How to get a real discount shave

Over the years the major players in the razor market have added blades, redesigned handles and created all manner of bells and whistles as they’ve battled over market share. And while they’ve added blades – first two, then three, then four, then five — and lubricants, they’ve also added to the cost.

Replacement blade sets now run $4 each or more. This has prompted discount players like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s to get into the market. They’ve made shaving a little less expensive. But what they haven’t done is improve on the shave beyond what my old stand-by safety razor can deliver.

I dabbled with the multi-bladed razors over the years, but I always went back to my old Gillette safety razor. You old timers probably got one while you were in the service. They were standard issue.

A safety razor like that still gives a great shave. Because of my clumsy nature and repeated drops, my Gillette wore out a long time ago, but safety razors are still manufactured that are good quality. The new replacement I bought on Amazon a couple of years ago works just as well as my old Gillette. And in fact, you can even get the old vintage Gillette razors in good condition from sellers on Ebay or you can sometimes luck into them at antique stores.

Blades cost just pennies apiece and give you a number of good shaves without gumming up like the multi-blades do.

If you discarded your old safety razor, or came of age after they went out of style, you can buy all you need to get started for about the cost of an eight-pack of the multi-blades. Safety razors, real shaving soaps and brushes are available on Amazon. And I highly recommend you get a good shaving soap and brush. They make a world of difference.

You may want to try out different brands of blades before settling on the one you like. They are all now made overseas – even the “American” brands. And all blade brands are a little different and some work better for one person than they do for another. I still prefer the Wilkinson Sword. You can buy sample blades to try out at before deciding which works best for you.

If you’re new to a safety razor, don’t give up if your first few attempts leaves you bleeding or your skin irritated. It takes practice to learn the proper angle and pressure to use. Shave with short, easy strokes, with the grain. Buy a styptic pencil in case of nicks or cuts.

The spent blades can come in handy later. After they’ve been used to where they’re not quite good enough to shave with, blades are still exceedingly sharp, and perfect for other uses. They can strip adhesives like tape, glue and paint off several surfaces, especially glass. Put some thick tape like duct tape on one edge to protect your hands and fingers.

And you could use them in a survival kit… they could strip wires or bark, cut exceedingly small things and if they’re sharp and sterile, could help you medically, in an emergency.

Also, you can sharpen these blades so that they stay, if not in close-shave quality, very sharp for years. It’s called “stropping” and I learned about it in the service, but it’s a mostly forgotten practice. It’s just three steps:

  1. Soak blade in a little soapy water, or a cup of water with some tea tree oil in it.
  2. Let the blade dry.
  3. Run the blade in the opposite direction of your normal shave across some old denim jeans a couple of dozen times.

That’s it! Remember, you don’t want to cut the denim. Run the blade on each side opposite the shave direction and it will sharpen nicely.

Despite what Harry’s, Dollar Shave Club, Gillette’s new club and ToughBlade and all the others say, I think you’ll find the real discounted shave is with a safety razor.


Bob Livingston

By Bob Livingston

Bob Livingston has been writing most of his adult life on matters of health, nutritional supplements, natural alternatives and social importance.