Established in 2012 and based out of Adrian, MI, Maggard’s is the one and only stop for a lot of wet shaving enthusiasts out there.
When visiting their online store (they also have a physical store as well), you will quickly find that they offer just about every shaving product imaginable.
From hard to find horsehair shave brushes to standard safety razors, you can easily get lost in their vast offerings.
However, one of the first introductions that men have to Maggard’s, and the scope of today’s review, is their wet shaving starter kit.
Let’s take a look into this kit and whether it lives up to the expectations:
Why You Should Trust Us
When reading reviews online, trust is paramount. Therefore, we wanted to go over a few things before we delve into this review:
- This is not a paid post. We don’t accept paid or sponsored posts on this site.
- This article may contain affiliate links. We don’t have an affiliate relation with Maggard’s razors (i.e. we don’t get paid if you decide to buy a product from Maggard’s).
- We are an independently owned publication.
- We paid for the products featured in this post out of our own pocket.
- Maggard has no knowledge of this post prior to publication.
Overview of the Wet Shaving Starter Kit
So in order to give you a full and complete look at this starter kit, I want to first take you through Maggard’s website.
Unlike many other shave kits that offer a “one size fits most” approach, Maggard’s allows you to customize several features of their starter kit.
Therefore, if you decide to purchase this kit yourself, what you receive may be a bit different than what is reviewed below.
When heading over to the wet shaving kit page on the Maggard’s site, you will see the following:
As noted in the image above, you have the following options when it comes to customization:
- Handle Length: Short or Long
- Head Type: Light or Average Beard Density
- Shave Soap Scent: 5 Scents (Limes & Bergamot, London Barbershop, Mango Sage Tea, Declaration Original, and Ghost Town Barber)
For this review, I selected the following options:
- Long Handle
- Average Beard
- Ghost Town Barber soap scent
Now the two items that you have no customization options over will be the shaving brush and the razor blades. Instead, you will have to go with what Maggard’s gives you.
When everything is said and done, the price will be about $30 for the entire kit (more on the value in a minute).
After waiting a few days for the kit to arrive in the mail, this is what we received:
A rather no-frills box containing our shaving goodies.
Once it’s opened, you will find that it is stuffed with the local newspaper:
Personally, I think this is a nice little touch as it tips a hat to their small boutique shop size rather than traditional packaging from a faceless organization.
Once you remove the newspaper, you will see all your shaving goods neatly packed inside:
When taking a look at the packing slip first, you will notice that they take quality seriously as you will see a couple of verification signatures making sure that your custom kit was selected properly:
Again, these are small touches that I personally like as it doesn’t feel so sanitized and efficient like most other grooming companies.
But of course, you didn’t come to this review to learn about Maggard’s unboxing game; instead, let’s switch gears and talk about the important stuff itself – the wet shaving kit:
As you can see above, the starter kit contains the following:
- Shaving Soap
- Shave Brush
- Safety Razor
- 15 Razor Blades (5 blades in each pack) from three different manufacturers
Here’s a detailed look at each tool:
The most important part of the kit will be the safety razor.
This three-piece razor features all the subtle design details that rival even the most respected brands in the game (namely Merkur, Parker, Muhle, etc.).
From the well-crafted closed-comb head to the expertly made knurled handle design, this razor will look great on any bathroom countertop.
By simply twisting the handle, you can swap out the razor blade easily thanks to its universal fitting:
One small design detail on the razor that isn’t noticeable at first is the Maggard’s logo that is etched into the bottom of the handle:
As far as the length and weight, it’s in line with most other popular safety razors. As evident in the picture below, this long handle razor stands just over 4″ in total length.
And weighs a moderate 92g (3.25oz):
To put that into context, here is a look at the weights of other popular razors:
As you can see, it is 18g lighter than the hefty Merkur Barber Pole (38C) but significantly heavier than cartridge razors and the unique OneBlade Core which we recently reviewed.
Related: Merkur 38C Review
The shaving brush that is included in this kit is a perfect introductory shave brush for the wet shaving novice. Made from synthetic fibers, this brush can not only withstand a ton of abuse thanks to the durable fiber choice but also can whip up a generous lather.
Relying on a resin handle, this 22mm shave brush (available to purchase separately here) offers great control thanks to the moderate loft (length of the bristles) and handle length.
Like the safety razor, Maggard’s put their trademark maple leaf logo on the bottom of the handle of the shaving brush:
Note: While not pictured above, the shaving brush is packaged separately in its own box in order to ensure that the bristles remain intact and not damaged during shipment.
As we saw earlier, Maggard’s offers up a variety of shave soaps that you can go with when building your kit.
While some of the shave soaps were private label brands, the one we decided to go with for this review was the highly touted Ghost Town Barber by Chiseled Face.
Related: Chiseled Face Shave Soap Review
At just 2oz, while small, this soap gives you plenty to work with in order to generate a rich lather (which you will see in just a minute).
As far as the quality of the soap itself, the ingredient list was pretty good and contained all the staples you come to expect from a well-performing shave soap.
Now we won’t dive too deep in analyzing this soap as it would be well-suited for another review, but I just wanted to share the feedback above as it gives you an idea on the quality of products that are included in this kit (i.e. these aren’t cheap or bad products that are being bundled into a kit).
In the kit, we got three very different razor blades from brands which include the following:
- Astra (Made by P&G/Gillette)
- Ladas (Made by Mostochlegmash)
- Gillette 7 O’Clock (Made by P&G/Gillette)
Whether you have a history with using a safety razor or not, you will appreciate the variety that Maggard’s delivers here.
Given that it’s widely known that razor blades can vary in performance from one man to the next, finding the right blade to compliment your facial hair type is important.
These three options are a great introduction to the varieties that exist out there.
Beyond the three included in this kit, you can also find variety packs on Maggard’s site that will be compatible with your safety razor.
Shaving with the Maggard’s Safety Razor Kit
Now for the fun part – using the shave kit.
During the review, I used no additional shave products (i.e. pre shave oil, aftershave balm, etc.) to give you a better understanding of the experience you will likely receive should you decide to buy a starter kit such as this one.
Here are my thoughts:
Learning to Shave Again
Picking up the safety razor is a tough endeavor for a lot of men, myself included. It requires a steady hand with proper technique. I’d recommend that you give this article a read as it shares what you need to know when shaving with a safety razor.
With that being said, let’s give the Maggard’s safety razor a try:
Grain Mapping & Shave Prep
To get started, let’s quickly take a moment to look at how the hair grows on my face. In my case, you can see the grain mapping is all over the place:
Note: Don’t follow my grain map here. Doing so will lead to poor results. Instead, study how your facial hair grows in and shave with the grain (the direction the arrows point) accordingly.
Now that the grain has been mapped, I am going to go ahead and trim down my beard with the beard trimmer:
Of course, this part is optional, but the idea was just to make the work a bit easier for the safety razor rather than having to cut down long whiskers.
Once done, this is was I was left with:
Again, not going for perfection here; just trying to cut it down to size.
Now that that’s done, let’s drench the shaving brush in some warm water for preparation:
Once well soaked, I am simply going to squeeze out excess water and begin working it into the shave soap in a clockwise motion:
To be quite honest here, I am not doing anything too terribly complex. I know some shave aficionados have this down to a science, but I am not trying to overthink it too much. Basically, all I am looking for here is a dense lather that doesn’t have big bubbles.
Note: Big bubbles mean that there is too much added water. We are trying to avoid that so the shaving cream provides a nice insulated lather.
Once I am happy with the consistency, I’m going to go ahead and work it onto my face in a clockwise motion and make sure that I get all the areas (and then some) that I plan on shaving.
The shave cream here smelled great. I thought that it went on fairly well and provided a slick base that would be acceptable for the safety razor.
Now one thing that’s worth noting is that generating a lather out of the container can be a bit strange for some – especially if you are used to using a softer shave cream like Proraso or Taylor of Old Bond Street.
It’s more a technical thing to get used to and not at all indicative of the quality of the soap or the brush.
Shaving with the Safety Razor
Now that the shave cream is well applied, let’s start working with the razor. The goal here is to take short overlapping strokes in the same direction that the grain grows in:
Furthermore, you want to try and have your hand on the end of the safety razor and apply very little pressure – ideally, you should let the weight of the razor itself do the cutting:
As for my feedback during this shave, I thought that this safety razor was rather beginner-friendly. While not the same as a cartridge razor, the long handle makes it feel familiar.
Now when shaving the neck area, I wanted to be sure that the skin on the neck was pretty taut in order to get a better cut on the whiskers:
My thoughts on the starter kit so far…I like it! As you can see in the image below, there was no real nicks or cuts that happened during this first pass:
Now those guys with keen eyes will quickly point out that there were some significant areas that were missed.
I’ll admit – this was my fault. While trying my best not to make an excuse here, I can’t help but think that trying to take pictures shaving while also looking into the mirror at the same time takes some getting used to.
These misses were 100% user error and not a reflection on the razor.
Now being that there is still a bit of whiskers left, let’s go ahead and re-lather and finish the job:
As you can see here, the lather goes on much nicer with the second pass since there isn’t nearly as much facial hair getting in the way.
When making the passes with the razor, it was like a hot knife through butter:
As for the final results, here they are:
Overall, I thought the starter kit was a nice introduction to traditional wet shaving. The brush, soap, and safety razor all performed well.
While I could have gone with an against the grain pass in order to get that super smooth finish and very little sign of stubble – I am happy with these results.
There were no significant nicks or cuts that were made (only one very minor one right at the top of my adam’s apple).
As for the feedback on the starter kit – it felt high-quality throughout. Nothing felt cheap or low-quality.
Finally, would I recommend this to readers just starting out with wet shaving?
It’s a well put together kit that, while it may take some getting used to, can quickly become a fun activity for a lot of men.
Value of the Shave Kit
When it comes to value, Maggard’s starter kit is one of the best out there.
At $30, you get a well-rounded kit with everything you need in order to achieve a traditional wet shave.
Now if you were to build a kit yourself by buying each product from Maggard’s separately, here’s how much you should expect to spend:
- Safety Razor (MR18) ~ $18
- Shave Brush (22mm) ~ $10
- Shave Soap (4oz)* ~ $15
- Razor Blades (Ladas, Astra, Gillete) ~ $3.5
*Maggard’s doesn’t sell the 2oz size separately.
That’s a total of $46.50!
That’s a savings of $16.50 by just simply opting for the kit rather than buying each of the above products individually.
Furthermore, if you were to look at some comparable shave kits available at other retailers, you will find that they are often priced significantly higher and bundle in cheap no-name brand products that will deliver a subpar performance at best.
Promo Codes & Deals
Unlike other retailers that flood your inbox before your first order with them arrives in the mail, Maggard’s is a bit more conservative with their email marketing.
In the month since I originally placed an order with them, only one promo email came in:
If you are holding your breath for a deal or promo code, you may have to wait a bit before something pops up.
Return & Warranty
The return policy and warranty that Maggard’s offers is fairly standard.
For the razor and shave brush included in the kit, Maggard’s offers up a 6-month warranty to cover any manufacturer defects.
As for returns, anything that is unopened and unused is available to be returned.
Now, this probably isn’t important at all if you are buying a $30 shave kit. However, if you are a big wet shaving fan and have a shave den that would make your barber jealous and regularly drop several hundred dollars on a straight razor or shaving brush, then these details will be a whole lot more important.
If you plan on spending several hundred dollars, then you will want to check out the Maggard’s Return Policy page for all the fine print.
While the scope of this review was on their DE starter kit, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least touch on the Maggard’s store itself.
While I don’t personally live in Michigan, based on the selection of shave supplies provided in the pictures on the Maggard’s site – it is nearly worth a trip to Adrian, MI to view it firsthand.
Beyond the pictures of their store, their online catalog is incredibly vast. From the 839 different shave creams to the 863 aftershaves, you can easily lose an evening just browsing their selection while replenishing your shave den.
Aside from buying new products, one area where we see Maggard’s often recommended is for their straight razor honing services.
The restoration service, in particular, has come up countless times on popular forums. The reason is that men may have recently inherited their grandfather’s or even great grandfather’s straight razor and have trusted Maggard’s to have it restored to its former glory.
It would be truly a unique experience to share the same straight razor that your great grandfather used himself 100 years ago.
Final Thoughts on Maggard’s
It’s easy to see why Maggard’s comes so highly recommended by wet shave enthusiasts. Not only do they deliver incredible value within their starter kit, but the craftsmanship and quality of products competes head-on with the biggest names in the business.
If you always wanted to get into traditional wet shaving but had no idea on where to start, then this kit that Maggard’s put together is a terrific starting point.
It has all the essentials you need in order to get a great shave.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.