As we hurtle into the homestretch of the 2020 Holiday Season, many of us are scrambling to find that certain something for that special someone; and while you still don’t know what that something is, if the someone is your dad, spouse, post-pubescent child, or simply anyone looking for a top of the line at-home shaving experience, I’ve got what may well be the answer to both your prayers and their razor-burn and ingrown hairs.
Let me preface this by saying that, due to skin sensitivity, I have been using a rotating roster of best-in-class electric shavers by Phillips Norelco and Braun since college. So, what if my so-called 5 o’clock shadow always made me look like it was 9:30? That, I figured, was something with which I’d just have to deal. Then, in October, an online ad appealing to the design lover in me caught my eye; so, I clicked on it and found myself taking a deep dive into the world of OneBlade. *
The Austin, TX-based company was founded in 2015 by the financial publisher and author, Porter Stansfield, after he returned from a trip to Italy, on which he’d received the best shave he’d ever had, at an old-school Italian barbershop located on one of the cobblestone streets of San Marino. Stansfield’s concept was a simple one (in theory, if not in practice): Offer “the quality of a straight-razor shave, with the safety and convenience of a cartridge razor.”
To achieve this, Stansfield enlisted Tod Barrett—previously the CEO of CD3 Holdings, the consumer products innovator that during Barrett’s tenure, had acquired Ronco Holdings, Inc—a guy who certainly knows a few things about developing and marketing consumer products. ** Then, after interviewing more than 30 international design firms, the entrepreneur, the executive, and the team they’d assembled decided to go with Pensa (the award-winning Brooklyn-based design collective that’s collaborated on iconic and innovative designs for everything from Zero Halliburton luggage and the One Drop glucose monitor to more than 50 of those OXO kitchen products about which Bobby Flay is always raving).
Over the next year, they spent more than one million dollars in pursuit of Stansfield’s concept, with the main guidance being that (using Stansfield as the guinea pig) the resulting device be something he could use at home, and that the learning curve be such that he could figure out how to successfully use it in a few tries.
After a thousand or so variants of flexibility, pivot, grip, symmetry, head size, blade-angle, blade-gap, and blade-exposure, they had their device. Now they just needed to find the blade to use with it. So, Barrett was sent to the far corners of the globe to meet with companies in Asia, Europe, and the US, that manufactured blades used for everything from medical scalpels to meat-processing knives; and materials ranging from steel to carbon to tungsten carbide were tested.
They found their blade in Japan, from a company called Feather that, for 80 years (in addition to producing some of the world’s most sought-after blades for surgical supplies), has been providing barbershops around the world (including that barbershop in San Marino) with blades made from ultra-high quality Japanese steel that featuring a proprietary finish. One of these, the FHS-10—made from high-carbon stainless steel and coated in platinum—is the blade used exclusively by the OneBlade.
The OneBlade GENESIS Razor is the flagship and is forged from German stainless steel (PANACEA + 316L, to be precise), with a military-grade PVD-coating, is built with metal-injection molding and is assembled by hand, and features optimal blade exposure and angle, a pivoting head with Teflon-coated stainless steel spring, a quick-load blade system, and a beveled handle. The GENESIS, like all OneBlade razors, is guaranteed for life. With a $250 price tag, at first glance it’s pretty pricy for a razor until you start figuring that they sell the Feather FHS-10 blades—that OneBlade recommends replacing after every 2-3 shaves and sold in packs of 10—for a dollar, each (which works out to much less per year than you’d spend on replacing the handles and cartridges in the Gillette or Schick razors that currently dominate the market.
The GENESIS comes in Silver as well as in a Limited-Edition Gunmetal finish. There’s a GENESIS with an 18K Rose Gold-plated finish for $450, and a GENESIS with a 24K Gold-plated finish for $1000. And if you’re shopping for that individual who’s simply got to have the absolute best of everything, there’s the Collector’s Edition OneBlade BlackBlade: a series of 101 razors, each with a unique serial number, for $1,875.
And for those who prefer to dip a toe in the OneBlade pool before taking the plunge with a GENESIS, there’s the OneBlade CORE Razor, made from the highest-grade polymer available on the market, for $20; and the OneBlade HYBRID Razor, featuring a military-grade stainless steel head with a Tritan and stainless steel handle, for $100.
One thing that OneBlade has done that I found especially savvy is the packaging of Shave Kits. So, for instance, the GENESIS Black Tie Shave Kit—in addition to the individually serial numbered OneBlade GENESIS Razor, stainless steel razor display stand, and a 10-pack of Feather FHS-10 blades—includes a premium custom-designed tuxedo synthetic shaving brush, a 2-month supply of Feather FHS-10 blades (30 blades), a blade disposal bank, a 150ml container of Black Tie Shaving Cream, and a 90ml container of Black Tie Aftershave Balm, for $300.
Of course, none of this would be worth a damn, if OneBlade’s razors didn’t deliver. And, boy, do they! After a couple of months—and, granted, between my lifestyle and COVID, I only shave a couple or few times each week, these days—I couldn’t be happier. Gone are the ingrown hairs and the razor burn. Also, it’s made my bathing/grooming ritual a bit more fun. And if there’s one thing we can use more of these days, it’s the ability to glean some joy from otherwise humdrum parts of our routines.
GENESIS Razor and Black Tie Shave Kit
Click HERE for info
Get into it!
[Editor’s Notes: * Do not confuse the OneBlade razors with the Phillips OneBlade hybrid styler // ** Founded by promotional guru and infomercial innovator, Ron Popeil, Ronco marketed (and oftentimes invented) such As-Seen-on-TV products as the Veg-O-Matic, the Chop-O-Matic, the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Showtime Rotisserie (“Set it, and forget it!”)]