Thursday, September 06, 2007

Are Expensive Razors Worth It?

Back in July I wrote a post on the rising cost of beauty treatments and products how much I spend on beauty per year. Calculating the total was a scary experience, as I hadn't realized just how much every drugstore moisturizer and monthly pedicure added up. I don't get spa treatments, only replace my makeup when it goes bad and refuse to pay more than $20 for most beauty products I own (DiorShow is one notable exception)... how could it all add up to over $3,000 per year?

In the past month, I took a hard look on my spending habits, and have tried to think of where I could cut costs without losing too much in the way of quality products. Taking inventory of my bathroom, I noticed one item that's been sucking me out of about $150 a year, with no appreciable difference from its cheaper versions- my Schick Quattro Razor and its annoyingly expensive refill cartridges.

Each one of those cartridges costs $2.39 and I'll use them 1-2 times before switching to a new blade. I worry about bacteria growing when it's been sitting in my shower for a week between shaves and I find it's noticeably duller after each use. Yet, I've been shelling out about $10 a month for cartridge refills (this doesn't include the razor itself, which cost $10). I bought into the idea that more blades equals a closer shave, and that the "moisturizing strip enriched with Aloe and Vitamin E" made a difference in shaving-induced dryness and irritation.


But I have since come to my senses and started only buying disposable razors in bulk, where the price is less than $1 per razor. I still used my Trader Joe's Scrub and Cream Shave and my legs were no coarser or dryer than usual. I actually didn't notice any difference in the closeness of the shave.

But I'm curious what your experience has been. Do you find that fancy razors work better and are worth the extra cash?

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always used disposable razors... probably every brand/type available. My latest find is the Noxema 4 blade. 3 razors for less than $3 at Wal-mart!

Red said...

I am in love with the hugely overpriced Venus Breeze, the razor with the built-in shave gel. I hate paying so much for them, but they seem to last at least 3-4 uses, and leave me as smooth as if I took the trouble to use shaving cream and the regular 3-blade Venus razor, which is difficult because I always shave during my showers. I should note that the hair on my legs is very fine and blonde, so I really only need to shave once a week. I'm going to try waxing throughout the winter in hopes that by summer I will barely need to touch up at all.

Kimmer said...

I really like the Venus razor. I cringe whenever I pay nearly $9 for a 4-pack of refills but each blade usually lasts me about 4-5 shaves before it's too dull to continue to use. I've used cheap disposables but end up having to shave twice because of all the missed spots & patches of hair on my knees.

Elle said...

I think the brand name razors do provide a closer shave than the cheap disposables, as well as nick me less frequently (I use a Schick triple blade "tracer"; I like the way it flexes around my bony knees). I probably use them about four-five times before changing the cartridge.

Meg said...

I use Venus razors because I do find that they give a closer shave with less nicks that the cheap disposables that I used to use.

However, I buy them in bulk at Sams Club. That definitely helps with the price. Just with the razors, paper products, and other toiletry items, my husband and I save enough to make the membership fee worth it.

Deja Pseu said...

Another Venus user here too. I get 5-6 uses out of each blade, and with far fewer nicks than the disposables. I also am trying to get out of the "disposable" mentality for environmental reasons, though I'm not sure there's more material in one disposable razor than in a Venus blade cartridge.

Natalie said...

Another good trick is to use men's disposable razors, which often have multiple blades and give a close shave. My roommate is a big fan of this cost-cutting tip - I favor my Venus Divine, but I'm thinking about making the switch once my refill cartridges run out!

Cate said...

I am a raging devotee of the Mach 3. I get the most godawful razor burn (hideous bumps and streaks that last for a week or more) plus cuts whenever I switch to another razor (and that includes Venus and Quattro)...even exfoliating and moisturizing and shaving creaming beforehand doesn't help me when it's not a Mach 3. Also, find that the blades last 10-15 shaves (I have very very fine hair, though) and I nix the bacterial problem with a quick soak in a cupful of peroxide periodically. It ruins the "moisture" strip, but who cares?
I found that the biggest drain for me was shaving cream. I used to be a Skintimate gel fan, until I found out that the Skintimate shaving cream was just the same stuff, just dispensed as if you'd already rubbed it on your legs. Once I made that switch, it was a short leap to grabbing my boyfriend's 99c shaving cream in a moment of desperation and slathering that all over my legs...to find no noticeable difference at all! I now buy man's shaving cream when it goes on sale with no trouble to report. There can be a slight after-smell, but I usually gently wash my legs after shaving them anyway AND moisturize, so it's not a big deal in the end.

Anonymous said...

Disposable razors? What a huge waste of packaging just going straight to landfill. I'm not usually so loudly environmental but the huge amount of disposable packaging we get through makes me really quite sad. Shouldn't we try to avoid this when we can?

I use a mans gillete razor, I find they usually do a much better job then womens ones. Give it a rinse after the shower and leave it on the shelf away from the shelf, then you needent worry about the bacteria so much.

Sarah said...

I started sing a Braun Silk Epil a couple of years ago and I've never looked back. It's paid for itself several times over with what I would have spent on razors (my previous favorite was the Venus), and I use use far less often than I would have shaved.

EthidiumBromide said...

Oh, I could NEVER use disposable razors -- they create so much more trash. I am more than willing to pay a bit more to do something that is better for the environment by reducing solid waste.
I'm a Schick Quattro user as well, but I get significantly more than 1-2 uses out of them! I shave every 2-3 days (I LOATHE stubble and cannot understand how people go weeks without shaving in the winter), and will replace my cartridge every 3 weeks or so. Perhaps because I shave so frequently, the blade does not dull as quickly since there is significantly less hair growth?
Regardless, in my opinion, the long-term environmental cost of all the additional waste is much, much higher than the out-of-pocket cost of paying for non-disposable razor blades.

Teek said...

Every 1-2 shaves, that's so often! My Venus blades last me a month, and I shave every three days or so. I've never found the quality of the shave decreases much before then, or I'm more prone to nicks or infections. (I usually cut myself with brand new ones.) I buy a big package of them at the bulk food store every year around Christmas, so about $20 a year. The razor itself is probably 5 years old.

Erika said...

I'm not sure about disposible razors, but I have found that if I make my own concoction of sugar and olive oil to use as a scrub, then shave with the olive oil, I get a great shave that lasts longer than normal. I buy my cartridges at Sams, Venus, I think.

Bridget said...

I use the Venus. I prefer the Venus Divine refills (have bigger moisturizing strip) but Costco lately has only had the regular Venus cartridges.

As for the Breeze, I don't like it but find it very convenient when traveling to not pack shave gel.

I do think any variety of these provide a better shave then the blade disposables. At least for me. But I use them for at least a week, usually every day.

Husband has switched to a electric razor. He was having to switch his Mach 3 razors more frequently and was annoyed at the cost. He has a braun shaver now and likes it a lot. It has definitely paid for itself.

Kathleen said...

I also love men's shaving cream. There's a lime scented one that I find at CVS which doesn't leave me smelling like a boy.

Susan said...

I switched to the original Venus after spending years trying to find something that wouldn't leave me with a horrible rash and tons of nicks afterwards. Haven't used anything else since.

How much do the blades go for at the bulk clubs? I've never shopped at one, starting to wonder if it might be worth it...

Yet Another Heather said...

Okay, this will sound really dumb, especially after reading all of those Venus/landfill stuff (which I find a little bit over the top- there's so much waste in this world and you're concerned about razors? really?), but my very favorite razors are super generic for the Schick Quatro. At Wal-Mart they're called Persona (and purple) and they're about $3 for 4. At Kroger they're the generic brand there and they are pink, but exactly the same thing otherwise. Anyway, they last a really long time for me and give a very close shave. I just could not handle paying $8 for 4 BLADES anymore. That is obnoxiously expensive and no better than the cheap generics.

Anonymous said...

I also use Venus. I would always, always cut myself with disposables, and I hate, hate the idea of throwing out so much plastic. I buy either Venus or Mach-3, whichever one is on sale, and a blade lasts me about a week of shaving every day.
I bought a shave "oil" in the men's aisle yesterday, I haven't tried it yet, but I know other people use other oils for shaving, so I'm hoping I can cut out another cost / wasteful packaging item.

Anonymous said...

I was actually pondering the other day from switching to the kind of razors where you only refill the blade. Tossing away a razor every month takes up probably 3x the amount of space that it would take to toss a blade (including the packaging the blades come in). My mom gives me a ton of toiletries (including disposable razors) every Christmas, so it's a matter of using them up!

Anita said...

To me, no, expensive razors are not at all worth it. I will add, however, that I'm not particularly hairy and don't need to shave my legs that often, whereas with my DH, it's a different story. He's gotta shave every day, sometimes twice a day, and his skin is super sensitive - he's the expensive razor user in the family. Given what I've spent on makeup over the years, it's impossible for me to make a fuss at his one splurge :)

Anonymous said...

Actually--somebody tell me if this is totally gross, but I find that I get a LOT more use out of disposable razors than I do out of expensive Venus ones. I can get over a month of use over a single disposable razor. I just use plain body wash as shave creme. I rinse the razor well and keep it on a dry shelf.

When I had a Venus, I always felt kind of bad that I was spending so much money on it, so I probably used it more and wore it out faster.

I shave only one or two times a week. I'm a redhead with very fine clear hairs on my arms and legs, so I admittedly don't have to shave as often as someone with thicker or darker hair.

Beans said...

To the person who implied it was silly to worry over the packaging/waste from disposable razors, you should rethink that. Small amounts of waste add up really quickly when a lot of people are involved. People think that every little thing doesn't matter, but if everyone didn't waste all those little things, it would make a huge difference.
Also, I use store brand (Long's Drugstore is my favorite) men's razors.

jennine said...

venus is worth every penny.

Joanna Schmidt said...

I have to shave every day. No kidding. I use the pink Venus -Every day. Never really thought about bacteria, because I rinse it off well and hang it up on my "hang-your-razor-thingy" so it drips dry and doesn't sit in a pool of soap scum. I change my razor blade (get this) once every 2 months. Because of the cost of the refills, I just use them until they aren't effective. They don't rust, don't look bad.... but I will tell you, when I change the blade, I am so used to the dull blade, I rip a nice piece of skin off every time I switch.

You'd think I was smarter than that!
:)
-Joanna

juicefairy said...

I tend to stay away from disposables. I find I nick myself twice as much with a disposable. I use a Venus razor but I use it ten times more than they are intended for. Therefore I save myself quite a bit of money.

Rapunzel said...

First of all, with this whole environmentalist discussion, i think it's important that we remember that the blades on our "non disposable" razors are in fact disposable. They just don't have the bit of plastic on the end. The issue is still there. They still get swallowed by animals and pile up in landfills, not to mention the amount of packaging that piles up with all of the replacement blades. For the disposable razor girls, the issue with the extra plastic bit can be taken care of if they just break it off and put that part in the recycle. But honestly, I don't think that anyone who shaves with razors, weather it be Venus or the cheap disposable type should be pointing fingers about who is more "green".

I use Venus. Each blade honestly lasts me at least 2 months. I don't know if it's because I just have fine hair or what, but i find it wasteful and unnecessary to change it more often. I keep it in a place away from bacteria and dip it in alcohol or vinegar to sanitize it.

I buy my replacement cartridges at Costco and they last me a loooooooong time.

Do i think that Venus is better than the disposable options? Not necessarily. I've been using it ever since it first came out and haven't been unhappy so i haven't tried alternatives. In the few times i've used a disposable blade here and there i haven't noticed a problem with them. But, since with Venus i have to replace the razor so infrequently, it really makes it worth it for me financially, personally, and environmentally.

I think the most important thing about a shave is the shave cream. Ever since i started using TJ's cream, i've had no cuts or nicks and my legs have been softer than ever.

Kelly Mahoney said...

I've been using the same style razor with disposable blades for a couple of years. I go through a pack of five blades every two months or so, but I stock up when they're on sale. Buying in bulk is another good idea.

Raven said...

I use a Shick Intuition. The blade is surrounded by a built-in bar of lubricant, because it's way more convenient to not need shaving cream (especially when I need to shave at the gym).

I shave about 3 times per week (less in winter), and each blade lasts me a couple weeks. I probably buy a new $15 package of 6 blades every three months, so spend less than $60/year -- plus nothing on shaving cream.

Not the closest shave, but I have pretty sparse light hair, so it works fine for me.

Anonymous said...

Disposable razors are too wasteful, in my opinion. The energy and resources that go into making them isn't worth the saved cost for me. Waxing is definitely the way to go (there are some cheap and easy at-home ones) -- but in a pinch, I'll use my Venus razor.

Christine said...

holy crap, I feel disgusting now...I think of myself as clean/semi-germ-freak, but I will use the same cartridge for 2 months-ish. I hate how much they cost so I just use them until they're dull (I usually do a touch-up shave every day). I use the men's mach 3 blades, but what I really wish for is LASER HAIR REMOVAL. that would be such a dream come true.

Anonymous said...

i got out of the habit of shaving after a trip to europe in college. eventually decided i prefer smooth legs/underarms/bikini area but didn't want to go back to shaving, so i started waxing. that got expensive so i figured out how to wax my legs and bikini area myself and just shaved my underarms - cheap disposable razors are fine for this purpose.

in recent years i had four laser hair removal treatments on my underarms. i have a tiny bit of hair left but most of it is gray and practically invisible, so i only wind up shaving there 3-4 times per month. now i can get a lot of use out of one disposable razor because i use it so infrequently on a tiny amount of hair. i also bought a braun silk epilator for doing my legs and bikini area, which is much quicker and less messy than home waxing, and not really all that painful.

there are a lot of comments here from women who don't want to use disposable razors for environmental reasons - if you're really concerned about the waste generated by your hair removal habits, i recommend switching to waxing or getting one of the new epilators. the braun epi is much less painful to use than the old style epilady torture devices, and you will be helping to keep a lot of plastic and metal out of landfills. the added bonus is that hair torn out from the root by waxing or mechanical epilation actually does grow in less densely over time. my stepmother has been using an epilady for many years and she has very little hair growing on her legs now.

nadarine said...

oy.... your post got me to tally up my spending last year, and seeing that I dropped about $2500 on clothes and makeup hurts.
That's $ I could've used to buy a new laptop plus take care of my car insurance for the year. OUCH.

Ally said...

I use a Venus.. like a lot of other people here. The blades are a bit pricey, but they last me a while. Bacteria worries me less than being wasteful (no offense -- to each their own).

The Venus doesn't give me a closer shave, but I cut myself A LOT less with it. I'm clumsy with a razor, and I'm constantly cutting myself withing anything but the Venus, so I won't use anything else.

francyface said...

I love, love, love the generic/ CVS brand that resembles the men's Schick something or other (can't remember the exact name). I tried every expensive razor as soon as it came out until I took one of my mom's CVS razors. It left my legs so much smoother and nick-free than anything else I have tried.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster. The Noxzema 3 and 4 blade razors are amazing AND cheap!

G.G. said...

I love the Gillette Mach 3 razors. Cost a fair amount, but absolutely worth it.

Julie said...

I learned a good trick from a guy that saves money and gives you a nice shave--shave with hair conditioner instead of shaving cream. I buy some good smelling and Suave conditioner and it works great no matter what razor I use.

Jeda21 said...

I use the CVS Pharmacy generic version of the Mach 3, which is 4.99 for the razor starter set w/ three or four free cartridges, and then the replacement cartridges are $4.99 ea as well. IT seems more reasonable than the name brands, but you're so right, this is nutty when you add it up yearly.

Anonymous said...

Have you women really never heard of waxing? It is cheap - you can make the "wax" at home with lemon juice and sugar. Failing this, you can buy wax and strips cheaply and warm the wax by placing the tub in a bowl of hot water. Or you could buy wax strips from Veet or the like.

The more you 'shave', the harder the hair that come back. Waxing is painful but reduces hair growth over time even for sisters of the Orang Utan!

Anonymous said...

I have used a Venus shaver for a while... about a year. While I change baldes every 3 weeks or so and that can add up (the refills cost way too much) but I have always get the best results. The last time I nicked myself was in 7th grade.
If you're worried about bacteria, I've always learned to wash the blade directly after each swipe and then do a complete rinse-off after shaving. It sounds time consuming, but it only adds 5 minutes to my showers.

Katarina said...

I use either Mach 3 or Venus and replace the blades only every 2 - 3 months (shave every day, hairs are fine). The expensive ones are IMO worth it for the more ergonomic design (and usually they're easier on the eye). I'm careful with the freshly replaced blades, have never cut myself with Machs or Venuses.
Would choose laser hair removal if not for the price and too fairly coloured hair.