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 personal care industry has exploded in the last 10 years and many of the razor & blade manufacturers, shave and after shave balm makers and skin care players are all chasing market share. Heck, Dollar Shave Club is selling butt wipes for Pete's sake, so clearly there is opportunity for the brands to solidify their loyalties with their base. Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Edgewell are the big players, but there are upstarts like Harry's who are competing to penetrate the coveted recurring cartridge subscriber. 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, the Dodge Charger Daytona of razors, 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 shouldn’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-Awesome- 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.

Eat Your Way to a More Beautiful Beard

There’s not too much you can do about a receding hairline, other than curse your gene pool. But facial hair is a different story. “The condition of your facial hair directly corresponds to the health of your body,” says Jim White, registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesman. Specifically, he continues, “The same nutrients that have a positive effect on our heart and other major organs also benefit our skin and hair.”

In other words, you can literally eat yourself to a shinier, smoother, more healthy-looking beard. We asked White to tell us which vitamins are an essential part of a healthy facial hair diet, what they do, and how to get them into our diet. Results of our conversation below.

VITAMIN A AND BETA CAROTENE
How they better your beard
: “Vitamin A maintains and repairs skin tissue,” says White. “And keeping your skin healthy allows for better hair growth.” Beta carotene is a nutrient that your body converts to vitamin A. Since it’s found in foods that are lower in saturated fats than those that are rich in vitamin A, you’re better off eating foods that are high in beta carotene.

Where to find them: Vitamin A is present in milk, cheese, butter and egg yolks. Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange produce (e.g., carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and papayas) and leafy green veggies (e.g., spinach and kale).

VITAMINS C AND E

How they better your beard: Vitamins C and E promote the production of sebum, a natural oil that is produced by our bodies and lubricates and moisturizes hair, making it look thicker and more lush. Additionally, vitamin C assists in the growth of bodily tissues, including those that comprise our skin and hair follicles.

Where to find them: Citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli are good sources of vitamin C. Wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanut butter, corn oil, spinach, broccoli, mangoes and spinach all contain high amounts of vitamin E.

PROTEIN

How it betters your beard: Our skin and hair are composed primarily of keratin, a structural protein made up of amino acids. We don’t produce amino acids on our own; instead, we need to eat protein, which the body then converts to amino acids.

Where to find it: Fill up on fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, rice, beans and milk.

VITAMINS B6, B12 AND BIOTIN
How they better your beard:
B vitamins help your body synthesize the protein you eat so it can be used to build new skin cells and hair. Getting enough B vitamins, says White, also helps reduce stress and prevent hair loss.

Where to find them: Fish, poultry, leans meats, eggs, nuts, and whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal are chock-full of B vitamins. Foods that are rich in B12 include beef, milk, cheese and wheat germ.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
How they better your beard:
Essential fatty acids are just that: essential to normal growth, including that of facial hair. They also protect cell membranes, helping to prevent your whiskers from getting dry and brittle.

Where to find them: Make sure flax seed oil, walnuts and fatty fish (e.g., salmon) find their way into your diet.

Want to make your beard even more beautiful? Of course you do! Supplementing the above foods with a multivitamin, or with any of the individual nutrients listed above, might do the trick. Just don’t overdo it: Your body will excrete any extra water-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamin C or B12), but it’ll hold on to extra fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamin A). Excessive doses of vitamin A could actually lead to hair loss. Ask your doctor to recommend a proper dosage, and you’ll soon be on your way to winning whiskers.

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

What Women Hate About Your Jeans

You might not think twice about throwing on your favorite pair of jeans -- but maybe you should. After all, choose the wrong pair of pants and the woman you’re after probably won't want to get into them.

At least, that's what the girls of the Men’s Life Today Girl Panel™ seem to be telling us. We asked them which jeans-wearing habits they despise. It turns out there are quite a few of them. For the sake of space, we give you their top ten…

The Panel

Hali
27

Michelle
27

Allison
25

Veronica
24

Kristin
23

Lawrese
22


The Panel’s Pant Peeves:


1.Pants worn high and tight

“I don’t want to see any silhouettes of what’s underneath.” -Hali

“Avoid the mom jeans look at all costs. I'm looking at you, Obama.” -Veronica

 
2.Low-riders

“No crack peeks!” -Hali

“In the words of every old person ever, ‘Pull your pants up!’ Who finds that attractive? And how do you even walk like that?” -Veronica

“Exposing your undergarments won’t get me to show you mine.” -Lawrese

 
3. Skinny jeans

“Don’t suffocate your knee caps ….or other areas.” -Lawrese

 “If they're skinnier than mine, we have a problem.” -Kristin

 
4. Baggy jeans

“I haaaaate when guys wear baggy jeans. I'm not saying they need to be lady-tight, but baggy jeans make everything look so 90s. I'm not trying to date Eddie Vedder.” -Veronica

 
5. Wrong lengths

“I can’t stand it when a man’s jeans are too short. Even if everything else is stylish, he’ll still look like George Costanza.” -Michelle

“Jeans shouldn’t be too short or too long. They're both turn-offs. Also, a good hem job goes a long way.” -Allison

 
6. Light and bright washes

“I like a good pair of gray jeans, but I think a lot of men get trends like that wrong when they try. When in doubt, a dark blue wash always works. The darker the better.” -Michelle

 “Colored jeans are never acceptable, unless you're in the circus.” -Kristin 

 
7. Excessive embellishments

“No rhinestones or studs or what-have-you. Unless you’re in a mariachi band or Jay Manuel.” -Veronica

“I don’t want a man who wears jeans with a brand across his butt.” -Lawrese

 
8.Pants past their prime

“Jeans should be replaced if you’ve grown six inches and lost 20 pounds since you bought them.” -Hali

“When the hem is dangling off and dragging behind you, it's time for the trash.” -Kristin

“Holes in your jeans that make you look like you got shot. If you have them, it’s time to replace them.” -Lawrese

 
9. High-end jeans
“I think it's weird when a guy has uber designer jeans, like Rock & Republic with huge ‘R’s on the back. Who ya trying to impress, bud?” -Veronica
 
10. …And low-end jeans
“Cheap jeans are usually paired with ugly shirts and bad looks. They send the message that a guy is either cheap all around, or dressed by his mother.” -Allison