Sep 112014

(Ha, see what I did there?)

I bet you never thought I’d write a post about shaving, did you? But that’s me – full of surprises (not really, but indulge me anyway).

So, on the fateful RV trip that shall not be discussed nor repeated, I lost my Venus razor. I’m positive that I left it in one of the many bathhouses I was forced to shower in, amongst crickets and spiders and other people’s foot fungus. I was disappointed, but when we got home I was happy to discover an unopened Gilette Fusion razor in the supply cabinet. I had gotten it for free after rebate at Walgreens, back when I still dabbled in couponing, and it came with two cartridges so….problem solved. I was happy with this solution, until I used up the cartridges and had to venture to Wal-Mart to buy more.

My husband will attest to the fact that I had a little mini tantrum in the shaving aisle when I discovered that a package of 12 replacement cartridges would cost $38. THIRTY EIGHT WHOLE DOLLARS for razor blades that I will use and throw away. This is more than 3 dollars each… for a razor I got for free!

This is along the same lines as getting a really great deal on a printer, only to find that one replacement ink cartridge costs more than you paid for the printer. Not such a great deal anymore, is it? Unfortunately, companies like Gillette have been making money off consumers for 40+ years, ever since the first cartridge razor was introduced in the 70s, simply by manufacturing something consumable and disposable that must be purchased again and again, and convincing people that they need it. In the case of cartridge razors, most believe that they are the only option because they’re “safer.”

Now, maybe this is a sign that I’m getting old, but I flat out refused to pay $38 for razor blades on principle, because it is simply bleeping ridiculous. I decided to investigate alternatives because I thought, surely I’m not the only one who thinks this is totally insane? I had long been frustrated with the cost of razor cartridges, and now that Bee needs them too (plus I have 2 other kids who will also have hair to remove someday), I was mildly concerned that the exorbitant cost of shaving might eventually cause us to drift into financial insolvency.

One visit to Amazon and two Prime shipping days later, I held in my hands the solution to my shaving dilemma: a double-edged (DE) safety razor. For $41 – just $3 more than one package of replacement Fusion cartridges – I bought a Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor and 10 replacement blades.


In addition to being a great bargain, this razor also looks pretty darn cool.

Unlike cartridge razors, safety razors use a single, double-edged blade. They also have some weight to them, so they require you to use very little pressure when shaving, and the single blade is less prone to clogging. It gives you a clean, close shave with a single pass over the skin, which helps prevent irritation and ingrown hairs. The Merkur is a high quality, stainless steel razor that will probably last the rest of your life, and the replacement blades are quite inexpensive – about 40 cents each (even less if you buy them in large quantity), versus 3 dollars each for cartridge razors.

My husband was very concerned that I might cut myself, and it’s true that there is a learning curve when using a safety razor. Unlike cartridge razors, the razor head does not pivot so it’s important to take your time, and be sure to hold the razor at the correct angle. I’ve found that I get the best results using short, light strokes while holding the razor at a 30-degree angle, like so:


I didn’t know how else to demonstrate this, other than to show you on my own leg.

I’m happy to say that after only a few shaves I had perfected my technique, to the point where I can now shave in the shower with confidence, and I haven’t nicked myself once. These razors are really quite easy to use, once you get the hang of it. Also, you don’t need to buy a brush, bowl, soap puck, or any other trendy shaving accessories unless you really want to. I do just fine with regular shaving cream, and even hair conditioner.

Now, let’s break down the cost. The average woman would most likely need to swap out a razor cartridge at least every two weeks, and a double-edged blade every week (this really depends on how often you shave, but stick with me here, for argument’s sake):

Venus Embrace cartridge razor

Initial Investment:
Handle -$10
8-pack cartridges – $25, or $3.12 per cartridge
Total- $35

Total upfront cost – $35
Total first year cost – $91
Annual cost thereafter – approx. $81
Total cost over 10 years (assuming this cheapo razor lasts that long) – approx. $820

Merkur Long-Handled Safety Razor

Initial Investment:
Razor -$37
10-pack Feather blades (my favorite, and the top-seller on Amazon)- $3.84, or 38 cents per blade
Total- $41

Total upfront cost – $41
Total first year cost – $57
Annual cost thereafter – approx. $20
Total cost over 10 years – approx. $237

As you can see, not only is your first year cost $34 higher for a cartridge razor, but you will also pay $61 more per year thereafter. After the first year, a double-edged safety razor will continue to save you approximately $60 every year (more for men, or anyone who shaves daily), and close to $600 dollars over 10 years of use! If you started shaving with one of these at age 20, and used it until you were 70, you would save $3000!

This is not even taking inflation into account. According to a UK Daily Mail article, the price of razor cartridges rose a whopping 99 percent over the course of 3 years, from 2009-2012! Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect the cost of razor cartridges will continue to rise, making the DE safety razor an even greater bargain. Plus, for those concerned about the environment, your dull, double-edged blades can be recycled (we throw ours in with the rest of our scrap metal).

To show you how much I care about your finances, I did all this math (and you know how much I hate math) just to make a convincing argument for why you should save your money, and make the switch!

*note – this post contains affiliate links.