Photo (cc) by Mr. T in DC
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.
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.