$having For Life: A Financial Face Off Between Razors

Gentlemen, it’s time we did the math once and for all. Based on a Razorpedia.com survey, more than 50% of the 186 respondents said they were dissatisfied with the price of their razor and razor blades. Since shaving costs are one of the most commonly cited reasons for switching from cartridge shaving to DE or straight razor shaving, we’ve decided to set the record straight and do the math ourselves.

We’ll take you through each type of wet shaving methodology and estimate the lifetime shaving cost of an average male. Keep in mind that individual results will vary. First, we ignore the cost of pre-shave oils, shaving soaps, gels, creams, badger brushes, and after-shaves to focus solely on the blades themselves. Secondly, we assume the average male shaves once per day, 365 times per year, for 70 years.    

Razor Cost

Disposable Razor: Bic Comfort 3 Advance ($7,777 total, or $111 per year)

Disposable razors range from $0.33 for a single blade Bic Sensitive to $1.75 for a four blade Bic Hybrid Advance 4. For our analysis, we chose a middle of the road three blade Bic Comfort 3 Advance, which currently costs $1.22 at Walmart.com. We estimate that disposable razors will last about four uses on average, so the cost of a single shave using disposable razors is approximately $0.30/shave.

Cartridge Razor: Gillette Fusion ProGlide ($6,863 total, or $98 per year)

Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide razor is arguably the most advanced (and most expensive) cartridge razor system on the market today. The lowest price we’ve seen for replacement cartridges is a whopping $28.40 for eight cartridges ($3.55/each) from Soap.com. Beyond the blades, you’ll also need to buy the Fusion ProGlide handle which costs $10.97 at Walmart.com. Despite Gillette’s claim of its ProGlide blades lasting five weeks (YouTube), our Razopedia.com reviews show that Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide cartridges last about 14 uses on average. Assuming the handle is replaced every two years, the cost of a single shave using Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide razor is approximately $0.27/shave.

Cartridge Razor: Dorco Pace 6 with Trimmer ($2,752 total, or $39 per year)

Dorco is somewhat of a newcomer in the US cartridge shaving market. Aside from Dollar Shave Club’s “Humble Twin” two blade razor, Dorco’s blades are the absolute cheapest on the market. On DorcoUSA.com, you can purchase 24 replacement cartridges for Dorco’s Pace 6 razor for $24.22 ($1.01/each) and the handle for $4.95. Our Razorpedia.com reviews show that Dorco’s Pace 6 cartridges last about 10 uses on average. Assuming the handle is replaced every two years, the cost of a single shave using Dorco’s Pace 6 razor is approximately $0.11/shave.

Double Edge Razor ($1,781 total, or $25 per year)

Since I am relatively new to classic shaving techniques, I asked Mantic59 himself for guidance on pricing and blade life. He suggested that a good DE razor costs about $50 and can last many years. For blades, he suggested a fair price would be about $0.33 for a blade that lasts five shaves on average. Based on these figures and assuming that a handle lasts 10 years, shaving with DE razor will cost just $0.07/shave.

Straight Razor ($350 total, or $5 per year)

Also according to Mantic59, a good straight edge razor and strop should last a lifetime. Though prices can vary dramatically, a good mid-range straight edge razor and strop should cost around $250. On top of this, you’ll need another $100 for a whetstone and polish. Based on these figures, shaving with a straight razor will cost you just $0.01/shave.

So there you have it. Shaving with disposable razors is 22x more expensive than using a straight razor, and shaving with a Gillette cartridge razor is 4x more expensive than using a DE razor! Put another way, you can boost your retirement savings by $7,427 by trading in your disposable razors for a straight razor. Or, if you’re one of the mainstream shavers using a Gillette cartridge, you can save $5,082 by trading in your cartridge for a good DE razor. Take that Roger Federer (YouTube)!


Do these numbers surprise you? How much do you spend on razors and blades every year?

Related Posts:

16 Inexpensive Product Entries Into Traditional Wet Shaving

Cheap vs. Inexpensive: A Tale Of 3 Razors

What Is The Best Fusion Proglide Alternative?

 

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Razorpedia Razorpedia (1 Posts)

Brian is a finance guy and shaving industry enthusiast who co-founded Razorpedia.com. Through Razorpedia.com, shavers everywhere can submit razor reviews and quickly discover the lowest prices for shaving products online.


Comments

  1. Steveareno says:

    My only quibble is that most men don’t shave for 70 years, since most men do not live to be 85 (assuming most men start shaving sometime in adolescence). Maybe 60 years would be a better number.

    • Razorpedia Razorpedia says:

      Hi Steveareno,

      Thanks for reading the post and providing some feedback! We based the 70 years on assuming a starting age of 13-15 and life expectancy figures from the Social Security office (http://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm). Even though this will vary among people and cultures, the goal was to measure all shaving methods consistently, so we could get a reasonably close cost comparison.

  2. I disagree with the pricing on blades for a DE razor. Once you’ve been through a sampler pack and found the blade that suits you, you can get 100 blades for $10-15 on amazon. This makes the cost of shaving substantially lower over time.

    • Razorpedia Razorpedia says:

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for reading and providing some great feedback. You’re absolutely right that DE shavers can get blades for much cheaper than $0.33/each in large quantities via Amazon. Mantic59 suggested the $0.33/each price point as a good mid-range figure, and the actual math in the article uses $0.28/each, which is the cost per blade for Feathers in a 100-pack on Amazon (http://amzn.to/ZIaEea). I should have made that more clear in the article.

      If you use your assumption of $12.50 for a 100-pack of blades, the cost per shave declines to $0.04/day, or $989 over a 70 year period.

  3. I agree with Steveareno. I would also add that most men do not shave every day of the year. In fact, many people will skip one day each week, often a Saturday or Sunday. A more conservative number might be to remove 14-60 days to account for skipping a day each week, for illness and even for vacation.

    • I think this was more about the maximum usage to see what it could cost, not about real numbers, or else they would have figured in RSAAD and the fact that a good DE handle lasts way over a decade.

      RSAAD = razor, soap, and accessory acquisition disorder :P

      • Razorpedia Razorpedia says:

        Joseph,

        Exactly. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading. And you’re right, this doesn’t account for people “suffering” from RSAAD!

    • Razorpedia Razorpedia says:

      Darryl,

      Great point. The analysis certainly didn’t account for any “off” days. You’d have to be a very disciplined shaver! I think a more realistic lifetime shaving cost would require lowering each figure by 10-15% to account for occasional days off each week and vacations. Of course, the whole analysis is dependent on dozens of other factors (lifespan, frequency of shaving, personal mileage per blade, handle life, etc.). The key is to be as consistent as possible across the methods. Thanks again for your thoughts!

  4. So I had this very question running thru my mind this week because I’ve come to an interesting dilemma when it comes to shaving lately.

    Up until recently, I’ve shaved twice a week with a DE razor taking anywhere from 20-30 minutes to shave and at a very leisurely pace. The results I got were fantastic and the cost per shave very low (as described in this article). I’ve used the DE razor for over a year now as well so my technique is well established and always do a 3 pass shave (with grain, across grain, against grain)

    Life being what it is, I now have less time to shave in the mornings before work, I usually shave 3 times a week now (Mon, Wed, Fri) and have 20 minutes max to shave. I only have time for 2 passes now (with grain and across grain) and have not been getting that great of a shave with the DE. I got a sample Gillette Fusion Pro Glide razor in the mail this week from Costco so I decided to give it a try.

    Under the same shaving “conditions” (20 minutes to shave and doing 2 passes) I get a much better shave with the Gillette than with the DE. Only problem is that the Gillette cartridges cost WAY more than DE blades.

    So my dilemma is this: settling for a lesser shave with the cheaper DE blade/razor or getting a better shave for way more $ with the Gillette.

    Any thoughts/suggestions on this?

    • bsmyn0708 says:

      Doesn’t Costco have a coupon book with Gillette coupons that you can use?

    • Try showering, shaving, etc. at night before retiring. It can be a very relaxing and potentially prolonged ritual. In the event you share your bed, you won’t have any complaints.

      The pivoting head of the modern razors takes less time to master than the classics. In lieu of modern Gillette products try more modestly priced razors. The house-brand disposables I acquire while traveling are quite similar and pretty good from store to store across the continent.

    • I used to shave because I had to.

      Since discovering DE shaving 2 years ago, I now shave because I enjoy it. I couldn’t go back to cartridge razors. It would become a chore again. I like the prep, shave and post shave prep. I also get a better shave with DE razors.

  5. What brand of blade lasts 5 shaves? That is an astronomical number being claimed. Most blades start to get dull after their second use.

    I’ve also noticed how this whole “saving money on shaving” has been all one big trend and marketing ploy just like P&G does with Gillette. These companies are making all-time record profits from people like us. It’s no wonder they charge $30 for a 3oz tub of cream. Yes, there is cheaper creams available, but they honestly suck. You get what you pay, if you will.

    And never mind that you spend $hundreds$ of dollars on new and different razors because most people aren’t satisfied with their one DE razor and not to mention the cost of aftershaves and soaps and creams.

    And, no one is really going to stick with just ONE brand of blades for the rest of their life. I’ve yet to meet anyone who solely uses one brand of blades. The shipping on the blades outweighs their price.

    • If you only get two shaves out of a blade you either have a beard as dense as a forest or you are buying junk blades. I use basic Wilkinson Sword that I purchase for $1.97 at Walmart. I get 5 shaves easy out of this blade and I have a fairly dense beard.
      As for shaving cremes and soaps. I buy a 2 dollar puck of Williams shaving soap at CVS. It lubricates well and has a very pleasant aroma.

    • Uhh…. every brand? Maybe except for the Merkurs or Derby’s, all DE blades last me at least 10 shaves.

      And 30$ for a tub of cream? I don’t honestly think so. My Palmolive is like 2$ at the local supermarket, and favorite (That’s the name, actually) is like 5$.

      Honestly, I like your critical approach but please be realistic!

    • If you are only getting a few shaves out of your cartridge, you aren’t properly drying it off after a shave. You need to rinse it thoroughly and then flick it on a towel about 5 – 8 times to knock off the water (that last step is critical). Then store it in the open air.

      If you buy high quality razors from cheaper alternatives like Harry’s, or Shavemob.com – which is even less expensive, a cartridge should easily last you two weeks and your annual cost of shaving should be no more than around $30.

  6. What is the cost for your labour of sharpening your straight razor? At a guess 15 minutes each week?

  7. Interesting. I note you assume the straight-razor shaver sharpens his own razor. Many, of course, send their razor to honemeister—figure an addition $20-$40 per year for that.

    I think your DE expenses are high, mainly because of blade prices. Each shaver must find the brand(s) that work best for him, but Derby and Astra Superior Platinum please a lot of shavers and they run around 9¢ each. Generally speaking, they will last a week: roughly $5/year. Thus the $350 start-up cost for a straight razors pays for DE blades for 70 years.

  8. I’ve found that the Gillette Guard (purchased on eBay from India – they’re not available anywhere else) gives me 4-6 shaves from one blade. Each shave is BBS and the razors don’t clog up either. They’re a tad primitive but not expensive.

  9. Great Post today! I am horrified at the amount of money I have thrown away over the years before I discovered traditional wet shaving and DE razors. Thank you for breaking it down the numbers to help us spread the word.

  10. We could quibble about the exact figures, or why you choose the absolute most expensive Gillette cartridge system and a relatively mid-level DE razor–but why bother. It is clear, if you really want to shave as cheaply as possible a Straight Razor is the way to go, and DE shaving can be much less expensive than using cartridges.

    But I suggest you go to a site like badgerandblade and check out the forum. I’m only a new member there, but I can tell you most of these DE (and straight) shavers aren’t pinching pennies–nor are they using one $50 razor. I’m becoming a real fan of that site–the best part is observing the amount of money these men (and some women) are spending on razors, soaps and creams, etc.

    Honestly I am thinking of converting to DE shaving next month. But I’m not sure I can afford it! :#) There’s a big difference between academic exercise and real-world outcomes.

  11. I feel a good quality Safety Razor can last a lifetime. I started shaving as an adolescent with the 1948 Gillette Superspeed my father handed down to me. I still shave with this razor today and works beautifully.

    • I agree–my 2 favorite DE razors are my Gillette Superspeed and Super Adjustable, both from 1964. I picked them up at estate sales for an absolute song ($10 for the Superspeed, $4 for the Super Adjustable).

      So, while I’d definitely say the DE price listed is inflated, the main point of the article (classic wetshaving is cheaper than modern day shaving systems) is spot on.

  12. Wow. People, they have to start with a common number from somewhere. The point is they used the same numbers, or a very good guess at numbers. Everyone will be different. My face prefers Lord, Gillette 7 o’clock, Dorco, and Feather brand DE blades. That does not mean yours will. Out of that group there is a price range from about 8 cents to about 30 cents. If I use the Dorco I can get about 7-10 shaves, meaning I’m shaving for less than a penny per shave. This is throwing out the blade when it starts to pull. The feather I get around 10, or 3 cents per shave. You will be different! They did a pretty good job comparing total lifelong costs and yearly costs.

  13. Shave Dude says:

    After buying a Merkur Slant, Progress, EJ DE89, Tradere Open Comb, Ikon Bamboo and 3 straights….I’ll have to live longer than Noah for the savings to kick in!!

  14. WorcesterMan says:

    I read this post with interest and a smile on my face.Hopefully it isn’t intended to be taken too seriously! I suspect that anyone taking the trouble to follow shaving forums is not motivated by saving money. Whilst I won’t attempt to question the maths it does ignore the psychology.
    Along with an interest in DE shaving or using a ‘straight’ comes a desire for the perfect shave. That in turn leads to the trial of various DE safety razors, expensive badger brushes, numerous shaving soaps, pre and post shave creams etc. Then you think ‘I’ll try a straight razor’. Best not skimp too much but even your ‘entry level’ straight by a good maker isnt cheap. How long before you are coveting that fancy looking Thiers-Issard at almost £300..oh, and that strop could do with being wider…then there’s a hone…and while you’re at it perhaps you’d better try some new shaving creams. If I’d magically arrived at a single best badger brush, Edwin Jagger DE8, Proraso cream and Personna Reds (and then stopped there) I’d be quids in compared to cartridges….but that hasn’t been my personal experience :-)

  15. David Hobson says:

    $35/yr. ($27 this year if in April!)
    Seen the dollar shave club vid? They buy from Dorco. The “April Frugal Dude Pack” is $30. Apply the coupon code 10REVISIT for 10% off.

    Lifehacker article about it: lifehacker [ dot com] /5903771/forget-dollar-shave-clubbuy-the-same-high-quality-razors-for-a-third-of-the-price

  16. Or you could just grow a beard.

  17. Fuzzy Chops says:

    I shave with a straight razor and spend more than $5 per day on razors and related items.

  18. Dunnj2983 says:

    I have wanted to switch to a straight razor for years to save money but i am a little set back due to not knowing how to do so. Does anyone out there know of a good way to start doing so?

  19. I’m not sure why you guys throw out your Fusion / Mach 3 cartridges so soon.
    Heck I could make mine last upwards of 3-months. This is a 1-pass shave, almost everyday shaving. Rinsing the blade off with isopropyl alcohol and stroping it on a pair of jeans works wonders.

    Having said that, DE shaving is good fun and I highly recommend giving it a try.
    I read this article and there are a few, what I’d consider large assumptions made. For instance, a quality DE razor blade can cost as little as $0.09 – $0.15 / blade, based on current prices, after shipping/taxes. These blades will last between 4-5 shaves for most people. The $0.33 / blade suggestion by Mantic is on the upper end and for many people, unnecessary. So, it can be even less expensive.

    Also, I’d really like to mention that for those that get into Safety Razor DE shaving, yes you will save money on razor blades ordered over the internet. Ask around and you’ll find the sources. Yet, where you may spend a fair chunk of change is on the brushes,stands, razors, creams & hard soaps, You’re about to enter a whole new area, outside the realm of canned shaving cream.
    Having said that, if you really just want to cut costs completely:
    (1) Buy an inexpensive safety razor online – ebay etc.
    (2) Buy inexpensive but quality razor blades
    (3) Continue buying canned foam – ideally Gillette ‘Foamy’ or Barbasol.

  20. Since it has been stated this was a blade only comparison based on published statistics, it is a pretty fare comparison. Now, I have been wet shaving for 50+ years with either a DE, Schick Injector, and for a while with a straight razor. I did not start spending “real money” until the internet and shaving forums started. Once I found what worked best for me my cost of accessories has gone way down. I classify accessories as everything other than the blades being talked about here.

    Now, I use Personna Med Prep DE blades and buy them in boxes of 100. I change to a new blade every 7-days, so you do the math on how long 100 blades will last me.

    As for as not having enough time to shave in the morning, get up 20 minutes earlier.

    I shave 7-days a week and the only time I missed was a few years back when I had surgery and spent three days in the hospital, and then I only missed one day. I cannot think of a better way to start the day, a good wet shave with your favorite products and a good cup of coffee.

    • Exactly. I use a DE razor because it feels nice to shave that way, a great way to start the day. Shaving used to be a chore, now it’s a pleasure.

  21. The time cost was certainly not measured in this equation.
    It takes me less than 3min to shave with a disposable razor from start to finish.
    After reading multiple reading multiple webpages (but not trying one myself), it seems that a straight razor shave takes anywhere between 15-30min.
    The cost of this time will vary between people but when adding up 12min difference between the straight razor time starts to add up.
    Assuming a man shaves daily, starts at 15 and ends at 80 years of age, the time difference between the straight razor and the safety/disposable razor will amount to just under 200 total days when it comes to the end of your life, or 260 days of waking life, or around 600 working days (8 hour day)
    The average income of an american in 2011 was ~50K. If the time difference (12min) between razors was spent working, the potential income that could be earnt would be upwards of 80K before tax.
    This is ignoring external costs and benefits and rests on a few assumptions, but I know what I’d rather spend my time/money on.

Trackbacks

  1. […] throat with a razor every morning is a demonstration of your extremely high IQ. Only an idiot would spend thousands of dollars less on razors, live as nature intended, avoid skin irritations, look awesome, stay warm, prevent […]

  2. […] savings of using a straight razor or safety razor over a cartridge system check out this great shaving cost comparison on […]

  3. […] seen many posts about how much you can save, in theory, by switching to a DE razor (Like here, here, and here). But I have yet to see someone actually document the amount they spend on shaving in a […]

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