Review of new Wahl Shave Cream

I enjoy stumbling upon new wet shaving products at the drugstore.  Drugstore products get a lot of exposure and I view it as an opportunity to introduce new people to traditional wet shaving.  I recently picked up this tube of Wahl’s new shaving cream and I’ve been using it over the past several weeks.

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I have always known Wahl as the “electric clipper” company, and I have owned several Wahl clippers in my life.  But like many companies, Wahl has recently expanded into the men’s personal care market with new beard care, skin care, hair care and shaving products.

This is my review of Wahl Shave Cream (and some history, for those who appreciate the back story)

Note: I have no connection to Wahl.  I bought this product for full price at retail and received nothing in return for this review.

History

Wahl’s founder, Leo Wahl, shares some interesting similarities to King Camp Gillette, inventor of the safety razor.  Both were young, ambitious inventors in the early twentieth century.  And both made a lasting impact on male grooming.

Leo Wahl filed a 1919 patent for the first handheld electric clippers.  This set the stage for a multi-generational family business selling electric clippers to barbers, consumers and pet owners around the globe.

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As a high school student Leo Wahl experimented with a vibrating electric motor that he later developed into a massaging machine.  As he sold the massagers to barbershops, Leo realized he could use his knowledge and experience to create a better set of hair clippers.  He developed and patented the first one-piece handheld electric hair clippers.

100 years and 4 generations later the Wahl family still leads the company, selling and manufacturing clippers and personal care products around the world.  Wahl is still headquartered in Leo’s hometown of Sterling, IL.  They make an honest effort to manufacture as much as possible in the US, which I respect and appreciate.

Scent

My first experience with this product was the scent, so I’ll mention it first.  I really like it.  It smells very fresh and clean, like cold water and fresh cut grass.  My untrained nose picks up some citrus (although it is not overtly citrusy) along with some herbal and woody notes.

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My wife gives the scent two thumbs up, which is always a plus.  The scent itself is strong enough to hang on for a few hours…just enough to catch a passing whiff here and there.  It shouldn’t conflict with scented aftershaves as long as you rinse your face well after shaving.

Formulation

The shaving cream is white with a bright pearl sheen.  It is slightly thinner than most creams on the market.  This causes me to squeeze out more than I intend on occasion, which is unfortunate because a little goes a long way.

The cream has several fruit/botanical extracts and exotic oils in the formulation.  In addition to aloe, papaya, and lemon extract, the cream contains what Wahl calls the “W-Blend” of essential oils:

  • Manuka Oil – Cleanses
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil – Softens
  • Clove Oil – Conditions
  • Moringa Oil – Moisturizes

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With or without a brush?

The package does not have any details about how to use the product.  There is nothing wrong with trial-and-error, but I do wish they would put some guidance on performance onto the packaging.  Someone upgrading from aerosol might have a few questions…  Is this meant to be used with or without a brush?  Should I use a lot of water or use it relatively dry? How much is the “right” amount to use?

From what I can gather this is intended to be used EITHER with or without a brush.  With a brush it lathers well with little effort.  When I use too much I end up with a lathering bowl that looks like a tub of Cool-Whip.  A squeeze the size of two almonds creates more than enough lather for a three-pass shave.

But it can also be used brushless, in which case an almond-sized squeeze is the right amount for each pass.  It doesn’t lather very much when used brushless, which is to be expected.

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Performance

The shaving cream performs reasonably well – both with or without a brush.  The package says it is “super slick” but I would put an asterisk next to this.  With a lot of water it does have very good slickness – enough to touch up without reapplying cream (if that is your style).  But using the Wahl cream this thin comes at a cost – it feels less “protective”.

Using it with a thick meringue-like lather “feels” luxurious, but it loses a lot of the slickness.  I have found that there is a happy medium.  I use it with a brush, but a little thinner than I would some other creams.  This gives a decent balance of slickness and protection.

The cream does not appear to dry out my skin, which is critical.  But I also don’t walk away feeling like I just got a facial (that would be too much to expect regardless).

Given the choice between this shaving cream and an aerosol, I would choose the Wahl cream every time.  It is certainly a higher-end drugstore product that performs well.  But I am not blown away by the performance given the abundance of high-performing shaving creams on the market.

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Price

Here’s where I start to have some reservations about the Wahl Shave Cream.  A 6-ounce tube was $13 at the grocery store (it is $12.99 at wahlusa.com as of this writing).  For reference, that is slightly less per ounce than many specialty brands, but twice the price of other brushless drugstore brands like Cremo.  Here is a relative comparison:

  • Wahl: $2.17/oz
  • Taylor of Old Bond St:  $2.83/oz
  • Cremo:  $1/oz

I can’t fault Wahl for entering the market at this price, but I can’t imagine it will be sustainable.  There is a crowded market of superb specialty products and a growing selection of lower-priced solid performers on drugstore shelves.  I think Wahl has some work to do – either through marketing, formulation or pricing – to find the right balance of performance and price.

Bottom Line

The Wahl Shave Cream smells great and performs reasonably well.  It comes from a company with a deep history in the grooming market (albeit electric clippers), and a history of manufacturing products in the US (including this cream).  This product is trying to find a place in a crowded market, and the $13 price point may create some challenges.  Regardless, it is nice to have a “brush-friendly” brushless cream available on store shelves.

As always, I acknowledge that everyone’s shaving experience is different.  My beard, skin, and personal preferences are different than yours.  I suggest testing out the Wahl Shave Cream yourself and forming your own opinion.  I welcome any feedback about this product in the comments.

Wahl Shave Cream is available at wahlusa.com, Amazon, Meijer and Kroger (at least at my local Kroger store)

Further Reading

The purpose of this blog is to share how traditional wet shaving can help men get better shaves and clearer skin.  Here are some additional posts you may find interesting:

Intro to Wet Shaving – A primer on how DE shaving helps give better shaves and clearer skin

Shaving Technique – A “how-to” guide for shaving with a safety razor

DE Shaving Cost Comparison – Analysis comparing the cost of DE shaving vs cartridge shaving (spoiler: DE razors are cheaper than dirt!)

Gear for Beginners – The low-cost tools that introduced me to DE shaving

Razor Aggressiveness Basics – An explanation of what makes a razor “mild” with recommendations for beginning DE shavers

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