Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bluebeard's Revenge Shave Cream review

I was recently contacted by Nick at the Shaving Shack, the retailer of the new shave cream Bluebeard's Revenge. It's a pretty novel concept being sold - they promise that over time, the cream will actually slow the growth of a man's beard. They claim to have good backing for this claim, though I can't find any actual studies for the ingredients which are supposed to be active here.

EDIT: Click here for a link to a quick paper about "Decelerine". While interesting, it's a very small sample and not double-blinded, nor is this a "published" study showing efficacy and safety over time. The results also look a bit dubious and pie-in-the-sky. Still, I'm reviewing this as a shaving cream first and foremost, not as a growth inhibitor.

They asked if I'd like to try it out, and with a bit of hesitation I agreed. Part of my hesitation was due to the chemical nature of this cream - while it's advertised as being gentle, I worried that the active ingredient "Decelerene" might be a bit rough on my face. I have fairly sensitive skin, and I react with stronger creams and aftershaves sometimes.

I had an excellent exchange with Nick from the Shaving Shack, who assured me that the cream would be gentle and work well for even sensitive skin, so I asked to have a sample sent out. The Shaving Shack actually sent me an entire jar - and QUICKLY. I had heard good things about their shipping, and despite being an overseas vendor, the package arrived withing a few days.

The box and jar are both very attractive and look great right away. Very high quality construction and materials, and the box itself is a pleasure to read.

The consistency of the cream is just about perfect, solid enough to hold up while being scooped but also soft enough to be scoopable and turned into a lather rapidly. The scent was very classic and not overbearing at all - I couldn't quite put my finger on it, so I emailed Nick about the flavor. The following is his answer:
We had two signature scent ideas in mind. One was a bay rum-esque type fragrance. The other, which is what you have before you, was based on a more traditional barbershop scent along the lines of Taylors Eton College/St James but with some added zing! We sent out samples of both fragrances to a few hundred "testers" to get feedback and the overall winner was the more traditional a long shot. We may at some point bring out the rum version but as a launch product it made much more sense to cater to the more popular choice.

I scooped out a small amount (about the size of an almond) and built a lather with my trusty Badger and Blade Essential brush. It was at this point that I was REALLY impressed by the cream - it lathered like a monster, and was very forgiving of the amount of water used. It had a wide "sweet spot". I added water until the cream broke down a bit, and then started over with a clean mug. I made a killer lather with no real effort.

This small dollop made enough lather for 4 passes, with PLENTY left over!!

The cream felt excellent on my face, with no irritation for any of the passes. It softened the beard quite adequately and the lubrication of the razor was just fine. I felt no dragging. On the whole the cream's performance was at or above any other cream I've favored, and maybe even rivals some soaps in terms of protection. After a good 3 pass shave, I pulled a fourth just to see how well the cream could handle being pushed to that limit of protection and lather stability, and came away absolutely satisfied. I felt that it was a bit drying on the first shave, but later shaves proved that to be a fluke (possibly due to the extra pass). It left my skin nice and clean feeling, without excessive dryness at all.

The next day, I decided to give it a try as a brushless cream with a Schick Hydro 5 to emulate my "oh my god I'm late for work" shave standard (lately Proraso green, brushless, with the Hydro 5). It performed fairly well, though it seemed to require more cream to get the job done than I needed to use with a brush.

In terms of quality, performance, and overall satisfaction, this cream rates as highly as any I've used from any of the "big houses". The only issue I would have here is that the price and shipping might be a bit steep for USA customers at this time. The shack DOES offer 1-price shipping, so if you're in the market for more than one item it might be worth jumping in. At £14.99 ($22.32 as of today's exchange) plus £4 for shipping ($6.22), it's an expensive item. Still, it's a very effective cream that I would be happy to purchase myself once my tub runs out.

Special thanks to Nick at the Shaving Shack for the tub of cream and the opportunity to review.
Associated links:
BlueBeard's Revenge
The Shaving Shack