In a previous article where I experimented with a “shave of the week,” I got a few comments suggesting I try a shave as cheaply as possible. I think there are a couple different ways of doing this: one is using products purchased off internet sites and the other is one using products purchased in “brick and mortar” stores. This article will concentrate on products off the internet, then I’ll do a follow-up article with products from the “megamarts.”
An Inexpensive (OK, Cheap) Wet Shaving Kit
For this experiment I’m using a set of products you can get for under $20 on Amazon, or even cheaper if you shop around a bit. It consists of:
- Dorco PL602 safety razor
- Omega Syntex brush
- Arko shave soap stick
This may not be the absolute cheapest kit available, but it is the cheapest I will put up with. There are obviously going to be some performance compromises here, particularly with the shave brush, and you’re sure not going to get a fragrant, luxurious experience. But if you’re looking to try old school shaving on the cheap, and want to get an idea of the results you can get, I think this isn’t a bad kit to try. Let’s briefly take a look at each component.
Dorco PL602 Razor
Sharpologist has written about the Dorco PL602 razor before. It’s a two-piece, all-plastic razor that has a reputation as a relatively mild-but-efficient razor. Even though it’s plastic the head design is actually rather good and blade alignment is easy. There are other plastic razors to be sure, but the 602 has a surprisingly devoted set of followers who know what they’re doing.
Dorco doesn’t publicize the ‘602 much, preferring to concentrate on their Dorco Prime double edge safety razor.
The razor comes with a couple of Dorco blades. I decided to use my own preferred blade since blades are so inexpensive anyway, but the Dorco blades are certainly worth a try.
Omega Syntex Brush
The Omega Syntex brush is probably the “weakest” product in this kit, from the performance standpoint anyway. It uses an early generation of nylon synthetic bristles that have not only been far out-paced by the latest synthetic materials but also are inferior to most animal hair brushes as well. Still, it can be purchased very inexpensively and will actually hold together much better than most of the poorly-made animal hair brushes it’s competing with. If you use this kit to try old school shaving and end up wanting to do more, this is probably the first item you will want to upgrade.
Arko Shave Soap Stick
The Arko shave soap stick is very inexpensive but its performance has a reputation of “punching above its weight.” Most people can get a excellent lather out of it that is both lubricating and cushioning, outshining shave soaps that cost much more. The only real problem is its scent, which can be…an acquired taste. Some don’t mind it at all, describing it as a generic mild citric soap scent while others compare it to a urinal cake. Luckily the scent is not strong so even if you’re not a fan of the smell it’s easy enough to put up with.
Using this kit is not too different from using any other old school shave kit, though there are a few quirks to keep in mind. First is using the Arko shave soap stick. You rub the soap over your face then use a moistened brush to build lather directly. It may take a few shaves to get the water ratio correct and building the lather may take a little longer using the Omega brush, but with a little persistence you will be rewarded.
Using the very lightweight plastic razor means not taking the usual advice of not putting any pressure on the razor, letting the weight of the razor do the work. In this case you will probably have to use some light pressure. But maintaining a good blade angle has not been difficult for me when using this razor.
Other than that the usual old school techniques like beard reduction in passes still apply.
Keep these ideas in mind and you will be rewarded with good shaves from very inexpensive supplies!