Grooming is all about the effort. Whether you’re maintaining a luscious beard or going through painstaking efforts to keep your chin as smooth as a baby’s ass, facial hair is never easy.
We all joke often, but the truth is, no matter what kind of facial hair you’re going for — even if you’re going for none at all — it takes the right strategy, knowledge and equipment to keep things neat and orderly.
So, let’s talk about razors. Every man needs a good razor. And yes, we mean every man. Even if you’re rocking the burliest beard in the game, you’re going to need a solid straight edge to keep your edges defined.
But what type of razor is best for you? What’s the difference between a dollar store disposable and a classic safety razor? Does any of this stuff matter?
(Spoiler: Hell yes it matters!)
We’re about to answer all those questions and more. This is the hims guide to razor blades:
Disposable razors are temporary use blades that generally come in bulk packs of anywhere from three to 25+ razors. They’re relatively inexpensive because they’re generally plastic, and their handles are fixed to their heads.
They’re only meant to be used a couple times and then tossed away, but people get quite a bit of use out of them, depending on how tough your hair is and how often you shave.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning that disposable razors used to catch a lot of flack for being one-and-done blades. They were cheap single-blade razors without any frills or fancy stuff, and for all intents and purposes, they were pretty awful.
Today, however, you can find some pretty decent disposables that’ll cost you a little less (at first) than the reusable cartridge razors (which we’ll be discussing next). For instance, standard Mach3 disposables by Gillette feature three coated blades and a lubrication strip to make sure your cheap shave is still a comfortable one, and those can be had for less than 13 bucks for a pack of six razors.
Hell, BIC offers their five-blade Flex 5 razors, which even feature a pivot head for better shave control. They’re a little more expensive at $7.75 for a three-pack, but even then, that’s still pretty damn affordable.
And if you’re looking for a barebones special, Dorco’s trusted Td-708’s can be had for less than 10 bucks for a 60-pack. They’re standard two-blade razors, but they get the job done—and do it for less than 15 cents per blade.
These razors are another, more “modern” form of disposable. They feature handles that are higher quality than their fully disposable cousins, and snap-on heads that are tossed away after a few uses.
They’re really just standard razors, and generally come in kits that include the handle, as well as a couple replacement blades.
Versus regular disposables, cartridge razors offer better savings on razors in the long run, but a higher initial purchase cost. There are also services like Harry’s, which offers super affordable no-frills handles that start at $9, and 5-blade heads that can be had for as cheap as $1.88 per head; and Dollar Shave Club, which has starter sets that include a handle, blades and other toiletries for a whopping five bucks.
Electric razors are exactly what they sound like. They’re machines that utilize a blade system wherein many tiny blades oscillate at super high speeds to both lift your facial hair up and trim it.
The concept sounds simple enough, but it’s important to note that for a long time, electric razors were pretty awful. They were infamous for pulling hairs, not getting close enough and generally delivering bad shaves.
Things have changed over the last couple decades or so, and we have no issues saying there are some really, really impressive electric shavers out there that do everything from clean themselves to re-sharpen and hone their blades as you use them. It seems the only thing electric razors can’t do is do the shaving for you — yet.
The original “disposable,” safety razors are what your grandfathers used to shave with. In fact, they’re what your grandfather’s grandfather probably used to shave with.
The term “safety razor” was first used in a patent dating all the way back to 1880, and the coolest part is that the safety razor’s overall design hasn’t changed much — if at all — since it first emerged over 130 years ago.
Why? Well, because it’s the perfect razor. Period.
Generally, the safety razor comes with an all-metal handle and frame, and features a protective guide that rests between the blade and the skin to reduce potential injury.
What we enjoy most about them is not only are they incredibly simple and easy to use, but they also prove that you don’t need 15 blades on a single head to get a skin-tight shave.
Aside from the style factor, cool points you get by using one and simple design, they’re also far and away the most affordable razor you can purchase. You can get quality handles for a few bucks (they also get pretty spendy, if that’s your thing), and 100-packs of blades can be had for pennies per blade.
They’re inexpensive, easy to clean, last forever and do the job. What more can you ask?
Finally, we have straight razors. You’ve seen them before in gangster films, where the guy is in a barber shop and then out of nowhere someone comes up behind him, flicks open their shaving razor, and cuts their throat open. But even if you’re not a Prohibition-era gangster, straight razors are perfectly practical for use in the modern world.
We certainly won’t call them the best, but we will say their history is absolutely fascinating. For instance, the first straight razors date back to ancient Egypt, sometime between 1569 and 1081 BC. The straight razor as we know it started being manufactured in the late 1600s in Sheffield, England.
The issue with straight razors — especially traditional ones — is that they’re very difficult to keep sharp and they’re not particularly efficient. They’re also obviously dangerous.
Today, a lot of barbers will shape up beards and line up fades and edges with straight razors, but even those use disposable blade edges and are pretty far removed from the original blade style.
In a nutshell, you can definitely get a close shave with one, but they’re definitely used either for nostalgia’s sake or by professionals trying to line up fades or trim beards.