01-25-2020, 04:37 AM
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In my reevaluation of how best to treat my skin I've started to dabble a little on this new world of skin serums.


So what is a serum anyways? It's similar to a moisturizer, but in the form of a liquid oil. It differs in that while a traditional balm or moisturizer is formulated to, well, moisturize the skin, while a serum gives back the good oils to the skin which had been stripped away by harsh processes such as cleaning with soap or running a razor blade across your skin. So in this evaluation, I’ll be covering two currently available wetshaving focused serums.


In the later half of 2017 Boston based company Sē'bŭm made splashes by releasing their oil serum in luxury glass, cork, and wood packaging. I was fortunate enough to get a bottle of Sē'bŭm Lime on loan from a local friend to try it out for a few weeks in December and January.


A couple months earlier in September, Chicago based Oleo & Co released a similar product, Good Oleo, which I have been using since around November.


I want to start out by giving you a look at the two ingredient list;


Good Oleo
  • Ingredients: Jojoba Wax Ester, Hemp Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Squalane (Olive), Rosehip Oil, Shea Olein, Kokum Butter, Karanja Oil, [Spearmint EO, Eucalyptus EO, Lavandin Grosso EO, Peppermint EO, Balsam Oleoresin, Cedarwood EO (Himalayan), Tea Tree EO, Cade EO.]

*note, brackets added for emphasis to differentiate between ingredients and scents, important later.


Sē'bŭm Lime
  • Ingredients: Organic Jojoba Oil, Virgin Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Squalene Oil (from olives), Virgin Passion Fruit Seed Oil, Virgin Organic Argan Oil, & Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blend.

You can see that these serums are quite different than traditional aftershave balms, splashes, or milks. They contain no water, alcohol, witch hazel, aloe, or any of the primary components we have been used to seeing on the labels (which I assume many of us actually read and attempt to understand.)


Let's take a look at the claims made by each producer for their products.


Oleo & Co simply states that Good Oleo is "A nourishing blend of soothing skin loving plant based and essential oils that are good to your face."


The Sē'bŭm makes four claims on their website, which I'll list and compare with Good Oleo:


1. "Petrochemical Free: We never use preservatives, petrochemical fragrance oils, or plastic packaging material"


Since the ingredients on the Sē'bŭm label only list "Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blend" we can only take their word for it that there are no fragrance oils. Hopefully he doesn’t plan on selling in the EU. Good Oleo lists out each essential oil used.


2. "Superior to Jojoba: Jojoba Oil is a wax mono ester. This only accounts for 30% of your natural sebum. Our balanced formula is synthesized by nature accounting for sebum's entire composition"


This statement is a little confusing, are they saying that their jojoba is superior? Or that their product is superior to just applying unadulterated jojoba oil? Either way, both products use jojoba as a primary ingredient, just list it slightly differently, as well as a slew of other skin nourishing goodies.


3. "Alcohol Free: Alcohol Splash Aftershaves disintegrate your natural lipid barrier and beneficial flora. Alcohol further exacerbates transepidermal water loss leaving your skin dehydrated"


Yes, it's pretty clear that there is no alcohol in either product. Diving into the idea of alcohol being bad for you skin is worthy of its own separate post and has most certainly been covered numerous times already.


4. "Won't Clog Pores: Post-Shave Balms are highly comedogenic with a general rating of 4 on a scale of five. Sebum Gold on the other hand has a very low rating of under 1.5 allowing quick absorption by the skin"


So here's the thing about the idea of comedogenic factors. It's an extremely inaccurate measure with dubious origins. The idea dates back well into the first quarter of the 20th century. It's evaluation process is outlined well in a two part paper in the Archives of Dermatology, Volume 98 (Kingman and Katz 1968 and Kingman 1968) in which human sebum was applied to the inner ear canals of rabbits, once daily for five days, for two weeks. The ears were then evaluated, first visually (much to the emphasized regret of the author), then histologically (under microscope) to determine the amount of "horny material" (sebaceous buildup) in the inner ear hair follicles. This experimental process has been conducted, on rabbits, with numerous substances in the decades following and eventually a scale was created, assigning each oil or compound a numeric value of 0 (good) to 5 (bad) to indicate how likely that substances is in clogging pores.


To compare the comedogenic factors of the ingredients lists for Good Oleo and Sē'bŭm I used the first Google result when searching for a comedogenic scale, by herbal dynamics beauty https://www.herbaldynamicsbeauty.com/blogs/herbal-dynamics-beauty/understanding-the-comedogenic-scale-for-oils-and-butters. The site did not list kokum butter, which had to be sourced by searching for it directly. One key difference we can see when comparing ingredients is that Sē'bŭm lists "Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blend" whereas Good Oleo lists out each essential oil on the ingredient list. For the purpose of calculating the comedogenic factor, we should exclude these essential oils used purely for scent, not only because their percentage in the final product is extremely small, but also because Sē'bŭm simply doesn’t list them.


Since some ingredients have a comedogenic rating represented as a scale, for example Squalene is listed as 0-1, the final number also must be a rating from lowest to highest possibility. Sebum comes out at between 0.6 and 1.2, and Good Oleo between 0.625 and 1.0 on the comedogenic scale. So to claim that the product "won't clog pores" is likely fairly accurate for most people.


My takeaway from this is just how inexact if a science it is, and the use of "non-comedogenic" on a label has simply become a buzzword in modern day cosmetic advertising. Is there some truth behind it? Of course, but everyone's skin is different and each person will tolerate a product differently.


So we’ve covered the purpose of a serum, the ingredients, the claims, and hopefully opened your eyes to the potential benefit of incorporating a serum into your daily routine, either as a post shave product, or before going to sleep. Now let’s get down to an actual review. I've been on a real alcohol-free kick lately, completely eliminating it from my post-shave routine. For years I considered myself to have oily skin and vehemently protested using any sort of moisturizing product, sticking strictly to alcohol splashes. If it burns, it must be working, right? Maybe my skin has changed as I’ve moved out of my twenties, but I’ve been learning the importance of proper hydration in all aspects of life, face included. I began by mixing an aftershave balm with my alcohol splashes and eventually eliminated the alcohol all together, even going so far as to combine a balm with a serum for maximum moisture. To test Sē'bŭm Lime, I used it daily the better part of two weeks, both with and without a balm kicker. Note, this is was all done during the dry winter in New England. I had previously been doing the same with Good Oleo, and continue to use Good Oleo nearly daily.


The Sē'bŭm absorbs into the skin quickly and does not leave any oily sensation afterward. In fact, for me it actually creates a slightly matte feeling on my skin for the better part of the first hour, which I quite liked. I would typically use about three drops rubbed in my palms and spread across my face, either after shaving or before bed.


So how do I feel about Sē'bŭm? Honestly, it's great. My skin felt soft and I maintained what I would consider a good level of moisture throughout my day. However, I feel completely identical using Good Oleo. If you were to give me a blind, unscented test of both products, there is no way I would be able to differentiate them. An evaluation of the price difference just helps to emphasize how unlikely it is that I would purchase Sē'bŭm for myself.


A 4oz bottle Good Oleo costs $25 plus shipping, coming out to $6.25 per ounce. Sē'bŭm costs anywhere between $125-$365 (or more) per bottle plus shipping (yes you pay the shipping) and is roughly $25-$73+ per ounce. The upper range being estimates for the "SG customs" range.


So why the huge price difference when the ingredients aren't all that different? Well, it comes down to the packaging. Sē'bŭm comes in a very luxurious looking glass bottle, whereas Good Oleo will arrive to you in a simple plastic bottle. More-or-less $100 difference purely in presentation.


Now I did find faults with both types of packaging. The spout on Good Oleo is rather large and trying to get only a couple drops is difficult. I've rectified this by using a small rollerball applicator which I've filled with the serum. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sē'bŭm bottle spout is more precise, but once opened, I don't think you could ever get a reliable seal on it using only the cork lid. Transporting it runs a high risk of leaking once that cork has been removed, even once. [Image: seXxJyn.jpg]


In my testing, I found zero difference in the performance of Good Oleo versus Sē'bŭm Lime, and the chances of me paying an extra $100 or more for the unwieldy glass packaging is a flat zero.

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 01-25-2020, 04:54 AM
#2
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An impressive and well reasoned  review.  I know this required a lot of thought, time, and effort to put together.  Thank you.

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 01-25-2020, 05:33 AM
#3
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Thank you for putting a great deal of effort into this review. Hopefully, you have opened a lot of eyes. 

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 01-25-2020, 05:48 AM
#4
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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I was so impressed by the careful examination and depth of the review that I just had to have a bottle of good oleo for myself. Thanks

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 01-25-2020, 05:56 AM
#5
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(01-25-2020, 05:48 AM)RyznRio Wrote: I was so impressed by the careful examination and depth of the review that I just had to have a bottle of good oleo for myself. Thanks
That's great, enjoy! Looking forward to your impressions.

And thank you all for your kind words.

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 01-25-2020, 06:27 AM
#6
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Impressive review  thanks for sharing!!  Clap

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 01-25-2020, 06:38 AM
#7
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Vey well thought out and executed review. Nice job! You just may have sold me on a bottle of Good Oleo.

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 01-25-2020, 08:44 AM
#8
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A nice write up but I disagree on one point.... packaging is absolutely not the only factor in the price differential. As a Sebum Customs customer considering various options, the cost of essential oils can be as little as $5.00 per oz to upwards of $500 per ounce. This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products. If the other company is charging $25 per bottle, this price reflects the quality of the ingredients used, plain and simple.

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 01-25-2020, 08:55 AM
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(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products.

How are you certain? Does he list anywhere what EOs he uses?

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 01-25-2020, 09:05 AM
#10
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(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: A nice write up but I disagree on one point.... packaging is absolutely not the only factor in the price differential. As a Sebum Customs customer considering various options, the cost of essential oils can be as little as $5.00 per oz to upwards of $500 per ounce. This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products. If the other company is charging $25 per bottle, this price reflects the quality of the ingredients used, plain and simple.

I'm very sure you have a point, but I think we also have to consider the quantity of oil bought. Buying enough for 4 to 8 sets is going to have a very different cost than buying in bulk for hundreds of bottles. I'm not sure there's really any way to know "for certain" unless each creator were to share their costs. Since Oleo is producing a single product, I'm sure she is buying by the gallon when able.

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 01-25-2020, 09:26 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:05 AM)Tonality Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: A nice write up but I disagree on one point.... packaging is absolutely not the only factor in the price differential. As a Sebum Customs customer considering various options, the cost of essential oils can be as little as $5.00 per oz to upwards of $500 per ounce. This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products. If the other company is charging $25 per bottle, this price reflects the quality of the ingredients used, plain and simple.

I'm very sure you have a point, but I think we also have to consider the quantity of oil bought. Buying enough for 4 to 8 sets is going to have a very different cost than buying in bulk for hundreds of bottles. I'm not sure there's really any way to know "for certain" unless each creator were to share their costs. Since Oleo is producing a single product, I'm sure she is buying by the gallon when able.

Sure, consider quantity. A gallon of a cheap eo will be slightly cheaper in bulk. 16oz of expensive eo will be slightly less expensive than 1oz.

I think my point has merit. Not all ingredients are created equal. Many in this community refuse to recognize that fact.

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 01-25-2020, 09:39 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:26 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:05 AM)Tonality Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: A nice write up but I disagree on one point.... packaging is absolutely not the only factor in the price differential. As a Sebum Customs customer considering various options, the cost of essential oils can be as little as $5.00 per oz to upwards of $500 per ounce. This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products. If the other company is charging $25 per bottle, this price reflects the quality of the ingredients used, plain and simple.

I'm very sure you have a point, but I think we also have to consider the quantity of oil bought. Buying enough for 4 to 8 sets is going to have a very different cost than buying in bulk for hundreds of bottles. I'm not sure there's really any way to know "for certain" unless each creator were to share their costs. Since Oleo is producing a single product, I'm sure she is buying by the gallon when able.

Sure, consider quantity. A gallon of a cheap eo will be slightly cheaper in bulk. 16oz of expensive eo will be slightly less expensive than 1oz.

I think my point has merit. Not all ingredients are created equal. Many in this community refuse to recognize that fact.
I'm not trying to discredit your opinion, I'm just confused as to why you assume Oleo is using cheap ingredients over high quality?

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 01-25-2020, 09:40 AM
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(01-25-2020, 08:55 AM)NickFists Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products.

How are you certain? Does he list anywhere what EOs he uses?

If you would actually take the time to read my post.....

I have commissioned customs. I know how much these essential oils cost. Clearly you do not.

Go look at the details for his recent Fossil release. Two ingredients used were oud and amber oil. Go research the costs.

I take Rick at his word when he says he uses expensive ingredients.

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 01-25-2020, 09:42 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:39 AM)Tonality Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:26 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:05 AM)Tonality Wrote: I'm very sure you have a point, but I think we also have to consider the quantity of oil bought. Buying enough for 4 to 8 sets is going to have a very different cost than buying in bulk for hundreds of bottles. I'm not sure there's really any way to know "for certain" unless each creator were to share their costs. Since Oleo is producing a single product, I'm sure she is buying by the gallon when able.

Sure, consider quantity. A gallon of a cheap eo will be slightly cheaper in bulk. 16oz of expensive eo will be slightly less expensive than 1oz.

I think my point has merit. Not all ingredients are created equal. Many in this community refuse to recognize that fact.
I'm not trying to discredit your opinion, I'm just confused as to why you assume Oleo is using cheap ingredients over high quality?

Because they are presumably in business to make money and the price reflects the quality of the ingredients. Go look at other serums for men that are not geared towards shaving. You’ll find products priced from $25 per ounce to well over $100.

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 01-25-2020, 09:47 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:40 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:55 AM)NickFists Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:44 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: This, I am certain is where a primary difference lies in the pricing of these products.

How are you certain? Does he list anywhere what EOs he uses?



I have commissioned customs. I know how much these essential oils cost. Clearly you do not.

Again, how are you certain? 

OP didn't review a commissioned custom. He reviewed the standard line. And the only thing I've seen re: the oils are "aromatherapy essential oils." 

I don't know what this means. And he doesn't tell his customers which essential oils he uses, does he?

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 01-25-2020, 09:55 AM
#16
  • Sully
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  • Cedar Park, Texas
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This is a great review Tonality.  Thank you writing it up and sharing it with us.

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 01-25-2020, 09:56 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:47 AM)NickFists Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:40 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 08:55 AM)NickFists Wrote: How are you certain? Does he list anywhere what EOs he uses?



I have commissioned customs. I know how much these essential oils cost. Clearly you do not.

Again, how are you certain? 

OP didn't review a commissioned custom. He reviewed the standard line. And the only thing I've seen re: the oils are "aromatherapy essential oils." 

I don't know what this means. And he doesn't tell his customers which essential oils he uses, does he?

He’s likely trying to protect his formula from the many soap making fools who try to copy the hard work of others. I’d do the same if I was him.

You are, in essence, accusing a proprietor of ripping people off. You’ve likely never tried the product. You have nothing of value to contribute other than lobbing an accusation wholly without merit.

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 01-25-2020, 10:01 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:55 AM)Sully Wrote: This is a great review Tonality.  Thank you writing it up and sharing it with us.
Thanks Sully. I tried to present a rational explanation in am easy to digest (though admittedly long) format.

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 01-25-2020, 10:02 AM
#19
  • Johnny
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  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Nice review, Anthony.  Much appreciated.

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 01-25-2020, 10:06 AM
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(01-25-2020, 09:56 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:47 AM)NickFists Wrote:
(01-25-2020, 09:40 AM)nervosa1901 Wrote: I have commissioned customs. I know how much these essential oils cost. Clearly you do not.

Again, how are you certain? 

OP didn't review a commissioned custom. He reviewed the standard line. And the only thing I've seen re: the oils are "aromatherapy essential oils." 

I don't know what this means. And he doesn't tell his customers which essential oils he uses, does he?


You are, in essence, accusing a proprietor of ripping people off. You’ve likely never tried the product. You have nothing of value to contribute other than lobbing an accusation wholly without merit.


I've done no such thing, Sir!

VERY ungentlemanly.

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