A month or two ago I was approached by a representative of Edwin Jagger of Sheffield England asking if I would like to receive a gift package of their products. No requests or promises were made other than if I so chose that I could possibly do a review of them for my blog and YouTube Channel. I accepted since there were no strings attached either implied or otherwise requested.
Once I accepted their offer I supplied my address and they requested that I select which "flavors" of their products I desired. I chose Sandalwood in the Moisturizing After Shave Lotion. They sent the "normal skin" version. I chose Limes and Pomegranate in the Traditional Shaving Soap. They sent the "sensitive/normal" version. In the Premium Shave Cream I chose the Aloe Vera. They sent the "sensitive skin" version. The Hydrating Pre-Shave Lotion had no choice and they sent the "sensitive/normal" version. The representative had mentioned that they had seen my previous videos and knew that I did not particularly care for Derby DE blades and that they would send the Feather Blade option. They also stated that in the future the blade of choice would be an option with their products. I also had no choice of the version of the DE89 they would send. I received the Chrome handle version. Nor did I have a choice regarding the shaving brush. I received a 19mm Super Badger with a the imitation ivory handle. It came with a standard plastic brush stand. I later priced the items on Amazon and the total package would amount to somewhere between $110 to $135 retail without shipping of course. Within 2-3 weeks I received the package in the mail and began using the products.
Whenever a person begins exploring the strange world of traditional wet shaving one of the first things that most newbies seek out are reviews of potential products. It is a daunting task to understand where to start, what products would be best for a new comer to traditional wet shaving methods. This is where the problems begin. Who to believe. Immediately when you do an internet search there pops up a host of options. Some even find the numerous internet and Facebook shaving groups and forums and of course there are the marketers websites.
When I began traditional wet shaving as a hobby several years ago I came to it with previous personal experience. I had begun shaving when traditional products were still being used prior to the multi-blade push of the 1970's that eventually drove most DE and SE shaving products from the mass marketplace and public view. Traditional wet shaving methods weren't new to me, just rusty and somewhat forgotten due to years of being hypnotized by television and magazine advertisements that hawked the "new and improved" advancements of men's shaving products. Like most, I believed the marketing hype and lost my way off and on over the years. Shaving became a chore. A necessary evil that must be endured every day.
For a period of time I tried everything I could get my hands on. Granted the product availability was slim. The farther I got into the traditional shaving world the more products I saw and the challenge was finding them to purchase and ultimately use. This isn't the problem today. The problem today is again making the choices to try. There's no way to try them all anymore. Artisan products abound with more popping up every day. Some of the more traditional men's shaving product producers have seen the opportunities of the growing traditional wet shaving marketplace and have expanded the array of products they provide. Edwin Jagger being one company that always had a presence and kept traditional wet shaving products, particularly their razors available when others chose to abandon them.
So in light of the current marketplace the choices are there but the choice making process even more difficult. There are some "shaving snobs" that always put price point as a premium, in both directions. Some see frugality and less expensive as a key element. Others think words like "deluxe, premium, limited edition as being the most desirable products. Of course such products usually come with higher "premium" price tags also. I generally fall in the more frugal group but for other reasons than just price point. In my mind there is a balancing point where value and cost intersect. Cheaper or more expensive does not always equate to better value.
Regardless of where you fall in the selection of which products to "try" once you've gotten a product in your hand, regardless of what it cost, how do you evaluate that product? What criteria do you use?
Bottom line comes in the "YMMV" (Your Mileage May Vary) factor. Certain products work better for some people than others. As I have mentioned many times, each shave is a unique experience be it variations in weather conditions or your emotional and physiological state that particular day. So the first thing is that the use of one product on any given day is not a good test of that product. It is only over a longer evaluation period that you can truly evaluate a given item. Just like needing to establish your shaving muscles and get them in "the groove" by using one set of products and equipment over a 30-60 day period when first starting in traditional wet shaving it is only over several days of back to back use can you truly understand what a given product has to offer. You have to learn that product and how best to use it, how you need to use it...not someone else.
It is this simple fact that a specific product performs differently for a specific person and that a specific product must be "learned" and "understood" for you individually that most product reviews are at the heart of the matter useless. You will never know if a specific product is good for you until you try it yourself over an extended period of time. That doesn't mean that product reviews are useless. If there are specific people on the shaving forums or groups or YouTube channels that you find have similar needs as yourself you can rely on their impressions of a given product more than others. In my experience I found certain "shaving friends" that I was more in sync with than others. If they liked a certain product, that product was more likely than not to also be useful to me.
I discovered that there were many others that I could not "trust" in their opinions for a variety of reasons. Far too many out there review products just to be doing something and I have found their reviews to be of less value. This is part of the "hype" whether or not it is directly involved in the "marketing" of a given product. There is marketing hype and then there can be just pure hype. Both types must be guarded against and the only way to address such things is to be aware that they exist.
My method of reviewing a product is simple. I use the product and try to eliminate as many variables as possible. I use the new product over several days with the same set of products. Once I have seen how those products work together I may change the other products such as different razors, blades, soaps, creams, pre-shave routine, etc. In time I can determine the overall "value" of that product for me.
My findings of the Edwin Jagger products had a few surprises but not a lot. Most were pretty much what I had expected. The pre-shave lotion was not unlike many of the other pre-shave lotions I have tried. For me my tried and true Noxzema and Corn Huskers with my essential oil of choice performed just as well. This is why for me I don't need anything else.
The After Shave Lotion was nice and similar to the other post-shave lotions I have tried. The sandalwood scent was good but not particularly long lasting. In my opinion very similar to other major marketer's post shave lotion products. Again for me my tried and true with my EO of choice is best for me.
The Shave Cream in Aloe Vera did not have much aroma. It was a nice grassy, earthy scent but not very potent. The shave cream was very middle of the road in all product descriptors. Moderately slick, moderate cushioning with a lather that was not difficult to build in the bowl or directly on the face. It wasn't over-the-top in any category but a nice solid middle of the road cream.
The Shaving Soap in Limes and Pomegranate was one of the surprises. Being a hard soap it performed better than many major marketer's hard soaps. It was above average in slickness, cushioning, ease of build, thickness and post shave face feel. The scent was definitely of limes and pomegranate and was present throughout the shave but mild and not over powering. Of the major producers Edwin Jagger Traditional Shaving Soap was nice. No fireworks but decent.
The Super Badger Brush wasn't particularly dense in the overall pack of the fibers. There were a couple of lost fibers during the first few uses. Very normal hair loss which did not continue. The fibers are soft but not what I would consider luxurious. The backbone wasn't particularly strong either, primarily due to the lack of density of the knot. Overall it is a good performer for what it is...not the greatest of brushes but very functional and basic. It wouldn't be bad as a starter brush but I wouldn't consider it a step up grade. Many would probably want to upgrade to a denser knot in time.
The DE89 was another surprise overall. My previous short experience with an older model 89 I found disappointing due to an observation that I didn't achieve my normal blade life with most blades only lasting 2-3 shaves. This time I did not have that experience. Blades this time lasted a little above average for me (4-5) shaves. I also found the DE89 to be a little more average in aggressiveness of shave characteristics than before. This DE89 I could use everyday and achieve satisfactory three pass shaves. The earlier version I don't think would have achieved those results. The smooth chrome handle I didn't find slick or hard to hold even in soapy wet conditions. My preference would be for a knurled handle but this handle is functional. My preferences are also for a slightly heavier handle. This handle is hollow. Of course I could remedy that by adding weight. I liked the length and overall it was very comfortable in the hand. In general my estimation of the Edwin Jagger DE89 is that it is a good beginner razor at a good price point and an overall good value.
I hadn't used Feather Blades in quite some time. I had previously found them to be somewhat harsh and inconsistent in performance not only in consistency but also endurance. This time I was very pleased with the performance of the Feather Blades. Another surprise that I was not expecting. This just goes to prove that over time what was a failure in the past could be a success at another time and place.
Reviewing products is a journey that you must learn and discover for yourself. Each person has different criteria that are are more important than others, for them. Overall the single most important criteria is your total experience of that product. Once you have given a specific product a good evaluation it is only then that you can decide if it is a product that you would choose to purchase again. Because the variety of choices in the traditional wet shaving world has improved there will be more and more products that fall into the category of "Not Bad, but I Wouldn't Buy It Again."
Early on I amassed a wide array of products in my "trying" phase of the hobby. One thing I have discovered after many of those products have sat on my shave den's shelves for at least a couple of years is that some shaving soaps and creams, particularly artisan style soft soaps do decrease in performance characteristics over time. Shaving creams in tub style containers also generally deteriorate. Shaving creams in tubes tend to last longer and maintain their performance level longer. Hard soaps regardless of maker generally have not decreased in their performance characteristics. This is another reason why I prefer hard soaps in addition to the fact that your purchasing dollar goes to "all soap" and not added water or chemicals to maintain a soft soap characteristic.
This will be the last episode of this series at this point in time. If something else emerges there could be another episode but I don't foresee it at this time. I hope you have benefited from this series. I have enjoyed doing it.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe.