It’s no secret that the male grooming craze has officially arrived. Just look at the sea of hombre-themed labels at your local pharmacy: Nivea Men, Dove Men+Care, L’Oréal Men Expert, Redken for Men, and—one of our favorites—ManCave Natural Skincare. In fact, market research firm Statista estimates the global male grooming market will be worth $21.4 billion in 2016, up 24% from 2012.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that to meet this soaring dude demand, a slew of new subscription-based services—companies like Morgans, Dollar Shave Club, and Birchbox—have emerged to cut that pharmacy trip out of your life altogether. These companies all specialize in monthly delivery boxes containing cheaper-than-Mach-3 razors, better-than-average shaving gels, and higher-than-high-end moisturizers. All claim to transform your face, protect your skin, and give you a closer shave than you’ve ever experienced, and all at a fraction of the cost of your store-bought supplies. But are they worth it? If so, which one is for you?
To find out, I actually tried them all—we’re talking razors, blades, shaving creams, preshaves, balms, skin soothers, moisturizers, bar soaps, shampoos, beard oils—and sought out some very high-level expertise in the process: L.A.-based grooming and makeup artist Joanna Pensinger (whose client list includes names like DiCaprio, Statham, Gosling, and Hamm) and the astute Sharpologist blogger Mark Herro. In the end, I came up with my recommendations for the winners and runners-up in several categories, ranging from “no-nonsense” to “damn, do I love to treat myself.” Here are the ones that make the cut.