Guest Post: Shaving Lessons from Grandpa Money Mustache

Keeping our tradition of occasional words of wisdom from readers on the weekends, I thought I’d share this educational article my Dad sent me some time ago on the topic of shaving.

I covered my own take on the issue long ago when introducing what I like to call the Universal Men’s Grooming Device. But it seems that some of the Mustachian Men have situations in their life which do not allow the permanently prickly chin that I advocate myself. So they must find a way to get a smoother shave that the UMGD will provide.

This is where my Dad comes in – the man who inadvertently started the Money Mustache Movement by demonstrating a rational and efficient lifestyle to his own kids. He’s also a retired advertising writer and plays a mean jazz piano to boot. This is why he is effecively Grandpa Money Mustache to you – so shavers, listen up:

(a quick note on the tone of the article – this piece was originally written for a man-oriented magazine or newspaper, rather than specifically for me to post on this blog..  which is why it is a bit more sassy than you might expect from your grandpa)


Shaving lessons

I started with an electric shaver but at some point in my twenties, perhaps bewitched by the sexual promise of Gillette TV commercials, tried a safety razor. It left my skin as smooth as the ultimate I’d felt – a woman’s breast. Switcharooney time!

This was in the sixties, when “Gillette shaving technology” (quoting from their current labeling) was still in the lab. Guys wanting to “man up” had to settle for a decades-old device: a “safety” razor that held replacement blades (those thin, hard-to-handle, cut-your-fingers-to-shreds blades now made mainly for drug dealers, judging from all those TV scenes in which bad guys use razor blades to cut up cocaine on tabletops).

In 1971 the new shaving age cut loose with the disposable cartridge that boasted two built-in blades. Safer sure, but the ads didn’t talk about that (probably too unmanly – who’s afraid of a big bad cut or even a gash
spurting like a fire hose?). Instead, they hyped the shaving action: the first blade pulls the whisker into position; the second blade slices it off nearer the bottom for a closer shave (i.e., you’d be smoother – and sexier).

The multi-blade rationale evolved into a fuzzy “more is better” mantra as along came the three-bladed, the four-bladed and finally (no, temporarily), today’s five-bladed cartridge.

Prices have ratcheted up with the technology, natch. Which has made the mood at the store shelf highly intimidating.

Five-bladed cartridges are about twenty bucks for a package of four. My guess is they’re suggesting four is a month’s supply and, standing there beside the shelf, I imagine hearing a jingle over the store’s P.A. system:
Use one per week
Don’t buy less
Or “I’m a schmuck”
You will confess

And at my local drug store, the shelf signs add more pressure. ”Lift here,” it says on the clear plastic lid over the shelf with five-bladed cartridges. But another sign nearby says, “As a security precaution, an alarm rings when the lid is lifted.”

This is just an academic concern for me since I’ve never lifted that lid. I buy the cheap (and hence unalarmed) no-name brand twin-bladed cartridges. Thank you, fellow shaving Luddites, for supporting this antique technology.

I’ve been a twin-blader ever since they introduced three blades. I recognized instantly that this was not about my facial comfort but the financial comfort of the cartridge-makers.

There are ways to fight back. Aye, laddie, grow yer beard! I had one for quite a while, but not just to cut
costs. It’s one of the few things men can do that women can’t. (Or couldn’t. These days I admit to less and less certainty about gender differentiation).

My beard needed only a light trim a couple of times a week. One shaving cartridge lasted for months.

After my first marriage ended, I “disappeared” my beard to help me attract a new mate. This worked and I am still beardless, at her preference. This presents no financial problem thanks to my manly money-saving moxie.

For instance, I discovered that even with daily use, disposable blades work longer than the manufacturers want you to believe. Just keep using ’em until you don’t (or she doesn’t) like the feel of what’s left on your face. I’ve been doing this for years and have never been thrown out of bed.

Also, I switched from shaving foam (now $3-$5 a can) to shaving soap. You need a brush to lather up but a brush isn’t your typical repeat-purchase item. I’ve had mine, a very basic model, for over a decade.

The stores fought back by stocking less shaving soap. Eventually, the low-priced brand I was buying vanished.

I experimented with good old Ivory soap. Mirabile dictu, it works just fine.

No, it doesn’t come in a shaving mug, but that leads directly to my last discovery: no mug needed. Just swipe a wet brush a few times over the bar, transfer foam to face, lather up and voilà – shaving for the new age of
discerning the dollars (it used to be “pinching the pennies,” but you get the point).

The final word on the cost of shaving has to go to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Ben’s beard is obviously a coded message that men don’t need to cut their whiskers. Just their whisker expenses.

P.S. My wife still strokes my cheek.

  • QUAKERPLAIN March 3, 2012, 10:23 pm

    No name twin bladed cartridges?

    I was expecting an old fashioned, hand down to your grandson straight razor
    as the ultimate statement of frugality.

    I own two, but have yet to muster the courage to master them. For the
    moment staying with the security of the old fashioned safety razor of my

    And shaving soap? Any cheap shampoo will be luxurious compared to
    dry shaving in the dark like we did in the military.

    Baby lotion serves well also. The final test being your ability to shave an
    old geezer without waking him up or cutting him….

    • Christian April 25, 2017, 12:38 pm

      I actually started shaving with a straight razor when I was 17, an affectation which lasted till I decided to shave my head before a formal dance and ended up with a nasty bloody scalp (whoops!). I’ve been shaving with a double-bladed safety razor for the last five years or so, and definitely recommend it :-)

  • Clint March 3, 2012, 10:23 pm

    I was hoping you would mention shave soap. I shave every other day, and a bar lasts me about a year. Haven’t tried Ivory, but I think I’m doing pretty well. Got to admit: I’ve been suckered into the three-blade model, though.

  • Shanna March 3, 2012, 10:31 pm

    I think it’s a way to get men’s spending on “beauty” products up somewhere near women’s.

    I have been using the same heavy twin blade razor handle for about ten years now, and have only bought the blades in the clearance bin for about 2 bucks. I was looking at Costco because I thought I was out but I nearly fainted from the price, even with the coupon $10 more than an entire box of diapers for my baby! $50 for razor blades-are you shitting me?????? Luckily I still have 4 blades left which will last til I dig through a clearance bin again.

    Also, I just use cheap hair conditioner to shave or any old lotion laying around, it works just the same.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 3, 2012, 10:46 pm

      Yeah, Costco can be pretty sneaky, since they have great prices on groceries, but often stock very insanely expensive consumer products over in the durable goods section. Like the $35 package of HDMI cables I was making fun of in my earlier Costco article (actual value: $2/cable).

      But I have something that will blow your razor savings out of the water: cloth diapers!! Look up “Fuzzi Bunz” or other brands on Diaper Junction or other online stores.

      If the secret of how easy cloth diapers are to use ever gets out, the disposable diaper industry will be instantly destroyed and everyone can save over a thousand dollars per kid, just as we did.

      • Travis March 4, 2012, 5:43 am

        Agree on the disposable diapers. We are on our second child and have cloth diapered both now. The savings are big with the first one even including washing and initial outlay…however they are even more amazing with additional children since the initial investment is already done. Plus when we’re done we should be able to resell these for a few $ each

        We use BumGenius which lasts from infant all the way up to 35 lb toddler. We have also picked up a few free ones here and there.

      • Melissa March 5, 2012, 9:33 am

        I agree on the diapers as well. 20 all-in-one cloth diapers x3 kids =HUGE savings. Plus we resold on Ebay and recouped 1/3 of the cost. Not bad for 5 years of use.
        I have hard that most day cares will not allow cloth diapers. Jst another reason to save and be frugal to have an at home parent

        • Bella March 8, 2012, 2:37 pm

          You can put your kids in daycare and still be frugal.

        • lilwend October 26, 2012, 11:00 am

          You just have to ask around about daycares. Only had one daycare out of 15 or so that I talked to flat out tell me no. The rest were open to it, including centers and out of the home daycares. Love our BumGenius in this house!

    • Early FI March 4, 2012, 4:20 pm

      “I think it’s a way to get men’s spending on “beauty” products up somewhere near women’s.”

      Definitely agree with this. Razors are about the only place that the consumer products business can extract large profit margins from men. I’ve been using the same safety razor and cheap feather blades for ten years. I bought a large pack of Fusion razors from Costco a few years ago, and I use them exclusively for travel (the TSA tends to hassle people about razor blades used with safety razors). I can’t recommend the safety razor enough.

      • Matt Radcliffe January 30, 2017, 10:53 pm

        Your comment made me laugh at the thought of how they would react to my straight razor. I think I will avoid seeing that in person.

    • Emmers March 4, 2012, 4:38 pm

      I think that’s exactly it. Women’s health and beauty products are an insanely expensive budget item — one of these days I should calculate how much money I save by not wearing makeup, shaving my legs, getting my hair done, or any of the other beauty rituals I am probably forgetting because I don’t do them. It’s probably a goodly amount.

      Oh, nails! Wasn’t there a whole MMM forum post on acrylic nails? I can’t have fancy nails because I play banjo (probably applies to any fretted instrument), but even if I could I don’t think I would want them.

      I still shave under my arms for odor reasons (really, it probably wouldn’t be bad if both sexes did this for that very reason), but that’s a 1/wk thing. My razor blades last a very long time as a result (just have to store them out of the shower so they rust slower).

      Broadly speaking, I do this sort of grooming under one circumstance: when I am a bridesmaid, if the bride requests it. I figure that’s rare enough to not put a dent in the finances, and it’s just a gesture of goodwill.

  • average guy March 3, 2012, 10:35 pm

    How I do it.

    I buy disposable razors at the 99c store. I tried several brands, and found a brand that works for me, each razor might last three or more weeks, so it cheap enough.

    For the shaving “creme”… I do a two part thing. First, I soap up my face using simple hand soap. Next, I apply a thin layer of conditioner over the soap. I keep conditioner (also from 99c store) in a pump bottle on the sink. This combination works for me.

    Why conditioner is helpful… if you think about it, what does hair conditioner do? It softens the hair and scalp. Therefore it is something that would be useful for shaving.

    • mike crosby March 3, 2012, 11:02 pm

      That’s where I get my razors too. And I don’t know why, but my blades last for months. Maybe because I shave in the shower and the steam softens my beard. I just use bar soap as my lather.

      Grandpa MMM’s pretty good. I could identify with a lot of what he said.

      • George Hannah March 4, 2012, 6:08 am

        I am with Mike on shaving in the shower. I just let the hot water hit my face a few times and the shave is a smooth as the breast you mentioned. The only downside to this for our Mustachian ways is that I do spend more time in the shower because of it thus wasting more water but I’d waste the same if not more in the sink.

  • K March 3, 2012, 10:38 pm

    With regard to disposable razors, I have two tricks:

    1) Keep it dry and free of debris. When done using the razor, rinse it under very hot water, shake off the excess and store somewhere dry (like the cabinet, not the shower. Also, don’t bother with a cap); and,

    2) Hone your razor by running it against your jeans 15 or 20 times (obviously going the opposite direction that you would if you were shaving). This straightens the tiny waves in the metal which allows the razor to slide all the more smoothly over one’s skin. (I learned this trick from Hank Green, because in addition to being a fledgling moustachean, I am also a nerdfighter.)

    • RJ March 4, 2012, 10:05 am

      I concur with this
      – Simple hand soap. I just have a shower after shaving, so I don’t bother with conditioner.
      – Keep the razors longer by drying them thoroughly after use. I shake off and then touch the blade to the hanging roll of toilet paper. No one notices and it sucks off anything on the blade.

      I can make the blade last for 6 or 7 shaves before any stropping is needed.

      • Oh Yonghao August 14, 2014, 2:11 pm

        I basically do the same thing, but I use an electric razor 99% of the time. One problem I have though is it doesn’t quite get the odd angled neck hairs as well so about once a month or so I will use my disposable. At this rate one razor will probably last me a year.

  • timothy March 3, 2012, 10:40 pm

    Have enjoyed reading MMM over the last few months; thanks for the inspiration. Finally now, I get to spout something useful :)

    Shaving oil.

    Shaving oil.

    Shaving oil.

    Note: I do not actually have the ability to spout shaving oil itself, only the words.

    – Cheap. ($2 and change at Wal-Mart for my brand of choice, Shave Secret; there are more expensive brands in the world, but … well, guess why it’s my brand of choice?)

    – Portable. Lately, I’ve been flying more than I used to for work, and I like that it takes up very little room. Would like to find either a source of their sample-size ampules or a tiny sample bottle from a perfume store or something to carry an even smaller supply.

    – Outstanding! I have sensitive skin, tend to cut myself even with razors with advertising that implies this is a theoretical impossibility. I find this happens much, much less with shaving oil than with creams or gels. Plus, you can see where you’re shaving better.

    – Smells nice, at least I think so. No accounting for taste, of course, but I like it. Wish there were more scent options, actually — something like lime / sandalwood / coconut would be nice – but it’s subtle, at any rate, so not a big deal.

    – Efficient. It seems very strange (and sure is scary the first couple of times) to take a razor to my thin-skinned face while it looks like there’s no protection on there at all. The bottle says 3-5 drops for your whole face; I tend to use more like 6 or 7 drops, but then, I don’t know if they’re including your neck as part of your face ;) Even with an extravagant 7 drops, that tiny bottle lasts months.

    Another brand is King of Shaves; I’ve never tried it (but noticed that it costs more, and wasn’t tempted enough to find out why).

    My dad (also prone to razor wounds) switched to oil a few months back (from cream or gel, not sure quite which one), and says he’s happy with the change.

    Anyhow — hope that’s useful. I think it’s a saver of time and hassle. I have not yet tried (but might later) olive oil, coconut oil, or other things that might serve as well — the consistency of shaving oil is nice, and I suspect it beats the others on price for enough to actually shave nicely with, would be happy to learn otherwise.


    • Jeh March 4, 2012, 3:26 am

      I fully endorse this post! Shaving oil is THE best way to go, and you can probably even make your own (I think it’s just vegetable oil of some kind with essential oils like peppermint thrown in for good measure). I’ve been shaving my head to the scalp for about 15 years now and I’ve tried it all…shaving oil is the best solution I’ve found by far.

      It’s all of the things above plus:

      – you can actually see where you’re shaving, which for shave artists like myself is a huge benefit over any kind of cream or soap.

      I’ve used a brand called Total Shaving Solution for many years, but a while ago they changed their website and brand look after what appears to have been a buyout or something. The new brand is more expensive and the bottles seem smaller (I haven’t tried it yet since I stocked up during TSS’s going out of business sale and I still have a good 10 bottles of the original stuff around). Thankfully it’s now a more mainstream product and you see more and more brands coming out so now there are more options to choose from on the price spectrum, unlike when I first started using the stuff (it’s now at Walmart? Really? I’ll check it out).

      • Eric July 30, 2012, 1:56 pm

        Shaving oil is the best. It works far better than shaving cream or gel, it is far cheaper and it leaves your face refreshed and protected rather than raw and overly soaped. Anyone who lives in cold climates will know that going outside after shaving is hell on the face. Shaving oil solves that problem!

  • Per J. March 4, 2012, 2:11 am

    Thanks for a great blog!

    The trick to keep your razor sharp for a long time is to remove all water from it as soon as you have shaved. It is not the shaving that makes the razor dull, it is corrosion from water. So when you have shaved (I use ordinary soap, works fine for me), take your razor and wipe it towards a dry towel several times (the opposite direction from when you are shaving) and make sure it becomes dry. By doing this every time after your shave, it will last almost forever. You never need to switch blades!

  • Gerard March 4, 2012, 5:52 am

    Shaving with a brush and a mug full of warm suds is extremely pleasant — I just save all those tiny bits that bar soap devolves into and toss them in the mug.
    But now that I’ve switched to a mostly soapless life — http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/natural-beauty-fashion/blogs/is-soap-free-the-new-clean — I just shave my wet face right out of the shower, and it works almost as well. I thought I would end up hacking up my face, but it just doesn’t happen (you have to shave “with the grain”, though). I think it works because my skin has more natural oils in it since I gave up the soap, and they act like shaving oil does.

  • lurker March 4, 2012, 7:08 am

    stropping tip above is indeed a good one. I just rub the razor backwards up my wet arm in the shower to realign the blades and you will be amazed how much longer you can comfortably use them. oh yeah a shower mirror makes soap unneeded as shampoo or anything works fine once the hot shower has softened up the beard. ..

  • jlcollinsnh March 4, 2012, 7:09 am

    great read.

    I can remember in the ’60s I couldn’t wait to shave and that meant with a razor and cream.

    after decades of doing it, it bores me silly. most days I run my old Noreleco triple head electric over the stubble and 30 seconds later I’m good to go.

    on those rare occasions I feel like a Shave, I pull out my bowl and brush and lather up with nice hot water. Two blades is just fine, thanks.

  • Adam Jaskiewicz March 4, 2012, 7:14 am

    I use a safety razor from the fifties, a brush, shaving cream that comes in a tube (like toothpaste), and a small melamine bowl. So far I haven’t cut myself while changing the blade, or brushed my teeth with shaving cream, or dropped the bowl on my toes, so I think I’m doing pretty well. The razor has an adjustable blade exposure, so I can dial in anywhere from “rugged stubble” (1) through “baby’s bottom” (6) to “flay” (9). I usually go for a 4 or 5 as I have sensitive skin, but it’s nice to have options.

    Oh, and I can get a couple years’ supply of blades from Amazon for about $15. The blades are just thin little bits of metal, so much less to throw away than cartridge or disposable razors.

  • Limber Jimber Jamber March 4, 2012, 8:28 am

    Your dad’s the man!

  • Dragline March 4, 2012, 8:42 am

    This is only tangentially related, but I saw a little vignette about the history of the safety razor the other day and it said that it only became popular to shave a lot when the soldiers in WWI had to keep clean shaven so that their gas masks would fit properly.

    No wonder I only do it when I have to!

    • Kevin S March 5, 2012, 9:44 am

      I recently saw a short segment from the history channel on great inventions and they called the safety razor an invention that “changed the face” of history, literally. Apparently if you look at all of the presidents in US history, the complete disappearance of facial hair coincides with the introduction of the safety razor. As for the gas mask idea, I can sympathize. I now regularly sport a beard, but for a long time when I was working in a chemical plant I had to be clean shaven for that very reason.

  • JaneMD March 4, 2012, 8:46 am

    I agree with the person who told you not to store your razor in the shower. Also, after use, rinse it off with a little rubbing alcohol to make it last longer. Anyone ever try to sharpen them again?

  • Mr Mark March 4, 2012, 9:19 am

    I’ve also found the cheap 2 blade disposable ones from Gillette are way better than equiv. no-name brand ones – the Gillette’s are a lot sharper and last longer, and well worth the slighly higher price.

  • Poor Student March 4, 2012, 9:44 am

    Gilette gave away the new Mach 5 razors for free when they first introduced them and I was able to snag half a dozen of them. This was early last year I think and I have two left. I have to say I love the way they feel and have to admit that I think they are better than any other razor I have used, although I am wary of the price.

    Usually if people are asking me what to get me as a gift I will say razors. I have never spent a dime on shaving because I am happy to use whatever I have.

    Razor companies often run free giveaways and this is how I have gotten a lot of my razors, so keep your eyes peeled for them.

    • Lindsey March 4, 2012, 5:04 pm

      I ask people to give us toilet paper—it costs more than razors, so saves us more money!

  • Andria March 4, 2012, 10:17 am

    This is great. It would also be nice to see an article on what people use for dish soap, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. I could use some good recipes. These type of purchases add up too. : )

    • Amanda March 4, 2012, 4:51 pm

      I have recently started making laundry detergent. Here is an easy recipe:

      1 bar of grated soap (Fels Naptha is typically used)
      1 cup washing soda
      1 cup borax

      I like to blend the ingredients together in the food processor. Use about 2 TBLS per load. Super easy and cheap!

      These items can all be found at Walmart.

      • Heidi March 6, 2012, 6:14 pm

        My Walmart doesn’t have Fels Naptha, but my Smiths and Ace Hardware do. I know this is OT but after years of making my own laundry detergent I have switched to Sears HE detergent. They have half priced sales on a regular basis, and I think it works better.

      • Andria March 18, 2012, 10:12 am

        Thank you so much. This is great and I will give it a try.

      • Andria March 18, 2012, 10:14 am

        Thank you!!!

  • timothy March 4, 2012, 11:33 am

    One more note: I am fickle about razors, am always switching around; I tend to use what I call “semi-disposables” (that is, the ones that are refillable via cartridge, but not pass-on-to-kids heirloom quality), and am very glad that this is one area of life that’s gotten far better even in the few decades I’ve been shaving. (Swapping cars is a lot more expensive ;))

    My current favorite of these by a large margin for both health-and-safety reason* and long-lasting blade is the Schick Hydro. Yes, it’s one of those ludicrously overbladed beasts, but boy, does the the blade last for me! I am lightly whiskered, so it might not last nearly as long for the heavily hirsute; I just know that it lasts 2-3 times as long as most such razors I’ve used before. I really wish I’d picked up several of these when I first bought it at a promotional price — the “gift pack” I bought for $5 included the razor and a few cartridges, as well as (unneeded, but high quality) shave cream. Should have stocked up for life!


    * Not cutting myself, that is.

  • Andy Hough March 4, 2012, 11:58 am

    I use the old fashioned safety razor and it works well for me. A blade usually last me about a month and I shave every other day. I also use the disposable razors when I can get them for free.

  • Charan March 4, 2012, 2:36 pm

    I’ve been using Braun electric shavers for the past 15 years. I have been through 2 shavers, on my third one, and replaced the cutter blocks and shaving foils when things got rough. My rough estimate is I have spend around $200 (including parts/accessories, but excluding the negligible price of electricity to use those) in that time period for a net annual cost of around $13.33 per year. Not bad I think?

    • Greg October 11, 2012, 12:09 am

      Amen. I have bought 2 Braun electrics for about $70 each over out 10 years. I still keep the old one at work for when I shower there. I replace foils every couple of years and cutter blocks maybe twice in 10 years. My neck always got irritated by blades. This way I need no really disposable products like cartridges or creams.

  • jd March 4, 2012, 4:03 pm

    “Hey, shaving with anything less than five blades is like scraping your beard off with a dull hatchet.”


    • Early FI March 4, 2012, 4:21 pm

      Probably my favorite Onion article. Not because it’s that funny, but because it was so stunningly accurate.

      • Emmers March 4, 2012, 4:41 pm

        Yes. The first time the 5-bladed razor came out, I had to Google the Onion article to believe it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 4, 2012, 6:07 pm

      I was pleased to have an actual 5-bladed razor to photograph for this article’s picture. The thing looks like it cost more than my car. (I didn’t buy it, of course, I just came across an unused one in a box of stuff left behind by a tenant at a rental house).

      It even has a little battery and vibratey motor thing.

      I stand by my original advice: instead of spending a lifetime battling your face’s natural tendency to grow nice manly stubble, why not just spend a short time convincing your wife to accept it?

      It’s very similar to the manual transmission in a car. You can spend a lifetime paying an extra $1000 on every car you buy to get the automatic, just to compensate for the wussypants fact that you never learned the manual. Or you can spend a day, ONCE, practicing with a manual and then enjoy a better form of motoring for life.

      • jd March 4, 2012, 11:35 pm

        Any tips on convincing the wife to accept a stubbly face?

        • Emmers March 5, 2012, 1:03 pm

          Very short stubble is exceedingly painful. Longer beards seem like they would be less so.

          When I stopped shaving* the stubble was annoying for a short time, but as soon as the hair got long (1/2 inch or so) it became very soft.

          So maybe one tip, if you want her to stop caring about your facial hair, is for you [and society as a whole] to stop caring about her legs? (If you’re already past this point, great! Just focus on how longer hair gets softer once you’re past the initial growing-out stage.)

          * legs, not face, but I assume the same applies, as they’re both androgenic hair?

      • Jared Chmielecki March 5, 2012, 7:02 am

        Sadly, unless you can do a clutch job by yourself, it is time to re-evaluate the difference between an auto and a manual. Some of the newer cars require sub frames to be removed from the car, the whoole motor tranny to be lowered to the ground etc. Then they have a dual mass flywheel that is very expensive if you need to resurface it, sometime it has to be completely replaced. The labor alone is often time more than the $1k you saved up front. Personally, my cars have 130k and 152k on them, have not made a pyament in years, and the 15sk mile accord is going away as soon as I do a clutch job on it to make it garner a decent sales price in a good working condition, not be careful drive gingerly to avoid slipping the clutch. I do not plan to purchase or do any of the math on purchase vs upkeep for the next 5-7 years 75k miles as I just did the timing belt, brakes, tires etc on the 130k car so it should be god to go! Next time the math will be hard as auto’s get as good of gas mileage as the manuals now, and clutch jobs are too $$$ to farm out, and I hate doing them :)

      • JYves October 1, 2012, 8:46 am

        and why spend time trying to convince your wife when you can just wait that she changes her mind :)
        Chinese proverb

  • James Petzke March 4, 2012, 4:42 pm

    I recently saw a post in the forums about using a straight razor instead of disposables. The initial cost is significantly higher, but then you save a lot of money by never having to buy a new razor. And you can still get the same savings from buying soap instead of foam.

  • GrandpaMM March 4, 2012, 5:03 pm

    Hi guys – thanks for all the interesting posts. I learned some useful new stuff!

  • Chris March 4, 2012, 6:21 pm

    I shave in the shower with the disposable double bladed razors.
    No soap
    Easy and cheap

  • I.P. Daley March 4, 2012, 6:41 pm

    I’ve never used the service myself, and sheepishly forgot about it all these years (gonna have to remind the wife), but I had a cousin who shaved his head daily and was a fan of buying his Gillette Sensor razors from GreatRazors.com. It’s wasn’t that the blades are cheaper because they really aren’t, but for the small price premium, they apparently sell you cold tempered blades that greatly extends the lifespan. If memory serves, the cousin got a good six to eight weeks out of a single cartridge of head and face shaving versus 10-15 days straight off the shelf.

    I’m a beard guy, so I’ve never tried them myself… so YMMV. Definitely should have the wife try them next time she needs leg refills, though.

  • Brad March 4, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Another great/fun post from MMM. I was just reading up about this recently (the old-school vs. disposable razor debate) and I came across some articles from http://artofmanliness.com/ that seemed pretty interesting. I was actually going to go the safety razor (and maybe eventually straight razor) way myself once I had some extra cash and used my the last of my current stash of disposable products. It seemed like the mustachian thing to do (a larger investment to get into, but paying huge dividends in the long run).

    A few links, for reference:

  • Kimmie March 4, 2012, 9:10 pm

    Once again another, cleverly written and GREAT post!! I have been cutting our families hair for our entire marriage and I’m amazed at how much it saves us…(I also highlight our hair as well). Thought you may enjoy this link of “Take Care of the Pennies” and the things that we do to save money on a daily/weekly basis. I truly do believe that if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves!


    Have a wonderful day! I enjoy SO much all of the AWESOME info you share with us!

  • Jared Chmielecki March 5, 2012, 7:16 am

    Clark Howard a few years ago mentioned to dry razors and they would last longer. I blow them dry with my mouth, like blowing dust off of something. I am using a hand me down gillette sensor handle with the grocery store brand cartridges. Each year on my birthday I swap cartridges. The white strip is pretty much gone by then, thats when you know they are “used up” ;) though they still cut ok. I also shave every other day, immediately after washing my hair with a shaving mirror attached to the shower wall, which also provides a convenient location to keep my razor up and out of the moisture.

  • Tehnai March 5, 2012, 8:20 am

    You know, I’ve been wondering about ways to get a better shave. As a very French Canadian young man, my face gets up to “jungle level” rather quickly, the individual hair on my face are extremely thick, almost impossible to shave efficiently.

    I’ve been using a multi-bladed Gillette Fusion, given by my father, for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been shaving since I was 12. Yeah, I know) and the blades are, as it was mentioned, stupid expensive.

    I can’t say I’ve tried any alternatives yet. Any suggestion from the hairier mustachians?

  • Kevin S March 5, 2012, 9:36 am

    I would recommend looking into a safety razor (or if you are feeling super badass, a straight razor- haven’t taken that step yet myself). My facial hair also grows pretty quickly and the hairs are thick. I used to shave with Mach III cartridges but found that the blades would be dull (although still usable) within 3-4 shaves and that even with multiple passes, I never got all that smooth of a shave. Since then, I have been using a safety razor (Merkur HD). A new higher end razor costs about $40, but if you can find an old one second hand you might pay quite a bit less. The blades are very inexpensive. You could shop around for a brand you like and pay 20-30 cents per blade. From there you can buy in larger quantities and pay less than 10 cents per blade. After a few weeks of practice you will be able to do a single pass shave in the same time it takes you now with a cartridge razor. For me, one pass gets me the same level of smoothness as a cartridge razor shave, but if you want baby’s bottom smooth, you can easily achieve it with an extra 5 minutes and another pass or two. In my experience the blades will provide a very close shave 5-7 uses, and will do a passable job for two weeks or more. Purists will tell you that for the best shave you should use shaving soap or creme shave with a badger hair brush- and from my experience they are correct- but I’ve had no problem getting a very close shave with a good old fashioned can of generic shaving cream or even just ordinary bar soap and water.

  • John Cheever March 5, 2012, 11:09 am

    I agree with this post! Using a safety razor and blades is the way to go. I thought MMM was “low impact” and “environmentally conscious”. I guess not with a mound of disposable razors in the landfill.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 5, 2012, 2:47 pm

      Wait a minute here. This article was not written by MMM, it is from GMM.

      I personally use my hair trimmer, with the comb removed, to trim my own beard to a nice fine stubble. There is no landfill waste created, except when the trimmer itself eventually dies beyond repair. (It is still going strong after 12 years, and even then I will recycle the 90% of it that is metal).

      And even in Grandpa Money Mustache’s case, we are talking about a tiny piece of plastic being thrown out, a few times per month. If you compare that to even the most trash-efficient household’s output, it is probably less than 5% of the trash volume. It’s much more worthwhile to focus on our electricity, natural gas, and gasoline usage first. I’m all for people out-badassing each other and doing even better, but let’s be science-based in our criticisms!

      • GrandpaMM March 7, 2012, 10:52 am

        I throw out my tiny piece of plastic and metal about once every three months. Although I shave daily, I have a light beard so can really stre-e-e-e-tch the life of the generic twin-blade cartridges I buy. If I had a heavy beard I would definitely try a “works forever” straight razor.

  • DP March 5, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Great post. I use a Merkur one-blade safety razor and a boar’s hair shaving brush. Neither item cost more than $30 and I bought them years ago. The replacement blades are dirt cheap, although they’re a little hard to find. Most drugstores carry them if you look hard enough, and you can also pick them up online as long as you don’t mind buying a lot of them at once to make the most of your shipping charge.

    As for lather, I used an Italian shaving soap for a while, but it didn’t come in a <100mL container which made traveling difficult (thanks, TSA) and I'm not as big a fan of the English varieties. I've tried using a bar of Dove soap, and it's surprisingly effective.

    I always shave in the shower, but I have yet to find a really good mirror for the shower that doesn't fog up immediately. Has anyone had any luck finding something like that, or is the whole idea contrary to the laws of physics?

    • kris March 11, 2012, 1:47 pm

      I have found that if you take bar soap and rub some onto the mirror and then rub it in until you can see clearly, it will last long enough to shave without fogging up.

  • Huck March 6, 2012, 6:16 pm

    +1 for the safety razor, brush and mug handed down from grandfather. I use Proraso creame (in a tube that seems to last forever) and got a 100 pack of Derby razors on Amazon (that seem to last forever). I probably shave 2-3 times a week and shave my neck (I keep a beard) and my head (not that there is a lot up top that needs shaving).

  • Rich M March 6, 2012, 6:32 pm

    A video on this very subject. of course, it’s and advertizement.


  • George Carlson March 6, 2012, 11:26 pm

    A couple of years ago I tried a shaving experiment. I decided that I would shave every day with a “Gillette Fusion Power Razor Phantom” (http://www.amazon.com/Gillette-Fusion-Power-Razor-Phantom/dp/B000MLNVU8). Honestly, this is probably the cheapest shave that I have ever had for the sole fact that I never had to buy a replacement blade.

    The strategy was simple:
    (1)Before shaving sharpen the blade by pushing it backwards on the palm of your hand for about 15 strokes.
    (2)Wet and apply soak to your face.
    (3)Turn the blade on vibrate
    (4)Shave slowly with the grain.
    (5)Concentrate on beard reduction, not beard removal.

    Doing this I went 10 months on one razor blade. Then I stopped the experiment to grow a beard for deer season. Between the water, soap, and vibrating razor there is enough friction reduction that I was able to shave off my morning shadow without ever buying a replacement blade.

    Full Disclosure: Currently long on BEARD.

  • Jared Chmielecki March 8, 2012, 7:14 am

    I found a website that has a funny video, which is why I went there. They also apparently sell dirty cheap razor refills which they mail to you each month.

    $1 a month for 5 refills ? sounds pretty good to me, but I wont need blades for 6 or so years at the 1 a year rate I currently consume.. just thought I would pass this on for future Mustacians with sensitive skin to save $ with.


    • Jared Chmielecki March 8, 2012, 7:15 am

      uhh that was supposed to be dirt cheap, not dirty cheap, though that is funny to read.

  • Kyle March 8, 2012, 2:33 pm

    Love the ad, very clever but on the one dollar a month deal, you have to pay 2 bucks for shipping. 36 bucks a year for a crapload of razors. I would do this but as I am a college student with a mustachian mother who using coupons to beat the system, I currently have the most anti-mustachian blade, Gillete Mach 3 turbo, vibrates, has a little light, has too many blades, but mustachian mother gets it for a buck. not too shabby

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 8, 2012, 3:22 pm

      What!? The $1 doesn’t include shipping? That is highly misleading. Just as bad as Comcast cable internet, where they tell you only the introductory price (“$19.99 per month for 6 months!”) and hide the actual price ($63 per month).

      So it’s the Three Dollar Shave club. Sheesh, just buy a 12-pack of the same quality razors for three dollars at a discount store and you’re better off. Plus you save a bunch of unnecessary mailing.

      • Cody July 30, 2013, 2:24 pm

        I use Dollar Shave Club. If you go above the dollar a month plan, they pay for shipping. And if you don’t need to go through so many blades (and really, none of us do), you can request that they only send them to you once every two, three, however many, months. Is it the most efficient? No. As a rookie Mustachian, could I do better? For sure. But it’s better than what 99 percent of guys do

  • Oelsen March 8, 2012, 4:23 pm

    We have a discounter around here that sells foam out of a can for under two swiss francs. It is its own brand, produced by gillette or the other big factory from the biggest retailer (also one that has own brands, but also its own factories). So for meanwhile under two CHF I can have quick and easy foam for about half a year. If I use the cheap soap, then I spend more, because the soap dilutes more.

    I discovered that those multiblades last much, much longer than they want you to believe because I used one during my military time and noticed that I used the same set for my whole time there. Additionally, my skin doesn’t like a too sharp blade. It cuts away some skin, only a tiny layer, but this provokes rashes. A dull blade cuts only the hairs, which I intend for shaving in the first place.

  • Clemens September 18, 2012, 10:35 pm

    I have it even easier. My girlfriend likes my facial hear best when it has the look of a several-days-old bear, so I just got an electric razor and use it to trim back my hair without shaving everything off completely.

  • James August 15, 2013, 12:29 pm

    I’ve started using the blades over at Dorco (http://www.dorcousa.com/compare/108/66/61). At about $1.21 per blade for the 6-blade refill, and about 1 blade a month, it cut down the cost for me significantly. I’d also tend to recomend straight razor shaving if you really want to get the cost down (long run), but I just don’t have the time to spend caring for the blade like you need to ($100 blade, $5 strop, $15 stone get’s you several decades of wear from what I’ve heard, though I only used it for a single decade before I had to switch back to cartridges).

  • Mike April 30, 2014, 10:27 am

    Cody is right, you can’t beat dollar shave club. $3 and they send a 5 pack of double blade razors right to your door. You can opt for receiving every other month like I do and your spending $1.50/month. For me this is a no brainer.

  • Glenn August 30, 2014, 3:45 am

    After shaving I pop the 3 blade cheapie cartridge razor into a cup of olive oil deep enough to cover the blade.
    The blade is replaced whenever I have a “special’ occasion or I just feel like it,blades last six weeks or more no problem with everyday use.

  • tuliptown August 30, 2014, 7:12 pm

    here is where I splurge some, I have cornstalk beard and sensitive skin – hey, I am a sensitive man!
    So, I go through a blade every 3 weeks and I only shave every other day. … at least in the summer.
    I grow my beard and use the same blade to trim all winter.


  • rocky angel July 19, 2015, 10:56 am

    I use a saftey razor. I paid $40 for a nice stainless steel safety razor on amazon. Then I bought a sampler pack of razors and tried all of the different ones. After using the whole sampler pack($8.00) 10 weeks, I ended up buying the brand that gave me the closest shave and lasted the longest (100 razors per pack). I shave everyday with a bar of shaving soap and brush; each razor lasts about a week. The initial investment was $40 for the safety razor, +$8.00 for sampler pack + $10 dollars for a pack of 100 razors. That’s $50 bucks for 110 weeks of shaving.. or about $0.064 cents per shave (assuming everyday shaving). The longer I use the razor, the lower the initial investment goes down. Shipping for everything of course was free.

  • Thirty something August 13, 2015, 6:00 pm

    I find my blades (Gilette sensor excel) last longer if I use water only (no soap). I bought a big pack of blades (25?) at costco years ago and haven’t bought any in 6+ years, though I did have a beard for ~2 years, so minimal upkeep on neck and cheeks. I got the original as a sample.

  • Jeff September 13, 2015, 10:23 am

    Has anyone else here tried a Blade Buddy or other maintenance options?
    In 4 years with a BB I’ve used only a handful, and bought none. I pretty much find them for free as fast as I use them up (promo giveaways, etc). One of my friends has made one Mach 3 cartridge last that entire 4-year period and is still using it! I guess I’m soft. :)

  • Will Bloomfield June 7, 2016, 2:15 pm

    For about 6 years now, I’ve subscribed the “Shaving Cream is a Racket” school of thought. See Jeffrey Tucker’s article here: https://mises.org/library/shaving-cream-racket.

    No shaving cream is necessary and I use cheap disposable razors. A pack of 12 lasts me more than a year shaving every other day. Tucker’s article provides the details of transitioning off shaving cream. It’s all true. After showering, I splash a little hot water on my face and my razor and then start. I have no razor burn and I rarely cut myself. When I do, it’s probably because I’m into the third month of use of my razor.

    Down with the shaving cream racket!

  • Matt July 31, 2016, 6:29 pm

    A small investment in a safety razor and 100 two sided blades for $10 in Amazon will do it! F the Mach 3!!

  • Aron December 8, 2016, 11:45 am

    Even more good news: You don’t even need soap!
    I have sensitive skin and can still just with only a wet face. JJust rub warm water into your face for half a minute, and you’ll be fine. Short strokes. And I use the razor blades to shave (the old school safety razor). Talk about low-cost shaving!

  • Anthony January 18, 2017, 1:17 pm

    Best advice I ever heard on shaving: re-sharpen a safety razor by running it backwards over denim. It really works. The only reason they are disposable is because we don’t re-sharpen them. When done on a regular basis 20 strokes will. do a few more the first time if you have used your razor for a while. I learned of this form a website but cannot recall the contributor. Your single purchase of safety of razors will last for years.


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