For better or for worse, the contemporary gentleman has been afforded the indispensable luxury of convenience. As we must stubbornly recognize our modern societal environment, we have been conditioned to accept that life is decidedly hurried. Every facet of life is now burdened with the absence of time. Thus, natural routines are now subjected to increasingly narrow time constraints. Our method of communication, the manner in which we prepare meals (if we even prepare meals at all), how we get dressed, and how we groom – it has to be swift, uncomplicated, and painless. At least, that is how our psyches have been molded to accept as fact.
So, speaking of said grooming, let’s examine the delicate art of it by way of sharpened blade, affectionately known as shaving. With each successive year, today’s gentleman is seductively bombarded with an array of new & improved razors that promise to deliver the closest and most comfortable shave known to humanity – in less time. More and more blades. Blades empowered with a lubricating strip. Blades that artfully pivot up & down, and now side to side. Blades that surprisingly vibrate during shaving. The gentleman’s razor has been equipped with a bevy of bells & whistles required to get him in and out of the bathroom as swiftly as possible, with the least amount of blood spilled as possible. Now, every gentleman has a preference, and with so many unproven promises monopolizing commercial airtime between games of the week, it really is a toss-up to determine which company adheres to its claims.
So, that brings us to the company at hand today – Bevel. Bevel promises a shave that will reduce razor bumps and grant the gentleman smoother, irritation-free skin. Okay, let’s back up a little. What is Bevel, and how is their shaving game better than the rest of the field? Well, Bevel is a flagship brand launched by Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Company. Bevel is targeted at gentlemen of color who are vulnerable to skin irritation and unsightly razor bumps. Now, despite its glorious claims, the modern multi-blade razor possesses the reputation of cutting a gent’s hair beneath the outer surface of his skin. And if he is said gentleman of color, he perhaps has coarse, curly hair that is prone to grow back at an angle beneath the skin, or it may become trapped inside the follicle itself. The result: ugly razor bumps. Truthfully, you don’t even have to be a gentleman of color to be afflicted with bothersome razor bumps. If you have sufficiently curly hair, you may be vulnerable to ingrown hair. Moreover, when you add in the fact that you are hitting your skin with not one, not two, not three, but as high as four blades – skin irritation should not be unexpected. Enter Bevel and the reintroduction of the single blade safety razor.
Now, in the interest of fairness, the single blade safety razor is not a new invention, as it dates back to the late 1800s. Nowadays, it is somewhat of a gentlemanly novelty. Nevertheless, wielding a single blade safety razor demands an adequate amount of both skill and time. So, through the years with each progressive reinvention of the razor, the necessity of time and skill has been greatly reduced. And since we seem to acknowledge that our lives are a bit hurried nowadays, the multi-blade safety razor allows us to pop in and out of the shower, hacking and whacking away at our face – which is probably the most delicate area of anywhere on our body. Bevel wants you to slow down, properly prepare your skin for the shave ahead, and employ the services of a single double-edged blade for your grooming needs.
The Bevel experience starts with a 6 piece starter kit: priming oil, shaving brush, shave cream, safety razor, blades, and restoring balm. If you are a shaving novice, here is a quick and dirty breakdown of each component and its function.
- The safety razor – the grooming tool of choice; a heavy, sturdy piece of metal consisting of a smooth handle and rectangular head. The Bevel emblem marks the cap.
- Priming oil – designed to moisturize the skin, soften the hair, and create a smooth, lubricated surface so the blade can effortlessly glide across the skin without skin-inflaming friction.
- Shaving brush – designed to gently exfoliate the skin and lift hairs away from the skin so the blade can slice right through.
- Shave cream – also formulated to lift up hairs, hydrate & moisturize the skin, and create a sufficient enough barrier (lather) between your face and the blade for reinforced protection.
- The blade – empowered with a sharp enough edge to seamlessly slice through hair without pulling or tugging.
- Restoring balm – soothe and calm irritated skin and restore much-needed moisture to ward off dryness.
If you notice a continuing theme throughout, it would be moisturizing. Seriously, shaving with dry skin is a guaranteed recipe for irritated and inflamed skin. This is why preparation is paramount. The more supple your skin; the better your razor will perform. So, speaking of performance, how does Bevel perform and does it deliver on its guarantees? Well, let’s dive right into the results.
Upon opening your initial starter kit from Bevel, you will immediately appreciate the quality of the safety razor. Notably heavier than the multi-bladed safety razor you may be accustomed to, this substantial piece of metal will require some mastering. This safety razor consists of three parts: the handle and a head that further divides into a top half (the cap) and bottom half (base plate). The handle unscrews from the head, and the once the top and bottom half separate, the gentleman will be able to insert the razor blade in the resulting space between the two.
If you are subject to clumsy fingertips, the assembly may prove to be cumbersome. And when dealing with fresh, sharp razor blades; the last thing you desire is slicing open a finger much deeper than a paper cut. Nevertheless, treated with the proper respect, a gentleman should not be in any immediate danger of cutting himself. Each razor blade is individually packaged in a waxy paper sheath and housed in a small box. The blade fits neatly on three prongs located on the cap. The base plate is then secured on the bottom by screwing in the handle.
Tools of the trade
I’ve found that pinching the head with the pointer finger and thumb while unscrewing the handle yields the best results. Once unscrewed, lay the head upside down in the palm, remove the bottom half, and then remove or insert the razor blade – ensuring you are grasping the dull ends of the blade. Once properly assembled; you are ready to shave. Ensure that your skin is adequately softened by either partaking in a shower or pressing a warm wash cloth on the face. Be sure to give your shaving brush a thorough rinse before using, as I observed a dark residue releasing into the water as I soaked the brush in the sink. The priming oil has a fresh, clean fragrance to it. It consists of lavender, olive and castor oil – although it doesn’t feel that oily. A few drops should be adequate enough to cover the surface of the skin. Don’t get too generous with the portions; 1.0 fluid ounce may disappear before you even realize your stock has been depleted. But that is just with the starter kit. Thereafter, if you choose to sign up for the replenishment service, you will be re-stocked with a 90 day supply of product. More on that later. Still – be mindful of how you ration out the goods.
And now – on to the shaving itself. If you are a rookie in the single blade game, fortunately for you, Bevel includes a small shaving guide to assist you through this new grooming adventure. Prime both your razor blade and shaving brush by soaking them in hot water; five minutes will suffice. After placing a dime sized amount on your shaving brush, vigorously whip up a lather in the dedicated areas to be shaved. The shaving cream is serviceable. The lather holds up better than your standard shave cream one might find on a shelf at Target. However, if you plan on making another pass (highly probably) with your razor after your initial stroke, the reapplication of the shave cream will definitely be necessary. Now, without the assistance of a head that pivots or a lubricating strip, here is how you utilize the Bevel safety razor: Place the head of the safety razor perpendicular to the face, slowly tilt the razor downward until the blade touches the skin, and then shave with the grain.
Now, of course, the key here is to take your sweet time. Again, a gentleman cannot rush himself – respect the blade. Afford yourself sufficient enough time to maximize your shaving experience. Allow the blade to perform its required duties, no need to add unwarranted pressure. By changing your razor blade weekly, you will be granted the sharpest shave every time, so you won’t need to press hard to achieve a smooth shave. Allow the weight of the razor to be your guide. I know many gentlemen that use the same razor blade cartridge for months and months, which is not only unsanitary, but the dullness of the blade persuades you to press harder to achieve that close shave. Your face wasn’t designed for that type of abuse. With Bevel, the blades are plentiful, so don’t be shy about changing blades weekly. This type of shave can certainly be intimidating and will definitely feel different. My first attempt, I slightly nicked myself. Nothing band-aid worthy, but I fully understood I was working with probably the sharpest blade I have ever used. Rinse your blade thoroughly after each stroke, remembering to alternate between using both sides of the blade. Rinse off any excess lather, pat with cold water to close the pores, and then pat dry.
Finally, the restoring balm is recruited to sooth and repair the skin. Although I avoided a blood bath in my bathroom, my skin did feel “warm” during my shave. If you maintain a moderately thick beard, I would definitely suggest cutting away the growth with a pair of hair clippers before recruiting the safety razor. Now, the restoring balm really does calm any irritated skin. It smells terrific, and the medium consistency is great for application and absorption. Between the priming oil, shaving cream, and the restoring balm – the balm is the probably standout amongst the group. The former two perform their functions without any fireworks, but it is the latter that wins here. After shaving, I did not have any issues with razor bumps, or did I cut open my carotid artery. All in all, the Bevel shaving system is a great introduction to shaving with a safety razor if you have never used one before. And now, we going to venture into the cost of it all.
Bevel is a subscription service – meaning a gentleman will have to sign up to receive product for determined length of time. To get started, a gentleman will pay $59.95 for a starter kit. After 30 days, you will receive a 90 day replenishment, billed at $29.95 every 30 days. Shipments can be paused at any time. So, now a gentleman has to make a decision. A representative from Bevel assured me that the cost of the Bevel service is comparable to what one might pay for your standard multi-blade razor and shaving cream at an over-the-counter store. Nevertheless, Bevel is asking for much more than a monetary sacrifice for smooth, bump-free skin. What Bevel is requesting could be as foreign to a gentleman as the safety razor itself – commitment. In an effort to prevent or rid your skin of razor bumps; are you committed to granted yourself required time for your prep and shave? And, sorry, we can’t be so negligent not to really ask, does your grooming needs warrant the price-tag of $29.95 per month?
For an average gentleman of average means – it could be. The starter kit could get you well on your way. The decision to proceed is ultimately up to you. Personally, I hope Bevel ultimately opens an online store to distribute their product. I believe a gentleman would be more apt to purchase products a la carte if presented the opportunity. The starter kit could remain an option, but the grooming accoutrements could be procured as needed. In closing, if you have sensitive skin that is prone to ingrown hair, Bevel could be worth the cost – in time and money. Honestly, my preference has greatly shifted towards the single blade safety razor. The shaving experience is superior to the multi-blade alternative, and I would be remiss if I didn’t endorse the vintage feel of the single blade safety razor. It may sound silly, but I felt a hint of pride while shaving. The preparation. The shaving. The post-shave treatment. This type of shaving demands patience and a steady hand. So, yes, there exists a level of pride in the finished work you see in the mirror.
- Strong, sturdy metal design with a nice ergonomic balance for handing
- A plentiful stock of extremely sharp razor blades that guarantee a clean, close shave for a very long time
- Restoring balm has a great consistency that spreads generously and readily absorbs into the skin
- The vintage shaving experience delivers an old-school feel that doesn’t irritate or inflame the skin
- No issues with ingrown hairs or bumps thus far – skin remains clear
- Very minimal nicking, but that should be reduced as one gains experience with using a safety razor
- The priming oil, shave cream, and restoring balm all have fresh, pleasant fragrance
- Arrives with a detailed shaving manual
- The subscription service and cost may deter some gentlemen from fully committing
- The shaving cream needs some bolstering to produce a richer lather that lasts longer
- Quantity of product – if a gentleman gets overzealous in the application of the priming oil or shaving cream, he may deplete his supply prematurely
If you are ready for the single blade safety razor experience, check out Bevel HERE and see if it is right for you.