Shaving 101 — How Much Cash Should You Drop On Shaving?
New converts to “traditional” wet shaving (and even some experienced shavers!) often wonder how much they should spend on gear. You can spend a little…or a lot. But how much cash should you drop? Prices for shaving equipment are all over the road: you can pretty much spend as much or as little as you want. But let’s take a look at some of the most popular products to come up with a “baseline” to gauge your purchases.
The most popular razors in the “traditional” world are the Merkur 34C* and the Edwin Jagger DE89* (with the “LBL” version garnering most of the sales). Surveying the major selling outlets shows an average cost of about US $30 for these razors. Can you spend less? Sure. Can you spend more? Of course. Are there inferior razors that go for the baseline price? Yes, unfortunately. :( But at least now you have a rough idea of how much you can budget for.
Shaving brushes are a tough nut to crack, baseline-wise, because there are so many variables like the type of hair and the handle material. From the pure popularity standpoint* the Parker “pure” badger at about US $35, the Edwin Jagger “best” badger at about US $45, the Omega boar at about US $15, and the “Plisson-like” synthetic brushes at about US $20 are representative of their respective varieties. However there are some great deals* out there (like the Stirling badger brush and the recently-launched brushes from West Coast Shaving) and some ghastly products masquerading as brushes (most notably Escali/Perfecto/Shaveway which I refuse to even link to). Which one should you consider? Check out Sharpologist’s brush buying guide.
Cream or Soap
Ahhhh, shaving cream (or soap). That fragrant diversion a lot of shavers are looking for. There are tons of options, from both large corporations and small artisans. Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood* is a perennial favorite on Amazon. Artisan creams and soap cram the listings of major online vendors.* But you know what? Most of the (good) popular offerings run around US $15. You may get more or less product for that price (a tube vs. a tub vs. a jar) but that $15 area seems to be the “sweet spot” for pricing.
The job ain’t done until you’ve applied aftershave. Maybe it’s a nice, calming balm. Or maybe you want to “feel the burn.” And, like creams and soaps, you’re looking at roughly US $15 as an average price.
Pre-shave oil? Razor/brush stand? Alum Block? Let your conscience be your guide here.
So What Is The Baseline?
You’re new to traditional shaving and you want to figure out a budget? OK try this:
- $30 for a double edge razor
- $30 for a brush of some type
- $30 for a small selection of soap/cream
- $15 for an aftershave
- $15 for miscellaneous
So for about $120 you can get yourself a pretty solid kit with at least some of it (razor, brush) being a “long term” kind of purchase. Surprised at the cost? Then consider this: the big recurring cost of shaving is the cost of the blade. A typical cartridge is roughly US $3 in bulk. The typical cost of a double edge blade is under US $0.20 in bulk. So while the cost of a traditional shaving set may be higher “up front,” the return on investment generally pays for itself after a couple of years. Here is one article about the cost of shaving. But even excluding the cost factor, shaving with traditional kit can often be more satisfying and less irritating than using a cartridge razor so there is that quality “X Factor.”
Still not comfortable with that cost? Some “search-engine-fu” should give you a few alternatives in different price ranges (like THIS page on Reddit, for example). And be sure to check out Sharpologist’s “Best” series (listed below and updated periodically) for more ideas!