Things I Hate Spending Money On: Shaving

Few things are more irritating for both men and women as the act of shaving.  Most of us are required to shave regularly in order to conform to our work place policies and societal norms.

I hate spending money on shaving.  If I could get away with it, I’d only shave once a week.  Unfortunately shaving has become increasingly more expensive in the last decade, leaving consumers to seek out new ways to cut costs.

Blame Gillette For Making Shaving So Expensive

Gillette introduced the Mach3 razor in 1998 after spending more than $750 million in research and development.  They continued their practice of loss leader marketing where one item is sold at a steep discount (the Mach3) in order to increase sales of a complementary product (the disposable blades).

The blades used by Mach3 only cost a few cents to produce, but they sell for well over $2 each.  This shows profit margins of over 4500% on Gillette razor blades.  Since the Mach3 entered the market there have been new “innovations” which now consist of 4 and even 5 blade disposable razors.

The Gillette Mach3 razor sells for about $12 and comes with 2 cartridge refills.  A package of 8 cartridge refills costs about $26.  If you shave every day you can see how quickly the blades become dull and irritating.  You can probably make a blade last for 2 weeks if you don’t mind a tougher shave the last few times.

Buying a new razor and then the cartridge refills every few months would likely end up costing you over $100/year.  All of those recurring costs just to shave every day?  There has to be a better way.

What Are Some Alternatives To Save You Money?

Consider buying a double-edged safety razor – The initial investment is a bit high (around $45) but the blades are dirt cheap (around 20 cents each).  You can still use regular shaving cream, or for a bit more you can buy a brush and make your own lather to shave the old-fashioned way.

Sharpen your razor – Save money by making your blades last longer (up to six months according to the video).  Just make sure to go up with the razor and not down like when you’re shaving.

Buy an electric razor – This option has the highest initial investment but the nice thing is that there are no recurring costs afterwards.  A standard rotary shaver will cost you around $70, while the best rated electric shaver will cost up to $250.

Buy razor blade refills on eBay – You can find some bargains on eBay if you are willing to shop around or buy in bulk.  Some packages of 8 were selling for half the normal price.  Be aware though, razor blades are one of the most popular items for shoplifters to steal.  If you are buying online, there’s a decent chance they were stolen.

Share with your spouse – The Mach3 blades are interchangeable with all of the other Gillette razors, including the Venus.  Why buy his and her razors and cartridges when they essentially do the same thing?  This way you can buy in bulk and save money.

Just don’t shaveMillion Dollar Journey asked his readers to share the cheapest thing they’ve ever done.  There were some interesting suggestions, including a few people who cut their own hair.  However nobody mentioned that they’ve let their beard grow in order to save money.  If you can get away with it, why not?

Economic times are still tough and people are looking for different ways to save money.  For those of you who have to shave on a regular basis, do you find it expensive?  What’s your shaving strategy?

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  1. MD on April 4, 2011 at 5:55 am

    I have one quick point to add: I’m 23 and still have a baby face. I shave biweekly and save lots of money :). The only downfall is being ID’ed still.

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 8:47 am

      Enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

  2. Doable Finance on April 4, 2011 at 6:32 am

    There are store brand that would cost you a lot less. I am 63 years old. I started shaving regularly in 8th grade. I have very thick hair on my face. Sometimes I shave once a week. The problem I see with that is that the razor blade doesn’t last long that much whereas if I shave everyday, the razor blade lasts a lot longer.

    I was talking to a Gillette engineer once. He said never dry out the blade with a towel. Leave it alone and it will last longer.

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

      @Doable Finance
      That’s interesting because I’ve heard the opposite, drying the blade right after you’re finished will help it last longer. Did the engineer say anything about sharpening the blade on your jeans? 🙂

  3. Beth on April 4, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Okay, someone has to say it: you think it’s expensive being a man? The only thing society expects you to shave is your face! 😉 (Okay, back and chest sometimes make the list as well.)

    I thought your argument about prices was interesting, but I invite you to take a stroll down the ladies’ section of the aisle and look at all the hair removal products we’re offered — and where we are expected to use them!

  4. Beth on April 4, 2011 at 6:49 am

    I meant that comment good naturedly 🙂 I hate spending money on shaving too. I’ve read that permanent hair removal while expensive on the outset can save money over a lifetime. Something to think about for us ladies. (Can’t imagine a time in my life where I’ll want under arm hair and leg hair…)

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

      In no way do I want to get into this debate with the ladies 😉

      Permanent hair removal sounds interesting…and painful!

      • Beth on April 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

        Truthfully, I’ve been considering it. I have very dark hair and fair skin, so I always feel like I have a “five o’clock shadow.” I know laser and electrolysis are painful and not always permanent, but it beats some of the alternatives!

        I find it funny how personal grooming products are being marketed more and more to men (like moisturizers, etc.) I noticed blades were covered in this article, but not shaving cream, aftershave, etc. 😉

        • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

          I guess men’s grooming is the fastest growing segment of the hair care/grooming industry, so it’s no wonder it has been marketed so much lately. High-end shaving creams and aftershaves are hot selling items right now.

  5. Mike Holman on April 4, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I often shave every second day. More because of laziness and efficiency, rather than a desire to save money.

    One nitpick – the electric razor does have a recurring electrical cost after you buy it. On the other hand, you don’t need any hot water – maybe it’s a wash? 😉

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one throwing the puns around. I tried “irritating” and “cutting costs”, that’s about all I’ve got.

  6. Christine on April 4, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Its amazing how much those razors cost! I cringe every time I buy refills. But I do need to praise the Gillette Venus Razors. They do last a long time.

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Maybe I should just share the Venus blades with my wife, or is that wrong?

  7. Steve Zussino - Canadian Coupons on April 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Actually, try using shaving soap – lasts for ages and is better for your skin.

  8. Money Smarts on April 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Count me in the group that uses an eletric shaver. While I don’t feel like it’s as close of a shave, the shave is good enough to where I’m ok with it versus the alternative of constantly payign for shaving cream, razors, etc. It does get expensive – and now that I’ve found an electric that I like, I’ll probably never switch back to using a razor.

    • Echo on April 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      I am really thinking about switching to an electric, and if I could convince someone to buy it for my birthday or Christmas present that would be even better 🙂

  9. mantic59 on April 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Shaving with a double-edge razor (particularly with traditional shave cream/soap applied with a shave brush) can be very inexpensive, and a pleasurable experience to boot. There’s something very “zen-like” and appealing about applying warm, frangrant lather and spending some quiet time in front of the mirror (if you have to spend the time why not make it pleasant time?). My DE blades cost me all of $0.17 (in bulk, box of 100). Inexpensive shaving soap can run you $2 at local drugstores or pharmacies. The only thing you have to keep in mind (initially) is that you’re learning a new skill–like riding a bicycle or playing a musical instrument–so there is a bit of a learning curve. If you check the major video sharing sites (like youtube) for my username you’ll find a whole bunch of how-to videos related to the subject (not sponsored!).

    • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      After that description I’m going to have to try shaving with a double-edge razor once or I won’t be able to live with myself.

  10. ChristopherH on April 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Traditional wetshaving with a double-edge (or straight-edge if you’re brave enough I suppose) is the best way to go IMO. True, the intial cost seems expensive. But compare a $45 safety razor to a $25 Gillette refill pack. An entire kit of razor, soap and blades will be paid for in two months. Does that initial expense really look so intimidating now?

    And the soaps and cremes really aren’t that expensive when one considers their longevity. I bought a bowl of Prorazo shaving soap for sensitive skin last summer, and it still looks barely used. And I get much better lather from soaps and creams than from that crap they out in the cans.

    I get the best shaves I have ever gotten in my life from DE safety razors. They’re “baby’s butt” smooth and ENJOYABLE. Mantic’s comment about the Zen-like nature of the experience is right on too. For roughly 10-20 minutes a day, I have a pleasurable, productive, cost-effective experience.

    I’m sure there is an economics professor out there somewhere who can explain why Gillette stopped producing these razors during the seventies. But I’ll never understand it. Some of the most highly sought after DE razors out there these days are vintage Gillettes.

    The bottom line for me is that, having gotten set up, I’ll be spending practically nothing to shave for the rest of my life. Can’t beat that.

    • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Ok, you guys have convinced me to try it…maybe not right before I go to work though, I don’t want to end up wearing a tourniquet around my neck.

      • ChristopherH on December 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        I’ve only been shaving with a safety razor about a year or so, but I’ve gotten to the point where I can do a two-pass, wtg/atg shave in the morning in about the same amount of time (5-10 minutes) it used to take me to save with a disposable. The pleasure factor is still better and I get to feel like I’m starting the day out right. Every once in awhile I nick myself, but that is what they make styptic for. 😉

  11. Ned Wryerson on April 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Micro-rust (invisible to the eye) is what ages blades quickly. Drying the blade thoroughly after use will make it last much longer. One way to do this is to spray the blade with one of those after-shower glass cleaner sprays, or just rubbing alcohol. This dries the blade and makes it last weeks longer. Ignore the colored strip that tries to make you buy new blades based on absolutely nothing.

    • Eric on April 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      I agree 100%. I use a completely low-tech method of keeping my Mach 3 blades dry. I rinse the blade with cold water under the tap for a few seconds after shaving, then pat the blade dry on my towel. With this 15-20 second routine, my blades last a minimum of 6 weeks, and often over 2 months. I shave at least 5 and often 7 times per week. My shave this morning was irritation free, without a single nick or cut, using a blad that I last replaced in February.

      • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm

        @Ned and @Eric
        I rinse the blade and pat it dry on a towel too but it still doesn’t last that long for me. Good idea to ignore the coloured strip though…it starts to fade in a week!

  12. Travis @DebtChronicles on April 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Today I dropped $265 on new brake pads and rotors for my car. A necessary expense (if I want to keep driving my car, anyway) – but totally unsatisfying. The least they could have done was hand out a shirt that said “I just spent $265 to stop my wheels from squeaking and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

    • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Travis, that might inspire a new post on things I hate to spend money on – car repairs!

  13. Johny on April 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I tried using hair conditioner (per a suggestion on some other website) and now I’m just waiting until I finish up the rest of my Proraso shaving soap to switch over. It doesn’t lather much but leaves the skin feeling smooth.

    Prefer the conditioner over regular shaving cream/gel and even the soaps I’ve tried.

    • ChristopherH on April 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      @Johny: Conditioner … interesting … what brand did you use? How did you apply it? By hand or by brush? And I assume you used it for each pass?

      • Johny on April 6, 2011 at 8:12 am

        I tried this with tresemme (I forget what particular type, it was just what my wife had) but whenever I travel I never take shaving cream/soap, I just use whatever the hotel provides as conditioner.

        I apply by hand, again it doesn’t lather much at all. I only use one pass but you’d probably need it for each if you do more.

    • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      I tried shaving with conditioner once and my wife said that my face would break-out due to all the oils in it.

      Maybe she just didn’t want me using all of her conditioner? 😉

      • Johny on April 6, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Hmm never had that happen to me … I typically shower after I shave so whatever is left just washes off. My wife did complain about using conditioner but I think the shampoo gets used more so me using the conditioner just evens out the bottles 🙂

  14. Mike Holman on April 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    A surprising amount of interest in this topic.

    Robb, have you considered making a shaving video? 😉

  15. My University Money on April 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Hey Echo, thanks for the quick comments on our site! I thought I was the only one that was this pissed off (excuse the language) at shaving! Sometimes I think only humans could be dumb enough to have our ‘important’ members make thousands of little cuts on their face every day, then wear a starched collar that irritates it. Finally, we then put on a tie to trap body heat and complete the uncomfortable ensemble. I didn’t realize the profit margin was that ridiculous. How has a decent competitor not cut into Gillete’s relative monopoly at this point?

    • Echo on April 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      It does seem silly when you describe our daily routine but I’m sure the ladies have it much worse than we do 😉

      I think Gillette has built an evil empire that will crush any competition that gets in their way. They are also marketing & innovation machines that seem to stay ahead of the curve.

    • Beth on April 6, 2011 at 6:41 am

      “Important” members? Seriously?

      While some of humanity’s “important members” are whining about shaving their faces, the rest are shaving their legs, under arms and bikini areas — or subjecting them to forms of torture like waxing or sugaring. Try it for a week. I dare you.

      Oh, but be forewarned it will itch when the hair grows back in… especially where it rubs against your underwear. And if you nick yourself while shaving your underarms, be prepared for your antiperspirant to sting like crazy.

      (By the way, I use body wash. Has a nice lather, leaves smooth skin and it’s a good deal when it’s on sale. Sorry guys, I don’t know if it works well on the face though!)

  16. Money Reasons on April 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I’ve used an electric shaver for years! After a given time period, it’s cheaper than disposables and also greener too.

    A downfall is that while I still look presentable, my shave doesn’t produce quite the clean shave look that I can accomplish with razors.

  17. krantcents on April 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I use disposable Gillette Sensor Razors. I get about two (2) months out of each razor. I buy four (4) for around $5. I could probably get more months out of each razor if I want to!

  18. Andrew on April 10, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I think wet shaving with a proper safety razor is the way to go. I bought a Merkur Model 180 handle several years ago for the equivalent of $40. Shortly thereafter I bought a bowl of fancy shave soap from Fortnum & Masons and an inexpensive brush for about $30. I’m still using all of the above. A two month supply of blades abroad was running me $5.

    This past year, a friend turned me on to an online retailer in Mississauga called Fendrihan’s that sells boxes of blades. I bought a year’s supply of Derby Extra blades for about $20 with shipping.

    I get three or four shaves out of a blade, same as I used to with a Sensor Excel. I would estimate that I save at least $100 a year going this route. Not a lot of money over a year, but buying Gillette blades brings me no pleasure whatsoever. Plus, there’s far less waste with these blades, both in the packaging and in the cartridge.

  19. Djs on December 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    This statement “Buy an electric razor – This option has the highest initial investment but the nice thing is that there are no recurring costs afterwards.”

    Is not true.

    The screens and blades in electrics ware out. I once purchased a spanky new microscreen razor and realized it was no better than my old one when it had been brand new. So I ordered a new screen / blade combo and bam it was back to new. However at $50 it only had that “as good as a blade feel” for under 6 months.

    So unfortunately the “Consumables” market is there with electric as well.

    Also DO NOT FALL for the gimmicky cleaning systems for electrics – they leak into the razor and simply create another consumable. Buying a the same top quality razor model without the cleaning system is cheaper and there is no way I believe it makes a lick of difference to the life of the screen / blade.

  20. Robert on April 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Good example of why our country is failing economically. Companies like Gillette price gouging razor blades, and consumers spending top dollar to buy them. That would leave people with less money to buy other products which would help the economy.

  21. Razor Blade Club on April 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

    You could also save while shaving with a monthly subscription from Razor Blade Club. You’ll get great razors mailed to you each month. That’s easy because you go to your mailbox anyways. And the cost is cheap enough that you can change out a razor blade cartridge each week. Which means you always are using a sharp clean blade for a good close shave. You also save on toilet paper costs because you no longer have to tear off pieces in the morning to stop the bleeding from those nicks created from that dull razor blade you were using because it was too expensive to throw away and you just don’t want to go to the store to get more and spend big cash.

    Just a thought.
    Razor Blade Club

  22. ChristopherH on April 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    That’s funny … joining a disposable club would be like hitting your head with a hammer to stop a headache.

    I spend practically nothing on double-edge blades … ~$0.13 per blade … and soap costs maybe $20 a tub … one tub lasts well over a year … so roughly ~$0.20 per week.

    Yes folks, that’s ~$0.35 a week to shave. Now THAT’S a club worth joining!!!

  23. Clarke on June 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Large US shaving products companies assured that certain cost-saving shaving products available 60 years ago were subverted, lest the razor and blade market be lost. At that earlier time, a German shaving kit included a razor blade which could be inserted into a special slider which held the blade at the correct angle to be stropped on an accompanying leather strip and then could be placed into its standard-looking razor. The user would never, ever have to buy new blades or a new razor. So completely was this product concept torpedoed by the US shaving products industry that you could not hear a murmur of its existence for the past half century.

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