Product reviews

Cornerstone – razors and shaving kit

You’ve probably read about all the different men’s shaving clubs out there right now, and you might be thinking they’re roughly all the same, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re not. Some of them do offer similar things, in terms of the look and feel or their products, and their brand ethos, but basically they are all quite distinct in their offering. In this product review, I’ll be talking about Cornerstone – tagline: the Cornerstone of a Great Day. And let me say right from the outset – I am not receiving any form of payment for this review – these are my genuine, unvarnished views and they may be positive or negative.

So, what do Cornerstone really provide? Well, in their own words, they provide ‘quality men’s shaving, bathroom and healthcare supplies, delivered regularly’. So, whilst with other brands you may get a more focussed offering but not such a great range, with Cornerstone they really do have fingers in many pies, and they really aren’t afraid to shout about it. Speaking generally, I do have a criticism here about their marketing strategy. Just because I have bought your razors and some shave cream, really doesn’t mean I’ll appreciate getting weekly invitations to buy your erectile disfunction tablets or contraceptives. I really don’t see the link, and I’m now less inclined to buy them from you, even if I did need them. However, this sort of thing isn’t unique to Cornerstone, and in general their customer service team have been helpful and responsive.

I also love the website which allows me to quickly view my upcoming and past orders, and to easily edit what should arrive next and when. Their branding is pretty unique – the grey and red is a bold choice, I’m not sure if it works 100% but I think their bottles and products look pretty funky lined up on my bathroom shelf.

So, what about these products? Well, let me start with their major product which is the razor and the associated creams/gels that go with it. I got mine as a Christmas gift and because I have a kind and thoughtful girlfriend (no payment was given in exchange for that comment either), and my razor came engraved with my initials which is a nice touch. There’s also a handy red plastic cover for when you’re travelling, or if there are any tiny hands around which like to find sharp objects. The razor itself has a pleasing heft to it; it is cast in attractive chrome, with cross-cut grip pads on front and back which are well moulded to the contour of my hand. (In case you’re wondering, and I know some people do, my hand size is slightly above average but nothing huge; as a pianist, I can stretch a 9th, if that helps anyone). The blades are very high quality, with five individual blades above a directional rubber strip which helps to smooth the path of the razor and make the stubble more uniform. At the top is a very good lubricated strip, and here I must admit that for a lot of razors, this is the make or break thing for me. Often they are just too goopy, and you end up with lots of extra lubricant everywhere, hanging off you in sticky strands. Cornerstone have struck a good balance between having enough lubricant there and you actually drowning in it. Finally, as you should expect, the blade cartridges are very easy to snap on and off, and come in a snug and smart sliding box.

“What of the cream and gel?” I hear you cry. Well, they offer both, and my opinion is very different for the cream than for the gel. I am a big fan of the cream. The consistency is good, and two to three small squirts lathered around your chops usually does the trick for me, even with a few days of stubble growth to tackle. I like the aroma too, and the ingredients list seems pretty high-end, including willow bark and bamboo.

For me though, it’s a different story with the gel. Granted, they have the caveat on the tube that it is designed to be a ‘low-lather formula’, and that’s understandable with it being in a smaller bottle for postage (250ml). But even armed with that knowledge, I just wasn’t able to get a good lather or coverage from it, no matter how much I put on. Now I admit I’ve always been a cream kind of guy, and people normally come down pretty strongly in favour of one or the other. But I’ve tried other gels and they were more forgiving, and easier to work up into something than Cornerstone’s was, and for that reason I’ll be sticking with the cream.

Is their post-shave balm any good? Well, yes it is. I like it. A lot. For a 75ml tube, this really lasts a long time, and I have been on my tube for a good number of months now, though granted I shave once every couple of days. The mint and honey extracts must do their job because the lotion cools and sooths rapidly after application, and doesn’t have an off-putting or dominant aroma.

Now we come to the mysteries of the pre-shave scrub. I was very sceptical of this, having not really believed a lot of the hype I’ve seen around other products. I mean, how much smoother can a shave with cream and lubricant really be, and what difference would scrubbing stubble really make? Well, they’ve proved me wrong. It does make a difference. I was watching carefully to see what happened with it, and can report that the stubble was smoother, and my skin less irritated and dry after shaving (presumably because it sloughs off the dead cells and conditions the stubble all in one). There’s also something pretty cool about putting extract of volcano on you face which makes you feel slightly India Jones-esque. I use it in the shower whenever I have the time to shower and scrub before shaving, and I’ll be buying this cedarwood and volcanic sand scrub again for sure.

There are many other products that I haven’t the room to go into right now, such as their Vitamin tablets (very comprehensive ingredient list but not too easy on the stomach) and their dental floss (superb, but why only 25 meters when everyone else sells it in 50 meters?), but fear not, they’re on my list for future reviews. In the meantime, you can do a lot worse than make Cornerstone the… well, the Cornerstone of your morning routine.

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