One of the new crazes these days is monthly boxes. Be it manly food, cool indy gift ideas, or shaving products, these monthly subscription services are popping up everywhere. One of which is the Wet Shave Club, who asked us to do a review of their starter kit. I generally like to dig deeper into product offerings like this to find out what makes them tick and this one was very interesting. Like most companies that source various products from multiple manufactures, The Wet Shave Club switches up the items fairly regularly.The Wet Shave Club is a subscription service that sends monthly boxes to your door for under $30/month, depending on your plan. The Starter Kit comes with everything you need to begin your journey in wet shaving and is packaged quite nicely in a brown box with green lettering. Upon opening the box I discovered two informational fliers, a membership card, and an instruction card on how to get started shaving. Then I discovered a double edge safety razor that has a leather travel sleeve that is embossed with "Wet Shave Club." Next I found some Ellington’s shaving soap, a package of Trig blades, an entry-level boar brush, and Local Gent Shaving Co. Eucalyptus Mint aftershave lotion.
The razor is weighted and balanced well. It looks very similar to a Parker razor. It has enough weight so that it should cut with almost no input from me, and it feels nice in the hand with a good diamond patterned grip.
The shaving soap is made by Obie Hughes, who among other things is a tattoo artist, professional saxophonist, and purveyor of gentlemen’s shaving soaps, balms & aftershave lotion. Obie originally developed Ellington’s Super Natural Salve to help heal recently tattooed skin. “I had grown weary of recommending petrolatum based healing agents to my clients and wanted to create a more natural and organic healing agent,” says Obie “Something with simple ingredients that I could in good conscience recommend for my tattoo clients. I also wanted it to be affordable.” One thing led to another and Obie created his first shaving soap, Ellington’s Gentleman’s Shaving Soap.
The soap has a nice sandlewood/citrus smell to it, but I was unable to quite place all the aromas I was getting from it, so I emailed Obie and asked - knowing I’d probably not get all the trade secrets and I was right. “8 different essential oils to get that aroma. You are on the right track. We don't want to give away all the secrets but I'll give you a few to get you started: Clove, cedar wood, and splash of lime.”
After a little work and with some effort I was able to create a rich, luscious lather. The boar hair brush did an okay job. It holds a lot of water so you may want to shake it before starting to mix the soap as it took a while to get the appropriate amount of lather. I applied the rich lather to my face, and I proceeded to shave using a brand new blade from the pack. The razor's weight carried it easily down my neck line and cut without much additional direction.
The Local Gent aftershave smells like eucalyptus and mint just like the packaging says, and the scent lingers 2-3 hours post-shave. It goes on easy, just a bit on the finger and hand to rub on the shaved area.
Since this is the starter kit, it includes the double edge razor, boar hair brush, blades, shaving soap, and aftershave. Each monthly box going forward will contain blades, shave soaps, aftershaves, and mystery items. When I asked the Wet Shave Club to elaborate how they choose the products they include in the monthly box, they followed up with this:
We have a buyer who tends to curate a theme or idea for the box. It’s dependent on the season predominantly, and we try to stick with scents and things that would go with the box. For example, we have been offering balms this month and last due to the cold - we know that when the weather is cold your skin is more susceptible to cracks and breaks and want to provide a balm that can help prevent that. And, as the warmer months start to come around, we will feature items with SPF in it to protect from the summer sun. Our December box featured a pine tar soap that kind of beckons to Christmas scents. Other than that, we just want to include stuff that we love.
Outside of the thematic choices, she [the buyer] receives samples of the various items and the first test is, naturally, a sniff test. Everyone in the office talks about it if they like it. For soaps, she builds a lather with it to see how well it lathers up, and in addition, she put a dab on her hand in order to see how the lather will stay throughout a shave and how the slickness and cushion is. We know that these are all essential elements for a good shave, so it’s important that we legitimately test the products before putting them in the box. We want to create a kit that someone can pick up and start using without anything else. It’s all of the essentials - soap, blades, razor and brush - delivered to you.
We also add in a goody here and there, and have previously included styptic matches. We think the razor is a great razor with a nice heft to it, and the brush can build a great lather. We curated this box so that someone who has never done this before can have everything set up and ready to go the moment they get it.
I mentioned the brush was pretty entry level and asked if people quickly upgraded --
It comes down to personal preference. We offer brushes in the store for those that are looking for something different, for example, a synthetic or badger brush. And in case you're wondering, you don’t have to go buy something else because future boxes do feature other types of brushes, blades, and skin products that are always unique and great to try.
Is the Wet Shave Club a great deal? I would say that depends on what you’re looking to do with wet shaving. It’s not dollarshaveclub.com, so you’re not going to get rock-bottom prices on items. Like many of the monthly box subscription services, you’re paying for variety, decent quality in many cases, and the ability to try many things that you normally wouldn’t find in your store or online. The Wet Shave Club has buyers who are continually going out and looking for new and unique products that make sense to put in the boxes for their members and each product has a story to tell, and even seasoned wet shavers will get something out of the monthly subscription with great products they wouldn’t have known about or tried. I definitely recommend trying the box and seeing what you think.