7 Tips to Cut the Cost of Shaving by 50 Percent or More

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The cost of getting a close shave is enough to make you sport a beard or, in the case of women, hairy legs.

Razors and blades have gotten so expensive, you’ll now often see them either behind glass or affixed with an alarm at the store.

Why do disposable blades cost so much? It’s not because they’re expensive to produce. From a 2010 article in Forbes describing Gillette owner Proctor & Gamble :

Gillette (Mach3, Fusion, Venus) and Braun have higher operating margins than P&G’s overall business and any of its other brands. This is driven in part by low manufacturing cost of razors and blades sold.

Of course, you don’t need Forbes to tell you that blades like the Gillette Fusion sell for multiples of their cost of manufacture. A glance tells you they probably cost pennies to make, and even discount retailers sell them for $3.50.

Fortunately, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban to fight back against the high cost of a clean shave. Let’s start with this quick video from Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson.

Now let’s recap those tips and add more detail.

If there’s ever a time to buy generic, this is it

Know why Gillette advertises so heavily? That’s the only way to convince you to spend $3.50 to buy something that costs a fraction of that to make. Don’t do it.

In “A Penny Shaved is a Penny Earned,” Neal Templin of The Wall Street Journal swapped his three-blade Gillette razor for a similar version from CVS. Here’s what he had to say:

The Gillette might have given me a slightly closer shave than the CVS razor. I really can’t say for sure. I can’t tell the difference between a great shave and good one. But I can tell the difference between paying $2.50 and $1.25. So, I’m sticking with the CVS razor. Until I find something cheaper.

Safety first

The upfront cost of a traditional safety razor is much higher than its plastic counterpart. The savings come with the blade refills, which can cost less than 50 cents a pop.

A new safety razor can set you back $25 and up, depending on how fancy you like it. But there’s no reason to buy new. Look at a thrift shop or yard sale and you’ll probably find one for less than a buck.

The swap might be rewarding for more than your budget. From an article called “How to Shave Like Your Grandpa” by the Art of Manliness:

Switching from a cheap disposable razor to a double-edged safety razor is like upgrading from a Pinto to a Mercedes. A safety razor is a machine. It’s nice holding a piece of heavy, sturdy metal in your hand while you’re shaving as opposed to a piece of cheap-o plastic.

Delivered to your door for less

You may have seen the YouTube video of a snarky CEO asking, “Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a backscratcher and 10 blades? Dollar Shave Club delivers discounted razors to your doorstep.”

While Dollar Shave Club is one option, you can probably do better. LifeHacker did a story called “Forget Dollar Shave Club; Buy the Same High Quality Razors for a Third of the Price.” Their suggestion? Buy your blades from a cheaper online source, like Dorcousa.com. They sell a handle and 10 six-blade cartridges for less than $15.

Shave like a man, even if you’re not one

One tip for women from blogger Edward Antrobus is to never purchase the feminine versions of razors.

On a recent shopping trip, I did a side-by-side comparison of men’s and women’s three-blade disposable razors: the Mach3 for men’s and Venus for women’s. There were two differences. The first was color. The Mach3 was a manly black while the Venus is pink. The other difference was the end of the handle. The Venus has a wider spot at the bottom, like a thumb print. And the three-pack of women’s razors costs $6 more.

Do the same comparison yourself wherever you shop and see if pretty pink is costing you a pretty penny.

Now that we’ve cut through the high cost of blades, let’s talk about extending the life of whatever blades you end up with.

Wet your whiskers

Splashing the hair with hot water prior to shaving helps to soften it. This extends the life of your blade by lessening the friction and makes for a closer shave.

Baby your blades

After shaving, clean your blades with an old toothbrush. Dry after every use, preferably with a blow-dryer to get between the blades. As Stacy mentioned in the video, moisture is the enemy of any sharp edge. Using rubbing alcohol will also eliminate moisture, as well as sanitize your blades.

You can also keep your blades from oxidizing by coating them with baby or mineral oil. Other coatings/treatments we’ve seen mentioned: grape seed oil, almond oil, vinegar or even what the professionals use to keep their blades sanitary and corrosion-free: Barbicide.

Yes, you can sharpen disposable razors

Keep your blades sharp with a new take on an old-school idea: a strop.

Grab a pair of blue jeans and run the razor along the fabric in the opposite direction you shave. Do this about 20 or so times. The rough fabric sharpens the blade. You can see this idea in action in this YouTube video. The author claims he uses the same disposable blade for more than six months.

What tricks have you found to save on shaving? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson contributed to this report.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Rob F

    I dry my razors, use baby oil and sharpen them on Blue Jeans. I get double-blade Bic’s from Amazon for 24 cents each. One lasts for months. I get name-brand shaving cream from the dollar store and go through 2-3 cans a year. I figure I spend less than $5 a year on shaving.

  • Alon Mor

    try the new http://www.shavemob.com savings of up to 70% off the price for awesome razors. the best that is out there

    • Russel hubbard Hubbard

      all you guys are nuts let a barber help you’all first put can of soap in sink while you shower hot hot water after shower lather beard next message lather beard well steam beard with hot wash cloth relather [a well meassage andsteam beard is half shaved] next you’s a doller store or bic razor through away razors one will last a week-10 days end of story

  • GREEDRULES

    Shaving cream in cans sucks! Use the Lab series for Men shaving cream from Macys, will last for YEARS! Keeping your razor in a small container with a small amount of vegetabe oil will loosen the hairs and make it easier to keep clean and the blades last a lot longer.

  • Joe Serpico

    Can’t remember the last time I bought shaving cream. Shave in the shower using soap. I have a short beard, so I only shave my neck, but I’ve been using the same bag of 14 Target disposable razors for what seems like forever – at least three years. Still have a few left. Just hang them up to dry between uses; no oil or anything like that.

  • Setsunafse

    I use Mach 3, but buy refills at swap meets for nearly 30-50% off retail (prices vary by vendors and haggling helps). The difference, really, between the swap meet packs and retail packs is that swap meet packs tend to be damaged. I bought “Costco-size” pack of 20 cartridges (four, 5-pk bundles) from the swap meet over three years ago and only now coming to the last 5-pk bundle. I calculated that the 20-pk bundle would last me 4 years, changing blades every three months, not bad. I’ve managed to use a single cartridge for three months, using rubbing alcohol to help disinfect and dry the blade (I also shake and towel dry it). However, the baby/mineral oil and jean sharpening suggestions are genius and will become part of my routine. I hope I can double the life of a single cartridge from 3 to 6 months.

  • marketfog

    First, I hate to shave. My beard is kind of thin and has very fine hair. I find that a BIC sensitive razor with a single blade does a very good job. It’s all in the way you hold it, keep the head flat against the face. This will normally last about 10 shaves. It doesn’t feel good until about the third shave. The secret is rinsing the blade and drying it. As for shave cream, a glycerin soap is all that is necessary. It is slipperier than regular soap.

  • R Ch

    Other posts cover the razor topic well: Find one you like and care for it. (Works for dogs, horses and women, too.)

    I travel about 40% of the year, with most trips around 15 days but some up to 30. I travel light so any can of shaving cream is just not gonna fly. Solution: a decent travel shaving brush. Even with hotel soap (or hotel shampoo) I can work up a great lather that softens my tough beard and gives me a comfortable shave.

    At home I use a shaving mug filled with those tiny scraps of soap that are just too small for bathing or hand washing.

    If your face and beard really need special treatment (nothing to be ashamed of, gents) try the shave creams by Clubman or by Every Man Jack. Palmolive still makes a good cream for brush use if you want to go that direction.

    Disposable razors…I’ve never found one that was comfortable so I stick with two at home (an old Schick injector blade razor and a newer Gillette) and one for travel (another Gillette, always in my travel bag for quick getaways).

  • Kim N. Entienza

    Me too can’t remember the last time I bought shaving cream! It is very expensive and bulky. What I do is, I use conditioner as my shaving cream. It makes the beard soft and the blade glides smoothly! I also collect the free razors provided by the hotels I checked-in. Just dry it up after every use and it lasts for 2-3 months, no need for oil!

  • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

    The generic isn’t just good advise for the blades but the shaving cream as well. I have sensitive skin that would rash beyond belief if I tried to simply use soap lather… but I have yet to tell the difference between the $0.75 store brand sensitive skin shave cream and the $4 Gillette sensitive skin. Also, throwing this out there, if you have a Sams or Costco membership, replacement blades are dirt cheap through them.