Thursday, February 26, 2015

Solving the Problem with Premium (Razors, That Is)

First off, I will define what I mean by a premium razor, which has the following characteristics:
  • Made of water-tolerant materials such as a brass substrate or stainless steel
  • Manufacturing quality is high -- meaning that the razor is defect free and symmetrical having both edges provide the same shave characteristics
A premium razor, therefore, promises the following performance;
  • It will provide consistent shaves
  • It will not corrode or decay over time
  • It can, therefore, last decades -- meaning it has the potential to be an heirloom instrument
So.... all that said, what's the problem? Where's the rub? The irritation? The nick, the cut? What makes you weep? (Okay, I'm done with silly shaving puns.)

Well, it all comes back to the big three design characteristics: blade exposure, angle, and gap. Premium razors, though top drawer in terms of quality and PRICE, are not much different than a $4 razor in terms of potentially providing a good match to your face, beard, and blade choice.

In other words, in terms of shave experience, buying premium razor is the same as buying any other razor: you might get good shaves, mediocre shaves, or.... they might suck. A big price tag and the presumably high-quality accomanying instrument ensure exactly nothing when it comes to shaving experience. The only difference with a premium razor is that whatever the shave experience, if that's your only razor, you could get to enjoy that experience -- for good or ill -- for a lifetime!

So if I'm going to lay out over US$100, I would expect to know the likely shaving character of the razor prior to making my purchase, not after.

But how is this done, one might ask with a gasp!

It's so simple; for a start, every razor for sale should be shown with a razor blade installed, pictured in a side-view close up, with the camera lens looking straight down the blade edge. This side view can suggest all three design aspects in a single picture.

An example of an ideal razor-seller's photo: side view aimed down razor edge, shave plane drawn in, and blade extened to show angle without obscuring the actual edge end point. Given this photo, would you buy this razor? I would not!

Better would be to have the seller draw in the shave plane of the razor within this side-view photo. That way the prospective buyer can clearly see whether the blade exposure is positive (above the plane), negative (below the plane, within the protective cove), or neutral.

Better still would be, additionally, to extend the line of the blade, without obscuring its end point, so that the blade angle can be seen in relation to the shave plane.

Best would be to provide precise data on these three aspects: exposure, angle, and gap (for those razors that aren't open comb) in addition to the photos.

Until this becomes the common practice for razor sellers, only those who are 1) ignorant of razor design or 2) those with so much money that they don't care if they waste $100 or more or 3) those whose skin is indelicate will take a chance on buying a razor with unconfirmed shaving characteristics.

Demand appropriate sales practices from your DE vendors.

And happy shaving!

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