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Does Dollar Shave Club Give You What You Pay For?

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3 razors
I think it’s safe to say that one reason many of us turned our backs (and faces) on the disposable razor industry is the disgust at having to pay what seems like a helluva lot of money for something as simple as a razor. But, over the past couple of decades, those Gillette’s and Schick’s have morphed into something that isn’t simple. It’s 3, no, 4, no, 5, blades…and “smoothing” strips? It’s got 1, no, 2, no…it’s got a battery that massages your face. What? What the hell is that for? How about you leave out the battery and stop gouging me on price?

As men (and a few ladies) across America started throwing that crap in the trash for good and going “old-school,” one company came on the market to capitalize on the anger. They were like the Tea Party without the funny hats. I’m talking about the Dollar Shave Club (DSC). Their first commercial was a minute and a half long which is too long to be aired on TV. But it’s now been viewed more than 21-million times on Youtube and I know I’ve shown everyone in my office their first commercial because it’s fricking funny. And that seems like part of the plan for the Santa Monica startup: use humor to put a spotlight on how stupid the “Big 2” have gotten when it comes to something as simple as razors.  Has it worked? The company is now valued at more than 600 million dollars and they’ve branched out to Canada and Australia.

Did I pay attention to the DSC when they first started? Nope. I had given up on the “Big 2” more than a year before. I got fed up with the crazy price of throw away blades long before the founders of DSC decided to act. But as my life continues to speed up, I find that I actually DO need a razor for a fast, one-pass, running late, shave that won’t make it look like I lost a fight with a weedwacker. A friend of mine at work, who I introduced to wet shaving, actually gave me his 4-blade razor from DSC because he was starting on his real razor blade journey. I gave it a go a couple of times when I needed a quickie. (God, what that word means to shavers is totally different than what our spouse thinks!) So I decided to get all three from their lineup and see if you really get what you pay for.

The Humble Twin

First up is their entry razor they’ve dubbed “The Humble Twin.” DSC describes it as “Reliable – this is the ’82 wagon that starts when it’s below zero.
2 blade razor 1
It’s got two blades and a lubricating strip. Basic and humble it is. I don’t think I’ve shaved with a two-blade since Basic Training and that was many moons ago. It does a decent job but the head and handle seem flimsy. I noticed that it tended to clog pretty easily and I had only gone one day without shaving. The price for the handle and 5 cartridges is $1 a month plus $2 for shipping handling. For this razor, I think you are getting what you pay for.
crappy 2 blade front
And compared to the absolute junk you can buy at the supermarket for a dollar a razor, the Humble Twin is a great buy. I always have a cheap 3 blade around to do touch up work on the face and I mistakenly bought a bag of these crappy razors for a buck a piece. If I could figure out what else they would be good for, I’d use them for that, because giving you a decent shave isn’t it. But the Humble Twin does. If you’re cheap like me, this is a pretty good bargain. But throw a little more money at DSC and you get a razor that’s much, much better than the Humble Twin.

The 4X

4 blade 2
This one they call the 4X. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it’s because it has four blades! Harvard, here I come! Just from holding it, this razor feels like a well-designed razor. It’s got some good heft and is molded really nice to fit your hand. It also rests really nicely on the side of the sink. Along with the 4 blades is a lubricating strip at the top and a rubbery thing at the bottom. DSC describes it as having a “full 90-degree pivot head that hugs the turns and surges you onward.” I’m not sure about the last part, but it does pivot very nicely. It’s got an open-back design so it rinses very easily. I used this razor off and on for a couple of months. I was pretty impressed with the shave it gave me and I could see that while you get 4 carts a month for $6, with free shipping and handling, this was a really good deal. I think you could easily make one blade last a week. The only drawback was the distance between the blades and the top of the head made it difficult to judge where to start shaving the sideburns so they’d be even and it made getting under the nose difficult. But the guys at DSC aren’t dummies!

The Executive

6 blade front
They created what they’ve dubbed “The Executive” and this one is my favorite of the three. While the 4X is black and white with a chrome strip on each side of the handle, the Executive has a nice chrome, blue and subdued gray handle that gives it a look like the most expensive of the Big 2. It’s got even more heft to it than the 4x, but isn’t overbalanced one way or another and is still easy to use. It fits very nicely in my hand and feels comfortable. And better yet, this sucker’s got 6 blades! I was pretty surprised by that. I don’t know why but anything over 5 always seemed to be overkill. But hey! They’re offering it, so I grabbed a month’s worth. This razor and blade costs $9 a month, free shipping and handling. It gave me a really comfortable shave and the blades never got clogged and rinsed really easily. The razor head is pretty good sized and like the 4X, there’s a decent amount of room between the blades and the top of the razor. So, to me, it had the same challenge of trying to figure out where to start the shave on the sideburns so they’re even. But the boys at DSC thought of that too. On the back, there’s this:
6 blade back 1
This is the one blade they’ve put on the back. They call it a “special trimmer.” I call it common sense. I need that sucker to even up the ‘burns, get right under the old schnoz and right around my piehole. That’s what I really like about this razor. Even when I’m using my Super Adjustable or Fatboy, I’ve always got a cheap cart razor to do a little fine-tuning on the face. The last expensive cart I bought, which was 5 years ago I believe, came with this feature. I thought it was awesome. The one of the Big 2 that makes that razor sells it and a couple of blades for around $10. But like any dealer, once they get you hooked, that’s when they stick it to you. 4 refill blades can run you anywhere from $18 to $30.  And it’s that kind of crap that has tens of thousands of people trying out Dollar Shave Club. The CEO said in an interview that they’re seeing 50,000 new customers a month. While that number does seem high, when you look at the numbers the Big 2 want you to pay for a good cart razor and especially the blades, I don’t think he’s too far off the mark. Are you getting what you pay for with DSC? Without hesitation I say YES. Are their blades f*cking great? That’s for you to decide but I will say they’re on par with the stuff that costs twice or three times as much. Plus you get the feeling that the shave you’re getting is kind of an act of defiance against the two companies that once made real razors for shaving…before they turned their back on us and started hawking cartridges at ridiculous prices.

Related Posts:
Dollar Shave Club: How F**king Great Is It?
Dollar Shave Club’s Post Shave

Jay Harrell

Jay Harrell

14 thoughts on “Does Dollar Shave Club Give You What You Pay For?”

  1. Old article, but interesting. I tried to leave cartridges, but didn’t have time to invest in DE, which seemed to take more time (hey, life is hectic). I went to Dollar Shave Club. I was coming off the Sensor.. a much loved razor Of mine and couldn’t bring myself to pay fusion prices. Dollar Shave was ok. I found over the years that their angle was a bit too aggressive for me. They also wore smoothly, but fairly quickly. I broke down and went Proglide. I pay more, but I get a quick, safe, effortless, decent daily shave. I also shave my head every other day. I get a month out of a cartridge easily…30 face shaved AND 15 head shaved…one cartridge. I have to say it works for me.

  2. I found dsc in the internet and for the same reason I start with the subscription, I take the executive, the shave cream and aftershave too, I don’t feel good with the quality of this razor since day one. I guess I can only back to the expensive gillete or tried the schick razor, once I buy in Costco one large pack of cartridges 5 blades of gillete and they kill my face

  3. These razors are No better than any other cut rate blades.
    I tried them and hey are crap. They also dull much faster than the premium blades.

  4. Thanks for the comment, David. I would give DSC or Harry’s a try. Both have very good razors. For DSC, the middle one is very good and the top of the is my favorite for the go to quickie razor. I live the fact that it has a single blade on the back side.

  5. The first razor I got was one of the Big Two. It quickly became a razor that I would only use every so often – doing the more regular shave with cheaper cartridge razors. When I went to college I was using the expensive one less and less and using ever cheaper cartridge razors.
    I found that the cheap ones were fine, as long as you don’t go too cheap, and as long as you were careful and slow when shaving. I’ve not used DSC as I now prefer the ease and speed of an electric shaver, but it definitely seems like a great idea if you prefer manual shaving. I’d have to try it to know whether the blades are decent enough, but given that they have different price range options there’s bound to be at least one that gives a decent shave without ripping your face, right?

  6. I have been using the DSC blades (The Executive) for the same thing – a quick hit shave, or when traveling. They do a nice job as intended. I have the deliveries coming every other month and I give the blades I don’t use to my girlfriend.
    I’ve used these blades with Zirh shave gel, which gave me a BB smooth shave every time. I’ve also used these with the regular brush and mug soap with the same result.
    I’ve even put the shipments on hold a time or two because the stock of blades had built up. They have been great with this level of club options.

  7. The whole reason I jumped to DE shaving was to avoid the high prices and produce a quality shave with manly razors and blades. Compared to DSC and their plastic parts, DE shaving is still a better value. How much did I pay for a month of shaving? 70 cents. Granted, that’s with an already purchased nickle-plated razor that feels good in the hand and you don’t have to worry you grabbed your wife’s razor by mistake. But do the math – 70 cents compared to $9; no club membership needed.
    For a disposable to use around my ears and nose, I use a Gillette Guard. Specially made for the coarse beard in India, it’s sharp, rinses well, the head pivots well, and is the best inexpensive disposable. YMMV. You won’t be able to buy it off the shelf in America; Gillette won’t compete against their own expensive carts. Order it online.

  8. Of course you CAN get a perfect shave with a cartridge razor, but it will be a chore, takes little time or skill, and deprives me and my scuttle of an important part of the day. There are efficient electric razors too , but they’re no fun either.

    1. How does a cartridge razor deprive you of your scuttle? While I prefer DE shaving to cartridge shaving, I use the same prep tools, no matter what razor I choose (badger brush, great lather, sometimes my scuttle, etc..)
      And you say getting a good shave with a cartridge is a chore, but at the same time requires no skill. Kinda like digging a ditch, I guess? Actually, I believe, for most people, it’s easier to get a good shave using a good cartridge razor–partially because it requires very little skill. And I found, becoming proficient with a DE razor helped my cartridge shaves. Some of what I learned was transferable.

      1. Dean,
        I still use the same equipment about 90% of the time when I’m using a cart. The only difference is that I have several soap cakes that I got in N.C. and use one directly on my face and then lather with a brush, but no scuttle. But that’s when I’m busting butt to get out the door to work, church, happy hour, etc. 🙂

  9. I’m a little surprised that the fact that the Razors are Dorco, and can be purchased for less money direct wasn’t mentioned. Some people may love the “Club” idea, but personally I would rather buy them as I need them. I’m more curious how the cancellation process is. If it’s like the old Colombia house record club, I’d rather pass.

    1. Matt,
      I checked with the Dorco website, and while the blades may be a bit cheaper, the startup kit, what Dorco calls the “Combo” is more expensive. As for canceling, it’s very easy. I’m not a shill for DSC, but it’s not like the Columbia House Record Club. Trust me, those dudes badgered me across several continents!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. It is absolutely not true that you can’t get a fantastic shave with cartridge razors. I read comments by so many traditional shavers about how terrible carts are. Well, maybe for some they are, but it’s not the case for everyone. (BTW, this is just general commentary, not necessarily directed at the author of this post.) If you switched over to traditional shaving because the cartridge prices are outrageous, fine, but just ended at that if you were getting along fine shaving-wise with a cartridge. I always got superb shaves with a Mach 3, I just got fed up with their prices. Gillette actually makes some pretty good blades, even their disposable razors have good blades; they just want way too much of your money (off-brand disposable, though, are another story). Besides, some folks are never going to want to learn how to shave with a DE razor, so that’s where DSC and Harry’s can really be a bargain for those who prefer cartridge razors–and there’s nothing wrong with that!
    As far as other content in this post: with proper mastery of a DE razor you will absolutely never need a cartridge razor for clean-up or to shave under the nose, mouth, or properly trim sideburns. I used to think that it could never happen, but it can. Even for quick, “running late” shaves, a DE is all you need. Just lather straight to the face (if using a brush) to avoid wasting time with a bowl and minimize clean up. Again, though, it requires real mastery of the DE razor. When you can quit relying on another type of razor and can shave quickly without shredding your face, that’s when you know you’ve arrived.
    Lastly, “overbalanced” is not a thing. Something is either balanced, or it’s not. Something cannot be over-balanced; if it’s balanced, it’s balanced and that is it. I think the author was trying to say/imply the razor is neither top- or bottom-heavy. In which case, that should be the proper wording. At worst, state that the weight is balanced more towards either the top/head or bottom/handle. In reality, though, whether a razor FEELS or IS balanced is subjective depending on a point of reference. If you put it on a fulcrum, the razor will have a single balance point along its length and be un-balanced at all other points. So whether a razor feels balanced really depends on how the user holds it and personal preference.

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