Strictly Man founder Christopher Forsberg shares his amazing story about starting a men’s grooming brand from scratch. His products are all manufactured in the USA and his new shave butter joins a rather small market of premium shaving lubricants alongside Dollar Shave Club and Van der Hagen.
He kindly sent us his new shave butter for review in our guide to the best shave butter. But we weren’t going to let him off easily. We challenged him on what makes his product worthwhile, if and why manufacturing in the US matters and whether women can use a product that’s “Strictly Man”.
Strictly Man Supply Co.’s Arctic Shave Butter
The shave butter Chris sent was a great experience. Even just opening the cardboard box there was a scent of mint seeping through the shrinkwrapping of the tubes inside and the outer box.
On sampling, the shave butter is smooth and silky in a translucent white. Don’t expect any lathering with shave butter. It’s like a thick oil.
A little went a long way on a prepared and washed face. What immediately stood out about it is just how slippery it is. While most shave lather you can simply rinse off your fingers very quickly, Simply Man was going nowhere. That made picking up a safety razor a little daunting and so its good to have a towel nearby. Unsurprisingly, shave butter is very much like butter.
That translates to incredible glide in use. And because it is transparent it’s great for facial hair so you can get up close to your lines without cutting them. That also meant shaving the beard line around the neck and adam’s apple was more comfortable than ever – despite being a sensitive area prone to irritation often requiring a gentle razor and shaving cream more suited to sensitive skin.
Throughout the experience there was a pungent aroma of the generous amount of scent oils in the butter. The label says to wash after use but as mentioned without soap you’re not going to get much off so most of these will absorb into the skin for a long lasting fresh scent.
In fact, after shaving the skin kept a light stinging sensation from the mint oils which felt good – few products these days have much essential oils unless you go high-end – although that might be an issue if you are sensitive to scent oils.
Here’s what Chris had to say about his product and brand.
Why did you choose to produce shave butter?
“I personally can’t grow a very good beard, but I also look like a teenager when I shave. So, I’ve been sporting stubble for a while. However, I like keeping stubble looking neat and cannot stand it when my neck hair reaches down almost to my collar. Ditto for when it grows up too high on my cheeks.”
“The thought of a transparent shave cream was appealing, since I was having a hard time symmetrically lining up my neckline. A shave cream that incorporated the glide of pre-shave oil, cushioning of foam, with the transparency of gel made the thought even better. Plus, I liked the idea of using skin-loving ingredients like plant extracts while shaving.”
What is Shave Butter And What Makes It Different?
There are not that many out there besides Dr Carver and Van der Hagen, why is that and what makes you different to them?
“I believe shave butter incorporates the best qualities of oil, foam, and gel into one great product. To be fair, I appreciate the ritual of wet shaving and the meditative benefits it can bring in the morning. But, I think you summed up shave butter’s benefits perfectly in your article: Shaving soap and cream can be uncomfortable when you can’t see the skin you’re shaving and you feel like you’re attacking the skin rather than nourishing it.”
“DSC pioneered the shave butter in the early 2010’s, so it’s still a relatively new product, and not many people know about it. Our biggest differentiator is in the formula. When developing, I knew I wanted two things: witch hazel, which is a fantastic skincare ingredient, and a soothing/cooling sensation. We achieved the cooling through peppermint oil, which is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial.”
Why is it important that your products are made in the USA?
What do you think of all the white-labellers out there who just rebrand imported products?
“Like any country, we have our societal issues that we are working through, but I am proud of where I come from. Keeping things in the US is convenient for shipping and communication, but I also pick up our inventory from the manufacturer directly.”
“Although I personally don’t write the checks to the employees, I take pride in seeing the faces of those that make the product and knowing I’m helping fellow brothers and sisters stay employed, especially during these tough pandemic times.”
“I don’t like to knock other people or brands. As long as they are being honest, genuine and making a positive difference in the lives of their customers, that’s what is truly important. With that being said, I am too controlling to not be a part of formulation development and trying countless samples before the final product.”
“We actually imported our first two products, but I spent about a year developing the formulas, tweaking them, adding and subtracting ingredients until we achieved something that could be brought to market.”
How did you get started forming a grooming brand?
“I’m not a business guru or at the pinnacle of marketing. I’m at the infancy of this and don’t know what I’m doing everyday. I had an idea, researched a lot about ingredients and skincare, found a manufacturer and began producing products.”
“There are a ton of nuts and bolts that I’ve had to figure out along the way, and a lot of 12-16 hour days, but my “why” is what drives me every single day.”
Your brand is very male-centric, the name itself enforces that. Can women use your products?
“I had really bad acne growing up, and I was very self-conscious about it. Luckily, I had a mom who recognized how bad it was and gave me a stick concealer to use. It was shaped like lipstick, and it was clearly marketed for women.”
“I depended on concealer so much for my self-confidence, but I was also embarrassed to use it. In college, I would hide it in a vitamin bottle so no one would see it in my dorm.”
“With the ultimate goal of helping guys look good, feel confident and be successful in their relationships and careers, our first two products were a tinted moisturizer and concealer for guys.”
“Since it’s essentially makeup, and I knew a lot of men weren’t ready to call it that, I knew I had to have a name and packaging that could sit on a dorm shelf without someone feeling embarrassed like I did.”
“With that being said, we love it when women use our products as well! My wife and all of our female friends use the shave butter for their legs. Some also use the concealer and tinted moisturizer.”
“Overall, I think the world can be a better place if we all feel confident and successful, and that goes for all people.”