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on June 21, 2012
I've been a user of the VDH Shave Set for years (yes...the same brush and bowl). My kit has survived flights, cruises, road trips, toddlers, curious teen age brothers, 3 ex's, and 3 moves. This kit has been on more vacations than Chevy Chase and seen more Face Time than an iPhone. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased a second kit a few months after my initial purchase because my local W-Mart didn't have have any soap cake refills in stock and I thought it would be a great idea to have a kit just to take on Vacation or leave in my gym bag. I also use shave creams as well(Geo F. Trumper Violet Soft Shaving Cream 200g cream)(Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado Shaving Cream)(Taylor of Old Bond Street Almond Shaving Cream) but shave soaps are so much easier to take on vacation or to the gym.

This is the GED graduate of shaves sets (General Education Diploma aka the "Good Enough Diploma"). It's not that $300 chromed shave set, but in the neighborhood of $10.00 it's definitely good enough. In the right hands this kit will give you a great shave. Are there better sets on the market? Probably. Are they going to improve YOUR shaving experience to the nTH degree...probably not. Are they marketed at this price. No. Save your money and spend it on a decent razor and blades. Once you have that down...then you can experiment with pricier sets if YOU want.

I own several brushes that I've collected over the years because I'm just that kind of a person. The VDH set is my work horse and I now rotate brushes for the sake of rotating brushes. Some brushes are softer...others more coarse. Some brushes are not PETA friendly, some are. In the end, the brushes I own all give me a great lather and serve their purpose. The VDH brush is no exception. Decent brush, great price and it comes with a bowl and a soap cake.

I used to break out horribly after shaving using the mass marketed stuff with rash and irritation. I then discovered wet shaving with a dual edge safety blade(Merkur Heavy Duty Razor with Slant Bar #198 3") and WOW what a difference. If you are able to use the Mach-50 or whatever they call them these days more power to you.

Back when I first started shaving I'd use the same razor cartridge for the entire school year...rust deposits and all. I also used to feel light headed after half of a bottle of beer. Sadly those days are gone and my beard would now give a cheese grater a run for its money. Canned shaving cream also seemed to fall short and made the whole shaving experience a royal pain in the patella as it became more drying and irritating to my skin as my beard matured. Again . . . if you can get away with the canned stuff count yourself very fortunate. In my late teens a can of shaving cream would last me a whole year. Go figure.

To each his own as far as his methods are concerned. I will share mine, but I think everone's skin/hair is different. Here's what I think of this kit.

The Brush:
My VDH brushes look nothing like the exploded cigar sunflower thing in one of the pictures above. Hmmm...(stroking imaginary chin hair...you know...because this is a review about a shave set). I can't speak for VDH's quality control BUT I do own 2 separate sets purchased from 2 different stores in 2 different counties.

I've gifted a few of these to young men in my family new to shaving and it gives me great pleasure to see these kits on their sinks when I stop by for a visit. Maybe I'm just really lucky...even though I play the lottery weekly and never win anything. I would think that if a brush fell apart within a few weeks that I would be able to return/exchange the product quite easily due to a manufacturer defect, but some people aren't into returning things.

If you're new to wet shaving and don't know how to use and care for a shave brush then google is a great resource. Basically don't be a mongoloid and it should give you many years of great use (barring any manufacturer defects that I have yet to experience on my end).

How do you use it? Wash your face first! Do you really want to scrape a piece of metal across a dirty, oily layer of skin? The handle of the brush fits in your palm and your fingers should grip the sides of the bristles near the base of the handle.

You don't need to crush the bristles in an attempt to create a lather. After you're done shaving gently wipe the sides of the brush on a towel to remove any water from the surface. Place the brush on a shaving brush stand (Muehle Tortoise Shaving Brush Holder) and allow it to dry properly in an open location (not in the medicine cabinet). The stand does not need to be super expensive. I own one similar to the link I provided that I found on ebay for a few dollars shipped. You do need a stand. Placing the brush on its handle will definitely ruin the bristles in a hurry as the moisture won't have anywhere to go but into the handle.

I've experienced the loss of a stray bristle here and there and chalked it up to wear and tear. Do I scream "shenanigans!" when I need new tires on my car after 60,000 miles despite good upkeep, frequent alignments, and regular tire rotating and balancing? Negative. At this price I don't see why anyone would complain about replacing a brush after a few years of use.

I usually wet the brush and use it to moisten my face. I then wet the brush again and work up a lather on the brush using the soap in the bowl. This action allows for exfoliation and helps lifts the hair away from your face prior to shaving. I then apply the lather for a minimum of 2 shaving passes. More often 3. When I have a date night planned I go the extra mile with a 4th pass. Yes. This means shaving multiple times in different directions. More passes paired with poor technique will leave you with nicks, cuts, and possible razor burn/rash. Use caution. If you do cut yourself it is wise to invest in a Styptic Pencil(Pinaud Clubman styptic pencil for nick relief - 0.25 oz, 2 pack). They can be found for under $2.00 at your local W-Mart. They stop bleeding fast, disinfect and don't take up much room. They work wonders! They're advertised as sting-free. But this should be read as "stings for free." Nevertheless...the thing works!

I shave in a certain order. Top to bottom. Back to front. Front to back. Bottom to top. Shaving against the grain is the most irritating step if you're not careful or if your skin just isn't ready for it. If your skin is already irritated don't irritate it further by shaving against the grain right away. Wait until the irritiation goes down.

Follow up with a toner based bump preventer (B&C Skin Tight Product for Razor Bumps & Ingrown Hairs-Extra Strength(12 oz) - can be found at W-Mart for fairly decent price) on a cotton pad if you're prone to razor bumps and then after shave if you'd like (Shea Moisture, Tea Tree Herbal Bump Preventer After Shave Elixir 4 oz Nubian Heritage). Lastly apply a shaving lotion (Shea Moisture Shave Anti-aging Moistuizer & Bump Preventer 2fl Oz). If you stick with a routine your skin will be clear, your face soft, and your woman happy.

Another option to after shave is to use an alum block after you're done shaving (I used one when I first started wet shaving and go back to it from time to time if I experience any skin irritation or acne). Simply rinse your face with cool water. Wet the alum block with cool water. Rub the alum block on your face. Air dry. This does a few things. Disinfects, stops any bleeding, and dries to form a protective layer on your face for those of us prone to break outs or irritation post shave. Air drying keeps any lint, dust, or bacteria present on our less than fresh face towel off of our face. If your too heavy on an application, just rub it off with clean hands and apply a thinner coat next time around. The alum block's mild sting doubles as a critique of any flaws in your shaving technique or a dull blade that needs to be changed. Here is a link to the product available on Amazon: Alum Block by Osma - 2 Pack Value.

The Bowl:
Ummm. Yeh. CHECK!

In all seriousness the bowl fits pretty nice in the palm of your hand while you're lathering up. It's easy to clean. It's round. I've never eaten from it. Great job on the bowl VDH!

The Soap:
The soap is of pretty decent quality and if it causes you irritation then it's simply not for you. I have very sensitive skin and this shave soap has never really caused me any grief. There is a learning curve to wet shaving so be careful not to blame a poor technique and routine on a good product. VDH soap has a pleasant fragrance to it and it leaves my skin feeling refreshed. It is my opinion that its fragrance is mild enough that it will not clash with an after shave. I usually use an aftershave, and it's the only thing I can smell after application.

Using quality products like this make shaving a little more enjoyable. If I had another face I'd be in for 2 more sets!!!

I shave with the Merkur Slant Razor that uses safety dual edge blades, for those that are curious. The other products I've listed in my review have all worked well for my skin although I have used others depending on sales and availability of products.

5 stars for this kit, its price range and for its quality.
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VINE VOICEon October 4, 2009
Got this kit for about $8.50 at a Wal-Mart.

And, considering the price, its an awesome value.

Here's the thing about brush shaving, its really nice. It feels good on your face, it results in a nice close shave, and its honestly kinda fun to do it the old school way.

The bad part is, you go on the internet and find out that there's a super elite group of people who will tell you that THIS brand of shave soap is the best soap and you should only use THIS brand of badger brush because the other types don't compare and how you can only use THIS kind of razor because the other kinds will somehow destroy your face and make shaving the kind of unspeakable horror only sick, twisted people dare entertain their minds with.

The point I'm trying to make is this: there is actually a community of shaving snobs. People who've actually invested over a hundred dollars in particular, elite equipment to SCRAPE LITTLE HAIRS OFF THEIR CHINS!!!!

So they see this cheapo set and turn their noses up at it, because its ONLY EIGHT DOLLARS and you can BUY IT AT WAL-MART!!!

I do like wet shaving. Its a good shave. I shave with a double edge safety razor (a Merkur) and this particular kit. And it works out GREAT!!!

So here's my review:

THE BRUSH: Its a boars hair brush, and its fine. It lathers well, it works the way it should, its not rough on my face at all. Yes, it has a plastic handle. WHO CARES?!?!?!?! Its the HANDLE of a friggin BRUSH!!! Do your hands start on fire if they touch plastic? Do you get an allergic reaction if your fingertips handle a brush thats not metal or wood? If you answered "No" to both those questions, then you're fine. Complaining about the material of a shaving brush handle makes you a snob.

THE BOWL: Its a bowl. The soap sits in it, it holds steady when you lather. Its fine. You know why? Because its a FREAKIN' BOWL!!! How do you honestly complain about a bowl? It functions, it doesn't offend the eye, its fine. Don't be a snob.

THE SOAP: Honestly, I've tried so many canned shaving creams its ridiculous. I'm a man with sensitive skin and it doesn't matter how moisturizing the cream was, I still had nicks and cuts and irritated skin. So imagine my surprise to find this soap to be a key part of a very clean, enjoyable shave. I seriously get better results from this soap than I do with my gels and creams. Way to go, VDH shaving soap. Are there better shaving soaps? Probably. Do I care? No, because this one leaves my face moisturized and refreshed, costs 1.80 per bar, and I can actually get it without ordering it over the internet.

BOTTOM LINE: A great wet shave kit, especially for the price. Avoid the snobby opinions and give it an honest shot. If you're not a total tool you'll probably be surprised by how nice this kit is.

There are plenty of things in this world where the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail make a huge difference. Guitars are such a product. Automobiles are another. Shaving brushes and bowls are NOT!!!

Don't be a dumb shaving snob, just go shave your face, then start investing yourself in something thats actually important.
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on July 1, 2009
First, brush shaving may not be for everyone, I can't see how though.

If you want to introduce a friend to brush shaving, this is the way to go. If they don't like it, no loss, if they do, this will carry them through until they get a better set.

As far as brushes go, if you're buying boar, you aren't going to waste your money on a metal or wooden handle brush! You're going inexpensive (not cheap).

The soap in this kit is actually quite nice. I'm currently using a EJ Sea-Buckthorn soap, but the VDH soap must've been loaded with aloe, because it always makes my skin smooth, it doesn't have a strong scent though.

The bowl in this kit (not a mug ~ a bowl) is very deep, which I actually really like. I place my brush in the bowl and fill it to the brim with STEAMY HOT water and let it soak for 15 or 30 seconds. It softens the soap for getting on the brush quickly and gets the brush nice and warm to the core.

At this price, pick up a few and pass them around to guys who are still in the dark about brush shaving, you'll make some converts.

I like to leave my Edwin Jagger set at home, I have this VDH set packed in my travel kit.

For the money, it should have more stars, but compared to other shave brushes, it could have less. Factor the cost and the product and it gets 3 stars. Don't mind spending $25 or more? Go with badger.
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on November 18, 2009
Obviously this is not for old school die-hard wet shaving enthusiasts yet still easily beats using canned shaving foam/gel.

The dish is exactly as it appears, decent looking but nothing too exciting.

The brush is a low grade boar hair brush that is unlikely to last more than a few months. I've used mine about 6 weeks and it is shot which is what I was looking for when I decided
to write this review. The brush should be hanged upside down(bristles down) to allow for proper drying and prolong it's life. I did not do so and merely turned it up on it's end when done shaving, consequently the hairs have prematurely worn.

Personally I like the soap, it has a very mild yet pleasant odor and contains Aloe and Shea Butter. My skin is moderately dry and this helps lubricate for a comfortable shave while moistening my
face simultaneously.

This shave set is nothing that will last years but is ideal to get a sense of if you wish to pursue wet shaving/using a brush and soap in the future. It does not lather nearly as well as a quality brush but is sufficient for a comfortable and close shave. The soap will likely last you 3-6 months so coupled with the bowl it is worth the price. You can find double edged razor blades for a safety razor in local stores for less than $2.00/10 blades. These blades offer a much closer shave than any cartridge I have used and are significantly less costly. I would encourage all men to at least try it so you too can rid yourself of the burden of a lifetime of expensive razor/cartridge replacements. Actually this is a brilliant marketing idea for a company who sells higher grade safety razors/straight razors/shaving soaps/bowls/shave kits as it is enough to experience it at a low cost.
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on February 22, 2012
My main thoughts: This product costs what shaving products should cost. It's nice to see this in a market that seems wildly expensive to newcomers. All elements of the kit are durably made. Good way to see if you like shaving with a brush, which you probably will.

1. About the physical product:
Brush:
- Not too rough or too soft.
- Well-glued. In my case, the brush looked nothing like that poorly glued specimen in the product photos.
- Takes a little while to dry. Make sure to dry with the bristles hanging down (see below).
Bowl:
- Solid and a lot heavier than I expected. I could probably drop this and it would be fine.
- Nice thick glossy finish.
Soap:
- Subtle, pleasant smell.
- Good for sensitive skin. Better than my Aveeno can.
- Builds lather decently, might take more time than some are used to (see below).
- Perhaps as many uses as a can of shaving cream.

2. Tips to make the product even better:
- Make your own brush stand. Take a coat hanger from the dry cleaners, fold the shoulders in, and kink the hanger loop forward. It will exponentially lengthen your usage time and will allow the brush to fully dry after use. Yes, this is a lower quality brush, so you'll quickly destroy it if you dry it by balancing it on its handle.
- Take your time building lather. At first, you'll be terrible at building lather in the bowl. Take your time with it and really develop it before putting it on your face. The boar's hair will also take a few more uses to become effective.

I bought this, along with a Concord DE razor, for a cheap introduction to safety razor shaving. I'm very happy with the start of things. I recommend it, along with some care.
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on May 27, 2012
I've been shaving with a brush for nearly 40 years. I know how to use and care for them. This looked like a nice set and a very reasonable price. It can be also be purchased at Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer's. I purchased several for my sons and a new set for me. After one week's usage, the center bristles started to come out. Not just a few as one might expect from a new brush, but the whole center fell apart over just a few days. I thought it was a fluke and purchased another. It did the same thing and my sons have had the same experience (except they didn't try another one). It appears the center of the brush was cut too short to be held by the handle. I added a photo that shows the problem. I have been using a different brush I ordered from Amazon - it is working well so far. When I have used for over a month, I will update this review and write a review on the new brush.
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on April 22, 2011
I cannot be a insightfuls or humorous as some other posters, but I will give an honest review of this set. I purchased this set as my first venture into a wet shave setup.

It is what it is for the $10 I paid for it.
The bowl is great, nice and small enough to fit easily in my medicine cabinet. 5 stars

The VDH soap is wonderful, great lather and very comfortable shave with both a DS razor or Fusion. 4 stars

The boars hair brush was TERRIBLE, at least mine was. I expected it to shed SOMEWHAT during the first few weeks I used it but the shedding did not stop ! I was pulling boar bristles of my face continuously with each shave. For this I give the brush ONE STAR.

Enter Vanderhagen Enterprises who was fantastic and stepped up to the plate. I sent an email to their customer service department. I received a prompt response asking for my name and address so they could send me either a refund OR their better badger brush. I asked for the brush which I received. Although it is not part of this review, the badger brush is significantly better than the boar brush; and it doesn't shed.
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on February 25, 2014
It looks fine, and I really like the shape of the ceramic bowl, but there's one really silly thing.

They pack the brush, with a hard handle, and the ceramic bowl, together in a box with no padding whatsoever between them.
As you can guess, the bowl arrived broken.
I;m going to give it another shot, but If it's packed the same, I may be returning it again and just heading to the store.
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on July 1, 2010
This is a good set either as an introduction to shaving or as a keeper. I've always been a wet shaver and used canned lather and cartridges in the past. Now I use this exact set except when travelling from overseas where I work. I've actually used the soap from the plastic packaging when I travelled because I didn't want to further risk breaking the bowl. For the record, I've been using it for about a year and a half so the set brush is plenty durable with any basic care. Yes the brush loses a hair every once in a while but that's why you have a replacement on hand right? The plastic handle is fine unless the snob factor comes in to play. Just store it hanging from the knob with the bristles down. The bowl is a good height in which to work up your lather (coffee mug is too tall) but a handle might be a good idea. Lathering up is easy...just wet the brush under the hot running water and don't shake out too much of the excess...work the brush around the bowl until you obtain the lather of your desired consistency. The soap is fine unless again, the snob factor emerges. Next up for me is an old fashioned safety razor instead of these WAY TOO EXPENSIVE cartidges and a decent shaving stand that will actually ship out to me. Overall, if I could give 4 1/2 stars I would but...not 5...nothing ever gets a perfect score huh.
Addendum dated July 15th - been using this set with my Merkur Saftey Razor and a variety of DE blades for about two weeks. I've used Merkur, Derby and Wilkinson blades to date with Feathers upcoming. I can say that the entire routine of shaving oil, brushed lather and a good DE safety razor shave is a weclome part to shaving and a nice way to start the day. This set works fine. The bowl is a good size and fits my hand well, the brush also fits my hand well and the soap has a pleasant yet not overpowering scent. The brush isn't prickly at all in my opinion. I've had no problem other than the brush doesn't fit the stand I have (like the Colonel Conk), even at the base of the knot but I read about that anyway. I have an improvised stand that I use to hang-dry the brush and I use the stand to stage my other brush leaning it against the prongs and the cap nut on top. I rotate between the two-use one this day the next one the next day and back between the two again. The only soap that I have used is the "regular" soap but I may try a different VDH version. I see no need to "upgrade" as this set works well enough for me. Hope this helps. Happy Shaves.
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on July 18, 2011
I purchased this shave set as a compliment to the Merkur Model 180 Long Handled Safety Razor. Well, I know it's cheap, but I wasn't expecting it to be THIS cheap. The bowl and soap are actually nice, but the boar brush is terrible! Mine shed HEAVILY and after 3 shaves the knot partially loosened from the handle and during the 4th shave it completely broke off. I emailed Van Der Hagen and a nice lady replied and said they would send me a replacement badger brush, which came 2 days later. I commend VDH for their quick response and attitude, however..the new badger brush is horribly cheap as well, the knot is thin and floppy, it creates extremely airy lather, and the handle is cheaply varnished wood and after 2 shaves the varnish is already peeling and water is seeping into the wood..I foresee this one dying soon as well.

If you're new to wet shaving and want a cheap introduction, do yourself a favor and buy your soap separately, toss it in a coffee mug and invest in a Tweezerman Men's Shaving Brush or a Black Handled Omega Professional Boar Hair Shaving Brush if you want to try boar.

Again, I have to hand it to VDH, they tried to make things right with a new brush and offered a refund as well, so the company isn't bad..just some of their products!
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