Review: Burt’s Bees Natural Shaving Cream

Posted: August 30, 2015 in Shaving Articles
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Short Version:

Does it work? Yes.

Is it recommended? Hmmm. Only for specific purposes, and if your skin tolerates all the ingredients.

This is not traditional shaving soap. In point of fact, I wouldn’t call it a soap at all. It’s more of a lotion. It doesn’t lather. It doesn’t work with a brush at all. You basically smear some on and go to work.

So, it’s fast. No prep, no lather, no brush…which might not at all be to your liking, if you’re in the wet shaving game for the ritual of it all. If, on the other hand, you’re hoping to use a product without weird chemicals and just want your shave to happen quickly.

Ingredients: Clean as a pin. All good stuff that’s good for your skin. As one would expect with the reputation of this company. Keep in mind, however, that just because all the ingredients are natural, and there aren’t a ton of weird polysyllabic petrochemicals in there, that doesn’t mean that it will work for all skin types. There’s always a chance something in the mix won’t work well for your skin type.

Scent: It’s got a nice, essential oil rich smell. Not bad. It doesn’t stick around too much after the shave, so it won’t interfere with other scents you want to put into play. The exception to this is if you have a chin beard of some kind and the oil gets in said beard. Then, you’ll get slight returns of the Burt’s Bees ingredients until your next shower.

Protection: This is where it gets complicated. It’s hard to quantify the protection, slickness, and cushion of a soap that isn’t a soap. Let’s try. The slickness is pretty decent. The razor runs across your face with relative speed and safety. The layer of protection feels thin, however, so I wouldn’t give it high marks for cushion. If your shaving methodology is in the least on the aggressive side, be liberal with your application and re-application of this cream, as it tends to absorb and dissipate. Also, the residual slickness can sometimes turn to the tacky feel of just-moisturized skin, which can lead to blade judder, irritation, and nicks.

Face Feel: This stuff, being more of a lotion than a soap, isn’t going to dry your face out. It feels nice going on, but boy, it takes a small measure of faith to start shaving with cream that forms such a thin layer of protection. Try this stuff, and any new product, on a non-critical shave day, and with otherwise known equipment that you trust yourself with.

Other thoughts: The Burt’s Bees cream gums up the razor a bit, and isn’t as water soluble as a standard tallow or glycerin based soap. It does wash off, and works all right with a safety razor, but I think that it could be a problem with some cartridge razors that are already prone to clogging.

Where does this stuff fit in? Well, It could be a decent travel shave cream, if you don’t want to bother with carrying a brush with you. It’s also good for time-compressed shaves, as it does away with all the fiddling around you might expect with a normal wet shaving soap. As a more healthful and natural alternative to the canned gels and foams, it has merit. Finally, I think that it would make a very nice pre-shave, just to rub a small amount onto a wet face a few minutes before shaving. It would condition the skin and hair, as a good preshave would do.

If you’re looking for something totally different than any of the shaving creams or soaps you’ve used before, this is it. I respect this product in regards to generally working as needed, while going at the problem in a very different way. For a lot of people who love the lather and the brush, it will be a bit of a disappointment, and I can’t personally imagine settling on this as a go-to choice, but I’m glad I gave it a go.

Post Script: I tried the Burt’s Bees as a preshave prior to using Proraso Green. I wet my face throroughly, rubbed a fair sized dob into my skin for about twenty seconds, and it felt great. Within about a minute, it had almost totally absorbed into my skin. This further convinces me that this is more of a lotion than a shave cream. If we approach this stuff like a preshave toner, I think it becomes a much more attractive product. For the amount you get, it seems generally to be a good value proposition, as six ounces of preshave can run you a great deal more money than that elsewhere. Using it as a preshave, it in no way inhibited the face lather of my traditional soap. If you use an absurd amount of it, that might change, but on a wet face a single dab is more than enough to do the job in this role.

The Rest of the Story: So, later in the day after trying the Burt’s Bees as a preshave, I found that I had surprising and unwarranted irritation. It forced me to throw out the test of a safety razor blade, as the irritation cast doubt upon my preexisting findings. I also witheld my opinion on the Burt’s shave cream, as I didn’t know which of the two caused the issue. Sadly, I have found that it was likely the Burt’s. Something in the ingredient list doesn’t do well with my skin. I tried a swath of it on my arm, and tried it as a pre-shave again, but found that it started to cause discomfort and itch after a minute or two. I washed it off, then thoroughly cleansed my skin with alcohol, and the itch subsided.

This is not a product I’ll be using in any capacity, which is a shame, as it is fairly interesting in some ways. If you are not averse to the ingredients in this stuff, it could be a good solution for you, but for me, I can’t subject my face to something that literally causes me to break out into a rash. In addition to that, the mechanics of the cream just don’t seem to be as effective and efficient as soap-based creams or hard soaps for me. If pressed, I’d have to use a canned product (which I at would rather not) before I used this shave cream. Sorry, Burt. Sorry, Bees. Now what do I do with the better part of a full tube of this stuff?

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