The 10 Best Razors
Hair. Everyone has it, and it needs to be groomed. For a lifetime. For the busy individual who wants little to do with the art of shaving, I would recommend the electric shaver. However, if you are willing to journey down the rabbit hole, you might be surprised to learn what a stainless steel razor blade has to offer.
There are three types of razors used for personal grooming: straight, safety, and disposable. A straight razor, also known as a cut-throat razor, might give you a hint as to the design right there in its name. Popularized by the Sweeney Todd drama, they can be very intimidating at first; the learning curve is steep and potential injuries can ensue.
When the safety razor appeared on the market, it was seen as an advancement to the straight razor. Given the prevalence of both straight and safety razors on our list, however, each clearly has its advantages. The safety razor consists of a solid handle with a disposable blade connected at a right angle, resembling a garden hoe. There is a protective layer between the blade and the skin to facilitate a risk-free shave.
The disposable razor is the most familiar option for today's on-the-go shaver. They are usually sold in packs and made of cheap plastic material. The entire razor is disposable and usually only provides one to three shaves before it is deemed too dull to use again.
Under the Blade
The type of razor you purchase depends on many factors: type of hair, comfortability, and price, among others. For women, a straight razor would be a poor choice; that blade is designed to shave the flat surfaces of the face and shaving the underarm with it would prove to be a challenge.
The straight razor is for the consumer who has patience and enjoys the experience of shaving. The big advantage is durability. Provided they are sharpened and cleaned, these blades can last a lifetime. Before you purchase a straight blade, see if any older males in your family still own one. You can get it sharpened for a few dollars and it will work like new. As a straight razor user myself, I can safely say that they provide one of the closest shaves I have ever felt. I recommend visiting an old school barber shop to experience this shave.
What deters most from buying straight razors are the high costs and the risk of injury. While these are indeed the most expensive to purchase up front, over time they consistently prove to be the best value out of any razor on the market. The probability of cutting oneself with the razor is very high, but if you continue to hone your craft, the nicks will disappear.
Safety razors are intended for a long term of use as well, and many boast a lifetime guarantee. The blades are disposable, meaning new ones must be purchased consistently. While this may seem like a disadvantage, the replacement blades are cheap and you will never have to worry about sharpening your blade or stropping. They are priced reasonably and some boast beautiful designs.
The obvious advantage of the disposable razor is that it requires the least maintenance of all. They are very cheap to purchase and they can provide a competitively close shave with less prep time. They vary from one blade to five blades; the latter giving you the smoothest shave. Most will also boast an aloe strip to buffer the blade and ease the skin.
A Brief History of Razors
The straight razor emerged in England in 1680. Sixty years later, the handles sported ornate designs and became an artistic endeavor for smiths. After 200 years monopolizing the market, they lost popularity to the safety razor. Patented in the 1880s, this razor required less maintenance and skill, and had a low initial cost. Most consumers that went to a barber shop could now shave themselves in the comfort of their own homes.
The safety razor became wildly successful with the addition of the double edged blade. King C. Gillette supplied these blades to troops in World War I and the men returned home demanding more blades. While they required some skill and you had to hone your blade yourself, the idea of being your own barber flourished.
Up until the 1960s, all razors were made of carbon steel. In 1965, British company Wilkinson Sword switched to stainless steel and the entire industry was forced to follow suit. Today, almost every blade is stainless steel and not prone to rust.
In 1974, Bic introduced the entirely disposable razor. An aloe strip was included next to the blade to ease any discomfort while shaving.
Starting in the late 1990s, the idea of additional blades began to gain popularity. The subsequent blades raise the hair and are able to shave closer than one blade.
Today, all types of razors are vying for the coveted spot in the grooming market. The emergence of hipster culture has revived the safety and straight razor from obscurity. Also, stores like The Art of Shaving are successful at celebrating antiquated shaving methods. The disposable blade is still in demand, and its manufacturers continue to make advancements.