Sigh. Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter really could have earned a better rating—it has its share of positive qualities. Unfortunately, Dollar Shave Club fell short by including a potentially problematic mix of fragrance oils and extracts. In a rinse-off formula, fragrances are typically less of an issue—but when that rinse-off product plays such a sensitive role in your shaving routine, the risk of irritation is increased due to the very act of shaving, which can be rough on skin. See More Info for additional details on fragrance irritants in skincare.
Fragrance issue aside, Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter is a unique formula in some respects—it's not quite a gel, but rather a gel-oil hybrid that rinses easily from skin, yet moisturizes and provides an easy shave as a result. It includes a few of non-fragrance plant oils, macadamia nut and grape seed oil, as well as other emollients and anti-irritants. What a pity this trend wasn't extended to the entire formula.
The problems arise with the mix of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. Eucalyptus has a potent ability to provoke irritation in the skin (Dermatitis, 2010 & Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 2006); check out the More Info section for information on lavender oil.
Individually, these essential oils and extract may not have been as concerning, but their collective impact in a shave product held Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter back from earning a higher rating. We would recommend skipping it in favor of "low to no" fragrance alternatives, such as those listed in our Best Shaving Products section.
Inclusion of Known Irritants: Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For this reason, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003)
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
Lavender Oil: In-vitro research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool and linalyl acetate, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application of as little a concentration as 0.25% causes cell death (Cell Proliferation, June 2004). This study was conducted on endothelial cells, which are cells that line blood pathways in the body and play a critical role in the inflammatory process of skin.
As linalool and linalyl acetate are both rapidly absorbed by skin and can be detected within blood cells in less than 20 minutes, endothelial cells are an ideal choice for such a test (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, 1992). The results of this research also demonstrated that lavender has a damaging effect on fibroblasts, which are cells that produce collagen.
The fragrance constituents in lavender oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, oxidize when exposed to air, and in this process their potential for causing an allergic reaction is increased (Contact Dermatitis, 2008).
If you're wondering why lavender oil doesn't appear to be problematic for you, it's because research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it happening for your skin to suffer damage (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
Dollar Shave Club At-A-Glance
Strengths: Generously sized products; inexpensive; mostly fragrance-free formulas; excellent serum and nighttime moisturizer; products are packaged to protect their ingredients from air and light exposure.
Weaknesses: Fragranced shave gel; you can’t build a complete skincare routine (yet) from the brand’s few products.
Venice, California-based Dollar Shave Club opened their internet doors in 2011, with their goal to provide lower-priced alternatives to the razors sold by large brands (think Gillette or Shick). If you’re one to visit YouTube, you’ve very likely seen their inaugural video ad that went viral in which CEO Mike Dubin introduced the brands mission statement, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.”
Fast forward a few years, and the independent Dollar Shave Club brand has expanded into the men’s skincare market with a few products that many have asked us about. (According to their website, they plan to release more in 2015.) Although there are only three skincare products at the time this review was written—a shave gel, a serum and moisturizer—what’s there is mostly very good and in a refreshing change of pace, above average for men’s grooming products!
The brand’s approach to sales is an interesting one. Dollar Shave Club is a monthly, mail-order service and once you sign up, you choose your first kit that includes your razor of preference and any of the brands’ grooming products. Then, you can edit your monthly kit anytime, removing or adding products as you prefer. Dollar Shave Club will email you a week prior to its shipment, allowing you to change (or cancel) your order. Only club members can purchase individual products at this time.
While there is no commitment to a monthly order (good), the caveat is that this experience doesn’t provide the “shop anytime” convenience of running down to your local Target or department store (not as good for some).
Interesting products aside, Dollar Shave Club has a sense of humor (evident in their YouTube videos), and is clearly committed to extending this throughout the customer experience. Each order includes a monthly newsletter of brand updates, jokes, member stories and more—all written with a wry and entertaining voice.
You may be curious about the “Dr. Carver’s” moniker emblazoned on each of the brand’s products. Just to be clear, there is no Dr. Carver behind the brand—this is a fictitious character created by Dollar Shave Club (there’s that sense of humor again).
SO, is Dollar Shave Club worth checking out? If the mail-order only approach isn’t a bother to you, the products are good and the prices are surprisingly affordable for what you get. We look forward to seeing what Dollar Shave Club does next!
For more information on the Dollar Shave Club, visit http://www.dollarshaveclub.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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