Get an Edge on Razor Manufacturers: 8 Strategies to Save on Shaving

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Most men take little joy in shaving. Keeping a clean-shaven face is an obligation — a chore that’s necessary for maintaining a professional appearance on the job, and perhaps to maintain some semblance of attractiveness to one’s significant other. Having to pay an exorbitant amount in order to handle one’s own chores is what fuels the idea that razors are one of life’s most annoying rip-offs. Are there ways to make grooming less grating?

The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that, if nothing else, the rise of Dollar Shave Club and other upstart companies eager to challenge the major brands demonstrates that consumers are eager for cheaper, more sensible alternatives to paying upwards of $4 per razor blade. Courtesy of the Journal:

“There’s clearly almost a backlash among shavers, among razor users, about the price of a man’s razor,” Sanford C. Bernstein consumer products analyst Ali Dibadj said. “Over the past 40 to 50 years you haven’t had more volume growth in this category, there aren’t more razor blades than years ago … it’s all through pricing.”

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There’s no shortage of money-saving techniques suggested by folks who are sickened by increasingly fancy, increasingly expensive razors and blades. Here are a few of the strategies that some men swear by:

1. Sharpen Razors on Blue Jeans
Similar to the way that barbers sharpen old-fashioned blades using a leather strap, there are many proponents of pairing up any modern razor with a regular pair of jeans. After shaving, you push the razor along denim for 10 or 20 strokes in the reverse direction that you shave. Here’s one of the videos created to demonstrate the technique, which is meant to keep your blade sharp and make it last longer:

2. Sharpen Razors on Your Forearm
Instead of stroking your razor along denim jeans, a forearm can also do the trick. As the video below demonstrates — warning: it’s a little creepy because the dude is shirtless — one’s forearm can be used to sharpen razor blades, and there’s little reason to worry you’ll cut your arm, or wind up with a hair-free arm for that matter.

(PHOTOS: The World Beard and Mustache Championships)

3. Dry Razors After Every Use
Water and dampness can make razors rust and cause them to dull more rapidly, so it makes sense to keep your blades as dry as possible. Personal-finance guru Clark Howard has been able to get 12 months or more use out of a single disposable razor just by blotting it dry on a towel after every use. Others have suggested blow-drying your razors, propping them in front of a fan, and/or drying them upside down in order to get more use out of them.

4. Clean Razors After Every Use
If there’s one thing that’ll kill a razor as quickly as water, it’s hair, grime and leftover shaving cream. Simply put, a clean razor will be a longer-lasting razor. One strategy for cleaning razors is to scrub it with an old toothbrush, which has a bonus effect cheapskates have to love: it also makes use of a toothbrush that otherwise would have wound up in the trash. Toothbrushes are suggested as effective cleaning tools for electric razor heads as well.

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5. Switch to Store Brand Razors
CVS and other chains sell their own brand of fancy three- and five-blade razors, and unsurprisingly, they’re much less expensive than the Gillettes and Schicks of the world. Perhaps more surprisingly, people who have tested the cheaper razors say store brands give a decent shave, though opinions on the subject vary quite a bit.

6. Use Coupons
The Sunday circulars and coupon websites are often filled with coupons for razors and shaving products. Gillette and other companies also release their own coupons from time to time, via their websites and e-newsletters. Just be warned: often, these coupons are designed to get you hooked on a particular brand of razor, and the replacement cartridges can cost a small fortune.

7. Join Dollar Shave Club
The offbeat startup DollarShaveClub.com isn’t the cheapest shaving possibility out there, but the least expensive option is very reasonable — a month’s worth of two-bladed razors for $3 ($1 plus $2 shipping), and the automatic delivery is certainly convenient. The company’s viral advertising campaign is also hilarious:

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8. Just Stop Shaving
Going bearded works for hipsters and pro athletes like San Francisco Giants’ closer Brian Wilson, and there are also indications that men are more likely to respect men with beards.

Alas, unfortunately, women tend to find men with beards less attractive than guys with clean-shaven faces. But at least you’ll be saving money on razors!

Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

6 comments
kcwookie
kcwookie

I dumped cartridge razors for old school double edge safety razor. I purchased a good quality razor and am trying the various blades to see which one works the best. My cost for a shave is less than 5¢ and usually about 3¢ per shave. Each blade lasts about 3-4 days, with the longest one lasting 8 days, I finally gave up and retired it. I get a better shave at a fraction of the cost. 

SteveBlazo
SteveBlazo

Uuuuuh, as far as "sharpening" blades on blue jeans or our foreams (what??) like old-school barbers used to use a leather strap is absurd.  

They used a leather strap to de-burr the razor--to smooth it, take off any rough points out, so you wouldn't get knicked.  

How would leather ever sharpen a blade????

It actually dulled it and evened it out the "points.".

palmercd90
palmercd90

If you're in the UK another alternative is www.razormale.co.uk

nicmart
nicmart

I decided to keep the cost down by shaving with an electric razor and then a twin blade when I need it closer. An entirely new blade head for the electric costs less than $25/year on the Internet. That people will spend such fantastic sums on multi-blade razors reveals mass stupidity, bluntly.

amodel8591
amodel8591

@SteveBlazo: Years ago I did leather work as a hobby.  I had what was called a carving knife to carve patterns into leather in a technique called tooling.  Anyway I kept it sharp by rubbing the blade on a piece of leather that was treated with jewelers rouge (kind of like a super fine rubbing compound).  It really worked.