OK - so I do know I am opening that "Method Shaving" can of worms. The problem I have seen is that there is a lack of a longer review of the system as a whole. I would look at the "one shave test" the same as having a few strokes with a blade to review it before even finishing the shave. I am surprised people will test blades for a month but not really try a product that has a learning curve.
To address a few issues - 1) I am NOT CAR or in any way associated with enchante or hydrolast. I am just a guy who believes that there should be good reviews. I purchased all of my products with the exception of the cutting balm. It was given to me to help learn with GFT soap and avoid nicks and cuts while learning. 2) I am in Austin. I have had quite a few conversations with CAR to get the hang of this system. I will continue to do so and will be happy to forward polite questions to him.
Third point is a paragraph on it's own. Charles is energetic and can almost be over the top at points. No, he does not shave like in the videos ("That was just showing what the product can protect against" CAR). The videos are made to provoke a reaction, not as a "Hey, hack at your face" thing. When I stumbled into Enchante a newbie without any experience, (I just googled local shaving and went - no idea about the store), he was not pushing his product at all. In fact, he steered me towards a GFT soap and a brush. I asked about all of those bottles of Hydrolast (didn't know he made it) and he said "no, that's for later. You might want to go there later but maybe not. Just learn to be a good shaver first." The only thing he did incorporate in was the cutting balm as "training wheels". He gave me 2 oz at no charge. His explanation of developing the system is that he was tired of people coming in, buying all of the gear for traditional shaving and hacking them selves up, never to be seen again. He said he was tired of half of his initial business walking out never to return. I think his approach was about as far from the "hard sell" and "must have" as it could be.
4) Hydrolast can be used in any combination you want. It is designed to be able to be customized to the person. I was first using cutting balm with GFT and random creams and soaps. Take what works for you. That is the reason I am sharing my long term review. I need time to learn it and get it set for me.
I will not use any "jargon" if at all possible. No steel or mantle stuff here. I will use a cartridge (gasp) on occasion as I need to travel frequently for work. I would appreciate not getting flamed with "I hate this stuff" posts if you haven't given it a shot at all. It is not terribly expensive (I think the starter kit is $25). If you have had problems I will see if I have had the same issues and if not I will ask.