As you will probably be aware of the UK men’s shaving market is dominated by three big players -Gillete (owned by US giant Proctor and Gamble) and British brands Wilkinson Sword and King of Shaves (the brainchild of likeable entrepreneur Will King).
All three of these companies specialise in providing men with easy to use multi bladed cartridge razor systems, and in Gillette’s case, these products are backed and promoted with billionaire dollar marketing campaigns.
Thankfully there is still a market for traditional double edge safety razors, and its growing as more men get fed up with the increasing cost of cartridge razor blades. A recent study has found the annual cost of shaving with a Gillette Power Fusion, new cartridges and all, is an eye-watering £85.37.
But getting the message to the masses that double edge shaving is not only cheaper in the long run, but also much better for the skin, is a difficult one as the mainstream press favour the Gillette Power Fusion over the Merkur 34C and the Hydro 5 over the Edwin Jagger DE89.
Well that was until we contacted The Sun Newspaper journalist David Firth, who runs the highly popular Tried and Test section on The Sun website. David had previously tested out wet razors from the “big three” brands to see which was the best.
To our delight and slight surprise, he agreed to test three of our top selling safety razors – the Merkur 38c Barberpole, Parker 94R and The Bluebeards Revenge ‘Scimitar’ (which has graced the likes of the Daily Mail, Loaded and GQ).
So what did David think to the razors we sent him?
“My favourite of the three,” he said. David praised its balance, control and grip. “The diagonal thread design on the pole helps you keep a solid grip and I also like that you change the blade by simply unscrewing the base, rather than having to disassemble the whole thing. A great piece of kit,” he added. Price: £39.99. Buy here.
“The big plus-point with the Parker is the grip – thick, diamond-shaped ridges help keep this lodged in your hand no matter how much cream or water is knocking about,” explained David. He added that he liked the light weight of the razor; but found the short pole a little fiddly during the shave. Price £19.99. Buy here.
The Bluebeards Revenge ‘Scimitar’
David loved the look of the Scimitar. “It does look lovely, particularly with the laser-etched Bluebeards Revenge skull and cross bones logo on the razor head. As with the other two – it does give a great shave,” he said. Price £34.99. Buy here.
Overall, David loved the theatre of double edge shaving. “You splash your face with warm water, apply a pre-shave cream to help the blade glide, then apply the shaving cream all frothed up with an old-school brush to exfoliate a bit and lift up your bristles. And then you can shave. It takes time but it’s a lot of fun,” he explained.
In conclusion, David said: “If you follow all the appropriate hints and tips on how to use double-edged blade razors properly – you can find loads of videos on YouTube – you will get the best shave of your life.”
Thanks for taking the double edge shaving test David, and for helping to bring such as a cool method shaving back in to the media spotlight. You can follow David on Twitter at @davefirth.
Read his full review by clicking here.
What do you think think to David’s comments? Let us know by commenting below.
In January 2011, I blogged about why a double edge razor is technically better than a cartridge based razor system. Now there is yet another reason for men to ditch the horrid multi-bladed cartridge razor in favour of the single bladed razor.
“Replacement cartridges for Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide can be as much as £3.49 each,” the newspaper said.
It went on to say that blades for Gillette’s top-of-the-range Fusion ProGlide cost less than 10p to manufacturer, which in my book is a fairly decent profit margin.
The paper also blames Gillette, the world’s largest shaving company by quite a distance, for imposing a stealth price rise by cutting the number of replacement cartridges in its Mach3 Turbo packs from five to four.
“The smaller pack did not bring a corresponding cut in the price, leaving men paying at least 20 per cent more,” the article says.
It went on to blame the increasing cost of cartridge blades for men’s poor shaving habits.
“At the same time, men worried about making ends meet are either trying to make their razor blades last longer, with the resulting scrapes and cuts – or ditching their shaving regime and opting for designer stubble.”
A better quality shave with a long term saving
This all makes me rather angry as there is an easy solution – change your shaving habits and ditch the overpriced cartridge razor. Opt instead for a double edge safety razor and if you’re feeling really adventurous, a straight or cut throat razor (as its more commonly referred to).
Not only will both types of razor give you a better quality of shave, they are also much cheaper in the long run, as a number of the comments on the Daily Mail article point out.
“I switched from cartridge razors to a straight razor and have never looked back. True your initial investment is a little higher but the payback on these cartridge blades is 6 months or so. Have not had to buy a single razor blade in 18 months now,” commented Derrick Young, Wasaga Beach, Ontario.
Roy, from York, also pointed out the massive cost savings men could experience from switching to a DE razor: “I have used an old fashioned Double Edge safety razor for years and blades for that can cost as little as 10p. As they are cheap you can afford to change them regularly and get a good shave. With multi bladed cartridges because of the price people carry on using them when they are going blunt. With DE razors, OK the razor is more expensive but it lasts for many years, but one sharp blade every couple of shaves is better than a dull multi blade being stretched out over a week. People have had good shaves with single blades for centuries. Multi blades are a marketing gimmick.”
Roy’s last sentence is a very accurate one, “Multi blades are a marketing gimmick”. Let’s face it Gillette are excellent at marketing their products, they have pretty much convinced men that 3 blades are better than 1 and 5 blades are better than 3. They also spend millions of pounds on celebrity endorsements, with sports stars like Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Thierry Henry (who now wears a beard) fronting lavish TV and newspaper campaigns.
It was Gillete who first worked out that men would indeed fork out for overpriced cartridges as long as the initial cost, i.e. the handle, was affordable. It’s pretty much the same business model adopted by ink jet printer companies. Sell a cheap printer, then sell really expensive “cartridges” that run out quickly. It’s simple, but very effective.
Dollar Shave Club
It will be interesting to see how successful the much-hyped Dollar Shave Club will turn out to be. Dollar Shave Club’s business model is similar to LoveFilm, which sends subscribers movies in the post for a small monthly fee. Dollar Shave Club will send customers a monthly supply of disposable razor blades starting at $1 a month (however, when you add in delivery costs it’s more like the 4-Dollar Shave Club). A catchy brand name and I must say a pretty cool launch commercial, which has picked up nearly 5 million views on YouTube. And according to widespread media reports, more than 12,000 people have signed up for the service.
There is no question that the Dollar Shave Club YouTube video is hilarious. But aside from the online hype, can the Dollar Shave Club compete against the likes of Gillette in the long term? I’m guessing not…
Looking ahead, I really hope men will start to see through all this cleaver marketing and take a stand against the rising cost of cartridges. For those switching to the affordable yet luxurious world of double edged shaving, all I can do is welcome you to the real men’s club. And I will finish this article by saying; shaving should be regarded as a pleasure, not a chore.
Want to know the hottest beauty secret currently sweeping Hollywood? Well according to an article in the Daily Mail today, increasing numbers of actresses are giving up laser hair removal and threading – and picking up their boyfriend’s razor instead.
“Shaving rids the face of that fine fuzz that laser hair removal can’t pick up,” says Kate Somerville, a facialist for some of Hollywood’s most famous names told the British newspaper.
But the Daily Mail claims it’s not a new trick. Apparently, screen sirens such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor shaved their faces for exfoliated, hair-free skin.
But what about stubble? – Asks the newspaper
“It doesn’t grow back thicker or darker,” Kate told them. “That’s an old wives’ tale. Hair growth changes because of hormonal fluctuations.”
The paper even asked London’s A-list cosmetic dermatologist Dr Michael Prager his opinion.
“The shaved area of a man’s skin is younger-looking than the rest of his face because of the constant exfoliation, which stimulates collagen,” he said. “Plus, a fuzz-free face reflects the light.”
So there you have it ladies, the key to a smooth, hair free face is not expensive laser treatment, its investing a poultry sum of £19.99 in a pink Bluebeards Revenge Mach 3 Razor (yes that’s right Pink).
Back in late 2010, we revealed to the world that over 2,000 women had snapped up the hair-delaying shaving cream since its summer launch.
Nick Gibbens, marketing manager at The Shaving Shack, said in November 2010: ”Despite the product being heavily aimed at men with heavy beard growths, we started noticing a quarter of customers buying were women. We presumed at first they were buying for their husbands, but the trend continued and is now accounting for half our sales.
“We have conducted some research into this, and discovered that women have seen their husbands use it, or seen the Decelerine coverage, and realised that if they use it themselves, they can reduce the hair on their bodies by 40% over 60 days too. So, effectively, the ‘World’s Manliest Shaving Product’ has been hijacked by women to reduce the hair growth on their legs, underarms and bikini line!“
This trend has continued into 2011, and we have even seen a new sales spike in the last 10 days.