sample and inquiring about how long it would last. Was his intention to buy or to wear free samples for as long as he could? Who really knows. The bottom line, don’t buy without sampling is my mantra. Through sampling, you’ll experience your “Aha Moment,” which will determine if you want to own a fragrance or not.

When Scentbird approached me about their sampling program, I said, it’s about time somebody offered this service. As they so eloquently state, Scentbird was designed for the pickiest girl- or boy- to let you date luxury perfumes before marrying them.” Wait, what? With over 450 fragrances to choose from, you can purchase a sample of either designer of niche fragrance for $14.95 a month. The intent here is a subscription service, where you’ll receive a new sample every month but you can cancel at any time or pay as you go. Here’s the added bonus, the samples are more generous than what you’ll find in a store. 30 days worth (8ml.) is how long they estimate the sample will last. If you’re an excessive spritzer, don’t expect it to last that long. You also get a cool carrying case that any of their vials can hold in.

Scentbird really is a win in my book. You’re headed out on vacation in a few months and have been wanting to try the new XYZ scent. Check them out on Scentbird, order a vile or two, throw them in your carry on and by the time you return home, you’ll know if you’re ready for a full bottle.

Head over to Scentbird, check out their FAQs, get to sampling and await your Aha Moment.

Philosophy for Men

Ever since I heard Philosophy was jumping into the men’s grooming arena, my interest was piqued. To some respects it felt late; I mean, the trend has been on the upswing for some time now. But if there’s a brand that could do it right, Philosophy surely could. Then I caught wind of the tag line: Prep, shave, hydrate. Simple? Yup. But it hits the right points so in my opinion, they started off on the right foot.

After using this new collection, which includes an all-in-one face and body scrub (Microdelivery), a 2-in-1 cleansing shave cream (Razor Sharp) and an oil-free gel moisturizer (Renewal Hope), I was a big fan but chose to wait and really put it to the test. I wanted to sit with it and put it through a number of shaving conditions. A few days of beard growth, using a new razor, days old razor, using the shaving cream with my hand and with a badger brush, medium beard growth and day old growth, etc., etc. And no matter what I put it through, it delivered exceptionally well. Here’s why this is worthy of your attention:
Scrub
I love a good exfoliator as it really preps your beard’s hair for the shave. Microdelivery is a gentle scrub that’s in gel form and contains provitamin b5 and glycerin. It also contains diatomaceous earth, a finely ground material clay that acts as a physical exfoliant. Bottom line, it’s gentle enough to use daily but leaves your skin feeling soft and moisturized.
Shaving Cream
I’m a badger brush lover. That said, when I can get a good lather with my hands, I’m in love. Razor Sharp can be used with or without a brush. Either way a creamy rich lather develops providing a nice cushion for your razor. I’ve thrown mine in my gym bag as it’s officially a morning essential.
Renewed Hope

Their men’s version of Hope in a Jar? Perhaps. It’s lightweight, not greasy and contains vitamin e and beta glucan. No sting factor here upon contact. Absorbs into the skin quickly leaving a matte finish. I absolutely love it.

Last but certainly not least, the collection has an excellent masculine scent that’s carried through each product. A fusion of bergamont, ginger and vetiver in manly without beating you over the head with bravado.
Sometimes being late is a good thing. Philosophy’s new collection is done so well, it leaves me desiring more from the brand. I hope they decide to stay as our skin will be better for it.

Alluvian Silver Tip Badger Brush

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by the men’s grooming line, Alluvian, inquiring about my willingness to test some of their naturally fragrant products. Upon doing my research, I realized there was something here not to be missed. The founder John Cowan was working in biotechnology and his sustainability and holistic reservations about what he was doing led him to the idea of “making grooming products geared for men that would be pure, unadulterated, high quality, sustainable and most importantly, distinguished.” Translation, John knows formulations. John comes from a science and technical background. Two reasons in my book to get to know this brand.

As I was poking around Alluvian’s site, I realized John was very attentive to details. The site’s presentation was well curated with product and lifestyle imagery and short and to the point copy. He even handmade badger brushes. All of this piqued my interest.

After exchanging a few emails, my product arrived and its scent was a dead giveaway. Alluvian’s soaps are beyond run of the mill. While I pick up masculine traits, they won’t leave your bathroom smelling like coast guard. If that’s what you want, this isn’t the brand for you. After geeking out on the soaps, I couldn’t wait any longer and had to open the tube holding the badger brush.

As a shaving enthusiast, the sight of a new brush is like running down the hallway on Christmas morning to a tree full of gifts. From appearance alone, it’s a thing of beauty. They are handmade in Peoria, Illinois using American hardwood and the finest silver tip badger hair. The brush’s barrel feels right at home in my hand and when wet there is no slippage. What was most impressive was how easily it broke in. As you know, badger brushes can take a bit to get to that sweet spot. I found with Alluvian’s Silver Tip Badger Brush, after 3 shaves, the bristles had soften quite a bit and was holding water and soap exceptionally well. The brush’s loft has also bloomed beautifully.

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Last but certainly not least, Alluvian had the genius idea to attach a leather strap so the brush could be hung out to dry. While the handle is shaped to fit your standard T stand, the brand leaves nothing to chance. It’s the little details like this that often excite me about new brands and it won me over with Alluvian’s brush.

Bottom line here, this well priced, handmade shaving essential, which retails for $68, will rival any brand name brush on the market.

Well done Alluvian.

The Beloved Is Back

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If I pulled a bunch of my guy friends together and went down a scented memory lane, a few must haves from back in the day would be repeated, Polo in the green bottle, CK One, Cool Water, and Joop are a few that come to mind. One in particular was hands down a crowd favorite, Issey Myake. I remember having a conversation with my barber and the way he emphasized his fondness for the scent, it was though an outfit for a night out was incomplete without those final few sprays.

For the first time since dropping his beloved namesake scent, Issey Myake, the Japanese designer has released a new scent, Nuit D’Issey. On first sight, I thought it was another flanker because the bottle’s shape has remained the same. For this scent, Myake enlisted the noses of Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong and they’ve produced a crowd pleaser.

The scent’s opening is sharp and crisp  and we can thank its grapefruit note for that. I also detect hints of pepper, which give it enough of a lift to spark curiosity. From there leather and woods give it a virility that we’ve  come to expect from men’s fragrances.

Nuit D’Issey hits all the right notes and for that I expect it will be well received. Whether or not barbershops and cigar dens will be reminiscing about it a decade from now only time will tell.

Nuit D’Issey can be found nationwide at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, & Sephora.

Dove Men Care Expert Shave Cream

Dove Men Care Expert Shave Cream

 

Now that we’re in the thick of summer, shaving can be a real chore…umm add to that grooming in general. While we’re taking off layers of clothing, the last thing we want to do is put on extra lotions, etc. I recently gave Dove Men Care Expert Shave Smoothing Shave Cream a test run and out the gate, it felt incredibly light against my skin – a win for the brutal summer months.

The Dove Men Care Expert Shave Cream is a partnership between Dove and leading barbers and dermatologists. It’s been formulated to give shavers adequate moisture, protect the skin and provide a smooth glide. Sound familiar, you bet. Does it deliver, indeed it does.

The first thing that caught my attention about the shave cream was it’s scent. It’s beautifully masculine without being being overly bravado. It smells like you’d want to smell all day. Next, the cream does produce a very good lather but it felt more foamy rather than creamy. I like a good lather and with just a tap into the shave cream, you can work up a good one. The more I worked it in, the frothier it became. The best part, and I suspect most men will appreciate this, it didn’t weigh down my face; it barely felt like it was there. In the summer time, that’s a beautiful thing.

On some occasions while testing the shave cream, I felt like it could have produced more glide. Some of the best shave creams I’ve used, after the first pass, while there maybe little visible shave cream left on my face, what remains is a slick enough surface that allows my razor to glide with ease. That’s usually when I run my hand cross grain to find spots I missed. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. You can always reapply more shave cream with what’s left over on your badger brush and doing so with this shave cream gave me the extra glide needed for subsequent passes.

Overall, the shave cream performs well. Even with its scent, which could be an issue for some, my face never felt dry.The collaborators also know a thing or two about packaging. My wife commented that it looks high end. It’s very well done.

Dove Men Care Expert Shave Cream – 150ML – $21.99