Thursday, October 22, 2009

Disposable Razors

Like many people in America, I use a disposable razor of some sort. I used to buy packs of cartridges for my Mach 3 Gillette razor at Costco without even a thought. Then I added up how much those were costing me per year. I used to change my blade more or less once a week, which was when the blade starting feeling dull. At Costco, I remember the 16 pack of blades being around $30, which works out to around $1.88/blade. Like everything, I'm sure these have gone up in price, but I have not purchased any in some time. Let's say I could not make it to Costco, so I decided to grab some at the drug store/grocery store while I was there. At the price for an eight pack of refill cartridges is $19.29 which is a little more than 50 cents per blade. No big deal with everything else going on in life, but I figured it was worth another look.

I started reading some anecdotal posts on about a way to make your blades last longer. I also learned a bit more about how much shaving cost have increased since the introduction of cartridge based razors like Mach 3, Fusion, Quattro, etc. I started realizing I could save some cash, and also not have to go to the store as much. I figured this was worth a shot, as some individuals were reporting using one blade for 6 months!

I was very, very skeptical, but figured I could save some money if it actually did work.

The basic idea is changing a few habits when you shave. When I used to shave, I would finish shaving and then put the razor pack in the swanky little Mach 3 tray without a second thought. This new idea involved tapping the razor a few times to get excess water off, and then taking another second to dry it off with a towel.

Many of you probably already do this, but I never got the memo.

There was one more part of this "new" method to try, and that was to put a drop of mineral oil (plain ol' baby oil) on the blade, and gently spread it over the blade surfaces. The thought behind both of these seems like common sense now that I have been doing it for a while. Another method is taking a tube of lip balm and using it only for this purpose (put it somewhere you won't try to use it, and/or label it or something) and this works pretty well, and is a quicker way. The baby oil, and the oils in the lip balm protect the blade from corrosion. The oils rinse off under hot or warm water, and are no different than the moisturizers in the indicator strip/shaving cream in that respect. It sounds funky, and does take a bit to get used to, but you may find you don't mind the extra ten seconds of effort.

Companies that sell razors make more money the more you change your blade. They even put indicator strips on them to remind you that your blade is "going bad". Well after using the methods above, I have not had to change my blade nearly as much. The indicator strip practically screams "change me!" but the razor still works like a charm! It turns out that a razor blades enemy is corrosion, the type of corrosion caused by leaving it wet. A razor blade does not become dull after a week of shaving human hair, as the razor companies would probably like you to believe by their marketing.

Armed with this new method, I did some quick math and realized I'm saving right around $100 this year just from taking an extra ten seconds to take care of my razor blades. I did the math, and ten seconds/day for an entire year is around sixty minutes, or an hour. With this method, you could make yourself $100 for an hour of "work". That's a pretty sweet rate of pay, even if it's not a huge amount, but I'd pick $100 up off the ground if I saw it in front of me!

More information on the evolution and commercialization of shaving from wikipedia.


  1. On top of taking a little better care of your blades, you can also get them much cheaper in bulk on ebay or other places online for most polular razors. My boyfriend has pretty sensitive skin so I got him a safety (straight) razor a while back. Since you're just buying the blade (not all the packaging and "cartriage," it's about 17-24 cents a blade on amazon.

  2. Alix,

    I did not mention safety razors (old school!) thanks for bringing them up. They actually work very well, and they are the original "disposable" razor, in that you changed the blade out, instead of using a straight blade.

    Thanks again for the great information!