Shave your grooming budget with a safety razor

This is a guest post from my wonderful husband, Tony. You can read more from him at his movie review blog, Screen Savour. But first read about his experiences with an old-fashioned safety razor.

When we began to live the frugal lifestyle, I started looking for a way to become a frugal shaver. Shaving is something that’s required of me (growing a beard isn’t currently an option in my world), and if I’m going to do it, I think my face should feel good afterward. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to drop a fortune to do it.

When I began shaving as a teenager, my first razor of choice was the electric razor for its quickness. But the skin on my face has always been too sensitive, and the electric razor not only irritated my skin but it never gave me the smoothness I wanted. Furthermore, for an electric razor to function well, the mechanical blades inside need to be replaced at least annually. Depending on the make and model of your razor, those can set you back. It wasn’t worth it to me.

Bags of disposable razors are cheap. I’ve used them before, and believe me, the little torn-off pieces of toilet paper covering up my shredded face are proof enough that there’s a reason they’re so cheap. So they’re out, too.

Replacement cartridge razors were my choice for most of my life. I initially used the three-blade model, then upgraded once to the four-blade and again to the five-blade. As the number of blades increased, so did the price of replacing those cartridges.

Replacement cartridge packs for the last razor I used were running me more than $25 for eight cartridge heads. If one cartridge head lasts for two weeks, that means I’m still spending about $100 (depending on the deal) to buy enough cartridges to shave for one year. And that’s not even counting the cost of shaving cream and aftershave!

Earlier this year, I found the solution to my shaving problem in the unlikeliest of places: a pro-environmental lifestyle magazine. The magazine urged readers to abandon the replacement cartridges (which waste tons of plastic each year) and convert to using a safety razor.

The safety razor is the cast-iron skillet of the shaving world. If you buy one and properly care for it, you’ll never have to buy another.

It’s an old-school device that screws together and sandwiches a single sharp, steel blade between two layers of polished and brushed metal. All that is exposed is the thin edge of the steel blade. When the blade becomes dull, the safety razor unscrews and all you throw away is a thin piece of steel (which is completely recyclable).

The device is very retro in appearance, and although it takes a little while to get used to, the shaves have been unparalleled.

You pay up front for the safety razor. The actual handheld device cost me about $25, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. (Editor’s note: Price of one safety razor = price of 8 disposable cartridges. Just saying. :) )

The real savings come in the replacement blades. They’re very sharp and functional, but also thin and cheap. Amazon is selling a pack of 30 razor blades right now at less than $15. That’s 50 cents per blade, compared to over $3 each for replacement cartridges. Even if I changed the blade every week, I would only spend $26 a year on razors. If I changed the blade as often as I did replacement cartridges for my old razor (every other week), I would spend just $13 a year.

I can’t speak to how well a safety razor works on shaving legs, but my face and wallet have been thankful for the change.

So there you have it. If you’re tired of filling up landfills and spending a fortune on plastic replacement cartridges and you’re willing to try something new, the safety razor might be right for you. It would make a great gift for the frugal, environmentally conscious man in your life.

3 thoughts on “Shave your grooming budget with a safety razor

  1. mantic59

    Good post but not mentioned is that good shaving lather is just as important (more!) than the razor. An inexpensive shave brush (under $35 US) and a decent shave soap (Van Der Hagen is widely available and under $2) will provide a shave lather much better than anything coming out of a pressurized can. Be sure to check out the traditional shaving sub-culture at forums like shavemyface, badgerandblade, and theshaveden…and my youtube ‘how to shave’ channel at the website link!

  2. Pingback: In which we admit defeat in the classic struggle between man and expensive razor

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