In an already saturated market, it seems like there’s a new line of men’s grooming products every other day. If they don’t promise you the smoothest shave or the most invigorating wash, they will certainly fight to the death in the Coolest Manly Man Packaging Contest, an exhausting competition in which the winners get featured placement on your bathroom shelf or in your shower. It can be confusing as hell.
For most of them, I would just suggest passing and make a no-brainer trip to Kiehl’s, the line that set the standard for effective, unfussy and minimally-perfumed products with simple, masculine, no-nonsense packaging. But as fantastic as their stuff is, the Kiehl’s price point can be tough for a lot of us. (And, like a vast percentage of popular grooming and beauty product lines, they’re part of the monstrous L’Oreal empire.)
Occasionally, though, a little guy comes along with something worthwhile, effective and affordable. Two such little guys are Dreadnought and Brooklyn Grooming.
Dreadnought (@DreadnoughtUSA) is a British affair specializing in shaving goods for men in the U.S. If you Google the word ‘dreadnought,’ you’ll see references to a kind of heavily armed battleship in the early 20th century or a type of acoustic guitar. According to their handsome, recycled and 100% recyclable packaging, dreadnought [dred-nawt] is “1. a person who fears nothing; 2. one that is the largest and most powerful of its kind.” Ok.
Their smart collection of products includes a shaving cream, a pre-shave oil, a post-shave balm, a shaving brush, a double-edge razor and antiperspirant deodorant. With the aid of the ‘Avenger’ Shaving Brush, I’ve been using the Dreadnought Luxury Shave Cream for the past few weeks with nice results. Mine is an extremely sensitive face that looks and feels like tartare after three consecutive days of shaving. I haven’t used a shaving brush in years, and I think I’m going back to it full-time. This stuff, aided by the shave brush, made for a most enjoyable shaving ritual, giving me a very smooth shaving experience overall.
The cream has everything you’d want from a premium shave cream, plus an added agent called Decelerine™, which has a mixture of active ingredients that minimizes the appearance of unwanted hair, reducing the frequency of shaving and providing a nice healing effect on the skin. After a post-shave cold water rinse to tighten the pores, my freshly shaven face has been smooth and irritation-free. It smells good, too.
They’re not shy about letting you know that their stuff is just for guys. So if your girlfriend wants to borrow it… hands off.
Brooklyn Grooming (@BKgrooming) has a collection of all natural grooming goods based and made in… wait for it… Brooklyn, NY. They are, in fact, the first homegrown men’s grooming product line in New York City’s hipster hub, with the products all handsomely packaged in metal tins and amber apothecary tinctures that evoke a nice vintage men’s grooming flavor. It’s definitely guys’ stuff here.
In a culture still stuck on sticky things like gels, it’s nice to see a collection of products that is unafraid to use oil. Brooklyn Grooming liberally uses ingredients like avocado oil, rosemary, beeswax and vegetable butters. The gang sent me over some Fort Greene Old School Pomade and some Red Hook Classic Shave Oil to play with. I love them both.
The aptly named Fort Greene “Old School” Pomade is definitely old school. In the world of Mad Men, pomade is what you’re theoretically seeing in the hair of the boys at Sterling Cooper Draper Price (though the actual actors are wearing a water-based/water-soluble product, which is much more practical when filming long days under hot lights). The modern man wouldn’t use a full head of pomade for a “greased” style. Pomade is oil, and it does what men’s hair products are supposed to do: “dirty up” your hair to give it pliability, texture and varying degrees of hold and shine, without effectively gluing the hair into place like gel does. In today’s times with today’s styles, a little dab’ll do ya when it comes to pomade, and it’s best when applied to bone dry hair. It’s also heavy, weighing the hair down, and therefore best enjoyed in short hair.
Real pomade like Brooklyn Grooming’s doesn’t wash out like a water-based product. Since I don’t scrub my hair with detergent every time I shower, I don’t mind this at all. In fact, after my hair is dry, I just use less of it since my hair is still a little “dirty.” The pomade smells great, too, with masculine yet gentle hints of rosemary, bergamot and lavender. Not too overpowering at all. Good stuff.
The Red Hook Classic Shave Oil was a new one on me. I’d never used a shave oil before. It’s an extra step in the ritual, but after trying it out before a few shaves over the last few weeks, it’s definitely something I’ll treat my skin to every week or so. The shave oil, in combination with a good razor and a quality shave cream like Dreadnought’s, made for a silky shave where the blade just glided off my skin. Deluxe.
The kids at Brooklyn Grooming are off to a humble but wonderful start with a smart line of stuff that should appeal to men from all walks.