Why Porter Stansberry Spent $1 Million in Search of the World’s “Perfect Shave”
The 4 Secrets Stansberry learned will forever change the way you shave. No more nicks. No cuts. No razor burn. No in-grown hairs.
A few years back, Stansberry traveled with some friends to Italy.
They were in San Marino… a tiny city-state near Rimini, along the Adriatic coast.
A few days into their trip, one of Stansberry's friends suggested they go to a traditional Italian barbershop, “To get a real straight razor shave.”
Stansberry had never been to such a place before.
And he wasn’t crazy about the idea.
Stansberry hated shaving. He hated everything about it—the plastic razors… the clogging… the cuts… the in-grown hairs.
But he’s glad he went that day—because the experience changed his life.
Before that day, he had no idea what a “real” shave felt like… no idea that his face could feel that smooth, that clean… or how a shave could last so long.
Stansberry remember's so much about that experience…
The hot towels. The comfortable chair. The pleasant sound of the beautiful Italian language drifting around the barbershop. The stunning scenes of the Adriatic Coast nearby.
But one thing stood out to him above all else.
The thing he remember's most about that day was the blade the barber used. Here’s a photo that was taken of him that day in San Marino.
All he could feel was the cool steel on his skin. Instead of feeling this shave, he could really only hear it. Cool pressure, followed by hundreds of tiny clicks. Dozens at a time. With every pass, dozens of hairs fell like dominoes being pushed over – effortless.
He'd never felt anything like it.
The blade was so sharp it felt like ice sliding down his skin. Stansberry couldn’t feel his beard as it was cut. There was no pulling on his skin from the blade–no movement at all.
Just the barber positioning his face. A slight movement here. A nudge there. All so the blade could pass true.
His skin was made like new.
Not only was there no hair of any kind, his skin seemed reinvigorated and clean–so clean that it felt like it had never actually been clean before in his whole life.
This wasn’t shaving–at least not the kind of shaving he’d known before.
This was a supreme luxury experience, the kind of indulgence he didn’t know men could experience.
Stansberry doesn't want to sound too dramatic, but the experience really did change his life. It was the highlight of his trip.
When he got back to the States he found the best place to get a “real” shave in Manhattan, New Orleans, and other places around the country.
And he couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that there had to be a better way for him to shave each day…
You’ve Been Conned for Many Years…
I mean… think about it…
If you’re anything like Stansberry, you’ve been shaving for your entire life with expensive, multi-bladed, plastic cartridge razors made by Gillette, Schick, or some of the newer knock-off companies around today.
As a result, Stansberry thought it was impossible for him to get a good, close shave – one that would last – without significant amounts of skin irritation (including painful ingrown hairs).
Stansberry hated shaving and did whatever he could to avoid it, including growing a short beard and using a beard trimmer to maintain it.
He discovered that most of his friends who don’t shave regularly have the exact same problems he does. They get significant skin irritation from cartridge razors.
And it’s no mystery why…
As Stansberry started doing some research, he found that one of the most important variables in shaving is the space between the leading edge of the razor and the guard protecting it-what they refer to as the blade gap.
See the image below…
Too much space meant that cutting yourself was inevitable. Too little space meant that it was nearly impossible to cut anything.
The next time you look at a cartridge razor, notice how much more space is in front of the first blade in the cartridge compared with the spacing between each additional blade. And when Stansberry spoke with design engineers about how these things really work, his findings were quite shocking.
It turns out, in the cartridge systems they tested, the first blade is the one doing the actual cutting.
So… what are the other blades really for?
Well, in 1998, the designers of the world’s leading multi-bladed cartridge razor told The New Yorker…
“We knew that if you had more blades, you’d be able to cut more hair. But we found that what you gained in efficiency you lost in comfort, irritating the skin too much in exchange for the closeness.”
So they knew skin irritation was going to be a problem. But did they stop trying to add blades or other forms of complexity?
They kept on going. And they didn’t stop by adding two or three blades. The marketing departments of the major cartridge makers realized people would pay up for more blades.
So they kept adding more. The consumer didn’t seem to care about the quality of the blades, only the number of blades. And so “razor wars” began – three blades, four blades, five blades, vibrating blades, blades on spinning balls, etc.
But all of these razors are plastic. And they all use some variety of cartridge razors with cheap steel blades.
And the reality is, multiple dull blades little thicker than tin foil don’t lead to a high-quality shave.
These cartridge devices aren’t popular because they work so well…
They’re popular because billions of dollars are spent advertising this junk… and because most people don’t know there are any other options.
And believe me… the guys hawking this stuff hope you NEVER, ever get a real shave with a world-class blade.
A great blade makes all the difference in the world.
There’s no other way to understand what you’re missing when you use a mass-produced, plastic encased, multi-bladed “toy.”
The irony is, in most areas of our lives, men normally enjoy acquiring the right tools and developing skills.
Walk into any guy’s garage and you’re sure to find dozens of high-quality steel tools.
Why, Stansberry wondered, has the skill of shaving – and the pleasure of doing it right – been abandoned?
And with that question… he began a quest to find the perfect shave and the perfect razor.
Stansberry knows this might sound like a crazy idea to you… but he can’t help it… this is simply how he does things. It’s how he see the world.
Just ask his friends and family…
* They’ll tell you about how he got fired from his job in the financial publishing business… and how he vowed to build the best and biggest research firm in the industry. He’s done just that over the past decade, because he thought: Why shouldn’t individual investors have access to Wall Street - quality research, without any conflicts of interest?
* Or they’ll tell you about how he got into deep - sea fishing, and within a few years, he was employing a full-time crew of three… and was entered into the world’s largest billfish tournament.
Stansberry can’t explain his motivations exactly, but he can’t help myself. When he looks around, he doesn't see the same world that most people do.
He sees the world as what could be. He believes there should be a truly world-class tool for men to use every morning for a great shave. He knows he'd love a product like that.
And when he latches onto an idea like this, there’s simply no “going halfway.” He goes all in… and spare no expense.
So here’s what he did…
Stansberry $1 Million Dollar Proposition
For many years, no matter what brand of razor he bought, they were always made from cheap plastic.
They all used ultra-cheap, mass-produced cartridge razors.
To Stansberry, these blades seemed like little more than sharpened tinfoil. And what I later learned is that when you have a cartridge with 5 blades, most of them do absolutely nothing!
Even worse, the blades that do the actual work became dull almost immediately.
And worst of all… they are VERY expensive.
Stansberry's almost certain you know what he means. But you probably don’t understand why cartridge-shaving systems are problematic. Mike Sandoval is a shaving expert who runs the website Shaving101. He describes the core failure of all cartridge razor systems this way…
“The cartridge razor system is appealing to many men because it is advertised to be modern and high performing… The problem is that the blades of a cartridge are close together with extremely small spacing between each cutting edge. The razor is unable to cleanly cut hair without requiring multiple passes along your skin, catching and pulling long stubble, as well as constantly clogging during the shave.”
Thus began Stansberry's quest…
You might think this all is a bit foolish… but he wanted something better. He wanted the quality of a straight-razor shave, with the safety and convenience of a cartridge razor.
So he cobbled together some money from friends and colleagues, and decided to spend $1 million in this pursuit.
Stansberry decided to build a better razor – vastly better than what you can buy anywhere else right now.
And here’s what he learned…
The World’s Most Expensive Razor?
First, his business partner and him consulted with two of the top barbers in America—one Italian and one Irish.
One of these guys runs what many consider the best barbershop in Manhattan… the other runs what is probably the best shop in New Orleans.
Then they interviewed 30 renowned design firms from around the world, looking for the right mix of artists and engineers. They were determined to fundamentally redesign the razor handle – a tool that has remained essentially unchanged for more than 100 years.
Ultimately they settled on a Brooklyn-based team run by an artist and several design engineers, to essentially spend an entire year and hundreds of thousands of dollars testing everything imaginable in the shaving world.
As their lead designer, Mark Prommel, says: “It was an interesting, no-holds-barred approach. We went about it this way. We said: ‘We don’t know what it will cost to deliver the world’s best shave… the cost could be $100, $300, $500, or much more to build the world’s best razor… but whatever it costs, it’ll cost that for a reason.’”
And that’s exactly what Stansberry asked for.
He told these guys look… forget about the cost… just figure out a way to deliver the world’s best shave.
But… and this was just as important…
He insisted that it had to be something he could execute in his own home, and learn how to do very quickly, in just a few tries.
So Prommel and his team went to work.
They bought dozens of existing razors, and took them all apart. They shaved every other day in their Brooklyn offices, and spilled real blood in pursuit of my eccentric request.
They used 3D printers to create dozens of prototypes. You should see these things… they literally “printed” dozens and dozens of plastic models, and outfitted them with all kinds of blade configurations. Here’s a small sampling of the prototypes they tried.
In all they tested more than 1,000 variations of blade angle, blade gap, head size, symmetry, flexibility, blade exposure, pivot, grip, and more.
This painstaking process took nearly a year.
What did they find?
Well, after a year of research, they learned that there are essentially 3 “secret ingredients,” critical in delivering a great shave.
Stansberry's going to share his secrets right here. Do you think the biggest players in the shaving world would ever share their trade secrets?
But as you’ll see, his approach to everything about shaving is the polar opposite of these big corporate brands… so here goes:
SECRET #1: The angle of attack.
The angle of the blade when it hits your skin is critical. Too steep, and it’ll cut your face. Too shallow, and it won’t cut hair effectively. They ran more than 100 tests simply to get the blade angle exactly right. See the image below. They discovered an optimal angle of 31.3 degrees.
SECRET #2: Exposure
The second critical component of any razor is the exposure of the blade. In other words, how much of the blade actually presses against your face.
Again, too much can be VERY dangerous… but you need just the right amount to cut effectively. And again, they ran hundreds of tests to get the optimal exposure, which they found to be 0.15 millimeters.
Secret #3: Gap
The third critical feature on any razor is the blade gap.
In other words, the chasm between the blade and the body of the razor. It’s a matter of painstaking trial and error to get exactly the right gap, so skin and hair fill the gap, in just the right amount, before passing the blade.
They found the exact right gap to be 0.65 millimeters. See the diagram below.
With all of these metrics… angle, exposure, and blade gap, their designers made tiny tweaks… down to 4/1000th of an inch… until they settled on the perfect formula.
The image below shows the ideal measurements they discovered for blade angle, gap, and exposure. These numbers are the secrets for delivering an incredible shave. And what they found is that all it takes is one single, fantastic blade… rather then three… or four… or even five cheap ones.
Along the way they learned some other important secrets too.
They learned that some innovations in cartridge razors are actually quite good–and make a big difference.
One of these innovations is the “pivoting head.” This does, in fact, help give you a better, closer, and safer shave.
Although some shaving enthusiasts scoff at this idea, they found in test after test after test that a pivoting head helps deliver a world-class shave—because it helps you maintain the ideal angle, with hardly any experience or practice.
The thing you have to keep in mind is: They had no biases going into this search for the world’s perfect shave.
They just wanted to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
For example, even though it adds a lot to the cost, sophistication, and intricacy of the design… they designed a razor with a pivoting head.
Inside the handle, there’s a tiny joint between the razor head (which holds the blade) and the handle, which enables just the right amount of pivot.
Inside the handle, there’s a tiny Teflon coated, stainless steel spring that regulates this joint and thus allows the head to “float” on your skin. This controls the amount of pressure you can apply against your face when you’re shaving.
Another great innovation they adopted from the world of safety razors is something called the “reference surface.”
See the image above…
The reference surface is the flat part of a razor often located just above the blade, which allows you to feel the blade on your face. Again, this helps you maintain the ideal angle.
A good reference surface is critical—and they tested dozens of prototypes with their 3D printers to get exactly the right size and shape.
Of course, there were many innovations they tested along the way that either made no difference, or actually made the shave worse…
For example, they tried a flexible head and blade. You’ve probably seen this pitched in some razors on the market today. In theory, a flexible blade could mold to the contours of your face, and deliver a closer shave.
The reality, in their experience, is that it simply doesn’t work that way.
Again, they approached this project with no preconceived notions… and no biases. They were simply in pursuit of the world’s best shave… something the average guy like you or me could do in our own homes, without a lot of practice.
So while their design engineers were testing thousands of prototypes, making tweaks down to 1/4,000th of an inch… Stansberry sent his business partner, Tod Barrett, around the globe in search for the world’s best shaving blade.
And “search” is really an understatement here… as you’ll see in just a second…
The Leading Edge Problem
Tod literally traveled to the ends of the earth in search of the absolute world’s best shaving blade to fit our razor.
He met with manufacturers of meat processing blades, medical scalpels, food processing blades, and more. He traveled all around the globe: The U.S…. Germany… China… Japan.
They investigated and tested blades of various materials… from steel (stainless and high carbon alloys), to ceramic, tungsten carbide, and amorphous metals. One of their early ideas was to perfect a ceramic blade, which in theory would last for 30 days.
They tested various forms of blade coatings, from Teflon, Ceramic, and Boron carbides.
They knew that to deliver the world’s finest shave, they would need the highest-quality blade available anywhere.
They knew manufacturing their own blades would be expensive. But Stansberry didn’t care about the expense. The real issue they ran into is what they now call the “leading edge” problem.
It turns out that sharpness is not the key to a world-class shave. Of course, the edge needs to be sharp… really sharp.
But more importantly, to deliver a great shave, a blade needs to be flawless. The leading edge has to be so smooth that you can only see it with a microscope.
Look at these two pictures from one of their manufacturing partners.
These are actual images of the leading edges from two of the blades they used in their research and development program…
You’ll notice that one of these blades has an edge with a perfectly uniform appearance… while the other has hundreds of “striations,” or minor imperfections.
These tiny imperfections – far too small to see with the naked eye – cause the blade to “burn” against the skin.
It turns out that one of the key secrets to a really comfortable shave is a PERFECT leading edge.
And few people around the world can deliver perfect leading edges in volume.
Sure, you can “strop” a blade–that’s the official term for polishing and sharpening a blade… as you’ll see many barbers and chefs do. But it’s not feasible to hand strop thousands of blades each week.
They quickly realized they didn’t need to build their own blades, because one small company already makes perfect blades.
Ask any barber or shaving expert anywhere…
Everyone who knows shaving will tell you the world’s best shaving blades come from a little-known company in Japan, called Feather.
These guys supply barbershops all over the world.
Stansberry first straight-razor shave in Italy?
The barber was using a Feather blade. These razors are made with super-high-quality Japanese steel. They have a proprietary finishing process that leaves their blades with a perfect leading edge – the best they found in their research.
Feather has been around for 80 years. They basically do one thing: Make the world’s best blades for shaving and surgical equipment.
And best of all, Feather makes a single-edge blade just like the one they wanted for their new razor.
So they contracted Feather to deliver a single-edge blade that fits perfectly in their new razor.
Remember – Their goal is not to build blades. They just want to deliver the world’s best shave, period.
Made of high-carbon stainless steel and coated in platinum, their Japanese Feather blades are scary sharp yet super comfortable.
And after pairing these world-class blades with their radical new razor design, built to their exacting specifications…
Stansberry's happy to say he couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
Their state-of-the-art razor that safely delivers a barbershop-quality shave… in the comfort of your own home.
After a painstaking, yearlong, $1 million process of trial and error, they developed a razor that will give you the cleanest, closest shave of your life, while also making it nearly impossible to cut yourself.
Their razor was designed with precisely the amount of pressure needed to cut your beard and not your face.
Never too much, never too little… Just like the world’s best barbers.
It’s the most precise, most carefully designed shaving instrument on Earth.
Because they have such exacting specifications, to get the blade angle, exposure, and gap precisely right, every OneBlade is built with 316L-grade, German stainless steel – the best in the world. The manufacturing process includes cutting-edge metal injection molding (“MIM”) technology, which allows for extremely precise designs, while still maintaining the unbelievable strength of forged steel.
These razors are then treated with a military-grade physical vapor deposition (“PVD”) coating, which makes them virtually indestructible and permanently resistant to corrosion. (That’s why they’re guaranteed forever.)
It attaches to a precisely machined (to +/- 0.02mm tolerance) pivoting head.
Teflon-coated steel springs allow it to conform to your face.
To their knowledge, there’s no other razor on Earth manufactured this way, with this process, and with such care and precision.
The metal injection molding process is incredibly precise and controllable. It really is a revolutionary way to make stainless steel parts.
It’s also quite expensive… but like all great tools, well worth it.
You’ll see and feel the difference the moment you pick up a OneBlade razor. And that’s why each razor they produce is hand-polished, individually numbered, and as Stansberry said, guaranteed for life.
A OneBlade razor will never rust, break, or see a drop-off in efficiency.
They guarantee it… for life.
You’ll notice some other unique innovations the first time you try a OneBlade shave. For example…
* It’s super-easy to clean while shaving. Hair-clogged razors are dangerous and ineffective, and it’s always driven me crazy, how quickly cartridge razors get clogged. You’ll find it nearly impossible to clog a OneBlade razor.
* It’s incredibly simple to load new razor blades. No screws. No extra tools required. No danger of cutting yourself when changing blades. New blades simply snap into place.
* It feels fantastic in your hand, and looks amazing on your bathroom counter. When they settled on the specification for the perfect shave, they also insisted on beautiful design. If you’re a man who appreciates competency… and tools that not only look great, but also do a fantastic job, you’ll absolutely love OneBlade.
Of course, the big test for OneBlade razors started a few months ago, when they first introduced them to the market…
Test Results… Revealed:
The first responses they heard were from regular folks, early adopters, who took a chance on a radically new way to shave.
The feedback poured in very quickly…
Neil D. said: “This baby does not just cut whiskers–it spirits them away like magic. No pull, no bite, no drag, no nuthin’. It was like re-shaving an already shaved face–not plowing through 3 days of heavy beard.”
Randy W. added: “I haven’t had an ingrown hair in two weeks, first time in at least 25 years I can say that. Well done. My only complaint, it is too nice to throw into my bag for travel. It belongs on its stand prominently displayed on the vanity.”
Shaving enthusiast Bob W. was also among the first to try it and said:
“It is the best shave that I have ever received! I’ve tried ’em all, and this is the one, the Messiah of razors. Thanks for producing such a fine piece of shaving equipment. To do so takes lots of time, money and effort. It shows.”
Baltimore attorney Matt T. said simply: “Best damn shave, ever. New world.”
Of course, it’s one thing to get rave reviews from everyday folks… but they knew the real test would come when they put OneBlade in the hands of the world’s most passionate and outspoken critics on all things shaving…
The Sharpologist (an independent shaving review forum) did a full review and concluded: “OneBlade gives me the closest, cleanest, most consistent shaves I have ever had.”
The reviewer at Gear Hungry said: “Setting out to design the best razor ever and at any cost, one look at OneBlade reveals that the team behind it may just have accomplished this lofty goal.”
Vouch Magazine said: “Finally, at long last, you can enjoy insanely smooth, irritation-free skin—think barbershop straight razor shave, but in the comfort of your own home. What is now a dreaded chore will become your coveted routine.”
A reviewer at FastCompany Design did a full story on the exhausting development process they undertook, and concluded: “When the fog clears and I rinse off, I realize: I just got the closest shave of my life.”
Cool Material says it’s: “The last razor you’ll ever buy.”
Michael Ham, author of The Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving reviewed their razor and said: “An interesting and well-performing razor: extremely comfortable and very efficient… it’s well-made, performs well, is interesting, and to my eye looks quite good.”
Phil Huntsinger, owner of Bullgoose shaving, said: I used the razor for the first time today and am very impressed. This is a definite keeper!!”
Now, don’t get me wrong — they’ve had their critics too.
Well, the main reason is because OneBlade is not cheap.
It’s downright expensive – and they make absolutely no apologies for that. The cost is $399 for the razor, a solid stainless-steel stand, and a starter set of 10 Feather blades.
But like Stansberry said, they didn't set out to deliver the world’s cheapest razor.
Their goal is not to save you a few pennies per day on your current shave…
But to instead deliver a completely new way of shaving…
With OneBlade you can get the world’s best shave — administered by your own hands in your own home each day.
And here’s the incredible thing…
OneBlade is expensive – maybe the most expensive razor available in America today. But it’s also the most affordable shave in the world.
How can that be? Let me explain…
Yes, the price of their razor costs significantly more than what you’ll initially pay for today’s cheap plastic varieties, but guess what?
Over the long run, OneBlade delivers not only a superior shave — but also considerable savings!
How can this be possible?
Well, their world-class, single-edge, high carbon, stainless steel blades (made by Feather – the finest blade manufacturer in the world), cost less than $1 apiece… while the leading plastic cartridges retail for 300% more!
You can do the math… just like the independent website RitualShave did recently.
Their analysis compared the price of a daily OneBlade shave to one of the leading plastic cartridge razor brands.
A daily luxurious OneBlade shave will actually save you $134 after one year… and $434 after two years.
In other words: OneBlade not only gives you the world’s best shave… but saves you serious money over the long run.
Stansberry suggest's you simply try it… and see for yourself. A new OneBlade owner was worried about the price — until he tried it for himself. As he told them recently:
“I cringed a bit when providing my credit card for a $399 razor… But I can truthfully report – this will be the last razor I ever own, and frankly, I now believe I underpaid.”
Marcus Shavers, the guy behind the site News Ledge, did a full review and came to a similar conclusion.
“there’s not a closer shave to be had. Yeah, it’s not cheap. $300 for the razor and stand. Sounds steep until you consider how many Gillette handles you’ve bought. And buying those ridiculously overpriced blade cartridges”.
The point is, they designed OneBlade for the kind of guy who values quality… and understands that over time, investing a bit more upfront in a high-quality tool delivers not only a better experience… but actually saves money over the long run… when compared to buying a new piece of plastic junk every year.
Also published on Medium.