The Cost OF A Clean Shave Revisited

(Ladies, this post is about shaving but don’t turn away just yet, there’s something here for you too!)

Quite a while ago I wrote about ways to save money while shaving, such as using cryogenically treated cartridges that last longer than regular cartridges, and using common shower supplies as shaving lather. While I have been happy with my savings in that area, I felt there may still be room to reduce the cost of shaving so I went back to searching. That’s when I came across wet shaving.

I’m a younger man and haven’t been shaving all that long, young enough so that I didn’t know and had never  thought about what shaving was like decades ago, though I had seen straight razors in movies and such. As it turns out, the razor has been through many stages of evolution and innovation in it’s history.

You see, a man named King Camp Gillette saw an opportunity in the shaving industry. Before the safety razor, getting a shave meant going to a barber shop. After that the first safety razors used special blades that actually had to be sharpened. King Gillette thought if he could make a blade that was cheap enough to manufacture and fairly inexpensive to buy, he could basically create a profit machine. If enough people owned his razor handle, they would have to buy his disposable blades forever, and that’s exactly the world he created with the birth of the double edge safety razor. He got government contracts so these razors were part of the standard kit issued to recruits in the army, and he quickly became a household name.

As innovation in the shaving industry progressed though, the cartridge razor was introduced, the price and profit margin increased because of the advances in technology that made manufacturing cheaper. The cheap to make, fairly cheap to buy and very convenient cartridge razors became the standard of today.

Now the double edge razor has taken hold in the market again with hobbyist, enthusiasts and frugalists (that words not trademarked ..yet 🙂 ). The double edge safety razor is a very well  built and solid piece of construction which uses a single, double edge razor blade set between the top and bottom of the head of the razor, and those razor blades are extremely cheap by today’s standards. This was my answer. I started to do research and although this is a cost saving method for some, many people take up shaving with a safety razor as a hobby for enjoyment! I couldn’t imagine shaving for fun..but I actually have grown to really enjoy it. It’s very therapeutic, with the creams, scents and hot lather.

Back to the financial aspects of wet shaving. Double edged razor blades are much cheaper than cartridges. You can buy a pack of 10-15 double edge razors for about $2-4 depending on what brand but the blades will all work  and the differences are based on personal preference. The blades I bought are found at Rite-Aid and are on the lower end of blades costing about 1.80 for a pack of 10 blades. Depending on how long they last, that is a pretty significant savings considering my previous methods monthly cost was just under the price of this pack of blades.

I have now been shaving this way for about 8 months and I can safely say that my average life per blade is about 3 weeks. Most wet shavers will vouch that a double edge razor will last about 5-7 shaves, but wet shaving has granted me another benefit, having to shave less often. After some practice I am able to get a much closer shave which lasts longer than my shaves used to. I now only have to shave about every other day, or even every third day though that is a bit of a stretch.

Based on my previous calculation using the cryogenically treated cartridges, I was spending $1.62 a month on shaving supplies. With my new setup, using a safety razor and a pack of blades from the drug store which includes ten double edged blades, I’m now spending about $.25 a month on blades!

You do have to factor in the fact that I had to purchase a razor, a shaving brush and some shave cream or soap but the fact that these razors practically last forever, you can find very well crafted and good quality razors on online auction sites. There are also full shave kits you can get that include everything you need to get started, very inexpensively. The shave kit I picked up cost just under $8 which included a brush, shaving bowl and shaving soap. The razor I purchased cost $7.

Add all the costs together, and divide them by the year to  get a monthly cost which comes to $1.27 a month for the first year, and only about $.25 cents a month for years to come.

And as promised, here’s a little something for the ladies. In the name of science, and since my wife is afraid of anything new 🙂 I did actually shave my leg, just one, to see how effective this shaving method was on leg hair. I read from a few sources that many women stand by these razors as a great way to reduce razor burn, as it does for manly faces and after shaving my one leg, I have to agree. There was no razor burn or redness..I’ll spare you the photos..

As always, I am a quite verbose and sometimes fail to get my point across, so if you want a few more opinions on the topic, here are some other PF Bloggers that wet shave!

Image by Dharion

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13 People have left comments on this post

» AmandaNo Gravatar said: { Apr 6, 2010 - 08:04:00 }

Call me a non-frugalist, but that was a whole lot of work to save mere pennies a month. Sometimes we forget that time is money as well! And I don’t care how much it would save me, but I will never go back to shaving with disposable 2-blade razors on my legs. Never!! 🙂
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Easter 2010 =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Amanda, I agree and time is a consideration in all my adventures trying to save money, and I didn’t get into it much here, but the fact that I actually enjoy shaving now keeps me doing it. If it cost me that much more time (about 10 additional minutes) with no more added benefit aside from the pennies, I wouldn’t stick with it. It’s become more of a relaxation method than the hassle it used to be. Not to mention the fact I get a better shave, less irritation and have an interesting conversation piece if the subject ever arises.

» Kay | Online Poster PrintingNo Gravatar said: { Apr 6, 2010 - 07:04:17 }

My dad still uses disposable 2-blade razors, and so far, I think he’s still satisfied with it because I’m pretty sure he’ll complain about it if he’s not. Thank you for sharing this!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks for sharing Kay. My thoughts are you never know until you try. I love whipping up a warm lather and shaving this way and I don’t see myself ever returning to a multi-blade razor but some may just want to get it over with even if it doesn’t feel great 🙂

» EvanNo Gravatar said: { Apr 7, 2010 - 12:04:53 }

I LOVE my mekur double edged safety blade. I am also pretty young (28 here) and I grew up on the Mach 3s but when I got on my own and had to actually buy them *gasp* i was shocked how much I was paying for metal lol

I have never done the math on the whole thing, but I think the longer you use this system the better you are (since the handle was $35 to start).

Visiting from Yakezie!
.-= Evan´s last blog ..Is Cell Phone Insurance Worth It? =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Evan, thanks for you comments!

I agree, the longer you use it, the cheaper the average price becomes. As long as you stick with your razor, all you have to buy are the blades which I have found in bulk for extremely cheap, and you will just continue to save money.

I have heard great things about the Merkur line, but I couldn’t pass up the price on the vintage razor I picked up, an old Gillette Travel Tech.

» Guy G.No Gravatar said: { Apr 10, 2010 - 08:04:48 }


Very interesting post. I had to laugh when I first read it because I had stumbled accross wet shaving a few months ago, and remember seeing the bowl of soap and brush at my uncles as a kid.

My names Guy, this is my first time on the site, and I just wanted to say hi.

I co-own a personal finance site finance in general. It’s little tips on budgeting and frugality like this that make what we do fun and interesting.

Would love to have you write a guest post sometime.


.-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Picking The Right Bank – Create Personal Budget =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hi Guy, it’s sure interesting how once your eyes are opened to something, you learn to spot it everywhere. After discovering wet shaving, I noticed wet shaving references and tools in movies, TV shows, and grocery stores.

Thanks for stopping by, and I would love to guest post. I will send you an email momentarily and we can set something up.

Have a nice Sunday 🙂

» Jason @ Redeeming RichesNo Gravatar said: { Apr 12, 2010 - 08:04:02 }

Wow, I don’t think I would’ve went that far in the name of science, but congratulations! 🙂 I stopped using those cartridges a couple of years ago and I have no regrets ..and I’ve saved some money! Those cartridges are a nice little money maker for those companies!
.-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..IRS Tax Deadline: When and How To File a Tax Extension =-.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Apr 13, 2010 - 09:04:22 }

Jason, I just wanted to show both sides of the coin, women shave too ya know 🙂

It’s funny to read the history of the razor because the cartridges were invented solely as a money maker.

Some things turn into money machines unwillingly, but this is one of those times when it was created as a profit mobile.

» GlennNo Gravatar said: { Nov 3, 2010 - 11:11:19 }

Great article! Wet shaving is really an art and a therapy itself. I must say that men should save and shave at the same time. Shaving with safety razors means less waste and is good for our environment. Thanks for sharing.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 5, 2010 - 11:11:40 }

Glenn, I’m glad you found this interesting!

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