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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Shaving, A Faster Alternative?

So, remember how I said that the best tech was low-tech? is...but only if you have lots of time on your hands. In the months that have elapsed since I switched to a double-edged safety razor, I've learned one important thing: Yes, safety razors shave amazingly well and are very cheap, but they are very, very, unforgiving.

I found that I had to focus very intently to shave, all the while being very slow and methodical to avoid cutting myself. I also had to constantly reapply pre-shave cream and shaving cream, as well as frequently wet the razor blade to compensate for the lack of a lubrication strip found on modern cartridge razors. Because time is something I have a very short supply of in my harried life with kids, I've decided to set down, at least temporarily, my safety razor and try another alternative to the Gillette shaving cabal: The Dollar Shave Club

The Service

The Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is a slick service, offering a cartridge-style razor very similar to the Gillette Fusion. Their system works very simply. Sign up for a monthly plan with either their two-blade, four-blade, or six-blade razor, and get a one month supply of blade cartridges (4 of them) delivered every month to your doorstep for a low per-month cost of $1, $6, or $9 respectively (which includes the blade handle with the first shipment, as well as shipping). If you need extra blades, shaving cream, or after-shave, you simply log in and add that to your next month's delivery with just a few clicks.

While definitely more expensive than safety razor blades, DSC is much cheaper than the Gillette Fusion series of razors. Keep in mind, part of what DSC offers is indeed a service. I won't try to hide it, you can get the very same razors and blades they offer directly from their supplier, Dorco, for a little less money and a bit more effort. However, the advantage with DSC, is that you don't have to buy in bulk to get low prices, or remember to order more. The blades simply show up every month on your doorstep with no effort at all.

The Shave

Unlike my safety razor, the shave with the DSC "4X" model I initially selected, required very little concentration at all. That's a big plus when I'm shaving at the crack of dawn in a child-induced, sleep-deprived state! The shave was very smooth, very fast, and I came away without a single nick. Bear in mind, I did this by using some of the techniques I had learned from my safety razor experience. That is, an initial pass running the razor with the grain from top to bottom down my face, a quick re-lather, then a pass across my face, and finally (without re-lathering) against the grain from bottom to top. 

The Shave Butter

Along with my initial shipment of the razor handle and the blades, came a sample of the secret weapon to the DSC shave, and the reason I may stick with them instead of going directly to Dorco for the blades: Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter. I can't yet figure out exactly who makes this for DSC, or if there is any other alternative to it anywhere else, but this stuff is ah-mazing. The best way I can describe the consistency is that it feels like an ointment that you apply to your face. 

This saved me a ton of time. No longer did I need to apply a pre-shave cream, nor did I need to spend many minutes working my shave cream into a lather with a badger-hair brush and bowl. I simply squeezed some of this shave butter out, rubbed it on my face, and shaved. Made one pass, squeezed out a little more, made another pass, and I was done. Many minutes saved, and that's like precious gold to me during my morning rush to get the kids to daycare. 

Note: I could not find any way to purchase the shave butter without the blades, so if I am going to stick with using that, buying blades directly from Dorco is slightly less appealing financially because I then still have to buy, at a minimum, the two-blade razor from DSC for $1 per month. Dorco is still cheaper, but then the "convenience" of the DSC service starts to become more appealing.

Final Thoughts

It makes me sad to admit that I'm giving up, at least for now, on safety razors. They hold so much promise for a close shave for very little money. I feel like I've failed in a way, since so many seem to have blissful experiences with them. Maybe they're smarter, more persistent, or have more time than I do. Ultimately what it came down to, is I wanted a cheaper shave than Gillette offers. I thought I could deal with the added time to shave, but that eventually became untenable for me. The Dollar Shave Club offers me a very reasonable alternative between the opposite ends of the shaving spectrum that safety razors and Gillette Fusion-style razors occupy. I will stick with them for now as I'm getting the cheap, fast, and smooth shave I want out of a razor.

If you'd like to give Dollar Shave Club a try, please consider using my referral link. It costs you nothing more, and I save a little on my next order. If you do try them, please comment on your thoughts!