The increasing cost of cartridge razor blades has been a grave concern for millions of men all over the globe.
And now Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have expressed their concern over the cost of shaving. So much so that three of their MPs have backed a Commons call for the pricing to be looked at.
The Early Day Motion notes “the exorbitant increase in the retail price of men’s razor blade cartridges where in three years the price has increased in some cases by almost 100%”.
The three MPs, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, South Antrim MP Willie McCrea and David Simpson, have called on the Office of Fair Trading and consumer bodies to investigate why prices so are so high.
They said “it has been reported that the production costs per cartridge are in pence, while marketing, packaging and profiteering are resulting in margins of around a 1,000%, with an eight-cartridge pack currently retailing at many outlets at approximately £22″.
Here at The Shaving Shack we agree that the cost of cartridge blades is something that needs to be addressed, but there is an easy solution guys – 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 it’s 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.
A lot of men are simply unaware over the financial benefits of using a DE razor instead of a cartridge, so I thought it would be interesting to commission a new report and treat the exercise as an investment decision.
I spoke to leading business author and wet shaving enthusiast Andrew Wilson, who took time out of his busy schedule to look at the subject in detail.
And this is what he found:
“If you assume you buy a reasonable DE razor for £50 and a shaving brush for £35, shaving soap for £9 and just buy one blade for 20 pence, your upfront costs are about £94.20. To buy a “typical” cartridge razor, some foam and 1 blade costs you £17.86. So in upfront costs you need to spend £76.34 more on a DE razor.
“Now if you look at the annual renewal costs of each of these types of shaving you find that the DE method costs about £20.10 a year if you shave 6 times a week and change your blade after 4 shaves, and use half a shaving soap a year. The “typical” cartridge razor comes in at £100.22 a year. This assumes you get 10 shaves per blade and you shave 6 times a week. It assumes you have to buy a new razor every three years and that you buy 4 cans of foam a year. (Altogether not unrealistic)
“This means that each year that you shave with DE, you save £80.12. So is this a worthwhile investment. If you assume inflation at 3% and discount the cash flow over 20 years, that £76.34 investment is worth over £1,000 (Net present value) to you in today’s money! Or an Internal rate of return (IRR) of over 105%.
“Basically if you were a private equity business and this was an investment deal, the project would be a go.”
So guys please, please bin the multi-bladed cartridge razor and invest in some decent shaving equipment that is not just going to give you a closer and more comfortable shave (here is why), but also save you hundreds of pounds.
Change your shaving habits today….
Joe Rennie, from UK, asks:
“Hi there, needing a bit of advice on recommendations. I have heavy and thick stubble and for ten years I had used a shaving oil with Zirh shave cream due to its thick and creamy consistency, unfortunately I’m finding it harder to source Zirh these days and was wondering if there are alternatives out there that will match it? I’ve tried some other makes and all seem very thin in comparison, which doesn’t give a good shave on my heavy stubble. Would I be best opting for a traditional soap or another cream. Like I say I have fairly sensitive skin and need a product that matches the thickness and consistency of Zirh shave cream, any suggestions? Many thanks Joe Rennie.”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but from my understanding the Zirh line of products has been discontinued, which is why you are finding them harder and harder to locate. For a thick brushless cream I would suggest you look at Baxter of Calinfornia, Barc, Pacific Shaving, or try some other creams such as The Bluebeard’s Revenge which can be used both with and without a brush. These all have that thick, protective cushion you’re looking for. Going with a soap would be a good alternative too. Mitchell’s Wool Fat shave soap is most excellent as also are the Bluebeard’s, Tabac, Truefitt & Hill, Irisch Moos, and Edwin Jagger amongst others. There are definitely some great products out there I hope this gives you some idea of the alternatives you can find!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
Laura Jones, from the USA, asks:
“What kind of shaving soap would you suggest for someone with acne/sensitive skin?”
Thank you for your question! Honestly it depends on what you are sensitive to in the soap to which product you can safely use as an alternative.
It might take some testing with different products to find the solution but here are some of the more common fixes to the problem of product sensitivity. First off, if you are using a canned product I recommend switching to a squeeze tube or a traditional brushed cream or soap. The chemicals, preservatives and propellants used in canned shaving cream products can often be drying or do something even worse to your skin.
Next, is your product scented? If so the sensitivity may be to the fragrance or essential oil used in the product, try finding an unscented version. Many products use tallow or lanolin to add moisturizing properties and slickness to their soaps. If this is the case then try using a glycerin based product.
I realize that I have primarily addressed the sensitivity issue here, but acne problems are similarly caused and these tips will help with that as well.
Smooth shaving! Aaron”
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger? CLICK HERE TO ASK AARON YOUR QUESTION
Robert Ashford, from the UK, asks:
“Can you please advise on the pros/cons re: Shaving Cream vs. Shaving Soap. (Also the use of shaving creams/soaps in bowls). Can you use the wet brush against each, and not taint the product? I Currently use a shave cream from tube, but am intrigued by the likely hood of just building up a lather in the self provided cream/soap in a bowl. Thanks in advance.”
Thanks for you question! On any shaving related forum on the internet you’ll find this discussion: “Which is better? Soaps or Creams?” In my opinion: neither. They both have equally great characteristics and will serve you well whatever you choose. Personally I use both and find great satisfaction with both types of products.
Pros: Soaps generally are considered to have a “slicker” shave due to certain ingredients such as tallow, lanolin, glycerin and bentonite clay that are added to the soap. This provides a smoother and gentler shave especially for heavy bearded gents. Creams have the reputation of being easier to begin learning on, easy to lather and have a more moisturizing feel after the shave is done.
Cons: Soaps generally take more time to learn how to lather well and can be sometimes a bit drying to the skin. Creams have the tendency to dry out a bit faster on your face and not provide as smooth a shave. (Caveat: there are ALWAYS exceptions!)
But which one to pick?? You will get a different experience out of both and both provide good shaves. Honestly I say use both, I do. If you find yourself leaning towards one product or the other you have my blessing! I don’t think you’ll go wrong with either.
Using cream or soap in the tub or container it comes in will not effect the shave, nor will dipping the brush into the container to gain product taint the product. The only exception to this I have heard is there is a possibility if some sort of bacteria is on your brush and you dip it into a cream that does not have any preservative in it that the bacteria could turn the cream. However, I have never had this happen to me, nor have I known anyone that this happened to. The thing about this I will say is that i recommend building your lather in a separate bowl from the one that contains your sap or cream. When you building the lather on top of product you are continuously using more product in the process and the time it will last will be a lot less costing you more money in the long run. For that reason alone I recommend a separate bowl, plus it’s easier to see you lather develope and know when it’s ready for shaving.
This is a bit long winded, but I hope it answers your questions!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger? CLICK HERE TO ASK AARON YOUR QUESTION
A number of shaving products available at The Shaving Shack have made it into a leading feature on the Shaving101.com blog.
Popular US shaving blogger Mike Sandoval recently published an article titled ‘My Favourite Shaving Products’.
And first prize in the shaving soap category went to DR Harris Marlborough.
”Traditional, triple-milled hard soaps provide me the richest and most protective lather for my shaves,” said Mike.
”Of the assortment that I use regularly, DR Harris is significantly better in both performance and fragrance over others, including Trumper and Truefitt & Hill.
”Lathering up for a shave with this soap fills my bathroom with the noticeable aroma of fresh cedar and sandalwood. The shave with Marlborough is always great and I never grow tired of the scent.”
DR Harris Marlborough shaving soap (100g) is priced at just £8.95 at The Shaving Shack.
The soap is also available with an attractive wooden bowl that allows for easy storage when not in use and also looks very classy on my bathroom counter.
Mike also praised Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap, describing it as a great shaving soap because of its lanolin and moisturizing properties. This soap is priced at £5.49 on our website.
The Bluebeards Revenge took second place in the shaving cream category. ”This cream easily whips into an amazing lather that is bubble-free, thick, and protective,” he said.
“The rich lather is perfect for both double-edge and straight razor shaving. It also has a traditional barbershop-style fragrance that is very enjoyable during the shave.”
You can read Mike’s full review on The Bluebeards Revenge by clicking here.
As mentioned previously I don’t see myself as a wet-shaving expert. But like anyone learning a new skill or way of doing something I did make mistakes and learn from them. So here are simply some pointers which I found worked for me. Naturally, and you’ll see this said on all the shaving sites and forums, your-mileage-may-vary. What worked for me might not work for you, just try things out and see for yourself.
Don’t be stingy with your soap or cream. Particularly at the beginning I found it’s better to have leftover lather than poor quality lather through not using enough cream or soap. So keep swirling your brush on the soap for a full thirty seconds, try a dollop of cream larger than the recommended “almond-sized” amount. If using a stick of soap be generous as you rub it over your stubble, go against the grain so your bristles pick-up a good layer. You can always scale it back afterwards.
Face-lathering is my preferred method of generating a good lather. I tried bowl-lathering and found I got airy, light lather that disappeared inside the brush and had to be squeezed out to be of any use. Swirling my brush on the soap or putting a dollop of cream inside the brush and then lathering directly to my face gave me better, faster and more consistent results.
When working out which blade works best for you try the same blade in different razors. I found this out when testing Crystal-brand blades. In my Lord razor with its Merkur-style head the blade was just average; decent results but not particularly smooth. In my Gillette slim adjustable razor it turned into the smoothest blade I’d tried up to that point.
Listen to your face. When I first got into shaving with a DE razor I was so pleased that I could shave across and against the grain of my stubble that I became obsessed with trying to get closer and closer. This just lead to redness and irritation. I now know that on my neck and my moustache going against the grain is just not possible. I’ve therefore not experienced that holy grail of wet-shavers, the BBS (babies’-bottom-smooth) shave. But that doesn’t matter, because I can still get close and comfortable shaves just going across the grain in those areas. Besides, I’ll have to do it all over again the next morning, so why risk the irritation.
Try different brushes. I started with boar, but found that a badger brush gave me better results and was more enjoyable. If you’ve only known boar, try badger, and vice-versa. You can always revert back to your original choice.
When I first got my badger brush it went through its initial shedding stage that most new brushes do, but then continued to lose a hair every-other shave. I was soaking it in the sink in the same hot water I used to heat-up my face cloth. I then read that some folk used warm water and only soaked their brushes up-to the base of the bristles, saying that submerging the brush in hot water loosened the glue used to hold the bristles in place. I tried this and found that it worked; my brush has now stopped losing a hair here and a hair there.
Take advice, read the reviews but go with what works for you. Many on the forums say that Feather blades are very sharp but quite a rough blade to use, I happen agree with this. Many also say though that Supermax-super-stainless blades (blue packaging) are very poor blades, I happen to disagree with this. Many say that a lack of bristle density in a brush is a bad thing. I happen to prefer a floppier, less densely-filled brush that splays on my face as I lather. Don’t be put off by what the majority think if what works for you is different.
More articles by Richard Wall
For many people who don’t make the time to prepare when shaving, they may not be getting the most out of the experience. The application of the shave cream to work up a lather is, in fact, an important part of the wet shaving process and should not be taken lightly.
If you put a bit more thought into this, you can perfect your shaving performance and get the close shave you desire. You need to start by looking at your pre-shave preparations.
By working the lather into your face you can offer your face protection from the razor and the lubrication allows the blade to glide smoothly across the skin. Once you get this right, you will also notice your skin looks great as the lather moisturises and exfoliates the skin.
The process should begin with the use of a badger brush as this type of shaving brush can get the best results. Choose the brush carefully for a more luxurious and softer feel on the skin. Also, be sure to select shaving soap that allows for a moister and richer lather. This does three things; moisturises your face, lubricates the beard and softens it, giving it the best preparation for the shaving experience.
If you have followed the advice so far, you will have gathered all you need to make a good lather which is ideal for getting the most out of wet shaving.
The next stage is to run the hot water, getting it as hot as you possibly can. If you have bought a decent badger brush that holds moisture well then you will find that as you turn the brush slowly in the water, it absorbs and holds plenty of water.
After this you need to use the tips of the badger brush to permeate the ends with the shaving soap. A lot of force does not need to be applied here, so only do this until lather starts to form in the soap mug.
There is not much more you need to do now until you begin the shaving process. First, you just need to check that the badger brush is warm and full of water and soap, and that your face is still warm and lubricated. If this is the case you can now apply the soap using just the tips of the brush in an unhurried circular motion on the facial area.
As you start to build the lather, the soap is worked deeper into your skin, achieving what you wanted at the outset: a clean face that is exfoliated and protected from the razor blade. Make sure you work the lather evenly on the face to get the best shaving preparation.
If you follow these tips for a good lather technique you can get a much closer and better shave, plus you reduce the need to spend your hard earned money on an excess of other shaving products. However, a pre-shave moisturiser may still be required and a quality aftershave.
The trick when looking for a shaving cream to use in your daily wet shaving routine is to find a product that will work well with your skin. This formula may not be as easy as it sounds though, as a person’s face is individual to them and so what works great for one man may not be suitable for another.
We will now be looking at how best to go about finding a shaving cream that proves to be effective and makes the whole wet shaving process much more pleasurable and enjoyable, leaving your skin feeling fresh and looking good too.
With so much choice on the market, it is hard to identify a suitable men’s shaving cream without a bit of old-fashioned trial and error. However, this can cost money – and a lot of it too – so it is certainly worth narrowing it down a little first before taking the plunge.
Instead of going into things blindly, trying out every product under the sun, the following is what you should look out for.
Firstly, it is recommended that those with sensitive skin should opt for a moisturising shaving cream. This is also a major pointer for those who struggle with razor burn as keeping the skin moist when wet shaving is essential.
No matter what products you eventually decide to go with, don’t ever give in to the temptation to just use regular soap. This is a big no-no as it will only dry out your skin even more, unless it is a specialist shaving soap, and will most definitely not result in a closer shave.
We will publish part 2 on Tuesday, so please check back.
In May, we managed to get a Question and Answer session with double edge shaving guru Mantic, a veteran of the BadgerAndBlade and ShaveMyFace forums.
The session proved very popular, with lots of entries coming in. We cherry picked the best ones and sent them onto the US wet shaving expert.
And the first question comes from Tony, he asked: “Why do I on occasion find that the lather from a soap is fine on the first pass, really creamy and slick, but when I start to apply with the brush for subsequent passes, it has turned airy and foamy? It is with soaps that I have had good results from before too.”
Mantic has put together a superb video clip (see below) answering this excellent question.
And to spice things up we offered a prize of a puck of Mitchell’s Wool Fat (worth £4.99) for every question that gets published, so Tony expect your puck to arrive very soon!!
The best question overall will receive an additional tub of Truefitt & Hill 1805 Shave Cream (worth £14.99).
Please check back very soon for the second question in the Ask Mantic series.
7 days and counting… Father’s Day is just one week away! And what better way to show Dad how much you really care by treating him to a luxurious gift from the Shaving Shack on June 20.
And they don’t come more impressive than the Taylor Of Old Bond St Sandalwood Soap and Bowl.
“Taylor old Old Bond Street are renowned for their fantastic shaving cream and soaps, and this is no exception!” says Tom Trueman, customer services manager at the Shack.
“As well as smelling great it produces a rich, thick and creamy lather. The 100g soap fills the lovely wooden bowl and promises excellent value.”
The Taylor Of Old Bond St Sandalwood Soap and Bowl is gift number six in our top 15 gifts for Father’s Day.