As a man with heavy, fast-growing facial hair, shaving has felt like a part of my life since before my Bar Mitzvah. I’ve seemingly tried every cartridge razor from the supermarket and thought I had narrowed it down to a couple that did a good enough job.
The prospect was enticing: a $300 razor promising the world’s best shave?
The OneBlade is the result of financial publisher Porter Stanberry’s year-long, $1 million investment in research and development after a “life-changing” shave in tiny city-state San Marino. According to CEO Tod Barrett, “The original concept was to deliver that type of experience (for the home user).” They’ve sold more than 6,000 units in the 14 months it has been on sale.
With that in mind, I prepared. I went cold turkey on shaving for a week, letting my beard grow out to a medium build. I also added a beard moisturizer to my daily routine to soften the hair leading up to the maiden shave.
The morning of, I watched a couple how-to videos on using the OneBlade razor. Their design team gauged an exact angle and blade surface to create their idea of “the perfect shave,” meaning the razor operates differently from a cartridge brand. The all-steel frame is heavy, very heavy, so there’s a method to letting the razor and it’s single Japanese Feather blade do most of the work.
For the first shave, I followed most of the directions of their official video. I lathered appropriately, but used my standard shave gel instead of the $40 cream they recommend (brush not included). Prepping with warm water is a must.
From the first glide over my left cheek, I decided I’d refer to the OneBlade razor as a “finesse razor” from here on out. The pivot and upright angle of the head takes some getting used to. It also requires much less cream/gel than a cartridge due to the placement and sharpness of the blade. And this thing is sharp. It’s initial run cut through most of the week’s build with ease, more ease than any other razor I can remember.
As I continued following the grain of my face (as they advise), the OneBlade ran into its first obstacle: the contours of the chin. With no flexibility in the head itself, it takes a few tries to really get all of the hair off of the traditionally tricky area. This became a bigger issue around my mustache as a considerable amount of finesse is required to work the stingy blade around existing borders of anything you want to keep.
With a fairly smooth face, I lathered again and dove in for the recommended short, numerous strokes following the grain of my face. This is where the OneBlade really shines. With almost no friction, the blade cut any hair in its path, without taking skin with it. I suppose this is what seven figures and a year of R&D gets you.
I’m typically done after two shaves, but following their guidelines, I went in for a third against the grain. Again, no friction, but I did notice a couple of nicks on the same spot on my neck I’ve been nicking myself for years. Maybe this was a rookie error, but I was really hoping a razor equal to my car payment would have left me with no irritation.
At the finish line, I rinsed and felt a smoothness that I haven’t had in some time. At first glance, it seems the OneBlade razor delivered a very high-level shave. I used my go-to sunscreen/moisturizer and that was that.
As I went through the day, I noticed a continued, almost evolving smoothness well into the evening. The nicks healed nicely and my face felt overall better.
Unconvinced, I waited another day and went in for one more shave using the same blade (OneBlade recommends changing the blade after each use, but these are expensive and can only be ordered through the company, so stretching usage seems like common sense. UPDATE: The blades are also available on Amazon, but at a higher price).
Again, I followed the same shaving directions, but noticed a few more nicks this time. The blade was still sharp, but noticeably less so. My chin and jaw lines required more than a few passes to get the same first-run smoothness.
Following the second run, my face looked as smooth as the first shave, but did not feel as such. It was more than acceptable, though I wouldn’t push the blades to a third use.
The OneBlade is inherently a specialized product for those with money to burn and an insatiable thirst to live at the top of men’s grooming. It’s definitely a first-class “experience” from start to finish, but with an eye-watering entry price plus costly blade refills, it’s tough to rationalize.
And, it’s still a work in progress. Barrett noted that an updated version is in the works and should be available just in time for the holidays. Perhaps the next edition will fix a couple of the flaws I personally experienced and raise the stakes on “the world’s best shave”.
This article was updated Dec. 15, 2016 to reflect blade availability.