Americans fork over an enormous amount of cash to keep unwanted hair at bay. In 2013, shoppers spent $2.3 billion on razors and blades, according to a Washington Post story.
Some men have decided to largely opt out of this costly daily routine. Gabriela Elani, a personal care analyst with market researcher Mintel, told the Post that as facial hair has become more acceptable in the workplace, men no longer feel required to shave daily.
Still, millions of men and women prefer a cleaner look and remain resigned to purchasing expensive razor blades.
Whether you shave daily or just occasionally, we’ve rounded up six great ways for men and women to get a smoother shave for less.
1. Reconsider your blade count
Makeup artist Wayne Goss points out that men often make two passes down a particular part of their face with their razor and two passes up.
With a three-blade razor, that amounts to a blade scraping the same patch of skin 12 times. Ouch.
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology also recommends avoiding multiple strokes across the same area for people prone to pseudofolliculitis barbae, a condition in which shaving causes ingrown hairs surrounded by inflamed bumps.
2. Shave less often
Shaving less often means your razor blades will last longer — and you will shell out less money buying replacement blades.
Less frequent shaving also may be good for you. A study of African-American men — who tend to have higher rates of pseudofolliculitis barbae than men of other races — found that participants who shaved two to three times per week had “significantly fewer ingrown hairs” than participants who shaved daily.
The study results were published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2013.
3. Break through the ‘gender’ barrier
If you are a woman, you could save money by trying men’s shaving products.
Having sensitive skin, I’ve been buying from men’s razor lines for almost as long as I’ve been shaving. I find the blades are generally less irritating and less expensive than women’s equivalents.
I also use a shaving gel that most stores shelve with men’s products — it’s the only fragrance-free option I can find.
So instead of going only to the men’s or women’s side of the shaving products aisle, look for the particular type of product you need on both sides and go with the better or cheaper option.
4. Look for generics
I love Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel’s lack of fragrance but hate its $4.20 retail value. Fortunately, Target sells a knockoff for $2.79.
CVS also sells brand-name razor knockoffs.
After using a three-blade Gillette razor for years, paying around $2.50 per blade, Neal Templin — who used to write the Wall Street Journal‘s “Cheapskate” column — tested a cheaper three-blade CVS razor:
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.
5. Dry razor blades after use
National radio show host and consumer advocate Clark Howard makes a disposable blade last for up to 10 months by blotting it dry with a towel.
A listener who said he was an engineer sparked the idea, Howard explains on his website:
Blades degrade from moisture, as the man explained, not so much from the actual friction…
Howard’s at-home experiment inspired that of Atlanta resident Brian Cohn, who told the Chicago Tribune he made blades last up to six months: “I just couldn’t get over it,” Cohn told the newspaper.
6. Sharpen disposable blades
Bloggers and vloggers across the Internet say they make disposable blades last up to a year by sharpening them on denim jeans in a technique that is similar to how barbers used to sharpen old-fashioned blades on leather straps.
Most advise swiping a razor up to 10 to 20 times down the pant leg in one direction and then as many times in the opposite direction. Do a Web search for tutorials.