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An Inexpensive Beginner's Set Up

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With the holidays approaching I began to wonder if it were possible to put together some sort of minimal “wish list” for the new traditional shaver: a “basic kit” (inexpensive without being too cheap) that would make for a reasonably satisfying experience without breaking the bank. I also wanted to find a way to get it from one familiar online place if possible. My thoughts turned to Amazon and after just a little hunting around I came up with this:

The Tweezerman brush is by no means luxurious but its badger hair and definitely better than most of the “natural bristle” (e.g. boar hair) found in drug stores or groceries and will give a better quality experience. I was suprised with its performance when I tried it.

The Weishi razor is basically a far-east knock-off of a Gillette Superspeed razor of the 1960’s. It has a reputation of a mild razor, good for the beginner. It’s a little lighter than I’d prefer and there have been episodes of spotty quality control in the past, but its the best of the inexpensive Gillette clones that I’ve tried. It comes with a little case (with mirror no less) and a pack of blades: if you Google around some you can probably find just the razor for a bit less money.

Although the Weishi comes with a pack of blades, its always good to have a variety to try: all blades are not made the same and what works for one person may not work for another. Merkur blades are generally regarded as the ‘baseline.’ Of course this item could be deleted to save some money.

Finally, a shave soap. Col. Conk generally provides a pleasant lather and comes in a variety of scents. If you want to shave a couple dollars off, look around locally (in the US) for Van Der Hagen shave soaps: the “Glycerin” version is basically the same and goes for under US $2 (there’s also a “Deluxe” version for a little over US $2).

So, an inexpensive traditional wetshave setup with new products for under US $50. Now, I’m not endorsing any of this. I merely present this to illustrate that its possible to put together a relatively inexpensive gift set.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts


9 thoughts on “An Inexpensive Beginner's Set Up”

  1. OK, I am going to give shaving with a DE razor a try! I’ve been a cartridge wet shaver for years (Mach3, usually just drugstore foams, though ore recently some Burt’s Bees cream without a brush, which requires too much to get any kind of lather).
    After reading everything I could find, going back and forth and back and forth on how much too spend (I was just about to pull the trigger on top-of-line Baxter/Muhle set at Costco at a great discount, but still pricey), I finally placed an order. Took a slightly different approach than described above, but still seems very affordable by comparison.
    Razor – the Weishi just didn’t instill confidence in me (seems similar to the Van Der Hagen at Target) so I got the Edwin Jagger Kelvin ($28.55) available only through Amazon. It looks like their answer to the Merkur HD as it appears to have the same weight/dimensions with the R89 head. Comes with 5 Derby blades so I didn’t see the need to purchase any others right away.
    Brush – rather than the Tweezerman, which has many detractors, I went with the Omega 11047 Mighty Midget boar/badger blend ($15.50 shipped from West Coast Shaving). Lots of positive reviews out there for this one and I figure I can easily use it for travel if I move up to something else (I was on the verge of getting a WSP premium silvertip, but thought better of it for starting out).
    Cream/Soap – Grabbed some of the WSP Rustic Soap ($12.99). Also snagged 150ml of Proraso Green for a lower cost alternative ($7.89)
    All told, it comes to $51.94 with the Proraso Green Cream or $57.04 with the WSP Rustic Soap. A little more than the Weishi/Tweezerman/Col. Conk combo, but from what I can discern it looks to be a worthwhile upgrade.
    Even if I don’t stick with DE shaving, I can still use the brush and cream for my cartridge, so at most I’ll be out about $28. Looking forward to giving it a go!

  2. Leisureguy- Michael, yes, Arko is excellent and I can think of some other good ones as well, but I wanted to stick to products that were more widely available and from large sources like Amazon (for the “comfort factor”).

  3. jeremy- True, the Merkur blades get bashed around pretty good on the forums but they’re more widely available and a lot of people like them. I prefer Derby’s myself but I didn’t want to suggest a pack of 25.

  4. big jim- Well I don’t know if you’d call it “prejudice” but the boar brushes I’ve tried (including the Omega/Proraso) take twice as long to get a decent lather going, and the lather just isn’t of the same quality as even the Tweezerman brush.

  5. For an inexpensive but quite good soap that’s easy for the novice to lather, I highly recommend the Arko shave stick: $2 from, and using a shave stick is the easiest way for a novice to use sufficient soap for a good lather. (Rub the stick against the grain all over your wet beard, then use the wet brush to build the lather.)

  6. I used the VDH Deluxe today and got a very nice shave. I would think that the Conk also serves up.

    And do I smell some anti-pig prejudice? Oh Dear….

  7. graham– True, the Omega boar is another option but I think the Tweezerman provides a better experience. I’m told that VDH makes the soaps for Conk so I imagine the “recipe” is very close.

  8. I love my tweezerman brush but another often overlooked option is an Omega boar brush.

    I’d like to second the suggestion of Van der Hagen glycerine soap. Wal-mart carries it and I’ve found it preforms similarly to Conk but it doesn’t come in different scents.

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