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Home » Health, Save Money, Summer of Saving

How I CUT my Cost of Shaving by 90% with a Safety Razor

Last updated by on June 25, 2014

My entire post-pubescent life, I had used disposable and cartridge-based razors.

Like many in the 90’s era, I awkwardly started out with the plastic handle disposables. 1 blade (usually cheap and dull from the start), use it a few times until it started ripping your hair out instead of cutting it, then throw the whole thing away. An exercise in true wastefulness and pain.

Then I moved to the Gillette Mach 3, a 3-blade per cartridge system. The results were better. The price? Much higher.

After that, I lost track of blade count (anyone here remember the SNL Platinum Mach 14 spoof?).

I tried a few variations of the 5-blade Gillette systems, most recently ending with the Fusion Power Proglide, disposable cartridges. They give a nice, close shave. But like all blades, they don’t last forever.

And at $4 per cartridge (for real), they are not cheap. In fact, they are frustratingly expensive.

I, and more importantly, my wife, don’t mind a little stubble on my face. So I only shave twice a week – which helped soften the blow of a $32 – 8-pack. I’m going to estimate that I got a month or so from each set of blades (probably far more than most do). At that cost, I was paying about $50 a year just for just this one male grooming category. Over the course of 20 years, that’s $1,000+, excluding inflation. Speaking of inflation, the price of these blades only seem to be going up.

Eventually, a few months ago, I got sick of paying so much and told Gillette to take their razors and… OK, that would hurt, nevermind.

I decided to go old school.

safety razorI picked up a Merkur 180 double-edged safety razor.

At $34, it isn’t cheap, but it is well designed and it’s built like a rock, so I anticipate using it for a long time.

Beyond this impressive device is something that I think you will find of interest – the cost of the blades. I picked up a 100-pack of Astra double-edged blades for $10 ($0.10 per blade). The blades are double edged – meaning both sides can be used.

So lets run some numbers:

  • I can easily get 2 shaves (1 week) off of one blade – although I have heard of many stretching it out further.
  • I will go through about 50 blades per year, and the 100-pack will last me 2 years.
  • My total cost of shaving per year drops from $50 to $5.00 (90%)!

For someone who shaves daily, the savings could be 3.5X that.

What’s the sacrifice? How does it work?

Close shave with limited cuts! And it’s not nearly as scary or intimidating as you might be imagining. Just don’t fall asleep while shaving.

The first few shaves take a bit longer, but with experience, the time requirement is not much longer than a 3 or 5 blade system. Besides… taking your time shaving can be kind of meditative.

And my razor’s cool factor just went up exponentially, making me more desirable to the wife and respected by my dog and unborn children.

This one took me longer than it should have to get to, but it’s another great example of how even when it comes to something as seemingly trivial as shaving and the razors you choose, there can be significant savings to be had.

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • WB says:

    Amen! I have been using a safety razor for about 2 months now and love it. An added benefit you didn’t mention: those overly priced Mach-3 blades actually are worse for your skin…
    Shaving not only removes facial hair, but it also helps to remove (exfoliate) dead cells from your face. Those multiple blades are not only removing dead skin & facial hair, they are removing additional layers of skin too! Which typically leaves your skin irritated and in the long run will make you look older.

  • David Silva says:

    Did you cut yourself like crazy when you first started out?

  • Bill W says:

    I made this switch a couple months ago as well. I will never go back to “modern” razors. Safety razors are cheaper and give you a better shave. The learning curve is pretty short and it really doesn’t take that much additional time. Everyone should do this.

  • Andy says:

    I haven’t made the jump to a safety razor yet; I’m still paying over $4 per blade for my Gillette Fusion Proglide Power blades. I shave every other day and go through one blade per week. That’s well over $200 per year just for blades! I did switch to a solid soap bar with badger-hair brush instead of shaving cream. I’ve been using the same bar of soap for nearly 2 years and it looks like I’ll get another year out of it. I don’t know how much shaving cream or gel is going for, but I’m sure I’ve saved quite a bit by going with bar soap instead of shaving cream. An added plus is that it’s very easy on my sensitive skin!

    I see adds for mail-subscription razor blade services such as the Dollar Shave Club that advertise free razors and just $1 per month for blades. I’ve been considering switching to something like that. There really is no reason to pay so much for a good shave with so many inexpensive options out there.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      I think the quality of the blades you will get with a safety razor will give you a nicer cut than the cheapos you’ll get from Dollar Shave Club. Plus, it’s $1 per month PLUS $2 for shipping and handling with Dollar Shave Club. So you are still at $36 annually vs. just $5.

      What soap are you using? I tried using soap instead of shaving gel once, but it left my skin very dry. I too have sensitive skin.

      • Andy says:

        Good point about the shipping, I hadn’t considered that. I will seriously consider making the jump to safety razors.

        I use shaving soap from The Art of Shaving (still a P&G brand…it seems they get your money one way or another). The fragrance in the sandalwood scented soap bothers my skin, but the lemon scent (or the unscented) are very gentle. What also helps is the technique: with the brush I can re-lather between each individual stroke when I have the brush in one hand and the razor in the other. This cuts down on irritation that occurs when the blade brushes the skin without a cream or soap buffer.

    • Jeremy says:

      I’d been thinking about switching to a safety razor until I discovered Dollar Shave Club. As a plug for them, I’ve been happier with the quality of the blades over what is been using before. I use the twin and my wife uses the 4-blade for her legs. You can actually add blades to your order to bypass the shipping and only order bi-monthly. Between me and the wife, we spent $27 on blades for the two of us last year! I do still aspire to be manly enough to use a safety or maybe even straight, but until you make the leap, I highly recommend DSC.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    I thought for sure that G.E. or someone else was going to mention switching to an electric shaver. Yes, it doesn’t shave as close. I myself only shave once a week. Any longer than that, and it gets itchy. I don’t remember that brand of shaver but I think I paid about $30 and I have had it for over 2 years. I still haven’t had to change the head yet either. And definitely no threat of cuts.

  • Chris says:

    Here are few quick tips for those new to safety razor shaving. You’ll definitely want to switch from the foams/gels that are commonly found in a grocery or drug store. Once they come out of the can they are mostly air which, of course, doesn’t serve as a good lubricant. There are plenty of online shops that carry a huge variety of soaps and creams that are great for “wet” shaving. You may also need to experiment with different blades, as they do vary in sharpness and durability. Some retailers offer sampler packs for this very reason.

    To get the smoothest nick-free shave, you shouldn’t try to complete your shave in one pass. For the best results you may want to lather up and shave as many as three times. First with the grain, then across the grain, and finally – be careful with this one – against the grain. As G.E. stated, let the blade do the work for you. Don’t apply any more pressure than is necessary to keep the blade in contact with your skin.

    Last…pick up a high quality aftershave. It will help to tighten pores, reduce irritation, and restore moisture. Again, there are lots of options regarding formula and fragrance. There are balms, splashes, gels, etc., and fragrances ranging from the classics (bay rum, lavender, citrus) to the designer fragrances found in department stores.

    Hope that helps!

  • Max says:

    I tryed the above and love them. 3 dollars for 10 razors, which ( I shave daily) last me about a week. If you can deal with the Pink or female oriented colors, i think this is the best deal.

    Low up front cost, low long term cost. The cheapest for me.

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I haven’t tried this, but I’ve been using the 3-blade disposables from BJ’s and they work great. I buy a pack for $16 and they last me a good 8-10 months. I shave twice a week and use the blades for at least 3-4 shaves (4 is pushing it). I know they are a waste of plastic, but they have been better for me than the expensive Mach 3. I’ve been using the disposables 3-blade for over two years and I still have a face.

  • Natalie H says:

    My husband switched to safety razors about a year and a half ago at my request. I think we have the same handle as you. The switch was very easy (no significant nicks or cuts). We started with Derby blades and now use Feather. Feather are more expensive, but last longer. Some think the Feather are too aggressive, but we like them.

    I personally haven’t made the switch to a safety razor. About a year ago I received a sample Venus 5 blade “disposable” razor for free. I’ve been using it (the same one) ever since. I want to buy another one, but they come in such big packs that it would be 10 years worth of shaving for me to buy a pack of replacements. I also use an epilator sometimes, but don’t keep it up as well as I should. I use a clipper on my bikini area most of the time, to prevent ingrown hairs.

    I think every household should have clippers. They are very useful. I’ve learned to cut the boy’s hair in the house (it was surprisingly easy), but I’m not that great at cutting my own yet.
    All these simple grooming changes have saved us hundreds of dollars a year and will continue to pay for the rest of our lives.

    As a stay-at-home-mom from a household with low income, I’ve found that acquiring new homemaking skills is just as profitable as working outside the home. I love being able to stay home with my kids and still be very comfortable on an income most would think is not nearly enough.

  • Cody says:

    Beard. I have been using the same razor for probably a year to trim neck and cheeks and use my hair clippers to keep it at an acceptable length.

  • Ivan Bernal says:

    What blades do you guys use? Which are the best for you?

  • Andrew W says:

    I have trouble with conventional razors because I have a very thick beard. Usually by the time I get to the other side of my face the blade has dulled so much I don’t get much of a shave. I look then only half shaved.

  • erik says:

    People who don’t want to take the leap, or simply can not afford, (like me) one time charges to switch shaving systems may benefit from this.

    I heard of this very method I”m about to mention from a friend. Tried it. Works.

    If you’re using any disposable blade, like the Fusion or whatever, do this when you’re finished shaving: shake it as hard as you can up and down. This will cause water beads to come through the blades and eventually be shaken dry. This is very important.

    Keep a small glass on your sink. Use plain, every day, baby oil. Just a couple of centimeters is enough; you only need to submerge the blades completely.

    The science to this is apparently that, invisible to the naked eye, disposable razor’s actual blades dull after each shave. Water is what accelerates and causes the real and rapid degrading. The baby oil submersion of the blades (assuming all water is shaken off) keeps air and water from starting and catalyzing the dulling process.

    The end result is that you are faced with nominal inconvenience; running your razor under hot water (to get the oil off) before shaving. The optimal savings (which I have now) is using a single blade for about 15x as long. Literally!

    There is also “dollar shave club,” a website, which I intend to check out today.

  • Alex @ Toprew says:

    Since 20 years old I am shaving everyday and after reading your article I made calculations and was amazed – how much money I actually spend on beard products. Thank you.


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