04-15-2019, 11:35 PM
#1
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I was pondering over my morning coffee today how much shaving really costs us... or could have cost us, if we didn't go all in buying all those razors, brushes, soaps, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And all those et ceteras do add up.


Consider a spherical cow in vacuum... actually, no.
[Image: Spherical%2BCow.gif]

Consider a hypothetical scenario where the software - that is the pre-shave, the lather, and the post-shave - is identical, but we'll consider different hardware - razor and blade / cartridge. In other words; I'll only look at the cost of razor + cutting edge.

The Gillette Sensor I got as a promotion in boot camp lasted about 25 years of somewhat infrequent use before breaking. That should make a good baseline as a lifespan of a razor (even if at least one of my razors is a century old and still shaves great).

For the "cheap and nasty route", Amazon charges roughly 13USD for a Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide Power Men's Razor Handle (quite the mouthful to say) and 34USD for a pack of 12 refills. Gillette suggests that a cartridge lasts "up to" a month of shaving, so a 12 pack should last a year. The total cost of the handle and 25x12 cartridges at Amazon (which is cheap compared to buying in brick and mortar stores) is 863USD.

Looking over at BullGoose Shaving, a mid-range razor like the Muhle R41 Twist Safety Razor will set you back 75USD. He sells one of my favourite blades - the Green Astra - in packs of one hundred for a reasonable 15USD. In my experience, blades lasts for about a week, so a pack will lasts a little under two years - or 13 packs for the projected 25 years. Doing the math, we'll find that going this route will costs a total of 270USD.

Or in a more visual format:
[Image: Capture.PNG]

The break even point seems to be around two years and five months - 2,3665 years, which works out to roughly two years, four months, and twelve days - so if you plan to shave for more than two and a half year into the future, it pays to switch to DE once you used up any carts you already have bought.

Caveats: Amazon is as mentioned usually cheaper than buying from a physical store. You can get less expensive traditional safety razors, as well as significantly more expensive ones. I picked the R41 as an example of a mid-range model.

Again; this ONLY looks at the cost of shaving with a single razor and using the same blade, and assumes that you'll use the same software regardless.

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 04-16-2019, 12:18 AM
#2
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
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My first DE razor was an EJ DE89L. It cost me 29 euros if I remember well. My favorite blades happen to be the Astras, the ones used in Hans' example. They are really good blades. A pack of 100s costs me around 11 euros.

So let's say that a pack lasts me a year of daily shaves. 11×25=275 euros.

I guess I could still have the EJ and be happy with my shaves. It is a great razor, but just like everyone here, I can't be satisfied that easily... I wanted to try many and that cost me a few thousands (I don't regret it though).

The only problem I see with zamak razors like the EJ, Muhle, Merkur etc. is that they are not durable... If you hit it somewhere or drop it, you will probably have to throw it away. I know I've thrown away a couple of zamak made razors.
If you had a cart for 25 years, I am sure you weren't that... gentle with it. If we all used our zamak razors the same way we treated our carts, we would need a replacement for these razors every couple of years.
So, an affordable, a relative and subjective term, stainless steel or even brass razor, if you prefer, is a better long-term investment.

Of course, creams, soaps, brushes, scuttles, bowls, lotions, balms belong to a different thread I guess. But, yes, traditional shaving can definitely be cheaper and more enjoyable if:
1. You have time, because it certainly needs more time to learn how to shave properly and it also takes more time to shave, 5 minutes vs 20 minutes.
2. You don't buy new items that often but learn your equipment and don't care about the new and fancy stuff.
3. You are into grooming.


I know I buy something new every 3 or 4 months, I shave daily and I enjoy my shaves more than I did when I used to receive a new package from a vendor every week or two.

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 04-16-2019, 03:19 AM
#3
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Zamak is as least as durable as the plastic wonders the cartridge manufacturers are pushing these days Nikos... but even if you invest in a 300USD stainless (or a 400USD titanium) razor, the math still holds true. Or you could buy a 20USD vintage Old Type and save money in months and not years Wink

It's the et cetera that can make this an expensive hobby - but it's also the et cetera that makes shaving to an enjoyable experience and not a dull chore.

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 04-16-2019, 04:17 AM
#4
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Interesting stuff! There are, of course, many, many variables at play which makes this a complex issue. As someone who shaved with carts for most of my life (apart from brief intervals with ele*tric razors, pardon my language) before discovering traditional wet shaving, I can look back and say that the true cost of carts is way higher than your calculation. For one thing, I have changed handles / systems much more often than "needed", i.e. I rarely wore out a handle before getting a new one and this behavior is of course encouraged by the manufacturers (read "Gillette"). I must have used most systems during the past four decades.

So, in reality the handle cost is higher and I also seriously question Gillette's claim of a cart lasting a month. As we all know YMMV, but I don't think that's true as any sort of average. Then you have to add the cost you choose not to factor in, namely gel/foam/soap and since the vast majority of cart users likely use canned foam and/or gel the cost there would be way higher than proper soaps, even fairly expensive ones. Of course, you can make many similar claims for trad wet shavers, but that just underlines my point that it is difficult to estimate "real world" costs.

Then you have people who (like a friend of mine) use the cheapest budget disposables which he buys in bulk and whatever cheap gel/foam he can find. No idea how that would pan out, cost-wise, in the long run. Perhaps that would be interesting to estimate the cost of using Bic Sensitive 1 disposables?  

So I am in no way saying your calculations are pointless, in fact I find them interesting, just pointing out that generalizing shaving costs is a challenge.

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 04-16-2019, 05:00 AM
#5
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(04-16-2019, 04:17 AM)RazorSteve Wrote: There are, of course, many, many variables at play which makes this a complex issue.

Hence why this is a case of spherical cows in a vacuum; I've consciously simplified the issue at hand to something that is easier to turn it into a calculation I could manage over my morning coffee Smile

One potential issue I don't touch upon is one you imply; there is no guarantee that you can get carts to your cartridge razor of choice 10-15-20 years from now. I also don't factor in inflation in my initial calculation, which will affect the numbers but not the overall assessment.

As for the BiC Sensitive; cheapest I could find was 10.40USD for a 36 pack. If we assume he gets a week of shaving per razor, it works out to 375USD over 25 years. If he manages to coax two weeks of shaving out a single BiC, then it's just 188USD.

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 04-16-2019, 05:10 AM
#6
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
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(04-16-2019, 03:19 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: Zamak is as least as durable as the plastic wonders the cartridge manufacturers are pushing these days Nikos... but even if you invest in a 300USD stainless (or a 400USD titanium) razor, the math still holds true. Or you could buy a 20USD vintage Old Type and save money in months and not years Wink

It's the et cetera that can make this an expensive hobby - but it's also the et cetera that makes shaving to an enjoyable experience and not a dull chore.
This is an interesting thread, Hans.

I'd say that plastic carts are more durable. If I accidentally drop a zamak razor, it will go to the trash can. Plastic carts will survive. Also, if I hit a zamak razor, the plating will be gone. I've experienced such things.

It doesn't have to be a $300+ razor. The last years, there are razors from materials like ss and titanium that won't cost you an arm and a leg. My first two ss razors years ago were an iKon Slant and a Mongoose. These were expensive back then. Now it seems that these were not as expensive as I thought. There are far more expensive razors and people buy them without saying much about the price. If you spent $190 on a razor in 2014, it was a lot of money and you thought it probably didn't deserve it, you had second thoughts. Now, it seems like a normal price tag for "premium" razors.
Another thing is that we've seen manufacturers that offer ss and titanium razora at an affordable price (again, comparing to most other offerings in the industry). Rocnel introduced the SE-P that accepts half-DE blades in 2016 with a price tag of $35 in the beginning. That was something. A stainless steel razor with an innovative design that cost you less than a zamak razor. I got two. Rockwell is another great example. Who would have thought that you could ever buy a razor system with 6 option for $99? And stainless? Wow.
Rocnel, Rockwell and Razorock have definitely proved something here. Maybe it's not a coincidence that all three start for an R.

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 04-16-2019, 05:25 AM
#7
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
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About Bic Sensitives, I find them for 1 euro per five. If you use let's say two packs or 10 razors per month, that will cost you 24 euros per year... A very good price, but still, comparing to using inexpensive blades like the Astras, Bics are more expensive.
But, you consume less time using the Bics. Your shaves are quicker. And your time is also valuable, time is money... So, it depends.

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 04-16-2019, 08:24 AM
#8
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(04-16-2019, 05:10 AM)nikos.a Wrote: I'd say that plastic carts are more durable. If I accidentally drop a zamak razor, it will go to the trash can. Plastic carts will survive. Also, if I hit a zamak razor, the plating will be gone. I've experienced such things.

Interesting.. I've dropped Zamak - Merkurs - razors on a few occations onto the tile floor of my bathroom, with no ill effect. Perhaps my tiles are soft, or I just gotten lucky Tongue

And yes, razors made from more durable materials are coming down in price. My personal theory is that this is due to a combination of reduced cost of machining small batches (due to reduced tooling times, CNC, computer aided design, and affordable rapid prototyping) and more players in the market.

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 04-16-2019, 08:52 AM
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for the amount of money I've spent on brushes, soaps, and DE razors, I could have bought about 50 years worth of fusion cartridges.

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 04-16-2019, 02:06 PM
#10
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(04-16-2019, 05:25 AM)nikos.a Wrote: About Bic Sensitives, I find them for 1 euro per five. If you use let's say two packs or 10 razors per month, that will cost you 24 euros per year... A very good price, but still, comparing to using inexpensive blades like the Astras, Bics are more expensive.
But, you consume less time using the Bics. Your shaves are quicker. And your time is also valuable, time is money... So, it depends.

I can actually find them even cheaper here. Best price is a 30-pack for 30 SEK = $3.23 or 2.87€. So, that's just under 12€ per year or 300€ per 25 years, using your estimate of consumption. Cheaper than carts, but still more than DE, if not by much. On the other hand, using Hans' consumption estimate of 4 razors per month (1 week per razor) it works out to 124€ for 25 years, much cheaper than DE and vastly cheaper than carts.

So maybe my cheap friend in onto something? Smile

EDIT: I used the wrong currency sign for the last number, it's 124€ / 25 years, not dollars. The dollar amount is $140 / 25 years.

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 04-16-2019, 05:54 PM
#11
  • garyg
  • Senior Member
  • Great Lakes
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Interesting - when I switched back from carts circa 2009 it was because of cost - I got po'ed when I had to find a sales clerk in a drugstore to unlock some cartridge blades (Fusions, I can't really recall which ones).  And found Badger & Blade, AoS on a shelf at the cigar store .. etc.  Would have saved me tons in the past decade, except for the excitement factor of new razors, and brushes, and ohh I need a scuttle for 5 pass shaves .. Rabbit Hole was in the NYT crossword recently, and here I be 

But, if you stuck to even a Merkur razor and Shark blades, Proraso Cream with an Omega Boar .. you'd be way ahead in, well, depends on how long you'll live as always ..

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 04-17-2019, 12:26 PM
#12
  • DayMan
  • Senior Member
  • Tennessee
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I think your formula is conservative. There’s no way a cartridge lasts 1 month. I haven’t used a cart in 5 years, but I got about 6 or 7 shaves with them, which is what I get with a DE blade. I guess it technically did last one month though because I had to wait for the ingrown hairs to heal between shaves.

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 04-17-2019, 01:43 PM
#13
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The claim for "up to" one month per cart is what Gillette states in their marketing... if you have whisper thin, downy soft stubble it might be in the ballpark - but if that is the case a DE might last two weeks or more too.

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 04-17-2019, 01:44 PM
#14
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(04-16-2019, 02:06 PM)RazorSteve Wrote: I can actually find them even cheaper here. Best price is a 30-pack for 30 SEK = $3.23 or 2.87€. So, that's just under 12€ per year or 300€ per 25 years, using your estimate of consumption. Cheaper than carts, but still more than DE, if not by much. On the other hand, using Hans' consumption estimate of 4 razors per month (1 week per razor) it works out to 124€ for 25 years, much cheaper than DE and vastly cheaper than carts.

So maybe my cheap friend in onto something? Smile

EDIT: I used the wrong currency sign for the last number, it's 124€ / 25 years, not dollars. The dollar amount is $140 / 25 years.

I know what he's onto; pampering shaves and a daily moment of Zen Wink

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 04-17-2019, 02:22 PM
#15
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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I read thru all the posts in this thread

all well written and well thought out

reason and math and graphs, oh my

but I am sitting here stroking today's BBS

done with a 70 year old gold Gillette SS (under $35), a fresh GSB blade ($0.15-.20), an Omega Boar ($10) and Silitsky masculine musk (2oz sample $6)

to borrow a phrase...Priceless

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