After razor makers descended into an arms race to see quite how many blades they could cram on a razor you’d be forgiven for getting disillusioned with the men’s grooming market, but a new set of brands are trying to change that. Instead of selling razors and replacement blades shaving subscription services aim to provide everything you need to get a great shave, straight to your door when you need it.
Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is the latest shaving subscription service to launch in the UK, claiming to provide a saving of up to 40% compared with standard blades. We put it up against established service Cornerstone to see how it compares.
Dollar Shave Club vs Cornerstone
One of the most important bits of kit is the reusable razor handle. The Cornerstone effort looks stylish with a round shape and chrome finish, as well as a red branded end that allows the razor to stand upright. To make sure you don’t mistake it for anyone else’s you can have the handle engraved with up to 3 initials for no extra cost and it comes with a razor cover for protecting the blades when traveling.
Dollar Shave Club offers 3 different razors: The Humble Twin; the 4X; and the Executive. We tried out The Executive and rather than the stylish design of the Cornerstone effort DSC has gone for a more utilitarian handle, with sections for grip on almost every face of the handle. This does mean it looks more like the kind of razors you find in normal shops, but you can have very little concerns over slippages on smooth surfaces.
While the lack of grip may worry some on the Cornerstone razor we didn’t have any concerns it would slip out of our hands during use. On the other hand the head of the razor does flex a lot – so much so that Cornerstone advises caution when first using – but once we got used to it we found it did follow the shape of your face well.
Overall we did like the more trendy look of the Cornerstone handle and the extra flexibility is good once you expect it – even if it did give us a couple of nicks before we mastered it.
Winner – Cornerstone
If you think these shaving services might be a way to avoid the ever-increasing number of blades on your razor you’d be wrong. The Cornerstone effort has 5 blades on each head while the DSC Executive has a whopping 6 (although the Humble Twin and 4X have 2 and 4 respectively as their names suggest).
Both sets of blades have a strip to help the blades run smoothly and are made from stainless steel. Cornerstone claims its Japanese chromium blades are particularly good for sensitive skin but we didn’t notice a lot of difference between them, although we should note our reviewer doesn’t have particularly sensitive skin.
Winner – Draw
In the standard starter packs the handle and blades come with some extra products. With Cornerstone this includes a bottle of shaving gel, pre-shaving scrub and post-shaving balm.
We liked the fact these products gave you the opportunity to do a full shaving ritual, exfoliating beforehand and moisturising after. In terms of smell the products are dominated by tea tree and certainly will do a good job of waking you up if you are using them in the morning. They leave a crisp refreshing feel but we certainly wouldn’t put them on the subtle end of the scale.
Dollar Shave Club provides what it charmingly refers to as the “Sh*t, Shower and Shave Kit” (their asterisk not ours). This includes an Amber and Lavender body cleanser, Shave Butter and One Wipe Charlies (which are EXACTLY what you are thinking – if you’re thinking of adult baby wipes that is). The body cleanser is pleasant enough and thankfully isn’t overpowering in terms of scent.
The Shave Butter is in place of a gel or foam and does a good job softening hair and helping the blades glide – although doesn’t lather in the same way you would expect of a gel or foam. This may feel a little alien at first but we got used to it pretty quickly.
Personally the less said about the One Wipe Charlies the better. We feel this is working to solve a problem that doesn’t exist (especially if you’re sh*tting and then showering in that order). The wipes themselves are infused with aloe vera and chamomile which seems a bit of overkill, but they do at least clean well and are substantial enough to use – but that also makes us wary of flushing them without causing blockages.
Winner – Cornerstone
Delivery and flexibility
Both services offer free delivery (or at least delivery included in the price) and the chance to cancel your service at any time without penalty.
Winner – Draw
With Cornerstone you can choose to receive a box every 6, 12 or 18 weeks, with the box costing between £14 (for just the blades) and £30 (for the full service) per box. Cornerstone also offers you £10 off your first box.
Dollar Shave Club has a few options with the cheapest razor handle and two sets of blades coming in at just £3 a month including delivery. If you want a better razor and any accompanying products like shaving cream/gel or scrub and balm etc it will cost more – replacement blades for the most expensive handle (Executive) cost £8 a month.
So on a blade only plan, Cornerstone will cost just over £120 a year (for a box every 6 weeks) and Dollar Shave Club will cost £96 a year (for the Executive razor).
Winner – Dollar Shave Club (for daily shavers)
Pick Cornerstone for…
If you’re looking for a stylish hipster shaving ritual Cornerstone will be the choice for you. The scrub, shave and moisturise routine will appeal to those that want to take their time over shaving and don’t mind spending a bit more on it.
Pick Dollar Shave Club for…
The twin blade razor offers fantastic value but there are a lot of opportunities to spend more on either a better razor or the various accompaniments. There is also the option to buy into a much larger range of products including things like pre-shave oils, scrubs or post shave cream or dew if you do want to do the whole routine – but obviously, this is where the cost will start adding up.