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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.