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Single Blade Razors With A Pivot?

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[Updated November, 2020] After years of single blade razors with a rigid head, and multi-blade razors with pivots, there is now an upstart group of razors that have a single blade and a pivot.  Could it be the best of both worlds?

Shave Consistency With A Razor Pivot

If there is one thing that transitioning to shaving with a double edge (DE) razor ten years ago did for me, it is to show me that I don’t need a multi-blade cartridge that vibrates like a marital aid to get a great shave.  A single blade gives me great results, and a lot more cheaply thankyouverymuch.

But one thing I do think that “modern” razor engineering got right is the concept of using a pivot in the razor head. I think a razor with a pivoted head provides a more consistent shave with less effort compared to a razor with a non-moving head.

And it appears I am not alone with that view.  Several razors with a single blade on a pivoted head are now available.  I have used all these razors for some time and they all have a slightly different approach.  Perhaps more importantly they might need a slight adjustment to shave technique compared to a DE razor.

Note that I purchased all the razors in this review.

Focus Dynamic R48

The Focus Dynamic R48 is an Italian-made razor available from The Superior Shave and Fendrihan in North America and from Connaught Shaving in Europe.

The 100mm handle is anodized aluminum (available in a variety of colors) with stainless steel parts in the head.  It weighs a feathery 33 grams.

The R48 uses regular DE blades snapped in half (like some “barber straight” or “shavette” razors).  This gives the razor a significant advantage with the wide variety of DE blade specifications that are available on the market these days.  Razor head’s spring-loaded pivot is designed to hold the blade at 25 degrees to the skin.  Pivot travel is roughly 30 degrees.

How To Shave With The Focus Dynamic R48 Razor

In use, shaving with the R48 is a bit counter-intuitive and “quirky” for me.  I have trouble with loading the blade in this razor: the top cap slides off and the blade rests on a couple little pins in the head.  Then the top (is supposed to) slide back in place.  In practice I find it hard to keep the top cap “snapped” in place and also to keep the blade exposure symmetrical.

This razor is best held with the top cap flat against the skin with a bit more pressure than what would typically be used with a DE razor.  For me it seems to help if, in my mind’s eye, I imagine I’m pushing the razor across my skin instead of the usual drawing or pulling motion of shaving with a DE razor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWEdEygoiGs

Shaving this way the R48 is quite mild with a middle-of-the-road blade.  It can shave more aggressively with a high-performance blade (e.g. Feather).

Pros:

  • Uses DE blades snapped in half (wide variety of blade options)
  • Small, thin head (useful for getting into tight areas)

Cons:

  • Blade exchange can be fussy
  • Head tends to clog with thick later

OneBlade (Genesis, Hybrid, And Core)


[Full disclosure: Sharpologist is a OneBlade affiliate.]

Anyone reading Sharpologist knows my fondness for the OneBlade razors.

OneBlade looked at modern cartridge razor designs, particularly those of Gillette, for inspiration.  Oneblade and their engineering design firm spent a lot of time and effort on the razor’s pivot and the razor head’s “registration surface” (the distance between the top of the razor head’s base to the bottom of the blade edge).

There are now three models of OneBlade razor: the high-end, deluxe presentation, stainless steel Genesis; the lower-cost, resin and stainless steel Core; and the new mid-priced Hybrid, with a Core handle and a Genesis head.  All use the same head design (though Core uses different materials) and both hold the blade at about a 30 degree angle. Pivot travel is another 30 degrees or so.

(And be sure to check out Sharpologist’s special deal for OneBlade razors!)

Genesis dimensions 113.3mm L x 45mm W x 19.4 D at 88 grams; Core is 114.3mm L x 45mm W x 19.4 D at 68 grams; and Hybrid is 114.3mm L x 45mm W x 19.4 D,  70 grams.

Unlike the Focus Dynamic, the OneBlade razors use the Feather FHS single-edge blade (the blade design was originally for the vintage Valet Auto Strop razor).  Some have found that a de-spined GEM blade also work.

The Core razor looks similar to OneBlade’s original stainless steel razor. However the Core razor is lighter and it’s center of gravity is further down the handle.  Core’s plastic material actually looks and feels pretty hardy. In my experience it can take a fair amount of abuse gracefully: I sometimes use the Core as my travel razor when circumstances allow (e.g. not having to worry about TSA).

The Hybrid has, as I mentioned earlier, a Core handle with a Genesis head (though slightly modified on the bottom surface to interface with the handle).  As you might suspect the center of gravity is more towards the head vs. Core.

Both Genesis and Core have gone through somewhat of an engineering evolution of the past few years, with several design tweaks on both razors.  The Genesis razor updates involve different metallurgy in the head parts and some redesign of the internal blade-holding mechanism inside the head.  The Core razor has gone several evolutionary changes since it was launched including repositioning the stainless steel core for better balance, decreasing the “free play” of the pivot, and a number of resin material changes.

How To Shave With The OneBlade Razor

Like the Focus Dynamic razor, the angle you hold the OneBlade razor at is a little different than either a cartridge razor or a DE.  It may take a shave or two to get the grip right.

And like the Focus Dynamic, there’s a tendency to want to feel the OneBlade’s pivot work by pressing down on the razor.  Don’t do that with the OneBlade: just use very light pressure on the razor (like a DE) and “ignore” the pivot.  It works but in the background so you don’t really notice it.

Unlike OneBlade’s video, short shaving strokes work better for me than long sweeping strokes.

I think the OneBlade razors are relatively mild, at least compared to many DE razors.

Pros:

  • Well designed and built
  • Easy blade loading (compared to others in this article)

Cons:

  • Limited blade choice
  • Price (Genesis)

Leaf (With One Blade Loaded)


[Full disclosure: I was involved with testing a prototype of this razor in 2016.]

The Leaf razor is probably the closest thing to a cartridge razor in this article–but, as the Leaf website says,
“The Leaf Razor is unlike anything else. We let you load 1, 2 or 3 blades individually. This allows you to customize the razor to fit your skin and hair.”

  • All metal razor
  • Accepts 1, 2 or 3 blades
  • Pivoting head for comfort and ease of shave
  • Magnetic assist to help with loading blades

Like the Focus Dynamic, the Leaf razor uses DE blades snapped in half.  This provides a big advantage for finding the brand(s) of DE blade that work best for you.

The disadvantage of the design is a very large head.  That can make shaving in tight areas and detail work a challenge.  Leaf included a separate, small plastic razor (that also takes a single half-DE blade) for detail work with my razor.  Blade insertion can also be a bit fussy.

The blade exposure is slightly different for the bottom, middle, and top blade holders (Leaf recommends putting a blade in the bottom slot if you are just using a single blade).  The pivot has the widest range of any razor in this article–about 90 degrees!  Although I don’t have an objective way of measuring it I think the Leaf’s pivot is also the “loosest” of the razors here, requiring the least amount of pressure to engage.

How To Shave With The Leaf Razor

(No audio with this video)

For me, shaving with the Leaf is pretty much the same to shaving with a pivoted cartridge razor: I can take long, casual strokes with the razor.

Pros:

  • Most flexible usage (1, 2, or 3 blades)
  • Uses double edge blades snapped in half (wide choice of blades)
  • Widest pivot range

Cons:

  • Very large head can make shaving in tight areas difficult
  • Blade changing can be fussy

Gillette Guard


This is a single-blade razor specifically made for “emerging markets.” It was originally sold only in India but has been imported into other markets. Gillette uses the cartridge in their new Treo razor, designed for shaving-by-caregiver (more on this razor coming soon to Sharpologist).  It’s very light, but I think any DE shaver will quickly find the right grip and (mild) pressure to use this razor. The pivot action is good and the handle grips well even with its light weight.

The Guard uses a proprietary cartridge with a single blade.

The pivot is unlike the other designs in this article, a “symmetrical” (rocking to-and-fro from a central point) vs. “asymmetrical” (front-facing, rocking backwards) system.  If you have seen the Gillette Sensor, you will get what I mean.  “Asymmetric” pivots can help compensate for putting too much pressure on the razor; designs like the Guard, less so.

How To Shave With The Gillette Guard

Shaving with the Gillette Guard is essentially like shaving with the Gillette Sensor cartridge razor.  Light pressure is needed but you can shave around curves without much of a thought.  Like the other razors in this round-up, I find the Guard a fairly mild shaver.

Pros:

  • Very inexpensive

Cons:

  • Proprietary cartridge

Broman

For £35 [~$46] plus shipping, recently-launched Broman razor package comes with the razor itself, a pleather travel wrapper for the shaver, and a plastic stand or “base” you store your Broman in vertically. This plastic base opens to reveal 10 Perma-Sharp Super single edge razor blades for starting out your shave experience, and you can also store your used blades in another internal pocket in this base.

The body and part of the razor head is nonmagnetic die cast zinc alloy with a pleasantly smooth semi-satin finish.  At 78 g it is moderately weighty in your hands, but not so much you would mistake it for stainless steel, nor so light you would think it to be aluminum.

A slightly recessed groove on the front and back of the handle allows for easy grip; the OneBlade razor has a similar grip opening on the sides of the handle, and it works well enough in both instances. The word “BROMAN” is prominently de-bossed on the back side of the handle and similarly displayed on the plastic flip-up blade retainer cap, lest you forget what you are using to remove hair from your varied body parts. The head is spring-loaded and pivots with almost too little pressure, but this does not subtract from functionality when in use.  A generous opening below the blade protrusion on the front allows for very easy washout of shaving soap and whisker debris during usage.

For a full review read Broman Razor Review: Join the Broman Empire!

Are Pivots The Future Of Single Blade Razors?

“Quirks” aside, I think all these razors shaved me pretty well.  I prefer mild razors so I got good results from all of them (though OneBlade is still the stand-out in my book.  It’s taken over the various adjustable DE models that have been my preference for years, as my “pry it from my dead, cold hands” razor).  Shavers who prefer aggressive razors may not find any of these razors to their liking.

So are pivots the future of single blade razors?  Admittedly there are a lot shave enthusiasts who prefer the designs and “vibe” of old school safety razors.  But I do think these razors make a great option for those who shave with cartridges but are not happy with multiple blade edges scraping across their skin.  A single blade can provide just as good of a shave, and the pivot can make the shave results more consistent with less effort.

Author

Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

11 thoughts on “Single Blade Razors With A Pivot?”

  1. Does anyone make a simple, single edge razor that takes the old-fashioned single edge blades (like painters use to scrape paint)? Not interested in splitting double edge blades in half as I would probably lose a finger. Thanks

    1. Those “paint scraper” blades are not for shaving. But there are single edge GEM blades and there are several artisan razors that use them, including PAA, Above The Tie, Blackland, etc. And of course there is OneBlade that uses single edge Feather FHS blades.

  2. Hi, I`m an 83 yr. old male, I`ve been wet shaving around 60 yrs. I have shaved with almost every thing out there except a straight and a sharp rock. I have developed `essential tremors`. There are people out there that `like` pivot razors and then there are people like me, who shake so badly, that we NEED a pivot. Not only a pivot, but one that holds the face of the razor (proper angle) flat on your face throughout the shave. So far I can think of only 2 that do that for me. The Gillette Atra and the Gillette Guard.
    The Personna Floating Head Injector is spring activated so that it `gives` when needed.
    I have read many of your posts, and so far you haven`t addressed the problems of the people who shake excessively. Thanks.

  3. Great artical Mark and like you I prefer a mild razor. I have the second generation Core and after about 20 shaves I am finally getting a good shave. However I get a much closer shave with my Mongoose and General but a smoother shave with the Core. Until I learned how to properly load the blade I had to return two razors because I cut through the stoppers. So as you can probably tell I am not happy with loading the blade. I get four shaves from a blade but the first shave is a bit ruff . I do not mind getting only four shave per blade but it would be nice if the first shave was smoother. I would love to try the Genesis but I cannot justify spending $300 on a razor.

    1. Checkout the just launch HYBRID with a SS head and add in the synth brush and use the code REALMENSHAVE and you get the brush for free. If you dont want the brush, then signup on the website for the emails and get a 10% coupon code. Best USD$199 you can spend at the moment!

  4. Thanks for the article. I had the Oneblade V1 and V2 and I just sold the V2 and it wasn’t because of the razor. I really like it but the Feather blades are a 3 shave blade for me. 1st shave I find the blade a bit harsh, 2nd shave is the but by the 3rd it’s already duller and it’ not a great shave. I’ve modified a Gem PTFE blade which is much better but it’s a pain to get it just right and I ended up ruining more of them than it was worth. Wish they’d rethink a better blade for it. I’d have one back in my den.

  5. Thank you Mark, for the great article, I do have the V1 Genesis and love it (in fact I have two). All is good with a pivot, but the same problem as with all the other DE razors remains. How efficient are they and will they suit my type of hair?

  6. Great article, Mark. I’ve used the OneBlade Genesis since they offered the discount through your site. It’s a fabulous razor for me. I still like my Schick Dial injector, but nothing beats the Genesis.

    1. Wish I could find a Shick Dial Injector,Andy. Dropped mine in the sink yr’s ago & snapped the head off. Best shave I ever had.

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