Friday, December 7, 2018

Hakum's Razor

How many guys out there shave with a blade? I remember my first shave, I was 14 years old, barely developed a peach-fuzz, and I used my father's one-bladed razor to break in my soft baby skin. For Christmas that year, my mother bought me an electric razor. I think it was a Norelco, with only two heads instead of the normal three. That thing never worked adequately. In fact, I had several others, all Christmas presents, that got thrown into a bathroom drawer and neglected. There's nothing like the feel of a face after a clean blade has been drawn across it. Eventually I told my family to stop buying me electric razors. The frustration of passing over and over the same area, never to get full satisfaction.


On my 18th birthday, Gillette sent me a beautiful razor; metal handle, with five blades cartridges. I have been a Gillette loyalist ever since. The only problem is that over the years, it seems I've spent more and more of my paycheck on replacement blade cartridges. An obscene amount of money for what you actually get. Consider you actually get maybe a gram of metal; the rest is plastic. I'm sure the razor companies would like you believe the metal is laser honed by a guy in a white lab coat somewhere, with space-aged allows, and the plastic is something that came off the International Space Station, but the fact of the matter is you're getting ripped off. Plain and simple. Blade replacements are a cash cow, and the business model for them is essentially the opposite of loss-leader. Manufacturers can turn them out for pennies and charge a premium.

About a year ago, I decided I had had enough. Times were hard, money was tight, I was getting two months or more out of my blades and showing up to work the next day looking like I had sanded off my stubble. I had heard about the subscription plans, and weighed the options. I decided to try Dollar Shave Club. Having a background in marketing, copy writing and graphic design, their pitch spoke to me the loudest. I signed up, and within about a week I received my first shipment:  The 4X. Now, I must let you in on a little secret, I am a head shaver. This means a blade must be able to cut a minimum of twice the amount of growth than the average face and beard shave.

As I mentioned, Dollar Shave Club's (DSC) marketing plan is much more appealing. They offer a 2-blade (The Twin, which is no longer available), 4-blade (4X - $1.50 per blade) and 6-blade (The Executive - $2.25) razor with corresponding handles.

Two blades would be like shaving with a butter knife on my sensitive skin, so that was a no-go.

So I tried the 4X, but it was an abysmal failure. It was scratchy at first, and then just stopped cutting altogether. I went through three cartridges on my first shave, and then got my old Gillette out to finish the job. I was so disappointed. To be fair, I had about four days growth. I had chosen this blade specifically because the website advertised it as better for heavier growth, with an open-back to facilitate better rinsing, but I found that it somehow made clogging worse.

On round two with DSC, I tried The Executive. It was amazing by comparison. A very smooth shave and a close rival to my Gillette blades however a little more present on the face. With six close-set blades, it was easy to clean between strokes.

Over the years I've found myself going to first for almost all my needs. One night I did a quick search for my beloved Gillette blades. I found a deal on 12 cartridges for around $32 ($2.67 per blade). I did some quick math and concluded this was easily a better deal than what I could get in the store.

Costco has an unbelievable deal on blade cartridges. However too many times I bought the Costco membership, which is around $60 per year and then never bought a thing. Plus, I hate their parking lot - literally an accident waiting to happen! I made that first shipment last for over six months. At one point, I found that I could stretch one blade out to about month if necessary, albeit with a marked reduction in quality per shave. However...Amazon tends to have a "market price" on many goods. The price of any item can fluctuate. The next order was under $24 - $2.00 per blade. A smokin' deal. Now the same product, from the same seller, goes for $40 -  $3.33 per blade - ouch!

Gillette has it's own club called Gillette On Demand. I didn't try it. It offers Sensor3, Mach3, and Fusion Proshield. The Sensor3 are actually disposable razors with three blades; 8 for $10; The blade cartridges go for 4 for $10; and 4 for $20 - respectively, with a membership. This is outrageous. Gillette does not offer my blades (Fusion) online, just the super-pricey Fusion Proshield. For $20/month that's $5 per blade!

I placed my order with a promo code that dropped the first shipment to only $3. Honestly, I just wanted a cheap razor because I was flat broke...and I figured I'd give them a try. Within a day or so, I received an email from a rep at Harry's. I answered a questionnaire after placing my order, and indicated that I am a head-shaver. The rep was reaching out to advise me that Harry's blades are NOT designed for head shaving, and offered a refund. I replied and told her that I intended to do a review of Harry's, Dollar Shave Club, and Gillette, and wanted to give it a try.

She explained in a later message that head stubble is different than face stubble and thus harder to cut. This is actually counter to my experience. It seems to me that my head stubble is softer and thinner than my face stubble. In fact, if I could switch head stubble for face stubble I would. Then I'd grow out a beautiful head of hair, and not shave my head at all. Alas, genetics had a different plan in mind.

Harry's offers one 5-bladed razor with a choice of handles and volume pricing. A choice of handles to me is like a choice of colors for a toothbrush - something of very little importance. However, marketing is an interesting science.


Shipping is free with DSC and Harry's, however I have an Amazon Prime account; I get all my products with free shipping, so I don't know what it would cost to ship the Gillette blades.


I really took this review seriously, and I got a little crazy with it. I did some head-to-head shave comparisons, as well as feeling and longevity of the blade.

The finished product was nearly identical with all blades even when splitting sides of my face and head in a head-to-head comparison.

Gillette blades are the smoothest feeling. Especially a fresh new blade. It has a gliding sensation and a smooth cut. The head pivots well and feels natural. Harry's was similar. I had no problem at all shaving my head, but it felt like the head was different, like the pivot was different. DSC cut very well but felt more present, although no razor burn. Gillette and DSC blades cut identically, but felt a little differently on the face. I don't know how better to explain this other than to say you just have to try it.


All manufacturers market other products:  shaving cremes, toiletries, accessories, etc. I didn't get much into them. Gillette has shaving creme, but I prefer Schick's; Harry's has a creme, but it has a strong perfumed (cologne) smell to it, and I didn't try Dr. Carver's Shave Butter from DSC. However I plan to and maybe then I'll update this article.

  • Schick Edge Shaving Gel:  $12 for 7.5 oz
  • Harry's Shaving Gel:  $5 for 6 oz
  • Dollar Shave Club's Dr. Carver's Shave Butter:  $6 for 6 oz.

Originally,I had thought, from my point of view, Gillette doesn't have much in the way of accessories or ad-ons, until I realized that Gillette's parent company is Procter and Gamble; they make hundreds, probably thousands of men's and women's grooming products. To me this disqualifies them from being included in the product comparison. Harry's and DSC offers a very similar line of accessories and grooming products, however, I think the marketing is better with DSC.

DSC also markets to women on their main website. Harry's recently launched a whole new line for women called Flamingo.


  • For the best shave:  Gillette or DSC
  • For the longest life of a blade:  tie between Gillette and DSC. I was able to make a DSC blade last a month, with expected degradation of the blade. Harry's blades started to get really scratchy after about two weeks.
  • For the best feel:     Gillette
  • For the best value:  DSC

Overall, Dollar Shave Club comes out on top in this review. Although I can feel the blade more on my face, I still get as good a shave as with Gillette. Blade longevity for DSC is comparable to Gillette blades and nearly identical in all other aspects.

Having been in sales for much of my career, I tend to weigh a products's benefits and features with lesser emphasis on price. However, in my experience, price is one of the most motivating factors in a purchase. Personally, I believe in paying a fair price for a good product. This is why I add the Geek Squad Protection Plan when I purchase electronics at Best Buy, because I've used it before. I could write an entire article on Best Buy.

Although I like the feel of the Gillette best, I really liked DSC overall. The price is lower, in some cases, drastically lower. I like the DSC web portal. You can buy everything online with all three. They all ship quickly; the all offer the convenience of ordering from an app, and everything can be combined in one order, something you cannot do with Gillette or Amazon. None of the services I reviewed required a subscription past the initial order, and your entire order comes in the same box. With DSC and Harry's, you control the frequency and timing of the shipments, cancel anytime.

Although Dollar Shave Club feels like the best deal for me, any of the products I reviewed are a better alternative than buying blade cartridges in the store. I recommend Dollar Shave Club with a five-star rating.