The key to staying clean shaven in a frugal manner (see Every Day Tasks: Shaving on the “Homestead”) lies in ignoring the distortions of mass marketing.
Unless you’re one of the brave few who use a straight razor, your choices break down to either a reusable handle and disposable blades, or disposable razor/handle combinations.
Most men know the marketing trick at play here: the handle and a pack of disposable heads costs very little. The replacement cartridges, however, tend to be quite expensive.
Not only that, but the razor companies continually “improve” their product, changing the shape or construction of the handle, adding ever more edges to a cartridge, changing the pivot point, and adding embellishments like “lubricating” strips. Rarely do the new cartridges attach to the handles you already own. Usually, an upgrade to a new cartridge style means buying yet another handle! Even if you decide to stick with an older model, before long the cartridges for it disappear from the shelves. Eventually, you’re forced to “upgrade”.
The alternative, buying disposable razors, seems less environmentally sound, and probably is. I feel, however, that it’s much less expensive.
You can usually buy a years supply of razors for the cost of one handle and one or two replacement cartridge packs. As far as environmental impact, after a few years, the stack of metal razor handles for which I could no longer find cartridges calls into question the difference between the two.
I buy my razors bulk. I stick to what is probably now considered old-fashioned twin-blade razors. More blades piled on may give a closer, better shave, but I haven’t found disposables with more than two blades. If I can, I get the kind that have a little plastic tab that pushes whiskers out from between the blades. That’s handy and useful. The rest is just fluff, or worse.
Right now, I mostly use the orange and white Bic disposables that run about a dollar for a pack of six. An additional advantage of these is that they look so cheap, most people pass them up for a sexier razor, so they’re always available when I shop for them.
I’ve learned how to make razors last far longer than most people think they should. I’ll expand on that in an upcoming post.