Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Micro Touch One Safety Razor versus Dollar Shave Club 4x

The usual up-front info and disclaimers: I received a Micro Touch One razor, with case and blade pack, for review purposes (the offer came via Fuel My Blog) -- MSRP $19.99. I also receive extra months of service for referring customers to Dollar Shave Club, which I have previously reviewed. The mission, from the Micro Touch One people's point of view, was to get a review of their razor, not necessarily a competitive review with any other. The head-to-head comparison is my idea; since I've previously and positively reviewed DSC, it makes sense to put the new razor up against the one I've been using for a year.

Review Protocol: I received the Micro Touch One about two weeks ago, and immediately shaved with it. And I mean shaved. I trimmed my beard and dome down to stubble and shaved my entire face and head with the razor. For a week after that, I shaved my face daily with the Micro Touch One (once I have my head shaved, I normally just run an electric foil shaver over it each morning -- until I decide to let it grow out for awhile), using different facilitators (shaving cream, shaving gel, mug-and-brush shaving soap, and my preferred, thanks to Jeffrey Tucker, baby oil). For the second week, I allowed my goatee to grow back in (having established whether or not that particular beard area would be a problem area), and switched back and forth between the Micro Touch One and Dollar Shave Club 4x on a day-to-day basis. This morning, I conducted "the head-to-head review shave" -- new blades on both handles, shaved one side of my face (randomly determined with a coin toss) with each razor.

Short Version of the Review: I absolutely love the Micro Touch One. It's a classy and classic piece of gear, it's a money-saver over time (if, as their ads claim, 24 blades is enough for a year of shaving, then four years worth of blades will set you back $10-20), and in terms of shave performance it was well beyond satisfactory.

Long Version of the Review:

The Micro Touch One comes with a nice hard-shell, velour-lined plastic travel case with in-lid mirror, as well as 24 double-edge safety razor blades (advertised as a one-year supply), for $19.99. Why is this price point important? Because I'm comparing the Micro Touch One to the Dollar Shave Club 4x. From DSC, I get four blades (or, rather, four four-blade "cartridges") per shipment, at $6 per shipment. The normal shipment frequency is monthly, but based on my own needs I stepped that down to bi-monthly. Six shipments per year, $6 per shipment ... $36 a year. That's nearly twice the cost of the Micro Touch One with a one-year supply of blades (and it looks like 100 double-edge safety razor blades -- a four-year supply -- run $10-$20 depending on brand). So if the razors are comparable, you're saving money from the get-go with the Micro Touch One.

Are the razors comparable?

The Micro Touch One is made of solid brass and chrome-plated. It has a nice heft to it and feels comfortable in hand. It's a simple piece of gear -- the only moving part is the twist-handle that raises the safety bar up for blade insertion, removal and cleaning. And the blades are just the same old blades that King Gillette introduced in 1901. They have a groove that fits over a post. Not much to go wrong there. I've had no problems with it so far, and don't foresee any likelihood of it malfunctioning under normal conditions.

The Dollar Shave Club 4x handle is also very nice -- a metal and plastic razor handle with a presumably ergonomically sound shape, a rubberized grip and a button for releasing the used cartridge. On the other hand, my first handle fell apart after six months. DSC replaced it free, of course, but still ... I've also had blade cartridges come apart at the interface point (the mechanism isn't insanely complicated, but we're talking about tiny plastic tabs) long before I considered the blade surfaces "used up."

For ruggedness/reliability, definite advantage Micro Touch One.

So it really comes down to the shave, and this is where I was surprised.

It's just intuitive that a modern 4-blade razor will deliver a smoother, more comfortable shave than the old-fashioned safety razor and that a modern handle with a pivot on it will do a better job of handling the curve of jaw and chin, etc.

But to be honest, I can't tell the difference between the two razors on shave closeness. Both sides of my face are smooth. The handling is a little different, but different is not the same thing as difficult. I had no problem getting those little places near the nose, shaving around the chin curve, etc. with the Micro Touch One. The differences, once again, redound to the advantage of the Micro Touch One: It's easier to clean the whiskers out of than the Dollar Shave Club 4x, and to the extent that I feel "razor burn" (which is hardly ever very much), the four-blade cartridge seems to be a little more irritating than the single safety blade.

The bottom line, of course, is what works for you. You may have your own reasons for preferring multi-blade cartridges, ergonomic handles and so forth, and if you do I still highly recommend Dollar Shave Club. But if you don't have such reasons, the Micro Touch One is a classy and classic piece of gear, a money-saver and, in terms of shave performance, well beyond satisfactory.

If my recommendation isn't enough for you, maybe you'd rather hear the opinion of Rick Harrison (of Pawn Stars fame). Click here to check that out.

[Update: Click Here for my 1-year follow-up review of the Micro Touch One]
[Update 2: Well, the Micro Touch One bit the dust at 17 months -- click here to learn more!]

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