Are Expensive Razor Blades Really Worth It?
At one point or another we've all gone into a pharmacy to buy razor blades and, depending on the store, the neighborhood and the time of day, have been presented with some sort of anti-theft mechanism. Yes, it is s sad reality that razors are now kept under lock and key, bolted to a wireless sensor or behind bullet-proof glass. Or all three. At $30 and up, a six or 10 pack of Gillette Mach 3 blades is now a line item on you monthly budget sheet. How did we get here? Are these fancy blades really worth the money? Do I need special blades for my skin type? Do I even need to shave anymore? The answers, in order, are 1) unlikely, 2) Maybe and 3) probably not.
I remember the old days when shaving was a must. I wore a tie to work every day (except Fridays during the summer! What a perk!), I showered, shaved, put on a pressed shirt and fought my way to work via the NYC subway. Having a clean shaven face was essential to giving off the right image when sitting through client meeting or buttering up you boss. By 7pm, knocking back drink at the local bar with a bit of stubble seemed like the only way. But, youth is wasted on the young. I worked in advertising and was even tasked to research the wet/dry shaver market for a new client pitch, and we ended up winning the business. As a reward for all the hard work, we all got a fancy electric razor that would work in the shower. You lathered up, shaved your face, and then rinsed it in the shower. Voila! It worked sort of, and while quite convenient I never got used to using it. I was told by the client that it took a week or so for 'your face to get used to it.' But my face never got used to it and I stuck with shaving the old fashioned way, with a razor. But I was working at an ad agency, and expensive blades drove me nuts. Sure, they did the best job, and if you combines fancy 3 or 5 blade razors with the right shave cream and after shave, well, it was a glorious thing. But inevitably I would tray and stretch the lifetime of the cartridge and ended up scraping my face with dull blades with the little comfort strip worn down to nothing. I tried different brands - Gillette, Schick, Bic, Wilkinson, etc - but on a per shave basis, it all kind of added up to the same thing. A great shave was pricey, so how much for a 'decent' shave? Enter Dollar Shave Club, Harry's and the era of razor blade clubs and well, for me it ruined shaving altogether.
So here is my advice for surviving and perhaps even winning the blade wars:
1) Look for coupons and discount codes. If you shave a lot and are willing to spend real money on blades, you might as well take advantage of the blade wars and save a little money. But be prepared to deal with cancelling subscriptions and swapping back and forth between brands.
2) Chances are your face is tougher than you think, and a lessor blade will not hurt your skin. Plus, a few days growth between shaves is a good way to get rid of ingrown hairs
3) Invest in an inexpensive trimmer like this one from Conair. You can add life to whatever blade you use by safely using a beard trimmer without an attachement to take your stubble all the way down. Then finish off with a blade.
4) Do the math. if you shave twice a week and can squeeze two uses from a Bic disposable razor, then you're golden. You really don't need to buy expensive Gillette multi-blade cartridges, and you don't need to worry about making sure the cartridge fits the handle. You can get a Bic value pack with 30 razors for about $13.00, which will last 5 to 6 months and equip you with some easy travel options.
Times are hard, don't make your razor purchase decision hard too. Go with the convenience and cost efficiency of disposable razor and you'll forget about the anti-theft, over the top costs of premium cartridges.