I admit to feeling flattered when companies approach me and invite me to try their products in order to review them for The Style Examiner. Most importantly, these invitations have introduced me to brands and goods of whose existence I was unaware and, as a consequence, broadened my knowledge of the fashion and lifestyle industries in the process. However, before each product is dispatched to me to try, I am upfront and reserve the right not to write about it or write an honest review that may be detrimental to its reputation.
When I was approached by the team in charge of marketing the êShave skincare range for men, I did some research about the brand’s products and became very excited. After all, they had received high-profile consumer prizes such as the Men’s Health magazine Grooming Awards in 2010 and 2012. However, after trying a selection of êShave products from their Verbena Lime range over a number of weeks, I just couldn’t understand why they would garner awards of any kind unless these were driven by powerful marketing forces. The products were so harsh and ineffective that I began to wonder if Men’s Health magazine had compromised the integrity of its awards’ judging process. After all, a negative review of an advertiser’s products could easily lead to the potential withdrawal of paid advertisements and associated financial losses.
êShave was founded by Danielle Malka in May 1996 with the intention to reintroduce the modern man to high-quality shaving products and accessories, as well as to the bygone ritual of wet shaving. Over the years, êShave has developed a number of products with different scents that are currently available for purchase in nearly 20 countries. The Verbena Lime collection is one of such scented lines and it comprises the Pre-Shave Oil, the Shave Cream, and the After-Shave Soother. Unlike most skincare products by other brands, êShave’s Verbena Lime range is ‘recommended for all skin types’, something that I found suspicious given the diversity of men’s facial skin according to variations in genetics, age, climate, ethnicity, etc.
I decided to start by trying the pre-shave oil for a few days. Its listed results included: ‘protect your skin’, ‘coat and soften your hair’, ‘relieve shaving irritation’ and ‘eliminate dryness.’ In addition, as benefits, one could expect reduced irritation caused by razor burn and preventing razors from clogging while allowing them to ‘glide across your face’. I admit that my past experiences with shaving oils have not always been the best and, sadly, the êShave Pre-Face Oil did not change my mind. In fact, my razors ended up more clogged than ever, and my skin (even with the smallest of doses applied prior to shaving and after a thorough post-shaving soaking) felt greasy throughout the day. I have experienced oils as moisturisers and I am firm believer that they work; however, such oils need to be very fine to be easily absorbed by skin pores. êShave, for some strange reason, uses peanut, almond and castor oils, which have thick and viscous textures, not to mention not entirely pleasant smells.
I soon stopped using the oil and tried instead the award-winning êShave Shave Cream, hoping for better results. Despite having a soapy and softer feel to it when compared with the oil, the thick lather (regardless of using large or small quantities) still clogged my razors, causing me to spend more time shaving than usual as I had to constantly get rid of dead hair and cells. In addition, I did not notice any improvement in the quality of my shaving.
For a few weeks, and after shaving with the oil or the cream, I tried the (also award-winning) êShave Verbena Lime After Shave Soother that promised to be non-greasy and lightweight and to leave skin smooth and fresh. I found that this was not the worst after-shave lotion that I have tried, but I still found it that it did not spread evenly on the skin. Unlike what it promised, the lotion was not ‘readily absorbed’ and I did not feel that it moisturised my skin as well as other products.
Despite my best intentions to like êShave’s skincare products for men, I ended up disappointed and not even finishing each bottle. As for trying to understand why they receive awards, the only answer in my opinion resides in the unshakeable influence that their generous advertising can secure.