The Battle of the Blades Continues...
About a week ago I was contacted out of the blue by a employee of Razor Company, a Toronto based online shaving company. I suppose my Battle of the (Razor) Blades article is pretty popular and they wanted to throw their blades into the mix. I was happy to oblige; I'm not a professional reviewer but I watch enough Top Gear and figured "razor blades, cars, what's the difference"? I also liked the idea of supporting a local company, after all we Torontonians gotta stick together! What follows is my review of the experience, which is by no means scientific.
They say first impressions are everything, and unfortunately this is probably where Razor Company's blades receive their lowest grade. It's important to remember the experience doesn't just start when you get out of the shower and lather up, but from the moment the blades arrive. I mentioned before that Harry's packaging is top-notch; well designed packaging, in branded mailers. Just opening up your mail is a joy and sets the tone for the rest of the experience. Razor Company on the other hand simply ships the blades, handle, and a little card in your standard bubble mailer (or at least they did to me, anyways). In fairness, this isn't unlike Dollar Shave Club, but at least their mailer has a custom branded stamp so you know what you're about to open. That said, packaging isn't as important as the shave, and if shipping in a boring old bubble mailer saves you some money then great.
The company had sent me what seemed to be their "monthly" package of their top-of-the-line "Five-O" razor/blades. This meant I got a handle, and 3 blades, compared to the four blades from Dollar Shave Club (to be honest I can't remember if you get 3 or four with your first shipment from Harry's). This 3-blade pack would cost you $7.95 CAD and shipping is free with a subscription.
In terms of overall design the Razor Company blades and handle are nothing to write home about. It looks like your typical razor, and has a nicely rubberized grip for added "grippage", along with some custom branding on the handle which is a nice touch. Again, Harry's is the gold standard here, but Razor Company is by no means bad. The product is very light (especially when compared to the beautifully sleek Harry's handle), which could lead some to think it's cheaply constructed, but again this doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Once I was ready to shave I opened up the small plastic package containing the blades and grabbed the first one and snapped it into the handle. The blade had a small plastic protector to prevent you from accidentally cutting yourself, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately this cover was on quite tight, and in the process of trying to remove it the blade snapped off the handle. After a couple minutes of fumbling around to re-attach it I discovered that this wouldn't be possible and the blade was no effectively useless.
Not off to a brilliant start...
Of course, the most important consideration with a razor is how well does it do it's job. And let's be clear; I hate shaving, so anything to make the experience more pleasant is a win in my book.
I had decided to first test the blade on about a day's worth of facial hair (granted for me this isn't a lot). This meant there'd be less hair to get caught, it wouldn't be as coarse, but it would still put up a bit of a fight. For what it's worth this is usually the amount of hair I have when I use my Harry's blade, any more and I tend to opt for the Dollar Shave Club blades which seem to deal a bit better with a heavier beard (again, heavier being relative to me).
The shave itself was actually pretty good. It's lubricant strip worked well, and everything was very smooth, and the shave was very close, definitely on par with the other razors. There were also no nicks or cuts, something that tends to happen when I shave too quickly with the Dollar Shave Club razors. The razor also rinsed easily and didn't seem to get clogged with whiskers (a problem with both Harry's and Dollar Shave Club). There also was no flimsiness like I noted about Harry's razor.
A few days later I let my beard grow out a little fuller (basically the fullest I ever let it get unless I'm on vacation) to give the razor a little more to fight against. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Again, a very close shave, and a surprisingly struggle free affair, despite the slightly heavier beard, and again no knicks or cuts. The blade does lack the precision trimmer for places like right under the nose that the top of the line Dollar Shave Club blades have (though Harry's also lacks this feature). It's not the end of the world, but would be nice to have.
I'll be curious to see how long the blade lasts. As someone who doesn't shave daily I tend to not worry about changing razors out every week, and try to stick to about a two week schedule but I'm by no means religious about it (basically once it feels like it's doing more pulling than shaving I switch out the blade). We'll see how these blades stack up.
I mentioned before that I was sticking with Dollar Shave Club, even if I liked Harry's more overall, because of the price. I noted that It was costing me about $7.35 (or $1.84 per blade) every two months. The 4 razor pack from Razor Company costs you $9.45 (or $2.36 per blade) all in, regardless of your delivery frequency. They do offer a bulk option, but the prices are still higher than ordering from Dollar Shave Club. The question is, are they worth the (admittedly negligible) price difference? The shave seems to be on par, if slightly better than both Harry's and Dollar Shave Club, but lacks some of the refinements of both. Sure, that extra $2 isn't really going to break the bank, but it all adds up in the end.
It's becoming clear to me there is no perfect solution. I love the overall design of Harry's, but it's shave isn't quite as perfect as I hope, and certainly not worth the extra cost. I love the price range of Dollar Shave Club, but their razors do tend to result in slightly more cuts and knicks. Razor Company so far offers to smoothest, closest shave, but not to the degree that it's worth spending an extra 2 bucks for every other month. However, no matter which option you go with you're still going to be paying way less than if you were to buy name-brand blades at the supermarket. Moreover, their prices are so reasonable that you can quick easily, and affordably try all options to determine which works best for you.