Several people have written me in the last month asking how I shave (assuming that I do it in a somewhat frugal fashion) or offering suggestions on how to save money by shaving frugally. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I place a high value on personal appearance, so I feel it’s appropriate to get a good shave, even if it’s not the least-expensive choice.
First of all, I keep my face cleanly shaven. No facial hair whatsoever. This means that I shave daily and I use the razor quite heavily.
The razor The first piece of equipment I use is an old fashioned safety razor. The model I use is actually one inherited from my grandfather, but it is extremely similar to the Merkur Classic. This will be a $30 initial investment to get started, but a good safety razor will last a lifetime.
Once you’ve made that initial investment, however, it becomes substantially cheaper to shave. The replacement blades for a safety razor, when bought in bulk, cost about $0.50 a piece and last me for about ten days. For example, you can buy a ten pack of blades from Amazon for $4.95, and if you hunt around, you can sometimes find them cheaper than that.
Shaving cream Quite honestly, the aerosol shaving cream that you ordinarily use will continue to work. Having said that, I’ll describe what I personally recommend for shaving. Please note that these items make for great gifts from a loved one (your mother, sister, or wife are all appropriate) for Christmas.
First of all, I don’t apply shaving cream with my hand; I use a badger hair brush. If you’ve ever seen an old movie including a man shaving, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one in use (or just watch this music video – I can’t believe I just linked to that). The brush does a much better job than the hand of getting the cream up under the facial hair, making the shaving much smoother.
I also tend to use aerosol cream if there’s nothing else available, but I often receive tins or tubes of real shaving cream as a gift, like this tin from Geo. F Trumper. In any case, I just wet my face (like right after a shower) and get some cream on the end of the brush and brush it on my face, stroking against the grain. Then I shave gently with the grain, using short strokes.
The safety razor and blades are substantially cheaper than disposables (even the low-end disposables, which need to be tossed after a single shave, at least for me – they may be cheaper per blade, but the safety razor blades last for about ten shaves and don’t burn my face) and produce less waste, thus saving money slowly but surely over the long run. As for the shaving cream and brush, they’re not necessary, but I’ve found that they produce a very close shave, smell quite good, and enhance the shaving experience.