We have finally reached the 3rd and final chapter of the series of blog articles entitled The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of DE Razor Blades which has incorporated the literary spin of substituting the words "The Glib, The Big, and the Unappreciated" into that Clint Eastwood inspired title. You were warned that you wouldn't fully understand the full meaning of this series of blog articles until you had been exposed to them all, so if you haven't read the first two installments, please go back and start at the beginning, now.
If you have been a regular paying customer on this bumpy ride from the beginning, please proceed. The full meaning is soon to be revealed.
If you recall, in Part 1, The Glib, it was presented that many of our razor blade selections are done without a lot of consideration or preliminary thought, they are glib in nature – “too easy, careless, showing little preparation or thought.” The implication is that of being “in a hurry.” To be glib is to quickly say or do something without considering all the implications or consequences. There are many other words that would also fit like, brash or hasty, rushed or impatient. In Part 2, The Big, the world of razor blades was presented and the major players briefly discussed. The most popular blades or at least the most mentioned ones were presented but the bottom line is that even though large corporations like Gillette are the biggest dogs in this fight for the hearts and minds of the wet shaving world, they are not the only dogs in the fight. Quality razor blades are being produced throughout the world.
Each person has their own favorite set of shaving equipment along with their favorite products to use in their daily shaving rotations. Some elements are used almost exclusively while others are used only on special occasions. Many may exclusively use only one razor blade brand and others use many, seeking variety and change. Everyone to some degree, at least in their minds, fosters a tiny seed of a fear that a favorite product or razor blade would at some point in time, no longer be available. If history does repeat itself, and it usually does at least in spirit and truth, if not in detail and reality, then there is a real possibility that the pendulum of razor blade production could change direction and swing back towards the days of less availability and fewer choices. Yes, at present the scope of availability, supply and demand are all on the up turn, which is good. Nevertheless, our world can change and often change so quickly we are caught with our pants down. There were a few voices in the wilderness predicting the most recent world economic crisis prior to 2008 and 2009. Few listened and many were caught off guard. This reality leads concluding point of this series.
There are widely available and easily made choices when buying razor blades. These are "The Good (Glib)". There are our favorites, the most popular and lauded razor blades. These are "The Bad (Boys) - The Big". We now come to "The Ugly (Unappreciated) razor blades. These blades are the ones that you may have overlooked and not given the attention they really deserve. They are the hidden gems I've talked about before. But there is also another factor involved. We possibly should balance out our razor blade choices to at least a small extent and spread the love, so to speak. Maybe we should be prepared in the event that unforeseen things happen and razor blade production in any part of the world is "hampered" and supplies dwindle regarding a particular brand, etc. In other words, we need to diversify and at least be familiar with some of the razor blades that are outside of our comfort zones...just in case.
We all watch the news. In just the last few years we have seen global economic trouble, the posturing of nuclear bomb waving dictators, natural disasters, and nuclear plant meltdowns, not to mention riots, political ousters, uprisings and terrorist threats.
Now I don't propose stock piling razor blades. But I do suggest going out into the vineyards and tasting a wine from a different region and a bit of cheese made from the milk of a different breed of cow. We also must realize the capriciousness of corporate greed and shortsightedness and how end of the quarter bottom-line profits could trigger changes in the wet shaving marketplace. Anything could happen and we would be left with shaving cream on our faces.
Do give some thought about diversifying your razor blade portfolio and at least being aware of some of the other suppliers available through out the world. Even though they may not be the first string players on your wet shaving team you can at least be aware of their playing skills and performance. Here are some stock and player options for your future consideration. Just some of my observations and experiences.
Made in Korea, Dorco razor blades are widely distributed worldwide. They are also branded under Pace and DorcoUSA. They come in two types, ST-300 and ST-301. I have used these blades and they are middle of the road sharp and smooth. They aren't stellar performers for me, but at least options that are usually locally available.
Made in Germany, Wilkinson Sword razor blades used to be made in England and one of the most widely used and available of blades. The Wilkinson Sword Classic blades used to be available in Walmart Stores in the United States but have been disappearing from shelves and no longer stocked in many locations. These are also middle of the road razor blades being above moderately sharp and relatively smooth. When they were more readily available I always had a supply of them on hand.
Bluebird blades are chromium-ceramic platinum Tungsten polymer coated edge razor blades made in Turkey. The manufacturer's parent company is located in Dubai, UAE. This is the same company that makes Derby razor blades. Bluebirds are not widely known and are again a moderately sharp and smooth blade. Some shavers consider them their "go to" blades. If you haven't tried them you should.
Big Ben razor blades are made in Egypt and come in a blue 5 blade pack and a purple or maroon colored 10 pack. They are the same blades regardless of color. Made by the same manufacturer as Lord razor blades they are not the sharpest but are moderately smooth. A good blade option to consider.
Laser Ultra razor blades are manufactured in India and very inexpensive to purchase in many places in Europe. My barbershop stocks these in 100 packs for $8. For the price they are very good blades in my estimate and are a notch above average in sharpness and smoothness. They are well worth a look, even though a certain Mr. Smith I know thinks they are the best blades on earth. Don't hold that against them, please.
SuperMax razor blades come in four flavors. Titanium, Stainless, Super Stainless and Platinum. They are manufactured by Vidyut Metallics Pvt. Ltd. in India and any razor blade that has "Vidyut" printed on it comes from the same place in India, and there are quite a few. SuperMax Platinum blades are one of my Top 5 razor blade choices. They are inexpensive and I consider them very sharp and exceptionally smooth. They do well in both mild and aggressive razors for me. Any of the SuperMax blades are worth a look in my opinion.
Made in Germany but previously manufactured in Italy Superinox Bolzano razor blades are not very popular or widely available, nevertheless many consider them their main choice of blade. I personally have never had the opportunity to try one, but they are definitely on my list of blades I want to try in the future.
Made in Soligen, Germany the famous city known for straight razors, Timor razor blades are viewed by many as the premier razor blade. Again not very popular or widely available, nevertheless known for their endurance, and balance of sharpness and smooth shaving. I personally have never had the opportunity to try these either, but they are on the top of my list of blades to try in the future.
Croma Diamant razor blades are definitely in my top 10 razor blade choices. Made in Germany these blades are currently very inexpensive on Amazon in the United states and you can purchase a 200 pack delivered for about $25. I consider these blades smoother and just as sharp as Feather blades. They are not as long lived as some blades in my estimation and sometimes turn a little rough after their second use. Regardless, they are exceptional razor blades and well worth a look.
Sharp Durablade Hi-Chromium razor blades are manufactured in Bangladesh. I don't know what the packaging means when it says "Swiss Quality" other than to speculate they could be using Swiss steel to manufacture them. I thoroughly enjoyed using these blades and in my opinion they were above average in sharpness and smoothness of shave. I would see these blades around occasionally but not knowing much about them never thought about getting them. One day I saw a pack in my barber's $1.00 razor blade jar snatched a pack. I'm glad I did.
Treet Platinum Super Stainless razor blades are made in Pakistan. I tried these blades just a few months ago after receiving them as an added gift from a vendor. I had been using Gillette 7 o'clock SharpEdge Yellows as my blade of choice and I had to double check to make sure I hadn't put one of them in the razor by sheer habit. I couldn't tell the two apart they were so similar to me. Very sharp in performance and very comfortable and smooth throughout for a solid three shaves time after time. There is a provider on eBay that sells them postage free to the US for $11.95 per 100.
Made in Russia Perma-Sharp Super razor blades have been compared to the no longer manufactured Polsilver Iridium (Browns- considered by many old timers as the best all around razor blade ever produced). I myself have never had the pleasure of shaving with one but boy would I like to have that opportunity. Perma-Sharp Super razor blades are also in my Top 10 "go to" razor blade picks. These were the first razor blades that ever caused the word "WOW" to actually come out of my mouth after a three pass shave. Definitely worth trying if you haven't already.
PolSilver Super Iridium razor blades are the name sake blades of the Polsilver "Browns" mentioned above. They are made by ZAO Petersburg Products in St. Petersburg, Russia in the same factory that produces Astra Superior Platinum, Gillette 7 o'clock SharpEdge Yellows, and some of the other Gillette Platinum blades. This is my No. 1 razor blade when using an aggressive open comb style razor. In my overall ranking of currently available razor blades they are No. 2 on the list.
I only recently had the opportunity to test drive the Kai Stainless Steel DE razor blade. They are made in Japan by a company that also produces surgical and industrial stainless steel razor blades. These blades are not widely available and a little more expensive than most blades costing $6 for a 10 pack, $30 for 50 and $60 for 100 from Razor Blades & More. I've just completed my testing and after using my first blade I am convinced if the next blade is anything like the first it will firmly be my No. 1 blade choice overall and definitely my No. 1 choice of blade for any closed bar razor. I was able to get 6 shaves from this blade and it was only on the third pass of the 6th shave that I felt any real tugging or loss of keenness or smoothness. This blade reminds me a lot of the vintage Personna 74* blade. Very sharp and in my estimation, as well as others, the sharpest razor blade currently available. Super smooth and comfortable, at times this blade feels like it actually thinner than the usual DE blade. I could hear it sing a high pitched song many times as it effortlessly mowed down the whiskers.
Have I been clear enough: You have to try this blade if you haven't done so already. You owe it to yourself.
So, for those who are curious here is my Top 10 Razor Blades:
No. 1 - Kai Stainless (Japan)
No. 2 - PolSilver Iridium (Russia)
No. 3 - Gillette 7 o'clock SharpEdge - Yellow (Russia)
No. 4 - Treet Platinum (Pakistan)
No. 5 - SuperMax Platinum (India)
No. 6 - PermaSharp Super (Russia)
No. 7 - Voskhod (Russia)
No. 8 - Croma Diamant (Germany)
No. 9 - Laser Ultra (India)
No 10 - Sharp DuraBlade (Bangladesh)
I've tried to spread the love around and diversify my razor blade portfolio for a number of reasons. Different blade manufacturers can produce blades with different qualities and characteristics that perform better in different razors and situations. I haven't really paid much attention to what razor I use with a particular blade, but that is something I am paying more attention to as I progress in developing my shaving skills and routine. We always seem to be chasing that better shave even though if you have been traditional wet shaving for over 6 months you are probably getting good shaves most of the time.
I don't live in fear of supplies being disrupted or cut for some reason and not being able to get the razor blades of my preference, but having experience with a variety of products and using products from different parts of the world, supporting a variety of manufacturers and product producers and distributors only leads to a healthier wet shaving marketplace. Just look what believing in and supporting almost exclusively one company - Gillette for all these years has gotten us...multi-blade cartridge razors and store shelves with very little except products made by or associated with Gillette and it's corporate parent Proctor and Gamble.
I urge you to broaden your horizons and vision related to the razor blades you use. It's good to know or to have found the perfect combination of razor, blade, soap and brush for your best shaves. It's another thing to be isolationist and possibly miss out on the many other good or excellent razor blade options in the world.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog articles. Thank you for reading and watching my videos on my YouTube channel FutrNovlst.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe