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Finances & Money

The high cost of disposable razor cartridges

My new favorite shaving guru, Mantic59, pointed out a UK article about the insane markup on disposable blade cartridges. We all know these 3, 4 and now 6 blade cartridges are expensive ($2-$3 or more in the states), but did you know how much they cost to produce? Here’s the price in British Pounds, which isn’t far off the US Dollar equivalent:

Courtesy DailyMail.co.uk

The article says it costs just 5p (around 8-10 cents) per cartridge to produce, but Proctor & Gamble (who now owns Gillette) urged its retailers not to lower the price of the cartridges. It seems the retailers complied due to the large profit they reap on the sale.

That’s why I’m trying out wet shaving with a traditional double-edge safety razor, where the razors cost just 20-50 cents each (depending on quality and bulk pricing). I’m still working on not bleeding to death, but I’m getting better with each shave, and love the smell of warm, scented lather much more than the shave gel out of the can. Special thanks to reader Stu for sending me his old 1957 Gillette safety razor, a sample pack of different DE razor brands and a tube of Derby shave gel! I don’t think I would have known where to start without him! As a note, I bought the Tweezerman badger hair brush from Amazon for a great price.

So if you’re tired of spending wads of cash on disposable, overpriced cartridges, consider shaving the way your grandfather shaved and try out a safety razor! Check out Mantic59’s YouTube channel for instructional videos to get started.

About the author

Clever Dude

16 Comments

  • Ah, good choice. In my experience there’s something to be said for electric razors as well. I spent ~$75 for a ‘standard’ Norelco razor about seven years ago. Replaced the cutter heads once a couple years ago ($20?). My previous electric lasted 10 years before replacement, and that was just because the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge. If I’d been willing to use it plugged in, I’d probably still have it.

    I guess part of it is not only the personal choice of shaving style, but spending style. I’d rather do a one time expense and have that last than deal with small recurring expenses.

  • That’s where they make all their money, off the cartridges. I agree its expensive and I hate spending money on them. Good thing I don’t grow in a thick beard.

  • Welcome to the straight-razor party! I bought a straight razor (the Merkur classic) about two years ago with a variety pack of blades. I’ve bought shaving cream once since then and I still haven’t had to buy new blades. I should really do the math on how much money I’ve saved.

    Be forewarned! It will be very tough at first. Lots of cuts and lots of “What am I doing?” type of feelings. But once you get the hang of it you’ll never go back to paying these insane prices.

  • I got sick of paying those prices too. Really outrageous. I’m not using the type of razor you described (on my legs of course, no lady beard here) but I did cut back (pun intended) to the disposables. Once I got used to them again, it was no trouble.

  • Glade to hear its working out for you. The keys to not getting cut;

    – short strokes
    – never go over any bare skin / place with no lather
    – try not to go over same place multiple times in same pass
    – no pressure

    – squeeze brush out into the bowl and leave lather in bowl for next time!

    I only ever do a WTG and XTG pass.

    My wife has a lady’s DE and loves it, does not use a brush tho, still uses goop in a can. I just have to guard my stash of good blades and give her the ones I dont rate as high 🙂

  • I’ve been able to leverage coupons and CVS deals to end up getting razors, cartridges, and even shaving cream for very little money. I’m slowly building up a supply of items I got on the cheap because you are right — they’re ridiculously expensive.

  • I am switching to a safety razor for this very reason. Razor cartridges are a scam, especially the fancy 4 and 5-blade variety. I can’t really use the cheap disposable razors, and I get a rash from electric razors. I have asked my family for a nice safety razor and soap brush for my birthday, and I know it will be something I can use for many years to come.

  • About 10 years ago I switched to an electric Norelco. It doesn’t hold the charge for more than 1 shave nowadays, but works just fine plugged in. I’m not sure I can go with the straight razor when shaving at home, but I do love the warm lather and close-shave feeling when I get it at the barbershop. Love my old school barber!

  • I switched to a DE about a month ago and really enjoy it. I got too much skin irritation from a regular razor and the electric I tried didn’t work well enough, maybe I should have bought a more expensive/nicer one. I think I get a better shave now. The cost savings was a minor issue for me, I’m glad to take it but was really looking for a better shave.

  • Just stumbled across your site, Must say, great job.
    On the razor savings, I have for the last 20 years do the two for one approach. When I shower and wash my hair, I use the shampoo as my face lotion and shave with it. I keep a mirror in the bath and all is handy. I not only save on NOT buying shaving lotion, but the blades seem to last longer.
    Don in MO.

  • I’m a Merkur double-edge razor user and I love it. I used to cut myself but I learned that the most important, and wildly overlooked, aspects of wet-shaving are: the blade angle and the pressure applied on the razor. The correct blade angle is 30 degrees onto the face
    Wet-shaving also means less waste. Just think about all the non-recyclable plastic that goes into multi-blade cartridges and handles, and the aerosol cans that release harmful by-products into the environment. Switching to old-style shaving props wont gain you entry into Green Peace by itself, but it is a good start.

  • Good one, Clever Dude!!! My entire household (family of 8) has converted to wet shaving simply because of the cost of disposable razors and cartridges. But, like you, we were very pleasantly surprised to discover we were getting much better shaves and saving TONS of money; just think of cartridge$ X 8!! Just one GOOD blade beats the dickens out of those cartridges with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? blades. (Skin grafts, anyone?) The guys like it for the routine and the clean shaves; teenage boys have far fewer zits. Us gals like it for smooth shaves with just ONE or maybe two passes—not 3 to 4 to 5 like we had to do with the disposables. Huhm. We save time. We save money. Save the environment?…just think of all that plastic going into landfills. We are not greenies, but all greenies should switch or shut up. PS. All ladies should try the new pink Cremo. It’s the best for us gals; doesn’t hide the curves and dents around our ankles etc. in a blanket of foam. I have yet to nick myself with this stuff. It’s great. Honest. Sorry for the commercial. :o)

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