We tried men's grooming products from Duke Cannon, a military-inspired body-care brand that's giving back to veterans - here's what it's like to use

Duke Cannon

  • Duke Cannon is a military-inspired men's grooming brand that's equal parts fun to use and good quality.
  • The brand sells soaps, colognes, lip balm, and a lot more.
  • While it's military-inspired branding might seem like it's just novel for novelty's sake, we found the products to be great, and Duke Cannon supports real active-duty military members and veterans by donating 5% of its net profits to military causes.
  • We tested a wide range of Duke Cannon's products and ultimately liked everything, though admittedly, some of us were a little put off by the overtly macho messaging. Keep reading to find our thoughts.

The men's grooming industry is filled with brands that use overly-macho branding simply to dupe men into thinking they're products are worth buying.

Duke Cannon, an up-and-coming men's grooming brand, could easily fall under that category just based on its packaging - that is, if it weren't for the fact that its products are actually really great.

The brand's identity comes in the form of military-themed products and packaging, including huge brick-style soap bars used by GIs in the Korean War, solid colognes packaged inside military-style metal tins, and much more.

Duke Cannon

Rather than being a one-dimensional novelty brand, Duke Cannon actually supports its source of inspiration. Every year the brand donates 5% of its net profits to causes (typically one for each quarter of the year) that benefit veterans and active-duty military. In the past, Duke Cannon has donated to K9s for Warriors, Honor Flight, and Fisher House. On top of its yearly donations, the brand provides grooming products to smaller military-based organizations when their budget permits.

While some might find the branding to be clever and catchy, others might find it to be off-putting - and that's ok. Duke Cannons firmly backs the quality of its products, so we decided to put them to the test. After trying everything from the "Big Ass Brick of Soap" and the "offensively large lip balm" to the new line of colognes and cooling after-shave, we concluded they work well, no matter how we felt about the branding.

Shop all Duke Cannon men's grooming products now.

Check out out our full thoughts on the products we tested, below:

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap

Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap
Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap, starting at $9 each

Before I had a chance to read the label, my first thought was that this was a huge bar of soap, and that's the exact impression Duke Cannon was going for. Modeled after the brick-style soap bars GIs used during the Korean War, the Big Ass Brick of Soap is a whopping 10 ounces, which is about three times the size of an average soap bar.

I had the chance to try a few different soaps, but my favorite turned out to be the Productivity bar. It has a fresh minty smell and steel-cut grains for grip. It also did a great job of keeping my skin soft.

Although a single brick probably won't fit in the palm of your hand, I didn't find the size to be excessive. The only gripe I could see someone having with the size is fitting it in a small soap dish. To that, I suggest you pull out your utility knife, chop a chunk off, and make it work. After all, the brand is inspired by military culture, so employing some ingenuity can go a long way. — Amir Ismael, Insider Picks reporter

Duke Cannon Cooling After-Shave Balm and Field Towels

Duke Cannon Cooling After-Shave Balm and Field Towels
Duke Cannon Cooling After-Shave Balm, $15 Duke Cannon Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels, $10

If I may be frank, the Duke Cannon marketing is a bit of a turn-off: in-your-face, overly macho messaging like "Not for clowns" and repeated reminders that this is stuff made for "real men." Ok, I get it, Duke Cannon makes grooming products for men who hate grooming products.

But ignore all that and what you actually have are some very good products with a great cause (a portion of proceeds go to US veterans). For this review, I tried the Cooling After-Shave Balm and the Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels.

As you might expect, the menthol-based Cooling After-Shave Balm will jolt you awake after a hot shave. There's aloe and shea butter in the formula, so overall, the balm is cooling and moisturizing and the scent isn't overpowering.

The Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels, came in handy during hot, humid summers when I sweat more than usual. I also like using them post-gym when I don't have time to hit the showers for a proper cleanse and I have to be somewhere, like work.

In short, I like the products and the cause, but I don't connect with the messaging — perhaps I'm not the target customer. — Les Shu, Insider Picks guides editor

Duke Cannon Balm 140° Tactical Lip Protectant

Duke Cannon Balm 140° Tactical Lip Protectant
Duke Cannon Balm 140° Tactical Lip Protectant, $9

Much like the soap, Duke Cannon's lip balm is big in size or as the label reads, "offensively large." What I like best about the Cannon Balm 140° is that it doesn't go on shiny or greasy, and it still does a good job at keeping my lips moisturized. It has a unique blood-orange and mint flavor, which is a lot more pleasant compared to your average medicated lip balm that's packed with menthol. The $9 price tag might seem like a lot of money for a lip balm, but you have to remember that it's four times bigger than the lip balms you'd grab at a convenience store or pharmacy. If you can manage to not lose it as most people do with lip balms, you'll be in good shape. — Amir Ismael, Insider Picks reporter

Duke Cannon Prescott Proper Cologne

Duke Cannon Prescott Proper Cologne
Duke Cannon Prescott Proper Cologne, $25

I'm by no means a sophisticated aromatics specialist, but all of the colognes I've used over the years happen to be rather expensive. Once I tried Duke Cannon's Proper Colognes, my perspective on how much is too much for cologne changed.

When dealing with colognes, one of the biggest factors to consider is whether it's an eau de parfum or an eau de toilette. The former has a higher fragrance concentration, while the latter will have a more faint scent. All of Duke Cannon's Proper Colognes are eau de parfum, which means a few sprays will last all day long — there's no need to go overboard with a bunch of sprays.

The best part about the cologne is that Duke Cannon breaks down each one with a profile and key scent components (this one is "woodsy, rich, with some green notes for balance"), so you won't have to completely guess what "Prescott" or any other name might smell like.

At $25 for one bottle or two for $40, I don't think I'll be going back to paying $60 and $70 a bottle for watered-down eau de toilette colognes just because of the brand name. — Amir Ismael, Insider Picks reporter

Duke Cannon Seneca Proper Cologne

Duke Cannon Seneca Proper Cologne
Duke Cannon Seneca Proper Cologne, $25

Growing up in the age of Axe Body Spray, I always had a negative perception of colognes. I never took the time to find any brands I liked. After nearly 25 years of unscented living, the Duke Cannon Seneca cologne is the first fragrance I've ever owned. The brand's scent notes say that this one has an "aquatic foundation with some rich earthy and woodsy notes."

The first time I used the spray, I obviously put on way too much. While no one around me was complaining, the intensity of the aroma was unsettling. It wasn't an unpleasant smell, it was just overwhelming.

Since that learning experience, I've employed the Jonathan Van Ness "spray, delay, and walk away" method. This lightened approach doesn't last all day like a direct spritz, but it still helps me feel more confident in my scent as I get my day started.

As a cologne-novice, Duke Cannon's $25 cologne is a great starting point. It feels and smells like a high-end luxury brand, without the $75-plus price point. — Danny Bakst, Insider Picks content producer

Duke Cannon Randolph Proper Cologne

Duke Cannon Randolph Proper Cologne
Duke Cannon Randolph Proper Cologne, $25

Coming from an Orthodox Jewish home, I never really encountered cologne. I believe my first introduction to "men's perfume" was when I'd go to the neighborhood mall and enter the well-ambianced Abercrombie and Fitch store. I'd take a gleeful whiff of that unmistakable Abercrombie signature cologne, then rummage through the store to find that perfect linen shirt with the iconic moose logo.

I recently got a bottle of Duke Cannon's Randolph Proper Cologne to test, and after weeks using it, I think it's a game-changer. Colleagues and even unfamiliar co-workers have given me compliments on the pleasant smell, which is musky and rich.

I believe the reason I enjoy the Randolph so much is that it's not so ... pervasive. I know some grandmothers, or as we call them, "bubbies," who wear so much perfume it totally defines their presence — but the Randolph cologne gives off a pleasant, fresh scent without overwhelming me or my coworkers. — Shalom Goodman, Insider Picks SEO fellow

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