Back in August 2017, I decided to ditch my traditional Gilette razor and delve into the world of the subscription shave club. I had heard a lot about this kind of thing, mainly the convenience that a shave club provides. My first experience was with Harry’s Shave plan which I’ve been using now for a good few months. I’d been contemplating testing a new shaver so when Money Saving Expert promoted a discount on Cornerstone, I took the plunge.
Cornerstone – The Gift Set
I was already familiar with the Cornerstone brand but I’d not yet seen the razor before signing up. The MSE deal was £8 for the Cornerstone gift set, normally £30. Within the gift set, you get a razor handle, 6 blades, and a travel cover. You also get the Cornerstone face scrub, shave gel and post shave balm. That’s not a bad little pack for £30, so for £8, I was very impressed.
The razor handle is made of aluminium and you get to add 3 initials to the handle when you order, which is a nice touch if you are ordering it as a gift. It’s quite weighty for a razor handle, biased towards the base of the handle. This feature allows the razor to stand freely on its base, a good feature.
The Cornerstone pre-shave routine
I tend to follow my own routine when I shave, but as I had the gift set, I tested the Cornerstone products. First up was the face scrub, not a product I would typically use. There is full info on the front of the tube as far as the ingredients and how to use it. “Blended with cedarwood and volcanic sand exfoliating grains to help release ingrown hairs, reduce shaving spots, unblock pores and lift dead skin cells for smoother, clearer skin.” Cornerstone has also made their product vegan-friendly which will please a lot of people.
After scrubbing my face I applied the shave gel, which smelt great. It’s a low lather product which again is different to what I am used to. You don’t need to apply a lot, I rubbed a small amount between my hands and applied to my face and neck and then it was time for the main test, the razor blade.
As soon as I started to shave, I noticed some major differences between Cornerstone and Harrys. The razor head on the Cornerstone is smaller and fatter compared to slimmer and wider with Harrys. Whilst the razor was shaving as you would hope, a combination of the small head and the overzealous lubrication bar meant that I was missing quite a lot of my face.
One of the weaknesses on the Harrys razor was that the lubrication strip was not long lasting and you couldn’t tell visually when it was running out. Cornerstone uses a blue strip which fades, this is good. What is not so good is that because the head is smaller, it blocks with hair easier. Normally I would rinse the back of it under the tap/shower and the blade will clear. This doesn’t work as well with Cornerstone and by having to rinse the front instead, you over lubricate the razor and I imagine it wouldn’t last long as a result.
Another issue with the razor head is that the trimmer on the back is rubbish. This is the extra blade that you find at the top, which I use for trimming under my nose etc. The blade is sharp enough, it just isn’t easy to use. I had to contort my face a lot more to be able to use it and run the razor over the same spot quite a few times.
As I tend to shave in the shower, I’ll then ‘finish’ the shave once I get out. Normally I will find that I need to tidy up around my sideburns and then I’m done. I’ve used the Cornerstone razor several times now, each time I’ve had to pick up quite a few areas that have been missed. In the process of doing this, I then found that the lubricant strip when nuts again. It all became a bit of a vicious circle.
Once I had finally removed the remnants, I tested the post shave balm. The instructions suggest that you splash cold water on your face to close your pores first. After this, you can apply the cooling after shave balm. It had a nice clean smell and felt nice and cool. Of all of the products I tested, this and the shave gel were my favourites.
After a few uses of the Cornerstone razor, I’ve abandoned it. I feel as if amongst the fancy packaging and the shiny handle, they forgot about the most important thing, the shave. Everything about the product suggests quality, and the cost is one that does the same.
I also wonder (but have no proof) how long the shiny razor handle might last in a damp bathroom. I have an aluminium rack in the shower where the shampoo etc lives and I’ve seen how this has ‘aged’ in the conditions. My suspicion is that the Cornerstone handle might follow suit.
Had I paid full price for this, I wouldn’t be singing from the rooftops about it. The gift set does provide a lot of products, but you do probably have alternatives already. I took a look at the Cornerstone site, 6 replacement razor blades cost £14 or just over £2.30 each. The Harry’s equivalent offer is 8 blades for the same price. You can also buy an 8 pack of the Gilette Fusion 5 ProGlide razor blades on Amazon for less than £17. On those numbers, the Cornerstone blades are expensive and not worth the money in my opinion.
To sum up my Cornerstone experience, I’m disappointed. I liked the shave gel and post shave balm, but they are expensive to buy individually. The razor handle looks nice but didn’t rock my world. I’m also going to stick with my own face wash as the scrub brought on a few spots after my first use. The absolute most important thing in a razor is the razor itself. Get that right and nothing else matters. Get it wrong and the whole product falls over. This feels like style over substance.
If you have not already checked out my review of the Harry’s Shave Plan, you can do so here. I’ll be posting future reviews of other shave plans, so watch this space.