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How to get a close shave without getting skinned

5 Jan
The Harry’s shaving kit comes standard with a bottle of shaving gel but this is over-priced at $10. You can remove it from the shopping cart before making the purchase. (Geoff Meeker photo)

The Harry’s shaving kit comes standard with a bottle of shaving gel but this is over-priced at $10. You can remove it from the shopping cart before making the purchase. (Geoff Meeker photo)

January 5, 2015 – According to some reports I’ve read, razor blades are one of the most popular targets of shoplifters – so much so that Shoppers Drug Mart keeps them behind the front counter.

And no wonder: a pack of eight brand-name razor cartridges at the drug store will set you back from $40 for the basic Gillette Fusion up to $48 for the fancier Fusion ProGlide Power.

That’s a lot of bucks, to scrape a bit of hair off your face. So this week, I’m here to save you some money on your manscaping… though women who use razors may pick up something useful here as well.

First of all, no matter what cartridge you use, you’re probably dumping it way too soon. Some think that little blue strip is a wear indicator and that the blade should be thrown away when it fades to white. This is not true. I use a cartridge for at least four weeks, throwing it away only when it becomes uncomfortable to use.

In the last year or so, a couple of upstarts have given the establishment guys at Gillette and Schick a run for their money, offering cheaper cartridges by mail order on a subscription basis.

The best known of these, the Dollar Shave Club (DSC), got its start with a funny and creative online ad that boosted the company’s fortunes by going viral (view it at dollarshaveclub.com). I’ve been tempted to sign up with DSC but the online reviews of the product have not been great, with many complaints about cheap materials and poor shave quality.

Then, my 22-year-old son announced that he had signed up with Harry’s, another blade subscription service (harrys.com). When the parcel arrived, he gave me one of the cartridges and lent me the razor to test shave quality and longevity of the blade.

That was on November 8 and I’ve been using it ever since. First, an important qualifier: I have a closely-trimmed beard and only shave my neck from the chin line down and part of my cheek, so wear on the blade would be less than with a full face of hair. On the other hand, the neck can be a troublesome zone to shave closely and comfortably so it was a rigorous test nonetheless.

I was impressed by the Harry’s product right from the get go. It delivered a clean, close and comfortable shave, with no cuts. There was a slight drag from the blade, a barely noticeable irritation caused, presumably, by a small amount of friction, though this was minimized by using a quality shaving gel.

I am still using that same blade, more than six weeks later. It’s not as sharp as when new, but still serviceable. And today, just for fun, I did a test shave using my old – and also well-used – Gillette Fusion razor and the Harry’s razor at the same time, alternating one with the other, stroke for stroke. There was no discernible difference between the two.

I decided then and there to sign up with Harry’s. To keep it simple, the company offers one standard shipment of eight cartridges for $15, which you can take monthly, every two months or every five months. By default, they add two cans of shaving cream to the offer but, at $8 per can, this is grossly over-priced – you can buy a good lubricant for much less at the drug store.

Really, the extra cans of foam are an attempt to upsell and make money on accessories. You can remove these from the cart before clicking the purchase button. I did include the razor handle as well for $10, so with shipping and taxes factored in the order came to $35 US. Going forward, it will cost me about $21 US every five months, which is about half the price of the Gillette cartridges. I’m sold.

You can also purchase after shave/moisturizer from Harry’s, at $10 for 1.7 ozs, but again, you’ll probably find cheaper by looking around. And after shave is a personal choice – you want to shop with your nose before settling on a brand. And if you want something really distinctive, check out the spicy, skin-soothing balms at Fogtown Barber.

If you’re looking for other ways to enhance the manscaping experience, I recommend purchasing a shaving brush and jar of shaving soap. You can get both for a one-time investment of roughly $25, but you will save bucks in the end, get a shave that feels good and send less garbage to the landfill. And if you really want the best, check out some of the high-end shaving accessories at Home on Water.

I will report back on the Harry’s product in several months, after I’ve had time to settle into the service.

 

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