We are celebrating the weekend by having an entire weekend of Guest Bloggers. The first guest blogger is the first Man who is stepping up to the Boxy Ladies table. We don’t discriminate, we just like puns. Without further ado, I would like to introduce my British friend Rob. It is irrelevant to the content of the blog that he is British, but it might be fun to read it in your head in his British accent. Rob and I have known each other for a few years since I moved back to Texas and we had some mutual friends. Since then we have texted approximately a billion times and I like to think of myself as not only his friend but occasional life coach. I was excited when he wanted to write a blog for us about Dollar Shave Club because I have always been interested in their products.
“It is the vanity of women that drives them to spend hours in the bathroom; it is the vanity of men not to bother.” — Simon Munnery
I’m not a guy who shaves on a daily basis; part of me thinks that my accrued stubble makes me look rugged and masculine, rather than merely unkempt. The only reason I will take up shaving regularly is if my paramour has a preference for smooth skin (I have yet to meet a woman who really loves stubble rash on her face), or if I have grown my beard out and I want to keep my neck smooth lest I take on the appearance of a Unix systems administrator or a men’s rights activist.
Dollar Shave Club have a smart social media team. Unlike most people, I find ads on Facebook to be useful in keeping me up to date with products I might actually want, especially since I so rarely watch TV. Dollar Shave Club’s team did a great job on Facebook appealing to both my sense of masculinity, combined with the realization that men should probably groom themselves a little better because women. They tell you how cool and smart you will be if you sign up for easy and cheap products. Man, how can I turn down obvious appeals to my ego? Given that I was dating a girl with a strong preference for not having red patches on her face after kissing, I figured what the hoo-ha and signed up. Advertising: it works!
In case it wasn’t obvious, the appeal of Dollar Shave Club is both its convenience and its price. On the surface, $1 for five razor cartridges is a steal no matter what planet you live on, especially considering the fact that regular razor blades from the major razor companies are extremely expensive. When I used to shave regularly, my go to razor was the Gillette Sensor. A heavy handled razor that could double as a cosh in a home invasion emergency, and cartridges that would easily last me a week at a time. My first exposure to the Sensor was when I stole my father’s razor at 13, when the first fluffy hairs on my face – along with the worst damn acne of all time and my voice breaking mid-solo in choir practice – signaled that my hormones were getting to work on changing me from the awkward lanky teenager to the fine slab of manhood that I am today.
There are three options for your razor. The Humble Twin – a bog standard two blade razor, the 4x (I’ll leave guessing the number of blades on this guy as an exercise to the reader), and the Executive, a six blade razor that would probably double well as a prison shank with a little know-how. I must confess to my general disdain with razor companies for thinking that razors need enough blades to shave a werewolf bald. If you put any more metal on these things and added wheels, you’d have a full-size Dalek running along your face. In the eyes of razor engineers (sidebar: I like the idea of having that job title), does more blades equal more surface coverage equal a faster shave? Was this a problem that really needed solving? Six blades! You could probably build a model helicopter with that much hardware.
Based on my somewhat traditionalist preferences for twin blades, I went with their basic “Humble Twin” razor which came with five blades, as well as some of their much vaunted (by their oh-so-savvy marketing department) Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter. Mainly because I was feeling frivolous, and also because I figured that having a few extra grooming products in my bathroom apart from dollar store shower gel and a seldom used bottle of conditioner would give the appearance that I am an adult. Total cost: less than $10.
The shipping was fairly swift after I signed up – I received my box within a week. I laughed at Lauren a little bit when she told me she was starting this blog, but I have to admit that getting presents in the mail is a pretty sweet deal, especially when those presents are going to make you look good and feel good and more attractive to potential partners! Woooooo!
The Humble Twin is a fairly apt name, though I guess that’s a sign of their marketing team’s general level of competence. If this were a twin from the seminal 1988 comedy “Twins”, this particular razor would be Danny Devito. If this were the song “Twinz” by Big Punisher and Fat Joe, this razor would be carjack within three blocks of the Bronx. Of course it’s not going to feel like it was designed by aeronautical engineers given that it was FREE!!!!!, but the razor is flimsy, lightweight and cheap-feeling. It’s lighter than my toothbrush, and I worry that it will disintegrate in my bear paw hands if I hold it too tightly. Worse, whenever I am too enthusiastic in rinsing the razor between strokes, the cartridge detaches from the handle. That is…annoying. It hasn’t fallen off while I’ve actually been shaving, but I do find myself irritated having to grope around a sink full of shaving foam and beard hair looking for the damn thing.
I’d be okay with that if the cartridges themselves were of great quality, but I can’t even get enthusiastic about them either. Full disclosure: on a scale of one to Chewbacca on the hirsute scale, I’m a solid six. I am able to grow an maintain a full luscious beard, but it takes time and patience. I do, however, get fairly stubbly after a few days, and given that I shave so irregularly I really do need a razor that can do The Business. I know it sounds like I’m pining for an ex that I didn’t know was amazing until she was gone, but the Sensor blades never let me down. Their fine honed edges sliced through my modest facial hair and gave me a close shave with a minimum of fuss, nor did I need to make repeated Karate Kid “paint the fence” strokes over the same area of my face. Dollar Shave Club’s twin blades are of a far inferior quality and even after prepping my face with a hot washcloth and a gentle scrub to rasise the hairs before lathering up, I felt like I was shaving in a way that would be more conducive to scraping wallpaper. The blades work, but it takes way more effort than I would like. My neck and face eventually felt smooth, but I can also get smooth skin by placing my face against a belt sander. Having slightly sore skin is not the desired end result of what should be a man’s moment of reverie, as he gazes upon his towel clad form and admires just how good he looks, his strong jawline now ready for the lips of his partner, just like in the Gillette commercials…
A little known but unspoken fact is that men also use their razors to, ah, tidy up other parts of their bodies. Thanks to these craptacular cartridges, I know how very painful an in-grown hair is. Don’t use this thing ANYWHERE BUT YOUR FACE. You have been warned, gentlemen.
I’m going to go with the generous idea that these blades are great for the daily shavers but given their lack of edge, don’t expect to use them more than once or twice at most. If you’re one of those guys whose five o’clock shadow re-appears about ten seconds after you leave the house for work, you’ll have to work even harder to get much out of these blades. But if you’re a baby faced youth with the hair density of a newborn kitten, they should do the job just fine. Not what I would call a glowing endorsement, but that’s the best I can do under the circumstances.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Not all is lost. Even though their twin razors would find better use as kindling, there’s still the matter of their Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter! And holy scooby snacks, I love this stuff.
First of all, it smells great. It’s what I imagine the male cast of “Suits” smells like…well, the refined look and implied scent, not the eau de scumbag lawyer. I’m not a sommelier, so I’ll spare you the airy descriptions of aromas, but it smells like “professional adult man” versus the toxic locker room stink of Axe products. It feels good on the face, and it doesn’t lather, so you have a better view of the stubble that’s about to face the executioner’s axe. My skin feels good when I use it to shave with, but I’ve been neglecting it lately because trying to shave with a blunt twin cartridge negates any benefit I get from such a lovely product. It’s like trying to play Moonlight Sonata on a kazoo. However, it’s by far my favorite MAN PRODUCT I own, and once I have a razor than does more than fall in the sink every few seconds I’ll probably enjoy it even more.
The other thing is…with my second box of cartridges, I received a somewhat dubious “gift”. A single sachet of a One Wipe Charlie. Look, I’m able to make crass jokes as well as the next guy, but I have to admit that scatology kind of revolts me. So I’ll keep this as mercifully brief as possible: this is a wet wipe for your asshole.
Their blurb for this bizarre product goes thusly: “One Wipe Charlies gently afford the maximum clean in the shortest time. Enjoy the life changing way to handle your business. Live the one true clean.”
Much like the Dalek-blades, I’m not sure that this was a problem that needed solving, but because I’m a good sport, I used it out of morbid curiosity. Given the soft bigotry of low expectations, I was not surprised to find that my initial assessment from the literature was correct. A wet wipe. For your butt. A slight tingle ensued, making me worry for the briefest of moments that my greatest fear of a venomous snake arising through the sewer system and sinking its deadly fangs into my most vulnerable area had come true, but it was whatever they douse these rags with doing the job. They say you only need one, but quite frankly I finished with my regular routine of using toilet paper like a regular man. They sell these things in packs of forty, but I can’t imagine for the life of me who uses these things. Maybe you’re neurotic about your ass? I’ll spare you the rest of my train of thought in this regard, but if your anus is something that absolutely has to gleam in the sunlight, avoid these and take a shower like the rest of us. Still, they’ll make a great indicator for women on first-dates as to what kind of man they’ve gone home with. I have no idea how this will respond to ladyparts, so caveat emptor in that regard if you find one of these things within reach.
FINAL GRADE: C+
Shaving is a chore right now, but I love that shaving butter so hard it’s worth ordering for this alone. In the interests of science – and because I’ve used the last of the wretched, hateful twin blades – I’ve upgraded to the 4x package which contains four cartridges for $6 a month. I’ll update if I find them more to my liking, though I’m far more likely to go back to the workhorse Sensor if the trend continues. $6 is not $1, and if the edges on these cartridges are as dull as C-SPAN then I may have to cut my losses and schlep to Walgreens to buy razor blades just like everyone else.
I ordered the other Dr. Carver products as well, so expect another overly verbose-yet-thorough follow up. If they’re as good as the shave butter, I can bump this up to a B-, easily. This grade is agnostic with regards to the (*shudders*) One Wipe Charlies. Let’s just pretend they don’t exist, and carry on about our lives, shall we?
If you are interested in trying Dollar Shave Club for yourself, click here!