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7 tips to cut the cost of shaving by 50% or more

From cheaper blades to better maintenance, there are simple things you can do to cut the cost of a close shave.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 31, 2013 11:43AM

This post comes from Angela Brandt and Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

MTN logoThe cost of getting a close shave is enough to make you sport a beard or, in the case of women, hairy legs.

Razors and blades have gotten so expensive, you'll now often see them either behind glass or affixed with an alarm at the store.

Why do disposable blades cost so much? It's not because they're expensive to produce. From a 2010 article in Forbes describing Gillette owner Proctor & Gamble:

Gillette (Mach3, Fusion, Venus) and Braun have higher operating margins than P&G’s overall business and any of its other brands. This is driven in part by low manufacturing cost of razors and blades sold.

Of course, you don't need Forbes to tell you that blades like the Gillette Fusion sell for multiples of their cost of manufacture. A glance tells you they probably cost pennies to make, and even discount retailers sell them for $3.50.

Fortunately, you don't have to look like a member of the Taliban to fight back against the high cost of a clean shave.

If there's ever a time to buy generic, this is it

Know why Gillette advertises so heavily? That's the only way to convince you to spend $3.50 to buy something that costs a fraction of that to make. Don't do it.

In "A penny shaved is a penny earned," Neal Templin of The Wall Street Journal swapped his three-blade Gillette razor for a similar version from CVS. Here's what he had to say:

The Gillette might have given me a slightly closer shave than the CVS razor. I really can't say for sure. I can't tell the difference between a great shave and good one. But I can tell the difference between paying $2.50 and $1.25. So, I'm sticking with the CVS razor. Until I find something cheaper.

Safety first

The upfront cost of a traditional safety razor is much higher than its plastic counterpart. The savings come with the blade refills, which can cost less than 50 cents a pop.

A new safety razor can set you back $25 and up, depending on how fancy you like it. But there's no reason to buy new. Look at a thrift shop or yard sale and you’ll probably find one for less than a buck.

The swap might be rewarding for more than your budget. From an article called "How to shave like your grandpa" by the Art of Manliness:

Switching from a cheap disposable razor to a double-edged safety razor is like upgrading from a Pinto to a Mercedes. A safety razor is a machine. It's nice holding a piece of heavy, sturdy metal in your hand while you're shaving as opposed to a piece of cheap-o plastic.

Delivered to your door for less

You may have seen the YouTube video of a snarky CEO asking, "Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back-scratcher and 10 blades? Dollar Shave Club delivers discounted razors to your doorstep."

While Dollar Shave Club is one option, you can probably do better. Lifehacker did a story called "Forget Dollar Shave Club; buy the same high quality razors for a third of the price." Their suggestion? Buy your blades from a cheaper online source, like Dorco USA. It sells a handle and 10 six-blade cartridges for less than $15.

Razor (© atrendo images/Getty Images/Getty Images)Shave like a man, even if you're not one

One tip for women from blogger Edward Antrobus is to never purchase the feminine versions of razors.

On a recent shopping trip, I did a side-by-side comparison of men's and women's three-blade disposable razors: the Mach3 for men's and Venus for women's. There were two differences. The first was color. The Mach3 was a manly black while the Venus is pink. The other difference was the end of the handle. The Venus has a wider spot at the bottom, like a thumb print. And the three-pack of women's razors costs $6 more.

Do the same comparison yourself wherever you shop and see if pretty pink is costing you a pretty penny.

Now that we've cut through the high cost of blades, let's talk about extending the life of whatever blades you end up with.

Wet your whiskers

Splashing the hair with hot water prior to shaving helps to soften it. This extends the life of your blade by lessening the friction and makes for a closer shave.

Baby your blades

After shaving, clean your blades with an old toothbrush. Dry after every use, preferably with a blow-dryer to get between the blades. Moisture is the enemy of any sharp edge. Using rubbing alcohol will also eliminate moisture, as well as sanitize your blades.

You can also keep your blades from oxidizing by coating them with baby or mineral oil. Other coatings/treatments we've seen mentioned: grape seed oil, almond oil, vinegar or even what the professionals use to keep their blades sanitary and corrosion-free: Barbicide.

Yes, you can sharpen disposable razors

Keep your blades sharp with a new take on an old-school idea: a strop.

Grab a pair of blue jeans and run the razor along the fabric in the opposite direction you shave. Do this about 20 or so times. The rough fabric sharpens the blade. You can see this idea in action in this YouTube video. The author claims he uses the same disposable blade for more than six months.

What tricks have you found to save on shaving?

More on Money Talks News:

Jul 31, 2013 2:43PM
blades, ok..but the real and fundamental savings is in using a shaving brush and mug rather than other lather options.  Cheaper to buy, plus softens the beard better (hot lather, with lanolin-rich lubricating soap), which extends the life and comfort of whatever kind of blade you use.  Softer beard equals better shave, even with a antique razor w/ replaceable blades.  I'll save on soap but stick to my expensive blades, since old guys can't find the safety in safety razor due to facial time lines, scars, etc. that get snagged by the corners of replaceable blades.  There's a reason people abandoned these bloodletters enmasse when something better came along!
Aug 1, 2013 6:33AM

Stop using shaving cream, you do not need it and you will not  tear up your face if you don’t use it.


I haven’t use shaving cream in years and get a better shave without it, and I rarely ever get cut or nicked.

Aug 1, 2013 12:36PM

Try shaving in the shower with Dove soap instead of shaving cream. 


Dove is moisturizes the skin and conditions the blades at the same time.


The shower and soap help soften the whiskers and a new blade lasts about three months!

Aug 1, 2013 12:27PM

I've discovered over the years that if I use shaving creme sold by the maunfacturer of the blades that the blades are dull within 7 to 10 uses.  The same blades, however, will last up to 30 uses or more when I shave with cold creme.  Several family members have had the same observation.  It makes you wonder if there's an ingredient in the shave creme that speeds up the corrosion of the blade.

Jul 31, 2013 10:01PM

If you find you're fighting a little extra growth, say after a weekend of not shaving, washing your face with your shampoo and conditioner will soften your whiskers and make your shave more comfortable.

Jul 31, 2013 11:48PM
I spent my entire working life on el-cheapo razors and they worked fine and lasted relatively long. that I'm retired, have gotten a little lazy and don't shave every day (I tell everyone the unshaved macho look is in), I get the disposable, "sensitive," Gillette Mach 3 triple-blade razors because they last for a couple months and take off a few days growth of beard without the friction and potential chafing a week-or-so-old single-blade or double-blade razor often does.

Since you can get them in 14-packs at warehouse stores ($25 at Costco and often with a $5 coupon in the monthly coupon mailer) and that pack lasts two years, 83 cents a month is still a fairly cheap deal.

Jan 17, 2014 7:17AM
I've tried some of the advices, but few months ago I bought a Razorpit because a friend of mine told me his blades have lasted a lot longer since he started using it. It's pretty much the same as the jeans idea, it sharpens and cleanses your blades by running the used blade down the razorpit'ssurface. This little product has saved me a lot, and I think of it as a more efficient and smooth alternative to using your jeans.
Aug 1, 2013 12:46PM
Any business deserves to make a fair profit. In turn people are employed, company stays in business, pays taxes (hopefully), shareholders make dividends, new and better products are offered. In the case of Gillette, since they were sold to P & G, the price of blades has gone through the roof. Sadly my wife still purchases her Venus blades at Costco however I now shave with an electric. 
Aug 1, 2013 12:05AM
"Know why Gillette advertises so heavily? That's the only way to convince you to spend $3.50...I can't tell the difference between a great shave and good one. But I can tell the difference between paying $2.50 and $1.25."

But apparently you can't comparison shop.  A pack of 14 Gillette disposable, sensitive, Mach 3, triple-blade razors costs $25 at Costco and there's often a $5 off coupon in Costco's monthly mailer.  $1.43 for a Mach 3 beats $1.25 for a shorter-life CVS razor.

Those 14 seem to last forever.  I'm on the 2nd of 14 and can't remember when I bought them - sometime last Winter, maybe in 2012 (it's now Aug. 1, 2013) though, being retired, I probably only shave 3x/week.  And if you sometimes go a few days between shaves, a month old Mach 3 slides through the stubble easily with little friction compared to a 2-week old el-cheapo razor.
Jul 31, 2013 1:18PM
Sounds as STUPID as people buying bottled water.     I bought a cheap 6-pack of disposable razors ( for  .....$1.89 ? ) maybe 5 years ago.    I think I'm on razor #2 out of the package.    Now I do have a beard, so I use my electric beard trimmer MOST of the time, but I do sometimes clean up around the edges with the disposables.    Just dry the blades off after you use them, & they last forever.    
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