As a long-time frugality enthusiast I derive particular pleasure whenever I do something that other people take for granted in a better and more frugal way. This gives me small and dependable dopamine rushes that keep my day happy and interesting.
One of the satisfactory things I do every day is to shave -in a frugal way- with better results than the average adult male.
It all starts with Gillette
If you read investment books you will most likely stumble into the story of Gillette, and how Warren Buffett liked the business model because they would basically get a commoditized object (a razor), make it “branded”, and sell it for a much higher price and margin -every month- to people that predictably needed the product.
Not being a Gillette investor, this immediately made me think that as a shaver, I was on the losing side of the trade, and I was probably throwing money away like a sheep-consumer.
Enter the mighty safety razor
When I talked about this with my father, he laughed about the fact that in the army, they would have these super-sturdy metal razors that you could recharge with a disposable blade, they look like this:
A good safety razor has several advantages over a standard disposable plastic razor (or a super-luxury Gillette), namely:
- It shaves much better and leaves a smoother surface
- It is several times cheaper than even disposable razors
- It doesn’t produce plastic garbage
- It feels fucking manly
Let’s go through the points one by one.
A safety razor is typically used with disposable metal blades in boxes of 100. You can use these blades about 2 or three times before they start cutting your skin, but they are much sharper than standard disposable razors.
They do require some skills and have a learning curve, but it’s all part of the awesomeness of this experience. Make me choose between a zero-skill, easy option, and a skill-based, better option? The choice is obvious
A good shave requires that you keep a steady and soft hand, and generally you shouldn’t shave in the opposite direction of your hair (at least not until you are experienced).
After your first shaves with a safety razor, you will definitely feel the difference: a smoother skin, no hair to be felt, and much more satisfaction
Cheaper and cleaner than plastic disposables
A good safety razor can cost you around 20-30$, or you can find very cheapo ones on ebay for much less. The point is that after this initial expense, disposable blades are much cheaper than the equivalent disposable plastic razors.
In fact, you can usually purchase a 100-blade box for around 10$, and you can use a blade for several shaves, putting your cost-per-shave in the 1 to 10c range. This is simply not possible with disposable razors.
Moreover, with disposable metal blades you are actually throwing away just the part that you use, while keeping the high-quality metal razor, and you are not polluting the environment with hundreds of shitty plastic handles: add the fact that you get to shave with an actual metal, high-craftsmanship razor and the choice is obvious.
It feels fucking manly
Last but not least, if you want to get fancy (but less frugal) you can buy a shaving brush and either dip it in shaving cream (that’s very non-frugal) or do as I do, and use it on a solid soap bar.
The end result is that you will transform your shaving routine into a pleasant ritual where you brush your skin with the soap-soaked shaving brush, then carefully proceed to shave like an alpha-male, as our grandfathers did, and it beats using plastic disposables for the sheer satisfaction that you get out of it.
What I use
My razor is an Edwin-Jagger, it striked the best balance between a luxury feel and a reasonable price. It was gifted to me together with a shaving brush and some Mr Taylor’s Shaving Cream, which I appreciated since it gave me that “ritual” feeling that got me started into the world of safety razors.
Now I don’t use shaving cream any more, but I do like using the brush to lather with soap.
The blades I use are Astra Platinum, but I’ve heard other users say they prefer other brands. I just never bothered to change since they work fine and predictably for me.