The discount shaving industry has been getting a lot of press recently. Dollar Shave Club grabbed headlines when Unilever acquired the company for $1 billion. Harry’s, another shaving startup, has gotten attention for also helping to lower the cost of shaving. After all of the press you'd think these companies provide the cheapest way to shave.
Except they don't!
What the press has failed to recognize is that these discount shaving companies aren’t the best and cheapest way to shave. In fact, these disposable cartridge razors don’t even provide the best shaving experience. Stop paying for overpriced shaving cartridges!
I mean, unless you're the kind of person that likes to waste money for no reason.
Even these low cost startups that promise razors and cartridges for $1 dollar/month add a couple bucks for shipping and handling. In reality, their average customer will pay between $6-$8 per month for upgraded cartridges.
We are going to show you how over the past 6 years we have paid an average of 30 cents (yes, $0.30) a month to keep our faces cleanly shaven. But first, we introduce you to the double edge safety razor, which is the cheapest way to shave!
Note: This post contains links to products that we use and love. If you purchase a product from these links, we earn a commission to help keep the lights on.
What Are Safety Razors?
Ever wonder how your grandfathers shaved before razor cartridges and electric razors? They used a safety razor. These things were built so darn tough and worked so well that Gillette had to invent a disposable razor to combat falling sales.
A safety razor uses double sided razor blades, which is how this is such a cost-effective way of shaving. The shaving industry is similar to the printing and ink cartridge industries. The ink cartridges is where the companies make all of their money, and the shaving cartridges are no different. By utilizing extremely affordable razor blades, the safety razor is easily the cheapest way to shave.
To get started all you need is a safety razor handle and double edged razor blades. If you want to impress your grandparents, ask if they still have a safety razor you can have.
If getting a free one from home isn’t an option, this is the one we used to get started.
Don’t spend more on another one until you are committed to the safety razor lifestyle. Once you’ve used a cheap one for a while, we recommend getting one that’s easier to load and unload for convenience. This is the one we both use now: https://amzn.to/2ITqMG1.
As we mentioned earlier, the real savings come from the fact that razor blades are dirt cheap. For $10 you can buy 100: https://amzn.to/2IRbAJq. You read that right, 100! That’s $0.10 (a dime) a piece.
The box of 100 can last somewhere between 2-5 years depending on how often you shave and how often you change the blade. In our experience, changing the blade every 10 shaves is conservative and you can even get more mileage than that out of each one. Some people change them much more often, but we haven’t had any problems with using them longer.
If you grow a beard like Paul Bunyan, then you might need to replace them more often, but the same thing would apply to conventional shaving cartridges.
Do You Actually Get A Better Shave?
Undoubtedly. This is one of the rare times when least expensive method is actually far superior than the alternatives. One of us is a doctor, but it doesn’t take an M.D. to realize the benefits of shaving with a safety razor. To begin, you have to understand that a safety razor is much better for your skin for several reasons.
The multi-blade cartridge razors like Gillette are designed to give you the closest shave possible because the first blade will pull your hair while the subsequent blades will cut the hair shorter than the surface of your skin. What this means is that the day you shave you’ll have an incredibly smooth shave. However, the following day you may have have tons of razor bumps, ingrown hairs, or razor burn.
This was actually one of the reasons we decided to try something different.
The safety razor helps you avoid those painful and unsightly side effects.
The safety razor is designed to cut the hair on the surface of your skin instead of pulling it and cutting it shorter. What this means is that your skin will have much less irritation and you’ll have fewer bumps and ingrown hairs. There are tons of instructional videos on YouTube to help guide your first couple of shaves until you’re a pro.
These are the blades we love: https://amzn.to/2IRbAJq
Before switching to the safety razor in 2012, we were doing what everyone else does. We overpaid for the fancy razor cartridges with 3 or 4 blades. We spent approximately $10-$15 a month ($180/year) on cartridges. Yikes.
From 2012-2017 that’s $900 we would’ve spent on shaving products! Since switching over we have spent a grand total of $50 (1 safety razor and 2 packs of razor blades). We have saved a grand total of $850 since switching. $850 dollars is already a big number, but when you take into account the impact of investing that money it makes a big statement. Investing $850 in a stock market index fund from 2012-2017 would have grown to about $2,000!
That’s an extra $2,000 in your portfolio that will keep compounding while you sleep.
If you use Dollar Shave Club you can still stand to save a lot by switching to a safety razor.
Dollar Shave Club costs either $3, $6, or $9 per month depending on the quality of the razor blade cartridges you desire. If we look at the middle of the pack option, we’d still be paying 20x more per month. Now you can see why these shaving companies spend so much money on advertising to convince people that they deliver the “best” shave.
Heres's a table comparing how much we saved by not using a “discount” shaving option like dollar shave club or Harry's.
If the best and cheapest way to shave doesn’t sound appealing, then we don’t know what else to tell you!
We've heard from a number of you who have purchased a shaving handle, blades, a brush, and cream and are ready to go.
The biggest difference between shaving with a safety razor is that you don't want or need to press the blade against your skin. You simply let it touch your skin and then let is glide across the surface. When using a cartridge system it may seem like you get better results when you press firmly against your skin. The opposite is true here.
Avoid pushing into your skin. Simply let the weight of the handle itself do all of the work. We recommend 2 passes over your face. The first will be moving with the grain, and the 2nd (for those who want a closer shave) will be across the grain. Make sure to reapply shaving cream in between passes! We don't shave against the grain, but if you plan to shave your legs (many do) just find a video so that you can be a pro!
This is the reason that shaving with a safety razor is far superior to a cartridge system! Remember, this isn't only the cheapest way to shave, but also the best.
If you're coming from using a cartridge system, we recommend watching a Youtube video of how to shave with a safety razor so that you can get the best results.
Other Considerations For Safety Razors
It's pretty clear that we've had incredible results shaving with safety razors both in terms of our finances and shave quality. But there's a few things you should keep in mind.
First, you cannot bring razor blades on an airplane with you. The TSA will see them in the x-ray machine and confiscate them. If you plan to travel with the handle that holds the blades, make sure you remove the blade first. The TSA will likely see it in the x-ray machine and inspect the handle regardless. So if you are a road warrior and travel via plane for work constantly while needing to shave daily (hello grizzly IT and management consultants), then this isn't the right solution for you.
Secondly, and this applies to ALL types of razors and shaving equipment, make sure that you store things in a safe place where children and pets can't reach them. If you have children who see you shave, they will undoubtedly want to emulate you, so just be careful.
Lastly, go forth and enjoy the best shave of your life. Oh, and don't spend all of your new-found cash in one place.
Francisco Maldonado, MD is a personal finance expert who was raised in poverty by a single mother and had to learn everything about personal finance on his own. In addition to running his personal finance site, The Finance Twins, with his twin brother, his site has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, US News, The Simple Dollar and other top publications. Francisco is a physician who borrowed over $200,000 to pay for his medical training and understands debt payoff strategies and frugal living. He received his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, the most selective medical school in the country, and a Bachelors degree in physiology from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a radiology resident at Northwestern University. You can contact Francisco here or via Instagram @thefinancetwins.