Comparison of various brands selling (and sometimes manufacturing) steel grooming
How many times have you bought a pair of cheap tweezers or nippers just to buy a
new pair a few months later? The packaging said that the instruments are made of
steel, the name sounded familiar and the instruments might even have the stamp of
Germany, so the product should be durable and of high quality, yet in a pretty short
time they became nearly unusable. What gives? In our opinion - mostly advertising.
For a good pair of tools, which will serve you a lifetime, it is not enough just
to know which tools you want and what they're made of. All around the world there
are multitudes of companies that manufacture personal grooming tools; many produce
instruments for other private labels and brands. Many of these instruments have
a stamp saying Germany, but that doesn't mean that they were actually made there.
Their stamps are often put on poorer quality instruments even if the tools were
finished or just packaged there. However unless a product was made in Solingen and
adheres to very strict requirements, brands cannot put a stamp of Solingen on their
products. Solingen always means the highest quality products, and an absolute sure-thing
to get and use. So, to really know what will be the best thing to buy, you also need to
know who stands behind the tools - and the brand.
Manufacturers around the world
Most consumers by now realize that these products may be cheap, but they'd rather
pay more than use instruments that would make them and their families sick. Products
in China are manufactured for dirt-cheap prices, but mostly because it is made out
of dirt. The massive recalls of products and even foods that are made out of poisonous
and toxic materials have taught most of us that it would be detrimental to our health
to ever use these tools. In addition to unbelievably poor materials you also can't
expect these products to be of even remotely good quality since they are often made
by children in sub-standard conditions. Thankfully, so far, most of these manufacturers
are sticking to making plastic beauty products since these are relatively easy to
make, because their steel products are also extremely and terribly bad. The process
of making grooming steel instruments requires knowledge and highly skilled craftsmen.
By now we've all heard about outsourcing. Offshore labor costs are much cheaper,
so many companies have moved their manufacturing facilities, or just purchase the
services or even products of existing international factories to make products with
a recognized name, but at much cheaper production costs. These second-rate instruments
are sold at relatively cheap prices all over the world. Over 90% of steel grooming
tools on the US market are made in Pakistan. Of course we'd all rather pay less,
but keep in mind that most of the time you get what you paid for. If you spend less,
you'll generally get less or an inferior quality product, but people who know and
understand steel grooming instruments, or those who simply tried these tools would
never touch their hands and nails with these poor "Imported"
This is exactly the story with most cheap instruments, usually made in Pakistan,
China (if plastic parts involved) and other third world countries, which you'd usually
find in the run-of-the-mill pharmacies. These instruments do not come close in comparison
to the high quality German made instruments, especially those made in Solingen.
Instruments manufactured in Pakistan are cheap not only because the labor costs
are cheap, but also because these poor quality, nearly disposable instruments are
also made of very low quality steel. If these instruments are made of non-stainless
steel they often lose their protective coating (plating) within just a few uses,
leaving the steel exposed to get corroded. Using such instruments is not just unpleasant;
it is downright harmful to your nails and fingers.
Made in an inferior process and from poor quality raw materials, this substandard
quality steel is soft, which means that that it gets dull very quickly and is nearly
impossible to sharpen. Remember that the instruments you use must be sharp (and
sharpened on a regular basis) otherwise you'll be damaging your nails and skin.
In addition, this steel can't really be sterilized, which means that it should never
be used on more than one person, and even then, the use of these instruments is highly
questionable. That is why we refer to these tools as nearly disposable - what else
could happen to an instrument that gets dull, dirty, and can't be cleaned or sharpened?
It gets thrown out.
So unless you like wasting money and want to buy these tools for one or two uses
just to throw them away, consider higher quality instruments. They may cost little
bit more, though often the price is the same, but over time this cost is much lower
than the summed up cost of all those cheap replacements.
Instruments made in Korea may be a little bit better quality than those produced
in Pakistan; at least their cases are, though their tools are also rather poorly
made. Though still inferior to the tools made in Germany (all crafted by hand), Korean made
tools are made by an automated process (by a machine). Some instruments are made
in Korea for various brands and private labels. For example, a company a bit deceptively
named "Zinger Germany" is such a brand of relatively good quality instruments at
affordable prices. These tools may serve for a year or two.
Though marketing may not use actual words, they will try to play on the patriotic
strings in such a way that consumers may easily assume that the products sold
are made in USA. In fact, most such products are actually made in other countries
for US-based brands. These brands that are so often sold in the general pharmacies
and department stores claim to be of high quality but you should take these claims
with a grain of salt.
Since a number of these cheaper pharmacy brands get their product lines in Pakistan,
Korea and other third-world countries factories their "All American" claim is not
true, just as their aspiration of exceptionally high quality is not as accurate
as you'd hope.
We've tauted the superiority of German-made instruments, and in most cases we'd
recommend a German brand over any other without even asking for the name of the
brands being compared, but there's a slight but. Steel instruments are made in many
places, but if they are stamped they are superior beyond doubt. To have a stamp
of Solingen the products must be produced to the highest standards that are strictly
policed by the city and no other brand would put the name of Solingen on their products.
Solingen has been the world-renowned center of production of superior steel for
centuries. This knowledge and skill has not been lost; in fact it continues to
be improved upon. The quality of all types of steel surpasses that of almost any
other brand. All of these companies are family-owned and operated, with generations
of craftsman continuing the traditions of impeccable quality. They carry on the
skills, the knowledge and love of the craft in the same way and the same place their
grandfathers and great-grandfathers have.
The plating process used by companies in Solingen is so great that the nickel, chrome
or gold plated instruments from brands like Malteser will not come off the tools,
at least not in the span of your life, and products from Niegeloh are made from the
patented TopInox steel that is one of a kind, allergen-free and lasts over a lifetime,
which is a lot of years of great, reliable service.
Solingen is also well known for its cutlery, but though it is known as the standard
for steel manufacture, it is not the only place in the world where great steel products
are made. Zwilling is located in Switzerland and is the headquarters of a few brands
manufacturing steel cutlery and grooming tools. Though manicure and pedicure products
from Solingen are still superior, tools from Zwilling are also considered top of
the line, unfortunately in US they are known mainly for their other products. Some
of the very well known examples of Zwilling brands are VitoriNox, they make Swiss
army knives and other great cutlery. Premana - small town in Italy (also called
Italian Solingen) is also known for old traditions - 300 years of high quality production.
However, as we mentioned before, in most cases manicure and pedicure instruments
produced there fall a bit short of the quality produced in Solingen.
Besides the best raw materials and finest steel production process, German made instruments
are also prized for the precision and attention to detail that European craftsman
are known for in general, and the masters in Solingen are esteemed for in particular.
Though the German brands we'll refer to in this article are generally better than
those produced elsewhere, just as with German cars there are differences between
the steel tool manufacturing brands. So let's compare the different German brands.
The main difference between the various German brands is the level of details, design
and manual involvement to which their instruments are put through. Instruments of
a higher quality brand are actually mostly made, assembled, ground, sharpened, polished
and even tested by hand, from the biggest to the smallest job, there is a specialized
craftsman who completes every task by hand, down to any and every little detail.
Lets take a look at few Solingen brands. To better understand the comparison, let's
take a look at three brands of German made cars: Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen. All
are made in Germany, all are of good if not great quality, but there is a difference
in the level of quality, precision, luxury, and therefore price. In this comparison
Gosol would end up being a Volkswagen, Hans Kniebes and Erbe and would rank on the
level with a BMW and Malteser, Dovo, F. Hammann and Niegeloh would be a luxury Mercedes.
Car comparison gives you an overall "feeling" of the difference, so let us elaborate
on the actual differences between these brands.
Brands like Duisberg Clou, BS, Doppelkopf and Kretzer are on the lower side of the
scale. Well made instruments, first rate steel, very good manufacturing process,
the instruments will work well and serve for years. However the end product may
have some nicks or scratches, lack just a bit in the little detail department and
miss a bit of flare and visual appeal.
Gosol, Timor and J.A. Henckels make instruments on the next tier, and could be
somewhat compared to Tweezerman and Mehas. In fact, products that are actually made
in the factories by Gosol, Timor, etc. are actually sold as the high-end product
lines of Tweezerman label.
Products from Malteser are absolutely and positively great. Designed, manufactured
and tested so that every tool adheres to the highest standards of European quality.
Not only are they are they made of high-quality steel that is corrosion-free, will
never loose its plating and can be easily sterilized, they are also nicely designed.
These instruments are mostly made by hand; every blade is physically honed and ground
by a craftsman to bring you a spotless and very attractive tool to own and use.
These products are a little bit better than those made by Pfeilring and easily outshine
those made by a more well-known in the U.S.A.: Dovo.
Niegeloh produces remarkable instruments that are beyond great. These excellent,
completely handmade tools are individually, precisely ground, honed, sharpened,
assembled, adjusted and tested by hand. The patented process of creating their highest
quality stainless steel used in these magnificent instruments makes them anti-allergic,
rust-free and perfect for sterilization. In addition, this brand also pays a lot
of attention to the overall design of their product. Their sets are made specifically
to fit all different age groups, people, families and even moods. These are the
masterpieces of grooming instrument technology and design that anybody would find
a pleasure to own.
When looking for a better deal you may find it interesting that in some
stores, good quality steel products made in Solingen are cheaper than some of the
poor quality products made in third-world countries. If you're really a bargain
hunter, you know how to count and paying a little bit extra up front once beats
paying a little over and over again. In the end, even if you choose to purchase
instruments made by a less expensive German brand you'll still be a winner. Their
quality is outstanding and will save you money in the long run.
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