When I took my 2 month hiatus from straight razor shaving a few months ago, I was extremely frustrated and annoyed at that time. But after sticking with straight razor shaving and watching a few YouTube videos, I'm happy to announce that I have officially gotten over that initial learning curve and it was worth it. Now my savings are really going to start piling up because once you buy a straight razor, a strop and a stone you're set. There's nothing else to buy with the exception to a brush which I already have and shaving soaps and/or creams which I already have and then some. My costs per shave are beyond low now. With a Gillette Fusion Pro glide cartridge, it was costing me $2.74 per shave. With a DE or double edge safety razor that cost lowered significantly to $.08 cents per shave. With a straight razor, they get even lower because you don't have to buy any replacement blades like you do with a DE or double edge safety razor. So basically once I get my first honing stone, that'll be the last piece of hardware that I need to buy period. I ought to get 4 more straight razors to go with the 3 that I have so I would have one for each day of the week which has been recomended by many.
I just went over to their website and looked at the plans and I did NOT like what I saw. According to their own website, 1 blade is suppose to last a month and they ship 4 blades every 4 months. The price is not bad and is very tempting, but to only get either 4 or 5 cartridges a month is not enough especially for those with tough beards. 2 shaves is all I will get out of a Gillette cartridge if I'm lucky and don't strop them which is why I use a straight razor. Once again Gillette has been proven wrong. And unlike both the double edge blades and cartridges, I don't have to rely on other people to make sure it's sharp. Once I buy something when it comes to straight razor shaving, that's it. I don't have to buy anything else period if I don't want to. Strops can last a lifetime. So can honing stones, and straight razors. It's the most economical shaving you can get. The Gillette Shave Club is charging $4.90 U.S. Dollars per month and you are only getting 3 shipments per year at a cost of $58.00 U.S. Dollars for only 12 cartridges per year. So how can that be a good deal?
Here recently I placed an order for some tubes of Arko shave cream. They arrived today and I'm looking forward to re examining them. When I first returned to the hobby of wet shaving, I use to love Arko's performance. Its price point is ridiculously affordable. At $3.95 per 3.5 ounce tube (100 grams), it's the lowest priced mainstream product on the market at $1.13 per ounce. I personally know that these tubes of cream last a really long time from past experiences with Arko. I loved the "ice mint" which used to be known as "extra fresh" unfortunately it was out of stock at all of my suppliers that I use. Basically what caused me to stop using Arko nearly a year ago now, was that I tried my first artisan made soap and I was blown away with the performance and basically Arko took a back seat to those artisan made soaps. So I decided to try them yet again now that I'm a much more seasoned wet shaver and no what works best for me and my skin type. So it should be much more interesting this time around. The varieties that I purchased were maximum comfort, moist and last but certainly not least, cool which is their menthol based cream. I'm stocking up on my menthol based products for the "summer of shaves" event which I hold on the first official day of summer each and every year.
Now that I've been getting some killer straight razor shaves on a frequent basis, I've been looking at getting into honing or maintaining my straight razors and it's been awesome over in the face book groups. I've been getting some valuable information on where to start and how to go about this from a couple of friends and they also have quite a few YouTube videos up that have been a great help. The secret to getting a great straight razor shave is to have a straight razor that is truly shave ready. And in order to get that, you absolutely MUST have the bevel set correctly. If it's not set correctly, your razor will never truly be shave ready. In fact it won't hold edge for very long either. Not long ago I sent off my vintage to someone who I thought could hone and was very disappointed in the results to say the least. I had to stay on him to get it back and when I did get back, it was only good for a single shave. So I sent it off again to a couple of my friends that I recently have been talking to who truly know how to hone and that razor is still good to this day. The Italian stallion of wet shaving and his mentor, done a phenomenal job at re honing and correcting the mistakes that the previous person made when he attempted to hone it. I don't mention names in my blog because these are just my own personal experiences and opinions. But I'm having a blast with straight razors now.
I'm having a blast and getting epic shaves with a straight razor. But I do get asked by a lot of people on how they can get started without spending an epic amount of money. There's 2 ways you can get started for around $50 to $100 U.S. Dollars. The first is to go vintage and see what you can find in the various antique shops around your particular area. But buyer beware. There are people out there that sell bad products and you could end up spending more than you want to if you are not carefull. The other option is to talk to someone and buy a Gold Dollar straight razor off them. There are people who belong to various facebook groups that do sell both the Gold Dollar straight razors and starter strops for almost nothing and they do offer honing services for a low flat rate. A friend of mine offers starter strops for $15 U.S. Dollars and has several Gold Dollar straight razors for sale. His honing skills are exceptional. Now you can go to various online suppliers and buy a straight razor but they can often get expensive. Another problem if you're not carefull is the term "shave ready". Some people's "shave ready" is really not so you have to be selective. I recomend that you watch several youtube videos and seek someone out who's willing to teach and show you how to hone and maintain a razor.
If you read my last post, you would know that I just ruined Gillette's "propaganda campaign" with the truth which they wouldn't know what it is even if they looked it up and basic math which calculated my costs specifically that was based apon sales receipts and online order records. The canned goo has too many different cost factors to even calculate. Between the internet and the traditional brick and mortar stores along with competition amongst these retailers themselves, you would never get the same results in your calculations even if you set up a computer that's been programmed specifically for this task. This can also be said about the artisan shaving soap as well and there's 2 more factors added to this reason which are custom scents and excessive amounts of scented shave soaps. Ginger's Garden is a prime example of this. She has a seperate web page for scents alone and often does create custom scents. Another reason is that some of the shaving soaps that I have here can see excessive use on a daily basis for months on end which I did when I was first starting out and it looks like I've barely put a dent in them in terms of product consumption. Soap Commander's products come to mind along with the jumbo sized pucks and containers of shaving soap that's available and if you use them in a rotation, they can last for years. That is pretty much why I didn't factor in the shaving soaps and/or creams into my specific costs. Of course each person's budget and income along with shaving habbits also changes this as well which is why the term "your mileage may vary" applies very well.
Here lately, Gillette's advertising campaign has been horrible. First they stole the "Dyson Ball" technology which surprisingly has not generated any lawsuits. Now they've been going pretty hot and heavy with how long their blades last which is indeed complete and utter B.S. Here's what the costs really are and how long they truly last. I have a tough beard now mainly due to age and genetics. I was told that my late grandfather can dull a set of hair clippers in one sitting which explains a lot. And due to a life threatening illness I had along with a slight hormone imbalance that resulted, I have no problem growing a beard. It's nearly a 3 to 1 ratio now compared to a normal person's beard. If I don't do anything such as using the "Save a Blade" battery powered stropping system or stropping the cartridges themselves using blue jeans or denim, I can get a whopping 2 shaves out of a cartridge. The costs were $21.98 for 4 cartridges at a local super market. So $21.98 divided by 8 shaves equals $2.75 per shave (2.7475 to be exact). Due to my illness and genetics, I have to shave daily using a cartridge. So I'd only have enough cartridges for 8 days. In order for me to shave daily with a cartridge, I would need 12 cartridges per month. So that means I would have to buy 3 packs per month. $21.98 mulitplied by 3 equals $65.94 per month. Now if you take that total and multiplied that by 12 months and you get a yearly cost of $791.28. I can't tell you exactly how many straight razors this will buy, and for sure I really can't tell you how many DE saftey razors this will buy. Right now I can contact a friend of mine via private message over on Facebook and get a brand new shave ready gold dollar straight razor for less than $40 dollars. And I can go on Amazon's website and get a double edge safety razor for less than $15 dollars. That's why Gillette here in North America hates traditional wet shaving period. Now I must add that this is my costs and not yours because everyone's beard is different in some form or fassion. So lets continue with the cost calculations that involve me personally. Next up DE safety razors. I recently purchased a pack of double edge razor blades that contains 100 blades. My costs for these blades with shipping included was $22.47. Now I can get more shaves with this blade depending on which DE safety razor I use but I usually get around 3 shaves per blade before I have to install a new blade. So 3 shaves multiplied by 100 blades equals 300 shaves out of this particular pack of blades. So if you take my cost of $22.47 and divide that by 300 shaves and you'll get a total cost of $.07 cents per shave (.0749 to be exact). Now this package of 100 blades provides 300 daily shaves. That's 65 days short of an entire year and amazon does sell smaller packs of blades, but why not just go ahead and get 2 packs of blades. Without shipping, this package of 100 DE or double edge blades costs $16.99 per box. The shipping I got was a flat rate and the costs would not a factor. So all I really have to do is add $16.99 to my actual costs and you'd get more than a year's worth of shave for $39.46. That is my costs for 600 shaves. So lets do a little bit more of basic math. 2 years equals 730 days. 730 days minus 600 day's worth of shaving equals 130 days short of 2 years. Now that 2 year total cost listed above is extremely close to the price tag of a brand new Gold Dollar straight razor that's been truely been made shave ready. But unlike using a double edge safety razor, it's a one time cost because a straight razor is not disposable. Now you will have to buy a strop which can also be a one time investment as well. There's people all over the web that sell vintage strops that are almost if not older than I am and the same can be said about straight razors as well. So they are a lifetime investment. A single honing stone would and could be your only cost per year if you wanted it to be. Most people that hone straight razors professionally usually get around 2,500 or more razors out of a single stone and these guys hone straight razors on a daily basis. You won't need to do this so your costs get even lower and there's a few places on the web that have a honing kit for sale that covers everything you'd need for honing your own straight razors. It's going to take another post to explain why I didn't factor in the costs of shaving soaps which is also mind blowing as well.
Next month, I turn 38 years old and I will be buying some more soaps. I'm looking at adding a few more from Soap Commander more than anything else along with Through The Fire Fine Craft soaps. I would've done it this month but I had to help with my mom's medical bills which is more important. I've also got Chiseled Face's shaving soap on my list and I'm thinking about trying a couple of creams again that I use to like which is Taylor of Old Bond Street and Arko's tubes of shaving cream. I really want to try them in my shaving scuttle and see how they do because it has taken my shaves to a whole another level and has been great. Soap Commander is up next in terms of purchasing soaps. I also have to go back to UVA in july as well.
After getting an extremely bad shave yesterday that was beyond horrible, I have decided not to get any more shavettes. I picked up a Magic branded shavette that uses a double edge blade that is split in half for $8 U.S. dollars. It was an epic mistake and I'm still feeling the effects to this day. Starting today, I've had to go back to my Weishi 9306G DE safety razor until I heal up. I will now have 2 scars on my left jaw from 2 different shavettes. The first one came from the Feather AC non folding japanese style shavette which costs more than some straight razors and the post shave was beyond horrible. The second one will be from this Magic branded shavette which couldn't hold a blade to save its life. No matter what I did, the blade just would not stay in place. My Parker Barber SR1 was real good at holding a blade and had plenty of weight behind it, but it was extremly hard to put a blade in and it often got clogged up worse than any of my DE safety razors. So now that I'm 0 and 3 when it comes to shavettes, I have decided to rule them out. As far as giving away the shavette that I bought yesterday, it's a no go because I can't in good coscience give away something that doesn't work and can be extremely dangerous. I'm basically out of one double edge blade and $8 dollars.
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