--Since I accidentally posted the pre-shave oil review on the full kit review section, and it was accepted there, I'll post the full review here, and hopefully the gods at bzzagent can fix my silly mistake. This is the review of the full kit. --
I've always wanted to shave like a real man. Safety razors, straight edges, and cartridge razors are always in my shaving kit. Weather I'm trimming a beard that I have been growing for a few months, or shaving clean for that special occasion, I used the right razor for the right hairs and thought I had it figured out. Oh how wrong I was.
For starters, I used an aerosol shaving gel which foamed into a "lather" after expelling from the can. While it felt slippery enough to the touch, it always left my face feeling a little dry and irritated. The Art of Shaving kit came to the rescue, with it's wonderfully lubricating and conveniently whipped shaving cream. A dab of that, spread by the premium badger hair brush, left my face lubricated, moisturized, and ready to take on that blade.
Speaking of the brush, that was my second mistake. Making that foamy gel into a lather and spreading it across my beard was a task for my hands and fingers. By spreading the resulting lather by hand, like spreading butter on a toast with a butter-knife, I was unintentionally flattening all my hairs and pushing them towards my skin. The brush gave me a whole new perspective when it comes to applying a shaving lubricant. First, it gives my face what I would describe as a mini-massage, which leaves it feeling healthier and softer; and second, it lifts those hairs off the skin, giving me a closer shave with fewer strokes.
And the perfect shaving experience is, in my opinion, dependent on the pre-shave oil. The oil softens the hairs prior to shaving, and provides additional lubrication in the act of shaving.
The after shave balm is a very cool and soothing cream that finishes off the whole experience with a touch of elegance. It leaves the skin soft and refreshed, and the sandalwood aroma is unmistakably amazing. My fiance can't get enough of it, and to be honest, neither can I. I look forward to shaving with my Art of Shaving kit, just so I can smell that heavily sandalwood aroma.
I have very thick, curly facial hair. If not prepared well for the shave, I get lots of ingrown hairs. The Art of Shaving kit has reduced those ingrown hairs noticeably, and the occasional ingrown hair I still get is not as painful. This result alone is worth learning to shave properly.
The kit is lacking in one area, however: Directions! While it describes the basic steps and the order in which to execute them, there is no clear direction on how much of each product to use, or the proper techniques of applying each one is.
And while the kit does not include a razor, it would have been refreshing to see a simply set of directions on how to properly shave after preparing with the kit.
Beyond the basic "here's the product, it does this, apply it now," the user is left to do further research and/or experimentation to find the perfect product volume and application techniques on their own. Which might be a painful (and potentially expensive) journey for someone with no clear starting point.
Besides that issue however, I could not find much to complain about. This kit delivers the ultimate shaving experience, and it smells amazing to boot. I give it five smoother than a baby's bottom faces, out of five. [This review was collected as part of a promotion.]