When I was a pre-teen, I only needed to shave about once a week, and that was just to get rid of the peach fuzz. I can’t really remember, but I’m pretty sure I used plastic disposable razors (you know, the cheap ones). Around my sixteenth birthday, I received a box in the mail from Gillette. I opened it to find a Gillette “Sensor” razor, with TWO (count them: 2) blades! Free razor, thought I! Hooking a customer, thought Gillette.
And that’s how it worked. I bought nothing but Gillette razors for the next 23 years. When it came out, I started buying the blades for the Sensor Excel (it had a comfort strip!), and then the Mach 3 (guess how many blades it had!). I declined to step up to the “Fusion” razor, in which you would take a razor with FIVE blades, start it vibrating, and run it across your face. Sounded like a recipe for disaster. I would have had to change my first name to Styptic.
About a year ago I ran out of cartridges for my Mach 3. We were short on cash, and the $15 price for five cartridges was too much, so I started using the cheapos that I got as stocking stuffers the previous Christmas. You know the ones. Two blades, non-movable heads, throw the whole thing out when you’re done. And that’s what I’ve been using ever since.
Well, my last cheap razor gave up the ghost last week. By that I mean that the blade was so dull that it actually hurt to shave. So I threw it out. A few months ago I had read about a push for men to go back to “wet shaving” with actual razor blades instead of these disposable knockoffs. So I did some research. And there are three positives to this “wet shaving.”
Just before my last cheapo died, my new Merkur Model 180 Long Handled Safety Razor came in the mail. It cost me $30, and came with one double edged razor blade. That’s more money than I would have paid for a package of the cheap ones, but this is an investment. You see, a package of six cheapo razors would last me about two months, and cost me about $4, not including the $5 per month I’d spend in shaving cream. Total annual cost: $84.
The new razor cost me $30 up front, but it’s all metal, and should last for years if not for the rest of my life. The replacement blades cost anywhere from $8 for 10 German blades, down to $1.29 for 5 blades on Amazon.com. The ones in my local grocery store cost $3.29 for 10 blades. Now keep in mind that these blades are double sided, so each “blade” is actually two blades. I figured the price of the $1.29 blades to be about 12 cents per blade. The pricey German ones are 40 cents a blade. Compare that to what I was paying for the cheapos, and it’s already a savings. But then I read that if you use a shave set with a brush, a bowl, and shave soap (as opposed to the shaving cream in an aerosol can), that saves even more money. I had an up-front charge of $9 for a ceramic bowl, one disc of shave soap, and a boar bristle shave brush from Wal-Mart. The badger hair shaving brushes are supposed to be better, but they cost more, so I’m starting with the boar bristle.
The soap is supposed to last anywhere from a month to several years, depending on how often you use it. Since I only shave about every other day, I’m thinking mine will probably last about a year. So let’s add up what I’ve spent so far on my new shaving system: $30 for the razor, $1.29 for enough blades for the year, and $9 for the shaving kit (soap, brush, bowl). That’s $40.29 for THIS year. Next year I will probably have to replace my soap disc for about $1, and pay $1.29 for the new blades for the year. Total annual cost: $2.29. Compare that to the $84 I was spending before, and I can now buy half a tank of gas. Ha!
I am not an environmentalist. Those people drive me crazy. I AM, however, a conservationist. I believe that we should not make the world worse than we found it. We should clean up our mess and try to take care of what we have been given by God. We are stewards of this planet, and as such, we should use it, but not abuse it.
I said all that to say this: My old method of shaving added to the landfill the following every year: approximately 12 empty, pressurized cans emptied of shaving cream, and 36 cheapo razor blades (or cartridges). Let’s not even talk about the possible environmental damage caused by the manufacturing process, as well as the use of aerosol and plastic.
My new method: The ceramic dish should last pretty much forever (unless it breaks, in which case….hey! It’s clay: biodegradable!). The brush should last for several years, and is comprised of wood and hair: biodegradable! The soap is straight up biodegradable. The razor should last a very long time, and the blades are stainless steel: Recyclable! So it’s obvious that wet shaving is better for the environment.
I can’t tell you how much better my face feels after just a few days of using this razor. And that’s the best part about the whole thing.
And so I encourage all of you to investigate this method of shaving, and try it for yourself. You can buy a cheaper razor that uses the disposable double-edged blades (I paid $30 but there are ones you can get for less than $10). I will give one caveat however, read up on how to do it, and watch a few YouTube videos before you try it, because you can seriously cut up your face if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here is a really good article that tells you how.
Oh, and keep the blades away from the kiddos.
I’m seriously considering moving to a straight edge razor and a strop at some point, since that would save even more money (and it’s sustainable!), but this is radical enough for now. Now I’m off to go spend the money I saved. Wait, I guess I have to wait about six months before I break even. Oh well.
Why shave at all? I have one of those fancy three-blades-in-one-handle things. Since I don’t go out often, and even when I do go somewhere there’s really no need to shave most of the time (who shaves to go to the lumber yard or the grocery store?) so I only scrape face about once every week or two. As for the shaving cream – have you tried hand soap? All the cream does is lubricate and soften the skin and whiskers – a function that regular hand soap does nicely. (The soap in the cup and brush is just a lathery hand soap.) I grew accustomed to “dry shaving” while in the military – so not using any lubricant at all works for most routine scrapings. An alternative is to shave just after a shower – since the whiskers are already wet and they scrape right off. And I change blades about once or twice a year… so it’s no great expense. Usually by the time I run out of blades for a particular model, it’s obsolete and I have to get a new one – where they give you a special deal – so the cost is considerably reduced. Cheap? Yeah… that’s me!!! Waste not, want not. 🙂
Yeah. The point behind that first picture there was to say that this post was not written for guys with beards.
The soap thing: I haven’t tried hand soap, because I wanted to get the kit with the brush and the bowl. I may try hand soap when my current soap disc is gone, though. Do you mean the Dial squirt soap or what?
I have also resorted to dry shaving when I didn’t have time to use shaving cream, but it almost always causes skin irritation and/or cuts, even if I just got out of the shower. I can say that with this shaving method, which I’ve been using now for two weeks, I haven’t cut myself once.
Once it’s wet, pretty much all soap is slithery. Enjoy! (If you use the antibacterial soap and cut yourself – you’ll have saved a step!) But be advised some soaps are kinda harsh and they dry your skin – AFTER you rinse them off and dry your face. So you’ll probably want to swipe some of your wife’s soap “with moisturizer” – but don’t let her catch you. ;-D
We all use “Dove” unscented soap because she doesn’t like very many perfumes. Which I don’t get, because when we were dating, I used Irish Spring every day and she never said anything. But then we got married, and all of a sudden my soap stinks. So we use Dove unscented. I keep hoping Dove goes out of business so I can go back to Irish Spring.