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Dollar Shave Club Vs Harry’s – And The Winner Is…

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[Click/tap here for an updated discussion that includes the new Dollar Shave Club razor vs. Harry’s] Dollar Shave Club (DSC) razors vs. Harry’s razors.  For decades, only a few companies sold cartridge razors but they had a tight grip on the market. As prices went up, the only options, it seemed, was to shell out $3 or $4 per cartridge, or dump the entire concept and go with traditional wet shaving. Or grow out your beard like Grizzly Adams. But since the hipster movement wasn’t born yet, many felt like they had those two options. Then…these two companies came on the scene. Both offered cartridge razors and basic products for those who usually shopped with giants like Gillette, Schick, or Bic. 

Dollar Shave Club vs. Harry’s Razors Company Backgrounds

[Note: Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, and Target links are affiliate.]

Dollar Shave Club made its name with a pretty hilarious spot that claimed their blades were “f**cking great.” Their main message was: “stop paying too much for razors.” It seemed like a bit of a novel idea at the time. Back in 2012, the majority of men bought their cartridges at the store, sometimes probably choking a bit on the $3-4 per razor cartridge price. DSC promised to change that by offering a subscription service. 

Harry’s went with a more sophisticated message. They bought a German razor blade-making company and went the route of affordability and style. They also offered a subscription service but their main message was: “high-quality cartridges for a reasonable price.” 

Over the next several years, their messages resonated and their businesses grew. Dollar Shave Club was bought by Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion. Harry’s was nearly bought in 2019 by Edgewell, who owns Schick. The Federal Trade Commission axed the deal. It did put the value of Harry’s at $1.4 billion. 

So these two are now heavyweights in the cartridge shaving world. Let’s see how they match up in a head to head competition. 

Razor Handles

Dollar Shave Club Handle

DSC has several handles in their lineup, but for this comparison, I will use The Executive in this match-up.  It is their top tier handle, with a price point of $8. 

Harry’s Razor Handle

Harry’s originally only had one handle, the Truman. It costs $9. But as the company grew, it added the Winston. The Winston has a die-cast zinc body and is described as “weighty” on their website. It runs $20. I will be using the standard Harry’s handle for this head-to-head comparison. 


Dollar Shave Club (Front) & Harry’s (Rear)

Side by side, or head to head it’s easy to see the difference between the two. Harry’s is aiming for a simple and clean look. DSC’s handle, which it sources from South Korean Company Dorco, is along the line of Gillette and Schick, with chrome, gray, and blue making up the decently heavy handle.  

Weight, Balance, And Ergonomics

Both handles have decent weight and are evenly balanced. Harry’s says theirs has a “weighted core…it feels good in the hand, like a fine fountain pen.” DSC says theirs is made of “heavy-weight aluminum.” Each allows for a firm grip. The Harry’s has indentations in the rubber handle to keep it from slipping. The original handle that I received in early 2016 had more of a “plastic” feel to it. I shopped at Target and picked up their new one.  The DSC handle is definitely modern with grooves and notches to keep it from slipping. While both razor heads pivot, I find DSC’s feels like the blades are staying in better contact with the skin on curves. 

In this part of the head to head, I lean slightly towards The Executive handle from DSC. The Executive is curved more towards the cartridge, while the Harry’s is fairly straight. The majority of cartridge razors have a head that angles down at the end. I believe it’s to simulate the angle of shaving with a safety razor. This is going to really come down to what you are most comfortable with. I have shaved with each many, many times and I always like the feel of the DSC handle. This is going to be a situation where your personal preference will help you decide which you like best.

Harry’s vs. Dollar Shave Club: Blade Cartridges

Harry’s Cartridge

This is where the two companies differ greatly. While Harry’s has marketed its German factory as the source for all its blades, it only offers one cartridge. It has five blades in front, with a trimmer blade on the back. It has a lubricating strip at the top. Over the years, I have relied on it many times for a shave and have never been disappointed. It does seem to tug just a little bit if I go more than two days without shaving. 

Over at DSC, they now have a total of five different carts. Two are sold in stores, while the original three, the Humble Twin, the 4X and The Executive, round out the lineup. I actually have all three (and I also tried the in-store versions.  More on that later. I don’t use the 4X much, and the Humble Twin is at work for those “geez, how did I miss THAT spot?” moments. 

July, 2022 Update: What’s new is there are reports on some social media sites that the Humble Twin is no longer being sold. I reached out to DSC and was told to make sure you sign into your account before trying to order the HT. If you go to their website to look at blades, the HT doesn’t show up as an option. You can fill your basket, sign up to be a member, and never see the Humble Twin. My advice? If you like DSC’s cheapest offering, stock up.

Dollar Shave Club Cartridge

Out of those three, The Executive is worthy of the title in this lineup. It has six blades and what DSC calls an “aloe lube strip” at the top. Very smooth, not aggressive and definitely leaves a “baby’s butt smooth” (BBS) shave, whether it’s on the face or on the head. 

That last point, head shaving, is something Harry’s says their razor cartridge should not be used for. It actually says it on the website and on the packaging. I have shaved my head dozens of times and it has never been an issue. On the face, I have never noticed a difference, shaving with five blades compared to the DSC Executive. 

Cartridge Design And Life Considerations

As for how long each lasts, I have not had a razor cartridge from either company where the blades dulled quickly. I have gone through periods where these two products are all I have used on my head and face and I have gotten at least a week out of each. That is what DSC recommends, but I have shaved for a week and a half and both company’s products have held up well. 

The one criticism I do have with Harry’s design is how their cartridge connects to the head of the handle. With their original handle, it was not an issue. I did buy another Harry’s handle at Target about a year after my first article and did notice the design had changed.


Harry’s Cartridge Can Come Off

I discovered that made the cartridge fairly easy to pull off. While it does have a release mechanism, the cartridge can disconnect easily. Granted, you have to pull on it, but I have had that happen when I was shaving my head and a couple of times while face shaving when I tapped the razor against the side of the sink.  The DSC has a “double hook” system that clamps onto the cart. I had one, years ago, that came off several times, but I chalk that up to a flaw in that cartridge and not a design issue. 

Dollar Shave Club vs. Harry’s Razors When It Comes To Price?

This is where both companies have made their mark in their quest to take on the high-priced offerings from Gillete and Schick. Harry’s has the “buy more, save more” feature. Four carts cost $2.25 each for a total of $9. Buy eight and it drops to $8 and bulk buy 16 and the price is $1.88. Then set up an auto refill and Harry’s will knock off 6%. They also offer a “core membership” for $15 a year. This lets you save 10% on their site, free engraving and other benefits. Engraving? Yep. That is another thing that sets Harry’s apart from DSC. They are working to create a feeling of sophistication. This is a company that is going for the “club” feel without being pushy or making it feel tacky. 

Dollar Shave Club, which launched itself as the home of the “Refills for a Buck”, has kept up that pricing, with a 5 pack of the Humble Twin for $4. The 4X cartridge is 4 for $8 and the Executive is 4 for $10. One of their sayings is “a Fresh Blade Shave”, meaning that if you change carts once a month, have a monthly subscription, you will have a fresh blade every week. Like Harry’s, the more you buy, the more you save. Shipping is free when blades are being ordered and you can add more to your next shipment and DSC will give you a percentage off. 

July, 2022 Update: I received an email awhile back from DSC stating that if an order of blades is under $18, a $2 shipping fee will be added. The company said that it is because of supply chain costs that have risen. If your order is under $18 and doesn’t include blades, they’re tacking on a $4 shipping fee. That’s going to make your whole body wash and moisturizer pretty pricey unless you hit the magic $18 limit, then it’s free shipping galore. With Harry’s, their threshold for free
shipping is a bit higher, at $25 across the board, no matter if you’re ordering blades, brightening eye cream or scalp scrub.

Shaving Products

When I received my Harry’s shaving kit to review here on Sharpologist, the box included everything I needed to shave with, including shave gel. If my memory is correct, the company may have had a couple of other shaving products but not a huge lineup. Harry’s has expanded their offerings of shave-related products to include a shave cream, post-shave balm and a post-shave mist. 

DSC has done the same with a shaving cream, gel, a shave butter and several post-shave offerings. 

Other Products

Both companies have branched out from just offering shaving blade cartridges and handles. DSC’s lineup expanded since it was bought by Unilever in 2016. They now offer everything from cologne and deodorant and toilet wipes, to “ball spray”, anti-dandruff shampoo and even dental floss. The marketing idea seems to be a “one-shop stop” mentality.  Why else would there be so many options?

Harry’s is going for the same idea, with a similar assortment of hair, face and body products. It does offer scented candles and even boxer shorts and hats. 

Expanding From Online To In-Store

In 2017, after my first article on Harry’s, I saw a display in Target. That was where I picked up my newer handle and picked up the blades that had the trimmer blade on the back added to the cart. That was the first time I had spotted the products anywhere but online. Now, both are in stores from coast to coast. Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and others now carry shaving and more products from Harry’s and DSC. If I was shaving daily with either of these, that would be a good thing, in case I ran out or forgot to reorder something. 

Dollar Shave Club Online Razors vs. In-Store Razors: They Are Different!

But, here’s where it can get confusing with Dollar Shave Club. It has a separate set of razors and carts that it only sells in stores. It looks somewhat similar to the regular six-blade razor and cart. The problem? The website does not sell these cartridges. In fact, on the “blades” page of the DSC site, it has this  on the page:

DSC Compatibility Warning

How many orders did they have to exchange to realize it had to be crystal clear that the blades were not the same? I am sure there is a marketing or business model that shows having two different but similar products makes sense. More foot traffic into those stores? I do not know, but more than once I have almost bought the blades at the store before remembering it will not fit the handle I have.  

I decided to try the store DSC six-blade razor and see how it stacks up against the Executive. I went to Walmart and while looking at the box, saw the package stated “Test drive both our blades.” Both the six and the four blade carts fit the same handle. Since I did not want to try the four-blade, I bought the package that had just the six-blade and a handle. It was $9.97, which is cheaper than what Gillette, or Schick offers and the same as the Harry’s at Walmart. Each of those only have a five-blade option. The refills for Dollar Shave Club are $9.97 for four six-blade carts. That is at least a couple of dollars cheaper than the other big names and a bit more than Harry’s. But with Dollar Shave being a six-blade, I think it’s fair. 

From the look of the handle, it appears Dollar Shave Club had moved to a different supplier from what Dorco offers. It is more subdued than the shiny aluminum of the Executive. 

It has raised ridges along the areas where your hand would grip it on the sides, under and the top. The weight is good and balanced. But it is not the handle that convinced me to stick with the online razor subscription model. 

I am not impressed with the six-blade razor cartridge itself. It is thin, with a design completely different from the Executive series. While I did get a smooth shave out of it on my face and head, it didn’t feel like it was as smooth as the Executive six-blade. It is lighter than the Executive blade and that could be the difference I felt. The in-store cartridge does have a trimmer blade, but it is set back into the cart, apparently for safety. To do any kind of edging, I had to put the cartridge at an extreme angle to use it. I prefer the online cartridge from both Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s because the trimmer is designed to be used easily and at the same angle you would normally shave. 

Another feature that differs from the online version is the cartridge does go back to the vertical. I am used to the handle having I use my wrist to shave at the angle I want, not having it bend on a hinge to where it is parallel with the surface of the skin. 

Having tried the in-store version and the online shaver, I would recommend The Executive over the brick and mortar version. Since the replacement carts are nearly the same price ($0.03 cheaper at Walmart), I think the online cartridge is a much better buy. I do understand that if you want to compete with someone, do it on their turf, i.e. in brick and mortar stores where Gillette and Schick probably sell the majority of their shaving products. But I do not believe DSC is competing, in this instance, with their best. 

Dollar Shave Club vs. Harry’s Razors – Conclusion

These two companies, in less than a decade, have carved a substantial niche for themselves in the world of shaving. Plus both have expanded their product line to appeal to a broader base of customers, both online and in the traditional brick-and-mortar stores, even if they are massive chains. Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s did this to cut down how much shavers had to pay for each cart, and I say they have accomplished that goal. 

If you’re wondering what my choice is, I lean a little more towards the DSC The Executive. I like the feel of the handle and the angle of the blades. Both are hitting right on the mark for what they are aiming for: a good shave experience that’s cheaper than what many were paying nearly a decade ago. 

Jay Harrell

Jay Harrell

2 thoughts on “Dollar Shave Club Vs Harry’s – And The Winner Is…”

  1. Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

    A friend of mine is a regular Harry’s user when he travels. (Otherwise he uses a DE setup.) He’s been quite happy, so sent me a free razor when they had some sort of “give one to a friend” special.

    I could only use it once. It was, without question, the absolute worst razor I’ve ever used. Worse than dollar store cheapie disposable razors, IMO. I was shocked how horrendous it was. But that was my experience. There is no way I’d switch from a Fusion for that, if I was still using a cartridge razor.

    1. After reading “the dean’s” comment I was more than a little concerned and almost didn’t buy Harry’s though I needed a new razor. Frankly, I was fed up with the how quickly the Fusion razors wore out and how expensive they are. In a casual conversation with a friend I was convinced that I should at least try it; the price was right. Imagine my surprise after realizing that Harry’s is much better than the famous Fusion. It is superior in almost every aspect: A much smoother and closer shave, and to my astonishment it lasts at least twice as long. I’m still using it after a dozen close shaves with no pulling or razor burn! The handle seems a little less sturdy and lighter, but it feels perfectly adequate after a month’s use. No issues.

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