Over the past few weeks, I swapped out my usual shaving cream, deodorant and body wash in favor of products from the boutique men’s skincare company Marlowe.
In this post I’ll lay out everything that came out of my weeks-long test, including what my wife said the first time she smelled Marlowe’s products on my skin.
So without further adieu, scroll down to see my full Marlowe shave cream review, as well as my thoughts on their deodorant and body wash.
I had never heard of Marlowe before one of their PR reps reached out to ask if I’d be willing to collaborate with them.
As always, I made it clear that I would only accept samples of their products if there were NO STRINGS ATTACHED. I tried the three products they sent me (the shave cream, deodorant and body wash), then summarized my honest, unfiltered opinions for this review.
And with that disclosure out of the way, on to the review!
Marlowe Shave Cream Review
Plus! Bonus Reviews of Marlowe’s Deodorant and Body Wash
I’ve always believed (and at this point, repeated ad nauseam) that the handsome devil is in the details.
That’s why I own four almost-identical topcoats. It’s why I have – and brace yourself, because this is not a joke – six blue v-neck sweaters, each in a different shade. It’s why my shoe collection is approximately three times the size of my wife’s.
But none of those things, dear reader, are what I want to confess. (Why would I? All of that stuff is just par for the course for any self-respecting style blogger!)
Instead, what I need to confess to you is that, for all my peculiarity when it comes to style, I’ve never really been that particular about my shaving cream.
[At this point I’ll pause to let the shock of that bombshell wear off. Have you recovered? OK good.]
I know, I know: it’s shameful. As someone who always tries to put my best face forward, you’d think I’d be a lot more concerned with the type of cream I lather on my face.
But for whatever reason, I’ve always been content to grab whatever brand of shaving cream was on sale at the drugstore, and never put much thought into it beyond that.
So when Marlowe sent me their designer shave cream, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Here are a few of the factors that jumped out at me the most.
“No Nonsense Skincare”
The first thing I noticed about Marlowe is that its tagline is “No Nonsense Skincare for Men.”
And as someone for whom irreverence is an essential part of life, I have to admit: I was immediately concerned. I don’t even like when people take themselves too seriously, but when brands do it? Ugh.
I looked Marlowe up on YouTube and found this video, which simultaneously worried me and put me at ease:
On the one hand, it was pretty self-serious, and kind of made their various skincare products out to seem super serious. On the other hand, the music was pretty catchy, and more importantly… well, there’s no way to say this except to just say it: I liked it because the guy’s name was Dave.
Should I have been swayed by the fact that a character in their commercial shared my name? Of course not.
But did I enjoy closing my eyes and listening to the deep-voiced announcer proclaim that “Dave knows sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and get the job done”? Guilty.
So, while I was still a little concerned about Marlowe’s penchant for undervaluing the need for nonsense, after watching the video I decided to be more like (that) Dave, and get the job of testing their shaving cream done anyway.
No Aerosol Canister
The first thing I noticed about Marlowe’s No. 141 shave cream was that, unlike pretty much all of the drug-store shaving creams I’ve used over the years, Marlowe’s comes in a plastic tube rather than an aerosol canister.
Until you read the label, the tube looks more like face wash than shaving cream, which makes for a cool aesthetic and (much more importantly) is probably much better for the environment.
I also found the experience of squeezing the cream out to lend the process of shaving a cool sort of old-school vibe. Even though I use one of those super-modern six-blade razors, the fact that I had to squeeze the tube to get the shaving cream out somehow felt more authentic than pressing a button and watching it shoot from a canister like silly string.
As soon as I squeezed some of the cream out, I noticed how good it smells.
Most of the shaving creams I’ve used in the past have all had the same artificial menthol smell.
If you’ve ever used shaving cream that came out green or blue before foaming up, you probably know the scent I mean; it’s not a particularly offensive smell, but it’s definitely not all that pleasing, either.
But Marlowe’s shave cream smells… well, handsome, for lack of a better word.
The cream contains shea butter and coconut oil, neither of which are words that you’d immediately think of as being synonymous with “handsome,” but the addition of citrus and what Marlowe calls “a woody base” make for a scent that’s both rugged and suave.
It smelled the way I imagine James Bond smelled in the climatic scene of Skyfall, when he’s setting a trap for his enemies in the Scottish highlands. (Yes, I sometimes imagine what James Bond smells like. Don’t pretend you haven’t done it.)
When I got into bed after using it the first time, my wife leaned in and (with more surprise in her voice than I would have cared for) said “You smell like a man.”
If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.
No Foam = Less Wasted Cream
The lack of an aerosol can also means a lack of foam, which at first I was a little concerned about. But after a few shaves I quickly found that this is actually a feature, not a bug.
With traditional aerosol shaving creams I always wind up spraying way too much into my palm, and then rinsing half of it down the drain before I even reach for the razor.
But because Marlowe’s cream comes out like face wash or any other cream, it was a lot easier to portion it out slowly, and a little went a long way.
Perhaps most importantly (and apologies if I’m burying the lead here), this stuff works.
The first time I used it I was concerned, because I wound up with a number of small nicks and cuts, particularly on my neck, which left those pesky little red bumps for a day or two.
But the next time I went to shave I realized that during my first experience with Marlowe I was using an old razor blade that was long past the point of needing to be replaced. I swapped out it for a brand new, repeated the same process I used the first time, and found that the red bumps were completely gone.
Since then I’ve repeated the experiment a few times, and each one has resulted in a flawless shave that left my face feeling clean, moisturized and handsome.
Slightly Pricier Than Drugstore Brands*
*but heavy emphasis on “slightly”
Every product I’ve reviewed on this site has had its share of pluses and minuses, and I pride myself on writing honest reviews that reveal both the good and the bad.
But with this one, I have to admit: I couldn’t really see any minuses.
When you have a well-made product from a small boutique company that surpasses the quality of its mass-market competitors, you expect to pay a hefty premium for the superior product.
And while Marlowe is slightly more expensive than the usual drug-store brands that I’m accustomed to, its premium really isn’t that hefty. Each tube costs $12 for 6 fl. oz of cream, which translates to $2 per ounce.
That’s slightly more than you’d pay for a bottom-of-the-line shaving foam from the drugstore, but it’s actually slightly less than Gillette charges for its “premium” shave gels from its Pro Glide brand.
All of which is to say that Marlowe’s price is barely a minus—it’s actually more than fair given the quality of the product.
And since we’re talking about something that you’re going to smear all over one (or more…) of your most important body parts week after week, it’s probably worth shelling out a couple extra bucks for a premium product.
Marlowe Body Wash Review
In addition to the shaving cream, I also spent the last few weeks using Marlowe’s No. 103 body wash.
Since I’ve already confessed to a lifetime of skimping on my shaving cream, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that I’ve also traditionally opted for the cheapest body wash I could find.
Usually this means grabbing whatever happened to be on sale at the time, and occasionally opting for the generic drugstore knock off if none of the big brands were on sale.
So you can imagine my delight when I first pumped a bit of Marlowe’s body wash onto my sponge and found that, not only did it lack the green toxic-sludge color that’s described most of my past body washes, it also lacked the artificial scent that was chemically added to most of them.
Like the shaving cream, the body wash smells woodsy without going full lumberjack, making for a scent that’s both masculine and refined. The bottle boasts the words “Renews”, “Energizes”, and “Refreshes”, and while I can’t say I founded it anymore renewing or energizing than my typical body wash, it was definitely refreshing.
At $12 for 16 fluid ounces, it’s significantly cheaper than the shaving cream, and while it’s slightly more expensive than I’m used to, I have to admit: I’m a convert. The extra couple cents it ends up costing per shower is worth it to start my day feeling masculine and refined.
Marlowe Deodorant Review
The third product that Marlowe sent me was their No. 024 deodorant. Of the three, it was definitely the one that I was the most nervous about.
Years ago I learned the hard way that white deodorant sticks aren’t my friend. In the past I’ve had bad experience with white deodorants leaving marks on the under arms of my clothes, so I was a little self-conscious when I first started wearing Marlowe’s.
The other thing that gave me pause was the word “natural.” I’ve tried other natural deodorants before and always found that they left me smelling… well, too “natural.” (Actually, why be coy about it? They left me smelling like the sweaty mess that I am.)
But in this case neither of my fears proved justified. I applied Marlowe’s deodorant each morning for a couple weeks, and on a few days I purposely wore dark colors to see if anything would rub off. I’m happy to report that it never did, nor did it leave me exposed to the perils of body odor.
At the end of the day I still managed to pass the sniff test, much to my own relief and that of the people who sit near me at work.
Like Marlowe’s other products, the deodorant smelled masculine and fresh, which is actually the only nit I have to pick with it.
Personally I prefer to wear deodorant that has no scent at all, because most days I like to wear cologne, and I don’t want my deodorant to have a separate scent that may clash with it.
So on days when I didn’t intend to wear cologne it was great, because the deodorant doubled down on any lingering scent left from my shower, and contributed a nice masculine musk.
But on cologne days I often found myself reverting back to my usual scent-free deodorant to avoid any unwanted overlap.
Final Thoughts on Marlowe’s Products
Overall, my experience with Marlowe’s shave cream, body wash and deodorant was incredibly positive.
Both the shaving cream and body wash were significant upgrades for me, and I highly recommend them to any guy who wants to step up his shaving and showering game.
The deodorant I would recommend to anyone who doesn’t wear cologne regularly, because it can provide a faint masculine scent that supersedes the need for cologne. But if you’re like me and enjoy wearing cologne, then you may be better off avoiding Marlowe’s deodorant, lest you risk scrambling your scents.
Nail the Details
Making sure you have the right grooming products is a key factor in knowing how to look sharp and stand out, but even a feature as prominent as your face is still just one piece of the menswear puzzle.
If you really want to learn how to out-dress the other guys and stand out from the crowd, you need to know how to nail the details—all the details.
Enter your email address below and I’ll send you a checklist that will help you do just that, outlining the Nine Details You Need to Nail to step up your style and put your best face forward.
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As the founder of Irreverent Gent, Dave shares smart style advice that helps guys look sharp, and smart-ass jokes that make them wish he’d just stick to advice. When not blogging, he loves working out, obsessing over the MCU (#ILoveYou3000) and pretending to know about wine when his wife takes him somewhere fancy.