It’s no secret that higher-end grooming products are appealing to a greater swath of men. Ulta has a separate section specifically for guys, while even Target and Walgreens highlight beard oil and conditioners. It’s a growing market that has spawned the Dollar Shave Club and BirchboxMan, but on the other end, you still have the guy who defaults to Irish Spring for everything and is slow to change his razors.
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So, in terms of having such products shipped to you, how does BirchboxMan stack up? We recently received the Limited Edition: Summer Ready bag, a collection of items spanning standard, fairly accessible grooming to, true to its name, a handful of basic leisure items.
What Came in the Box?
The Grooming Items
To start, the Davines SU Hair & Body Wash is exactly as it sounds: A solution, not unlike your typical body wash, that can be used all over. The smell is pleasant and neutral and, unlike something you’d find at Bath & Body Works, not especially overpowering and perfume heavy. In terms of performance, it’s a major cut above bar soaps – no residue, particularly – and for your hair, it gets the product out without leaving a greasy film on your scalp.
The Finest Face Cleanser from Pilot Men’s Grooming, frankly, lives up to its name. At the moment, activated charcoal in everything feels a bit gimmicky – and, being that it’s advertised as the latest anti-aging, inflammatory-reducing, skin-calming cure-all, you wonder when an expert’s going to say it’s just bunk – but it’s the key ingredient here.
Compared to the typical drugstore face wash – anything by Neutrogena, Purpose, or CeraVe for reference – it leaves the skin feeling cleaner, less dry, and with no sticky feeling. Some particles give it a slightly exfoliating quality, but keep in mind, whether you use a physical or chemical exfoliant, it’s not meant to be a substitute. If any item’s worth purchasing separately, it’s this, 100 percent.
Keeping the charcoal theme going, the PiperWai Natural Deodorant also centers around this latest-miracle compound. But, for usage, you’ve got to keep an open mind: There’s minimal scent, it doesn’t roll on – rather, you’ve got to spread it with your fingers – and it feels a bit like putty. Bearing that, it trounces any other natural deodorant on the market – take that, ineffective crystal sticks – and continues to keep you fresh even when the sweat beads up. We tested it while walking uphill in 75-degree heat in a metallic bomber.
Yet, while the deodorant performs, you’ve got the rest of your body to think about, and that’s where the Oars + Alps Cooling + Cleansing Wipes come in. No, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill wet wipes. Rather, one side offers exfoliating properties, and the other a cooling yet reinvigorating sensation. They’re meant to be used all over, and offer a quick solution for cleaning up lightly after a gym workout – or any active endeavor, for that matter.
Rounding out the other products, the Jack Black Sun Guard Sunscreen SPF 45 also exceeded expectations. While oil-free and water resistant, it didn’t feel especially sticky, nor did it have that chalky, cakey sensation some formulas have. In fact, it sunk into the skin quickly after application, and was barely noticeable.
The Wild & Wolf 5-Piece Manicure Set, meanwhile, gives you the basics, all with a semi-matte stainless steel finish, in a convenient storage box. You’ve got clippers, tweezers, a nail file, and a scissor for clipping down your cuticles – in short, everything in one place to keep your nails tidy.
The Non-Grooming Items
Since this is a summer bag, its Penguin cooler packaging has low-key beach and backyard parties in mind. So, between the POM Gear Wireless Speaker, the W&P Cocktail Set, and the US Playing Cards, you’ve got something to keep your drinks cool, a few basic mixing options, something to play music from your phone, and a quick solution for starting a poker game. Out of this lot, the speakers were a standout. Using Bluetooth technology, connection was quick and straightforward – it even notifies you once your phone is connected, removing extra troubleshooting – and the device delivered a crisp and clear sound for its seemingly small size.
In general – and this is coming from someone who’s never found the higher costs at Ulta and Sephora worthy of a separate trip – this particular set delivers quality without seeming overtly high end, and offers a step in the right direction for a guy who’d like to try better products but ultimately doesn’t know where to begin.
Buy your BirchboxMan Limited Edition: Summer Ready Box while supplies last!