Style, Fashion and Grooming Tips for Men

Men's Life Today delivers style, fashion and grooming tips for today's man

Razor Comparison 2017

So, in the old days when shaving was a boring, mundane daily routine that just had to be done and not really thought about too much, scrapes, cuts and razor burn just came with the territory. No one griped about it. But now, with fancy new technology (5 blades!), comfort strips and lubrication gel strips, shaving is more like a men’s home care New Year’s Eve party. And why not? The Men’s skincare industry has exploded in the last 10 years and many providers, aside from the 5 we mentioned at the beginning of this story, are chasing market share. There are the big guys like Nivea & Neutrogena, and then a host of smaller, high end players like Jack Black and American Crew whose products sell at a significant premium. The irony is that despite the massive upgrades in gear, blades, cartridges, shave cream and aftershave lotions, people are shaving a whole lot less. Indeed, many of today’s ad pitchmen are bearded millennials who apparently feel the need to remind the American public that they don’t have to shave for the jobs they may or may not have. But for now we are going to attempt to break down the question of which blade is best, both from a quality and performance standpoint, and from a cost standpoint.

Our collective jaws dropped last year when we read about Dollar Shave Club being acquired for $1 Billion by Unilever. And then we all scratched our heads when Harry’s went on a PR tour about the blade factory in Germany they bought. And it is worth noting that subscription-based services, like those offered by Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and now Gillette OnDemand, are less about a quality shave and more about having your credit card on file to charge every month. There is a good reason the Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin made such entertaining commercials: because he wanted your credit card.

Methodology

I did okay in middle school and high school science, and so I know a little bit about the idea of a ‘control’ to perform a proper scientific experiment. So I realized that before I lay out my findings on the increasingly costly modern shave set-ups, that I would lay out the rating systems and methodology so that there are no gray areas of misunderstandings. And, since this article will be published and translated into 5 different languages, I don’t want to offend anyone.

First, to establish a control I decided that each razor would shave three times: 1) the first time on a 72 hour beard, 2) the second time on a 48 hour beard (same blade), and the third time on a 24 hour beard. I wanted to do it this way to see how durable the blade was and how well it held up as its performance deteriorated and to measure the all-important ‘cost-per-awesome-shave metric’ I wanted to introduce. I say this because every man in the world who is reading this has extracted an extra shave or two or three from an old dull razor. And that is usually because he is out of blades, which is likely because they cost so much damn money and he didn’t feel like trading his financial security for a decent shave (this could also could explain why so many men are wearing beards these days.)

Quick sidebar: I was speaking with my father the other day about the 70’s when men his age wore sideburns and mustaches and long hair if they had it as a means of protest and display of civil disobedience. He told me that NOT shaving was never an option back in the day, and that men demonstrated their defiance and civil disobedience via mustached and hippie mullets (see season 1 of HBO’s Vinyl for a visual representation of this). But I didn’t care (and still don’t), but I do care about figuring out the best razor/shave set-up best for you, the reader.

Okay back to the methodology. I selected Jack Black’s Beard Lube as my shave cream/lube because I have used it in the past and I felt like its eucalyptus scent and cooling feel best represented what readers wanted out of a good shave. I also have noticed in my 30 plus years of shaving that I would rather have a slightly less close shave than a painful cut on my face, and that most men (or women) reading this this will agree. Blood is bad, comfort is good. Finally, to make each blade’s performance an apples-to-apples comparison to its competitor, they need to have the same whisker length and whisker toughness.

Gillette

I thought the Mach 3 was pretty great when it came out in 1995. And shaving with it was about the coolest thing I could have imagined. I never thought they’d get three blades into a cartridge, and then when they got 5 blades into a cartridge I figured the razor blade wars were over.  But those Gillette razor cartridges are not cheap, and still aren’t. A package of 8 new Gillette Fusion replacement blade cartridges goes for between $28 and $32 on Amazon. As usual, this was a great, comfortable shave. The lubrication strip lasted longer than I expected, and the blades stayed sharp through the third shave. The Fusion cartridges also comes with a blade at the top of the cartridge, above the comfort strip, that is great for getting whisker up under your nose.  I also like the design of the head for easy cleaning. Overall, even with Gillette’s new direct subscription option, these blades are pricey.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club has a 6 blade cartridge that sells for $9 per month for four cartridges. I really like this shave, and the blades held up well in three times I used the cartridge. What I didn’t really like is the silly marketing and overly complex pricing and subscription tiers. In general, I don’t like having my credit card getting hit every month for something I may not need. I don’t shave as much as I used to, and I want to buy razors when I need them, not when my razor company wants to charge me. Plus, as with any subscription business, there is the ever present lead generation and free sampling that bothers me.

Harry’s

Harry’s offers a few different options as well, but we used the 5 blade option for this exercise. The packing is nice (blue, orange or green handle), but until shaving gear becomes a fashion statement, then the color of the handle doesn’t and shoudn’t matter. What should matter is how close a shave you get, how many shave you can get get from one cartridge, and what the Cost-per-Awsome- Shave (CPAS) is. I liked this shave, but I noticed the blades wore down at a slightly higher rate then the others. I also felt like the website was clunky and didn’t really boil down the all-in costs of ordering a shipment. In general, anytime there is a shipping costs involved, there is room for padding costs.

Schick

The Schick Hydro came our in 2010 and has earned some respect among face shavers. Without over spending on branding and instead focusing on value and quality, Schick has been able to hold onto precious market share in the US while the Big Three beat each other up with media dollars. The truth is, Schick offers and excellent shave at a decent price, and enjoys brand loyalty not only in the US but around the globe. The Schick Hydro 5 performed very well in our comparison, and at $15 on Amazon for a package of 5 new blades, are priced reasonably.

Bic

Ahh the old standby. One blade, one use, throw away. Easy, no gimmicks, no flash, no commercials and, sadly, not a very comfortable shave. The blade will work fine with a decent shave balm on a 1-day beard, but any real stubble and you are in trouble. This shaving experience fit squarely in the ‘you get what you pay for’ bucket, and most men with a face will want to pay a little more for comfort.

  Comfort Durability Price CPAS*
Dollar SC 3.5 3.5 5.0 3.9
Gillette 5.0 5.0 3.5 4.6
Harry's 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.8
Bic 2.0 2.0 5.0 2.8
Schick 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

* We discussed putting in an actual dollar amount in here but given small price fluctuations, shipping, and free shave cream samples, decide to keep it simple and give an overall grade between 1 and 5. We also overweighted 'comfort' in the calculation of CPAS by @2X

 

To summarize, Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s are making shaving a lot less boring and a lot more exciting for most men. But in the end, most men want a good shave (when they have to shave) at a reasonable cost without too many bells and whistles. We preferred Gillette, but as with everything, to each his own.

Fashion 2017: Colors and Patterns for Men

If your daily uniform is a white Oxford shirt and navy suit, it’s time to take your wardrobe to the next level:

Colors

Ten years ago, men had no choice. If you worked in an office, your shirt was white and your suit was navy. Color belonged on the tie. Today, the rules have changed in even the stuffiest of offices. Light blue shirts are as acceptable as white. Suits no longer have to be dark. You can choose from a range of grays, and during the warmer months, a light or dark khaki suit is comfortable and stylish. As for shirts, pink and light purple join blue and white. There’s nothing feminine about these colors in a dress shirt. Pink is masculine, and so is lavender (more commonly labeled “violet” or “lilac”).

If you work someplace more relaxed, you have more options. “There are no hard-and-fast rules for wearing color,” says Daniel Ou, director of product development at Gap. “But the easy way to find a color that looks good on you is to pick shades that complement your skin tone: lighter, brighter colors for dark complexions, and saturated, darker hues for pale skin. Experiment and test out your comfort level first. I recommend trying on a new colored T-shirt or polo shirt with a pair of dark denim jeans to see how they look together, on you.”

A good place to start is with classic colors -- blue, pink, purple -- but in different shades. There are great medium-blue shirts the color of blueberry juice. Cobalt blue is also popular right now. Baby blue, a longtime favorite, “seems to have run its course and may be best for the toddler set,” says Ou. “Pink is a standard go-to color, but it has a preppy undertone, so try a bolder, dark version to stand out from the pack.” Specifically, look for a dark pink -- not red -- that’s reminiscent of a faded barn. It’s warm and inviting.

“If you’re worried about looking too bright, use color as an accent,” advises Ou. “Pair it with something neutral like khaki, gray or brown. It will tone down the look.”

Patterns
Easy places to add pattern include your tie, pocket square or socks. But to take a fashionable step forward, try adding shirts to the mix. Start with subtle stripes, plaids and gingham (a cross between a stripe and a plaid -- it’s two colors crossing over to create a small-checkered pattern). “Wearing these patterns will signal your interest in looking like a true gentleman,” says Ou.

With stripes, start with basic color combinations such as blue and white, pink and white, or dark blue and light blue. Pair them with navy pants, jeans or khakis; you don’t want your pants to compete with the stripes. The same formula works for plaid, but avoid overly large patterns and overly bright colors, unless you’re planning to chop wood or go camping.

“I love plaid,” says Brian Bolke, founder of Forty Five Ten, an independent shop in Dallas, Texas, “because it’s going have three colors in it, which gives you a lot to work with. You can add a solid pant and tie and look great.” Note: The pants and tie should match the darkest color in the plaid.

“Gingham is a classic and easy-to-wear pattern that will never go out of style," says Ou. But as with plaid, aim small. “Smaller-scale gingham in darker colors tends to be dressier and more stylish,” explains Ou, “while too large a scale might end up looking like a giant picnic table cloth.”

Finally, avoid combining multiple patterns. It’s too easy to look like you’re wearing pajamas. But a pattern tie-and-shirt combination can work well. For example, a medium-size plaid shirt with a tiny check tie can look smart when paired with a pair of dark pants.

In the end, the best advice is to experiment and trust your instincts. “Guys are uncomfortable trying new things,” says Bolke. “But they shouldn’t be. As long as you don’t go overboard, you’re going to get noticed -- in a good way -- for stepping up your game.”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/YT

Fight the Winter Blues

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 10 Americans suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to our completely unscientific reckoning, the rest of us get totally bummed out in the winter too. How could we not? We wake up to darkness, we commute home in darkness, and it’s as cold as a witch’s you-know-what outside.

Fortunately, there are ways to beat the gloom, beyond buying a one-way ticket to Miami. We contacted a basket of experts -- including the man who first discovered SAD -- for advice on how to combat the winter funk. So rise and shine; it’s time to bring the sunshine back!

The SAD Specialist
The major cause of SAD is lack of light. So my advice to sufferers is simple: Get more light! You can do this by walking outdoors (especially in the morning), bringing more light into your home, or using special light fixtures. If you opt for light therapy fixtures, remember that bigger is often better, mornings are usually the best time to use the lights, and you needn’t stare at the light -- just sit in front of it with your eyes open. Light therapy usually works within four days or so. -- Dr. Normal Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Yoga Instructor

When posture improves, so does confidence. People who feel down have slumped shoulders, a collapsed chest and a tendency to look downward. This posture puts pressure on the heart and stops the diaphragm from moving freely. Yoga postures increase blood flow, which flushes the muscles, organs and glandular system of waste while delivering oxygen and nutrients. They also soften the muscles, allowing the energy lines of the body to open and restoring balance to your nervous system. -- Ducky Punch, founder of Yummy Yoga

The Naturopath
Try St. John’s Wort, which serves as a tonic for the nervous system and balances mood. Ashwagandha helps you cope with stress and environmental changes, and astragalus restores energy and helps prevent lethargy. You can also try certain vitamin supplements. B6 will help with mood, as will vitamin E. Magnesium is good for anxiety, insomnia and winter aches. -- Dr. Kathia Roberts of the Seasonal Health Wellness Center

The Life Coach
Tell the truth. When the seasons change, be honest about what makes you happy and go after it. For example, when mornings get cold and dark, you might be inclined to hide from life under your blankets. But if what actually makes you happy is to get your blood flowing, then that’s what you must do. The no-snooze-button rule is a good one. -- Will Craig, director of educational programming at the Handel Group

The Personal Trainer

When we are physically fit, we manage stress better. The most effective way to get out of a rut this winter is to work out. Most any kind of exercise will help, from Pilates to cardio, just as long as you’re physically active. Like the quote says: “If it’s physical, it’s therapy!” I recommend a strength-training program since it naturally increases your body’s testosterone levels, which will increase your feelings of well-being and confidence. -- Kevin Kohout at Personal Trainer Los Angeles

The Nutritionist

Eating mini-meals throughout the day is a good idea. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids relieve symptoms of depression; you can find these in fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, or walnuts and flaxseed. If you can cut out caffeine, sugar and alcohol, do so! Alcohol and caffeine are both mood-altering and habit-forming substances, and too much sugar can lead to fatigue and mood swings, wiping out any benefit of serotonin. Finally, stay hydrated. Do not replace water, the liquid of life, with any other beverage. -- Carrie Wiatt of Diet Designs

The Happiness Expert

Go for a walk. In the winter, it’s easy to get in the habit of hurrying from one indoor space to the next, but it’s dreary to be inside all the time. You’ll get a jolt of energy and cheer -- and also boost your mental focus and productivity -- if you take a quick walk outside, where you can get the sun in your eyes and experience the weather. Even bad weather can be therapeutic! -- Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project

The Therapist

The best way to combat depression is to be proactive about avoiding a spiraling mood. When you experience depressive thinking -- like “I give up” or “Why bother?” -- try to recognize these thoughts and adjust them. If the world seems hostile and painful, remind yourself that this might not be true; you just feel terrible today. And do what you don’t feel like doing: Start an exercise program or get involved with a group of people. Don’t let the negative thoughts win! -- Doric George at Visions of Freedom Therapy

Stay Fit and Trim All Winter Long

It’s so easy to stay fit in the summer -- the beautiful days keep you outdoors and active, while the heat controls your appetite. Then the weather turns, and every day it seems you’re moving just a little bit less and eating just a little bit more.

But when you think about it, there’s really no excuse for such behavior. “It’s almost like a woman who’s pregnant and thinks, ‘I can eat anything I want!’” says Joshua Margolis, founder of New York City–based personal training service Mind Over Matter Health & Fitness. “You can, but it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.” In other words, winter is not a license to sit around and stuff your face. If it were, Colorado would be a state full of fat people; instead, it has boasted the nation’s lowest percentage of obese adults since 1990, a fact largely attributed to the population’s strong outdoor culture.

However, even if we accept that blaming the cold for our sloth-like habits is wrong, it can be tough to stay on track with health goals when it’s cozy inside and miserable outside. To help, we asked fitness expert Margolis and nutrition expert Ilyse Schapiro, a registered dietitian and certified dietitian/nutritionist at Brown & Medina Nutrition in New York City, for their best tips on how to stay healthy and happy during those long months of sleet and snow.

Eat Citrus
“Winter is cold and flu season, so it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system functioning at its best,” says Schapiro, who recommends taking vitamin C to give it that extra boost. “Oranges and clementines are in season, so why not put out a bowl of those during the game instead of a bowl of chips?”

Find a Workout Partner
It’s a dark, bitter morning, and your bed’s so warm and comfy ... but you’re supposed to meet Joe at indoor tennis in 30 minutes. Says Margolis: “Having a buddy to exercise with automatically creates accountability and responsibility.” If you’re in need of a partner, ask that guy you always see at the gym or someone from your intramural sport team, or simply post on Facebook: “Hey, I’m going out for a run in the morning. Anybody interested in joining?”

Choose Healthy Comfort Foods
We crave thick, heavy food in the winter. But instead of reaching for a can of calorie-packed cream-based soup, heat up some hearty lentil stew or veggie chili. Schapiro also recommends preparing recipes with low-fat instead of full-fat dairy and lean ground turkey versus ground beef. As for carbs, always opt for whole grains, including whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat couscous, quinoa and brown rice. For more ideas, check out EatingWell, Schapiro’s go-to source for healthy recipes.

Buy Winter Workout Gear
When you make a financial commitment to something, you tend to stick to it more. Likewise, spend money on a parka, goggles, base layers, ice tools -- the sky’s the limit -- and you’re probably not going to let them go to waste. For an extra guarantee, put your purchases somewhere you’ll see them every time you come in or out the door. Guilt is a brilliant motivator.

Get Your Beta-carotene
Antioxidants protect against damage to cells and can help fight diseases and illnesses from cancer to the common cold. If you increase your intake in the winter, says Schapiro, you can stave off or shorten the length of a cold. Beta-carotene is one major antioxidant, and foods rich in it are readily available during winter. Carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli are all in season and are packed with the infection-fighting cells.

Pick up a Winter Sport
Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice hockey, ice climbing, snowmobiling … “An inordinate number of fitness disciplines require colder temperatures,” says Margolis. The winter season is a great reminder to mix up your workout. “If you’re doing the same thing repeatedly,” explains Margolis, “your body gradually gets used to it, and the energy you expend decreases. It’s no longer as challenging for your body.” Ramp up your workout by testing new cold-weather skills. Or simply get out there with your little cousins and have a snowball fight; 8-year-old kids can make you burn more calories than drill sergeants.