Product Review: Fulton & Roark’s Full Line of Grooming Products

Fulton and Roark

When you think of spa days, you probably think of women with cucumbers over their eyes and clay face masks. But spa days are freakin’ awesome, and men should get to indulge in stress-relieving aromatherapy, high-quality face washes and shave creams, and silky smooth skin without feeling conspicuous. At The Manual, we often hear about guys stealing their girlfriends’ grooming and skincare products or just buying women’s products due to the high quality. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little Oil of Olay, there are products out there that were made with busy dudes in mind.

Fulton and Roark is a bespoke men’s grooming company based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The company, which we’ve covered before, got its start making high-quality take-anywhere solid colognes, but now they offer an entire line of shave and wash products. 

We tested their full line–cologne, face wash, shave cream, aftershave cloths, and bar soap–just for you readers.

The total takeaway: The quality, across the board, is great. The scents range from woody to floral to citrus-y to clean. All of their products have beautiful packaging and are made from high-quality, natural ingredients. Some of scents were a bit overwhelming at first, but they became manageable once applied as intended. Some of the products are a bit pricey, but given how long they last, we think it’s well worth it.

Want to know more? Read on for individual reviews of each of their products.

Solid colognes

Fulton and Roark colognes

These colognes come in beautiful brushed metal slide-boxes that are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand but surprisingly weighty. Quite frankly, it’s fun to flip open the lid again and again and again, so if you have coworkers who can’t stand clicking pens or tapping fingers, we suggest you leave your cologne in your bag during the day.

We tested five scents: Shackleford, Clearwater, Ltd. No. 2: Escalante, Hatteras, and Tybee. The scents are surprisingly diverse.

Shackleford: warm, woody
Clearwater: fresh (almost ocean spray) with a hint of pine
Ltd. No. 2: Escalante: musky, almost pungent, but cool
Hatteras: woody with a hint of citrus
Tybee: clean and fresh with some cedar

There is something for everyone: if you don’t like the more pungent scents, you could go for one of F&R’s cleaner scents, and vice versa.

The scents themselves are wax-based, and they’re surprisingly strong when you smell straight from the packaging–to the point that we were unsure how the product would translate in application. After all, when it comes to cologne, you want to use the one-foot rule: you never want anyone to be able to smell your cologne outside of a one-foot radius. But when applied, most of them were surprisingly subtle. The Hatteras was a bit strong upon initial application–it is probably the strongest scent of the five–but the next day, we tried applying less, and it, too, was subtle and manageable.

In terms of use, most of the colognes stood up to the test of time. One of the testers went for a seventeen-mile bike ride after applying Clearwater, and he could still detect the scent after he got off his bike. Shackleford, however, didn’t last very long and had to be reapplied after only a few hours.

These wax-based scents are more portable than their liquid counterparts, and their containers are handsome enough as to warrant reuse after the last bit of cologne is gone. Overall: a great product. We can definitely see why these guys are what F&R is known for.

Takeaway: Good enough to replace your splashes and sprays. Scents vary, so there’s something for everyone. Long-lasting and subtle (save for the Hatteras, which was a bit overwhelming).

$42.00 for 0.2 oz

Face wash

Fulton and Roark face wash

Per usual, beautiful packaging: a dark green plastic bottle and black label.

This was our surprise favorite of the entire line. As far as face washes go, it left us feeling clean without that uncomfortable tight-faced, just-sloughed-off-half-my-skin feeling you get from some other face washes.

The face wash itself is clear and rather thin, so if you’re not careful, you might end up using too much. You need only a nickel-sized amount, so be careful when you pump. And we know: that doesn’t seem like a lot, but a little seriously goes a long way.

It lathers nicely and smells incredible: pine, mint, and citrus. We used this in the morning, and the sharpness of the mint (from eucalyptus and tea tree oil) was a great wake-up call. But the scent is also gentle enough to use at night before bed.

Don’t be afraid to use this every day, because it won’t overdry your face. We tested on sensitive, oily, dry, and combination skin, and the only person who wasn’t 100 percent convinced was the tester with oily skin–he is used to, he says, using salicylic acid every day, so F&R’s gentle, natural formula left him worrying about shine.

Takeaway: Fresh scent suited for morning or night. Gentle enough to use every day. Won’t strip your face of necessary and natural oils, though if you have oily skin, this might leave you worried about shine.

$22.00 for 8 oz

Shave cream

Fulton and Roark shave cream

As with all of their products, the shave cream’s packaging is handsome, managing to balance an old-timey aesthetic and modern lines. The cream comes in a silver squeeze tube with a roll pin to guarantee you get every last drop. And while it’s fun to roll the pin every time you use the shaving cream, make sure you avoid overrolling, lest you end up wasting precious product.

What’s particularly interesting about this product is that it’s ultra-concentrated, so it won’t lather like you might be used to.  To boot, application can be a bit finnicky–you need to make sure your face is wet enough for it to work the way it’s intended. The first time our tester used it, his face wasn’t wet enough to apply properly, so it started to dry out halfway through his shave. Make sure your face is clean and wet, and don’t worry when the cream doesn’t foam like crazy. Don’t be afraid to run a little water over your face halfway through if you feel it drying out.

Each time we used the cream, the shave was close, no red bumps or cuts in sight. It was incredibly rich–perhaps owing to the avocado. There’s not much of a scent to this guy, which is fine by us. Perhaps the best aspect of this product is that, even though the cream is quite thick, it doesn’t gunk up razors like some other ultra-close formulas. Minimal annoyance while running a sharp blade over your face? We’ll take it.

Takeaway: High quality shave cream that protected from bumps and cuts, but application is a bit finnicky. Definitely worth it though, as the learning curve is fast. It only takes one shave to figure out how much water is necessary, and you’re good to go.

$16.00 for 3.4 oz

Aftershave cloths

Fulton and Roark aftershave cloths

Towelettes? You may ask. Like the little things you use after gorging on buffalo wings? Why not balm or lotion or, hell, even a splash? Because, dear reader, sometimes you just don’t have time for that stuff, but you still need to prevent red bumps and irritation.

We kid, we kid. These are so much more than the cheap little towels you use at the end of your messy meal. They come, once again, in beautiful packaging: black and white individually-sealed packets that are easy to throw in your bag and take anywhere.

They’re formulated with witch hazel, eucalyptus, bergamot, and sage. When you first tear open the package, you’ll get a wave of eucalyptus. One of our testers found it to be overwhelming. But that strong mint quickly fades, and you’ll pick up a gentler, more earthy, herbaceous scent. The cloths themselves are thick and soft, perfect for using on your sensitive post-shave skin. To boot, these towelettes have all the anti-inflammation properties you could ever want.

They were soothing, but left a couple of testers complaining that their skin felt sticky. For what it’s worth, after a minute or two, the stickiness goes away, but it is something to keep in mind.

In terms of quality, the product itself is great. The scent is pleasing, and the witch hazel definitely gave us a cooling effect. But we’re not sure they could permanently replace our aftershave lotions and balms. We suggest using these if you’re running late for work, taking them with you on overnight trips so you don’t have to bring your balm, or using them to freshen up if you’re on the go.

Takeaway: Soothing on post-shave skin. The smell was overwhelming to one person, but fine with everyone else. We’re not sure to-go wipes are going to replace our balm, but then again, their to-go packaging suggests that they’re better suited to taking with you on trips or using for a midday freshening up anyways. A great, quick way to make sure you’re always keeping it fresh.

$28.00 for 30 cloths

Bar soap

Fulton and Roark bar soap

Say goodbye to Irish Spring. Seriously. Go throw it out. We’ll wait.

F&R’s bar soap is a massive block of red clay, eucalyptus, sage, and black spruce oils. It smells minty and woodsy. The refreshing-yet-musky scent was overwhelming when we first opened the soap. That seems to be a trend with F&R’s products: before their intended application, they come off as potentially too strong.

But as with F&R’s other products, the bar soap ended up being subtle and delightful. The texture of the soap is grainy enough that you could exfoliate if you just used the bar itself, but, as always, we suggest using a loofah in order to get the proper lather. This soap doesn’t leave a sticky film post-rinse like other soaps, and the red clay left our testers with soft, healthy-looking skin.

Takeaway: This should be your new go-to soap. No post-rinse film, a subtle scent that will leave your SO wanting to smell you all the live-long day, and great exfoliating properties.

$16.00 for 8.8 oz