Shaving Slower than the Speed of Sound

shaving, lifestyle

I used to shave at MACH 3, then I discovered the safety razor and the slow shave.

This was all before I had discovered FIRE. Back in those days, saving money was still important to me – not because I was working towards FIRE, but because I was reading Esquire and needed to pay for the subscription fees and all the cool things that they featured in their magazine. I miss some of the articles, but not the advertising in the guise of features!

One of the best things to come out of my Esquire subscription was this article about shaving with safety razors.

As that article outlines there are some start-up costs but they are not too significant.

The Razor & Blades

A razor is going to cost between $50 and $150. I currently have a razor that is not adjustable after having my adjustable razor stolen by hotel staff during The Accountant’s wedding. Having used both I strongly recommend an adjustable razor – so let’s say the start-up cost is $150.

But, if your razor isn’t stolen (or lost) it will last you for the rest of your life. Maybe a relative has one they don’t use anymore? Maybe you’re comfortable with buying one second-hand? That will decrease your cost.

The blades will cost you between 17 cents and 70 cents per blade and will be good for up to 5 or 6 shaves. My blades cost 21 cents each and I use them for 2 shaves – mostly so I don’t lose track. If there is a blade in my razor when I shave I use it and then recycle it, if there is no blade in my razor I add one and leave it in after I use it. So let’s say the blades will cost you 70 cents per week, or about $36 per year.

In comparison, disposable cartridges will cost you at least $3 each and will be good for about a week, but because of the cost, you’re probably going to stretch that to 2 weeks. That’s $78 per year. So I save around $42 per year.

I HEAR YOU – you said, “Wait, that’s going to take me 5 years before I see any savings!?!

That’s true, but there is more to the slow shave than the blades…

The Brush & Shaving Cream

You might have a brush even if you shave with a disposable razor. I didn’t, so let’s consider this an additional cost.

A brush will cost you between $10 and $550. Wow, that’s quite the range! I don’t think your brush will necessarily last a lifetime, but I’ve been shaving this way for about 5 years and my $80 brush is still in great condition. Let’s be conservative and say your brush will cost you $10 per year.

Changing my shaving cream was my biggest revelation. I used to go through a can of shaving gel once every 3 weeks or so, at about $4.50 per can that’s around $78 per year. Now I buy a high-quality shaving soap for $34 and it lasts me more than a year! This is my favourite so far. And, more important than the savings ($34 per year, accounting for the brush you have to buy) is the improvement in the shaving experience that I get from using a higher quality shaving cream.

So what do I save?

Switching to a safety razor has saved me about $75 per year. That’s a 50 percent annual return for your $150 investment in a razor, not too shabby! Especially for improving a daily ritual.

Of course, the Accountant has one-upped me – he’s figured out the best way to save on shaving is to not shave and keep a scraggly beard instead!

Are there any lifestyle improvements that you have made that actually end up saving you money?

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About the Author: The Economist


  1. The Lawyer (the future Ms. Economist – or perhaps I am the future Mr. Lawyer?) borrows my safety razor every now and then without complaints.

  2. OK first of all pretty sure you got drunk at my wedding and lost your razor, let’s be honest here, that ones on you. Secondly, who says my bread is scraggly?! I think you’re just upset that I have found a way around having to shave every day.

    1. If forgetting your razor in the room and calling the hotel the same day as you check out to ask them to put it aside and them saying there is no razor is losing it and not the staff stealing it then you’re right.

  3. I love my safety razor. (Women user) My razor was for free. My Grandfather doesn’t use his anymore. My skin is sensitive and it has cut down on razor burn and bumps. I use Nivea for men after shave balm ($8) 3 months use. Wilkinson Sword Shaving Soap ($4) min 6 months use. Wilkinson Blades (5 blades $6). I can get a few shaves per blade. A homemade exfoliate before shaving. Not buying razors has saved me a lot of money and hassle.

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