Save Money With a Classic Wet Shave

by Nicholas Pell on 18 January 2012 2 comments
Photo: Andrew Dyer

Classic wet shaving has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. It’s not hard to understand why — the classic wet shave is a way for men to pamper themselves. From an aesthetic point of view, taking a live blade to your face is a lot cooler (and more manly) than a disposable plastic device. (See also: Save Money on Shaving With These Razor Tricks)

But wet shaving has far more tangible benefits than just being cooler. At over $25 a pop for a pack of cartridges, shaving with disposable razors is expensive. Further, disposable razors have an environmental impact that can’t be understated. Not only are you filling landfills with the plastic cartridges, these cartridges also come in wasteful packaging. What’s more, cartridge razors are murder on your face, drying out and damaging the skin. They don’t even provide the benefit of a closer shave. When you think about it, it’s not terribly surprising that the wet shave is making a comeback. It’s more surprising that it ever went away.

The Initial Wet Shave Investment

Assume that you use a single disposable cartridge per week. The cartridge comes in a pack of six for $25 each. This means that you buy about eight packs per year at a cost of $200 per year. Assuming that you shave for the next 60 years, you’ll end up paying $12,000 over the course of your life for the privilege of shaving — double that if you have heavier beard growth.

Now consider the initial investment of wet shaving equipment:

Straight Razor

A straight razor user must invest in the blade, strop, a cake of soap, and a brush to apply it with. Several stores offer starter kits including everything you need for about $200, or the cost of shaving with cartridges for a year.

Safety Razor

A safety razor user needs the razor, a package of blades, a cake of soap, and a brush. You can purchase all of this for well under $100, or about half the cost of shaving with cartridges for a year.

Peripherals

While not “necessary,” strictly speaking, many men like to invest in peripherals like a shaving mug, a stand, and a soap dish. All told, this will cost you less than $50.

Continued Costs

Those who invest in a straight razor have the lowest continued costs — all you need to buy is paste to keep the strop leather supple and the occasional cake of soap. A cake of soap costs less than $10 and can lasts for months at a time; they call them “pucks” for a reason. A safety razor user must purchase cakes of soap, as well as fresh blades. For context, packs of 10 premium safety razor blades go for about five bucks. A single blade will last a man with even heavy beard growth for a week. This means that in a year, you will spend about $50 on blades after the initial investment.

Environmental Benefits

If you’re driving a Prius and using solar power, it’s worth asking why you’re shaving with cartridges. The only waste created by straight-razor shaving is disposed tubes of strop paste and the wrapper your soap comes in. Add to this a blade — not a collection of them strapped together with plastic — for safety razors. Compare that to the amount of waste associated with the packaging of a cartridge alone.

Not only will you save the planet by using something that creates less trash, you’ll also use far less water. Filling your mug up with water will do for the entire shave if your faucet gets hot enough. If it doesn’t, microwaving the water for a couple minutes will get it to the proper temperature.

Finally, the cake of soap you use is almost certainly made in a more environmentally friendly fashion than the canned goop you’re using to shave with now. When you run of out of soap, you aren’t leaving a steel can around to take up space in a landfill. You’re leaving nothing.

Learning How to Wet Shave

While there’s a bit of a learning curve to traditional wet shaving, it really isn’t that hard to pick up. You can purchase instructional DVDs, or just read up on the process on the Internet and watch YouTube videos about how to wet shave.

Whether you go for a straight razor or a safety razor, you’re in for a treat. The old fashioned wet shave is cheaper, better for the planet, and easier on your face. It provides a closer shave, is more aesthetically pleasing, and turns a chore into a meditation. Once you make the switch, you’ll wonder why you ever shaved any other way.

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Started this a year ago. Best investment a man can make.

Guest's picture

A great way to save money on shaving is having the complete inability to grow facial hair (as per my personal experience). Works for me!