Have you noticed more beards than usual in your daily life? Recent trends over the past five years or so have seen men all over the country embracing facial hair, with formerly conservative mindsets shifting toward embracing a little (well-groomed) scruff. A walk down any Chicago street will confirm that guys have no problems with furry faces.
The question, though: With bearded bros permeating our streets, our red carpets and our hockey playoffs, why shave it all off?
Because it's hotter than hell, that's why. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with getting rid of facial hair. If your face isn't built for being hairless, you easily can regrow your beard in a week or two. What if you haven't experienced a clean shave in a while? The days of the crappy disposable razor and super-foamy shaving cream are over, and there's an onslaught of options for guys to consider. RedEye sampled some of the newer tech on our own faces.
Gillette Fusion ProGlide
What we got: Two Gillette Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology razors and a 2.5-ounce can of ProGlide sensitive shaving gel.
Price: $9.99; replacement cartridges are $32 for a pack of 8. Available at most commercial pharmacies.
What's the deal? Oh, you thought adding blades was going to be enough to give you a clean, close shave? Not so fast, my friend. The new razor from the people who brought you the Mach3 is designed with a rotating ball built into the handle to contour to your face, leading to a cleaner shave and less irritation.
How's the shave?
Ernest: Just because you have the option for three or more razors on your face at once doesn't mean it's a good idea. I usually end up bleeding like nobody's business. The Fusion put me at ease, completely eliminating irritation and leaving me with the closest shave I've had in years. The whole process was quick and easy, and the ball worked wonders with the various curves of my mug.
Mick: This thing boasts more features than a fully-loaded Audi. That might have been the point: The ball is literally compared to a car's suspension, and also features "snowplow ports" that claim to channel away extra foam. The proof was in the after-shave. I had very few nicks and burns, and despite having longer stubble, felt no tug or discomfort while chopping through the rough. The grip is tight—if a little heavy—and well balanced. That's the best shave I've had in a while.
Bottom line: Worth it if you need to keep a baby face on the regular.
Dollar Shave Club
What I got: Two Dollar Shave Club handles, eight four-blade razors, a 6-ounce bottle of Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter and Dr. Carver's Magnanimous Post-Shave Lotion. The two-month supply also comes with an issue of the Dollar Shave Club newsletter, filled with trivia, games and member profiles.
Price: $1 per month for a two-blade basic razor, $6 for the "Lovers' Blade" and $9 for the higher-end, six-blade "Executive" edition. Shipping not included. Order online at dollarshaveclub.com.
What's the deal? The Shave Club bills itself as a cheaper way to lop the fur off your face. Our shipment was the "Lovers Blade," which the company recommends for both men and women.
How's the shave? A little rough. I'll immediately offer up that my face is sensitive when I shave with a blade, and it's tough to escape nick-free. However, several issues left my jaw line and upper lip pretty irritated. While the handle was rubberized, the oily shave butter left me struggling to maintain my grip. I've never used a shave butter (I'm a gel foam kind of guy), and I can't say I'm a convert. It smelled great, and made my face feel fantastic, but the lack of lather over some moderate stubble was not ideal. In the end, the pivot of the razor itself is the downfall—it just seemed a bit loose and flimsy.
Bottom line: Convenient for sure, especially for everyday clean shavers. However, those who are particular about their razors are likely to find something that would prevent them from committing to a new shipment each month. —M.S.
What I got: The 30-day Bevel starter kit, which includes a safety razor, shaving brush, 20 replacement blades, a pre-shave oil, shaving cream and a post-shave restoring balm.
Price: $59.95 for the starter kit; $29.95 for replacement razor blades and creams every 90 days. Order online at getbevel.com.
What's the deal? Making its debut this year, Bevel aims to address a blind spot in the world of facial care by targeting African-American men and others with coarse, curly facial hair. Ordinary razors clip facial hair at a weird angle. When the hair curls back into the skin, it creates irritation and razor bumps, which are easily in the Top 300 worst things ever created. Bevel's goal is to eliminate those bumps and provide a better shaving experience overall.
How's the shave? An exercise in patience. Unlike other razors I sampled, I couldn't just hack away at my face and expect a smooth shave. The whole point of the beveled razor (see what they did there with the name?) is to decrease drag and still give you a close shave, which means you might need to go over your face another time. I had to hack my stubble down with clippers a bit to get the hair close enough for Bevel to do its thing. That might be a turn-off for folks who don't keep a bald face all the time.
The included shaving brush did an excellent job creating a frothy lather that had me feeling like I was the black Don Draper. The pre-shave oil is a little thicker than expected but does a good job of prepping my face. The restoring balm smelled so good I made co-workers take a whiff, which I can't say about other grooming products I've used in the past. Also, I have really tolerant co-workers. #blessed.
Bottom line: Time will tell. I haven't experienced any razor bumps yet, but I know that even one is too many. If Bevel does what it advertises (they claim to completely rid your face of razor bumps in four weeks), I'll gladly co-sign it.—E.W.