A Decade of Decadent Shaving

After reading a “modern razor” advertising disguised as a blog post, I realized I have had a decade of shaving the “old-fashioned way.” My shaving experience costs me about 45 cents per week including razor blades, shaving soap and after shave—saving $70-200 each year and enjoying an excellent shaving experience.

I’ve been shaving over thirty years. I started with the twin-blade handle razors common in the 1980s with the cartridge refill. Even after I made it out of acne, I found I still had face bump challenges. After a decade in the Army, I realized most of those bumps were caused by ingrown hairs. The shave was too close.1

In September 2007, I bought a Merkur Heavy Duty Razor. With a cheap set of blades and a devil-may-care attitude, I re-learned how to shave using a much sharper blade. The shaving bumps all but disappeared. The shaves were close enough, but not too close. I was in shaving heaven.

For a while, I bought the generic safety razor blades at the drug store. This cost me 25-50 cents per week in blades. By the first year, the money I saved in cheaper blades paid for the handle, which cost me $34. Not satisfied with just the razor, I bought the full kit: shaving soap, a bowl and brush. I pay about $10 per year in soap now, or 19 cents per week.

By 2013, I learned that not all safety-razor blades are created equal. I experimented with a sample pack and suffered through some bad shaves to get to some enjoyable ones. In 2014, I found an article that recommended blades based on blade sharpness and smoothness.2 From that article I found a better blade for my face. In September 2014 I bought a box of 100 blades for $12 that I am still using over 143 weeks later.3 This means I am now paying eight cents a week in blades to shave on average. I spend another $8 per-year for after shave, or 15 cents per week.

Combined, I am paying 45 cents weekly to keep a clean shaved. This is a far cry from the Gillette Fusion ($4/blade), the Mach3 ($2/blade) or the original blades I bought (now $1.50/blade via discount). Those blades last a week on my beard. This means I have an outstanding shave for (keeping the soap and aftershave the same):

  • Ben’s Safety-Razor - $23.50 per year
  • Twin-Blade Cartridge - $96.20 per year (4x more)
  • Mach3 - $122.20 per year (5x more)
  • Gillette Fusion - $226.20 per year (9x more)

Why am I boasting about a cheap shave? I’d like to think of this as a rant against modernity. In 1975, Saturday Night Live parodied the twin-blade cartridge with a three-blade saying: “The Triple-Trac. Because you’ll believe anything,” and followed up with a 14-blade parody in 2000. The blade proliferation has become a mockery. I’m glad there’s a movement that goes back to the beginning. Perhaps I should take the next step and go straight razor?

  1. For comparison’s sake, this article assumes a blade lasts a full week. The old twin-blade cartridge lasted me about five days. The current blades tend to last about two weeks, but in the early days I tossed them after each week out of habit. ↩︎

  2. The author has since reworked his site and the original article is gone. It is also not retrievable on Archive. Providentially, I made a copy on Evernote. ↩︎

  3. Current usage suggests I will need new blades this Fall. ↩︎