Research says that millennials can see through marketing pitches. If that's the case, then you know how a product review post is supposed to play out.
PR companies send "the best razors for men" pitches. Lots of copy-pasting follows. You read smooth words that have glided straight out of the marketing department. You see the endless advertising (especially on satellite sports channels) and associate the carpet-bombing brand exposure with quality.
Meanwhile back in the real world, a packet of Gillette razor blades will cost you half a Mercedes and laugh in your face when you try to use the blade for a second time.
Your wallet tries to hide, covering its face in shame. You promised it wouldn't happen again but you went ahead and bought them anyway.
You look in the mirror and sigh.
The Art of Shaving: Is any razor blade worth the money?
In recent years, it's hard not to notice when someone's advertising is better than the product or service.
Like Coca-Cola and the idea that drinking a hyper sugary, acidic black liquid somehow makes sense, so too has Gillette thrown so much money at branding that we're more likely to imagine we're taking a free kick in football while shaving than having an enjoyable experience.
For me, I'm fed up with expensive blades that are impossible to get a third use from. This is not about pimping sub-par products as a wannabe influencer, this about self-respect. Or at least that of my wallet!
Full disclosure. I'm not Ryan Gosling and my facial hair is not delicately fine like you'd see on a baby's head. My facial hair looks like an electrocuted badger's arse and I'd have more joy shaving with a rusty cheese grater on a bad day.
Disposable razors are cheap and unpleasant to use but will get the job done if required. Expensive razors like Gillette, King of Shaves (honourable mention) or Wilkinson Sword are less terrible but like I said, repeat blade use is getting shorter. Much shorter. Nobody likes feeling as if they're being ripped off. That's how I feel about Gillette. We're paying for their telly ads and single use blades.
So when on Facebook I read Radio Scotland social commentator and journalist Gary Marshall sharing his views on Bearded Colonel I thought - fuck it - let's give them a go.
Yes, Bearded Colonel is one of those subscription clubs like Graze boxes or Loot Crate.
No, they didn't send me anything PR-wise. I bought their reasonably priced subscription because of a recommendation from Gary, out of my own pocket and prepared to give them both barrels if they didn't deliver.
I know what you're thinking. Mainstream Subscription clubs do pose that question of value - do they ever offer any? Or is it just going to become another direct debit on my bank account that takes me way too long to cancel (try cancelling a magazine subscription from Hearst if you want to see what strong-arm tactics look like).
My decision to subscribe was less to do with the branding of Bearded Colonel and more by the feeling that Gillette are taking the piss. Maybe spend a bit less on marketing a bit more making the product do it's fucking job more than twice.
How long should a quality blade last anyway?
Tinfoil hat time. It wouldn't surprise me if razor companies hit by the hipster beard trend of the 2010s have decided that if their blades have a shorter lifespan, well hey they are A-OK with that. Brexit has already resulted in higher costs and with UK supermarkets refusing to allow suppliers to increase prices, expect to see more value shrinkage of the corn-flakes-500g-is-now-450g-for-same-cost variety.
Now that we've cleared up the fact that we are all getting less for our weekly shop, let's talk about bearded colonel.
Overall the experience has been a positive one. The package they sent me included the shaving brush with sandalwood shaving cream because I thought, "fuck it, why not". I hate half measures. If I'm going to do this I'm going to do it right.
Ditching the chemical goo that is shaving gel turned out to be one of the best decisions ever. Their shaving cream smells sooo nice. Like Homer Simpson walking past a bakery and getting that hit of freshly baked donuts. At which point you exclaim, "I've had it with the motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane", and throw your shaving gel in the bin.
The shave itself? It's grand. No worse than any other razor I've used and better in certain respects. By which I mean the cheek area down to your chin and jawline is as smooth of a shave as you're likely to get.
Now, if you want to nitpick like the one crazy person who has to complain about something on Tripadvisor, there is this. If like me you have crazy rough facial hair, especially in the moustache position department, you need to be careful not to cut yourself.
These are German-made razors and they are not messing about. You do not need to apply Gillette-esque pressure in that spot or you they will paint your upper lip like Sweeney Todd. By my second shave I'd adjusted to it fine. That's a man's razor for you. Give it a month and you'll be eating raw steak and punching lions in the mouth. Possibly. Probably not though.
To give you an idea of the comparison between Gillette Fusion razors and Bearded Colonel razors, I used my iPhone 7 to take a few pictures of both razors side by side AFTER TWO USES.
Need I say more?