Save Money on Razor Blades by Trading Up

This topic isn?t exactly high finance, but razor blades are getting expensive, and I?ve been looking for ways to fight the trend. And I think I?ve finally found it in the Gillette Fusion Proglide – at least until something better comes along! Though it may look like it at times, this article is NOT a paid advertisement for the Proglide razor, but rather my own endorsement – based on personal experience – that you can actually save money on razor blades by trading up to a premium razor like this one.

Personally, I can?t stand spending a lot of money on razor blades – shaving seems to be a patently incidental activity where you want to spend as little as possible. But it?s something of an industry-standard that any decent razor blade seems curiously expensive. Consider the following:

  • The blades themselves are often more expensive than the handle.
  • Cheap blades are good for only one or two uses, and cut and burn generously.
  • In a time when virtually every other manufactured good is being mass-produced, cheap, decent quality razor blades are resisting the trend.

Save Money on Razor Blades by Trading Up
Save Money on Razor Blades by Trading Up
The word conspiracy comes to mind – as in a conspiracy by the relatively small number of razor blade manufactures to keep prices artificially high. You would think that some manufacturer in China or India would easily be able to come up with better, cheaper alternatives ? but that never seems to happen.

Whatever the reasons causing the high cost of razor blades, we have to come up with our own alternatives. In my years of experimentation, that looks to be the Gillette Fusion Proglide.

Why the Gillette Fusion Proglide can save money on razor blades

Proglide blades are among the most expensive on the market, so how can it possibly be that they provide a less expensive shave? Put simply: they last longer – a lot longer – than the competition, including other blades sold by the Gillette Company.

The handle, including one replacement blade cartridge, currently runs $9.99 at Kroger (which will be the source of all price quotes hereafter), while replacement blade cartridges are $17.49 for just four blades. That works out to be $4.37 per replacement blade cartridge, which is high in the upper range for blades overall.

But the big advantage for the Proglide is that each replacement blade cartridge can last for several weeks, or even several months. As of today, I have been using the first blade cartridge for exactly one month. The blade is still functioning brilliantly, and at this point I expect to get at least another month out of it. My 19-year-old son is still using his first blade cartridge after two months, and does not expect replacement anytime soon.

If a single blade cartridge can deliver a good quality shave for two months, then the net cost of the blade cartridge is only about $.49 per week ($4.37 per blade cartridge divided by nine weeks). Keep that $.49 figure in mind for the rest of this article, and you?ll see why the Proglide is a good deal.

There are reports that each blade cartridge can last as long as three or four months, and if that?s the case, then a single four blade cartridge replacement package can last you a full year or longer. That will reduce the cost of the Proglide to substantially less than $.49 per week.

Comparing the cost of the Proglide to the alternatives

When it comes to any product, ?cheap? can only be determined by comparing the product against available alternatives. Proglide stands up well here.

The industry standard ? the Gillette Mach III razor ? costs $8.49 for the handle and one blade, then $12.47 for a pack of five replacement blade cartridges. In my experience, a Mach III blade cartridge is good for no more than one week. That being the case, a Mach III blade cartridge will cost you $2.49 per week, or about five times what the Proglide blade cartridges cost. Compared to the Proglide, the Mach III is a glorified disposable blade, albeit one that delivers a much better quality shave than disposables do.

Over the course of a full year, the Proglide will save you at least $100 over the Mach III. It will be even more if the Proglide blades last longer than two months.

How about disposable razors? I have two problems with these in general:

  1. The blades don?t last for more than one or two shaves, and
  2. The quality of the shave is poor.

On price, I considered three razors:

  • BIC Twin Blade Disposable, $3.19 for a 12 pack
  • Gillette Twin Blade Disposable, $6.99 for a 12 pack
  • Gillette Mach III Disposable, $6.99 for a three pack

The BIC Twin Blade Disposable, in my opinion, is the poster child for disposable razors. The price of $3.19 is attractive, and it works out to be just under $.27 per blade. But if you?re lucky you?ll stretch that supply out over perhaps three weeks, which means that you are paying over $1 per week for blades. Though it is the next cheapest shaving option (after the Proglide), the shave that it delivers is poor on balance.

The Gillette Twin Blade Disposable is a step up from the BIC Twin Blade Disposable from a quality standpoint, but still has a short shelf life. You might get three or four decent quality shaves out of a single blade, which means you will be using two blades per week. The net cost will be $1.16 if you can stretch the 12 blades out for as long as six week. That?s more than double the $.49 per week cost for the Proglide.

Quality-wise, the Gillette Mach III Disposable is the best of the disposables. You can probably get a full week of shaves from a single razor. But with the price of $6.99, that works out to be $2.33 per week. That?s only slightly below the Gillette Mach III itself, which makes me question the entire existence of the disposable version at all.

Surprisingly quality shave – even after a full month of use

As to the quality of the shave from the Proglide, after 31 days it matches up well with the shave provided by a brand-new Gillette Mach III razor. That?s saying a lot considering that the Mach III is generally held up as the shaving industry-standard. The Proglide uses a four blade configuration, complete with a lubrication strip on the top, and consistently delivers a close, smooth shave. Considering that I have a heavy beard, you should get even better results if yours is thinner.

One negative on the Proglide – there is a ?precision trimmer? blade at the very top of the cartridge, facing the opposite direction of the four primary blades. You must constantly be aware of the existence of this blade! Though it’s there a trimmer for sideburns and bearded areas, I find it to be primarily an unnecessary annoyance, and even a little bit dangerous.

The blade kind of sits there doing nothing, but it?s wicked sharp and likely to cut some unintended part of your person if you aren?t perpetually aware of its existence. Twice I sliced my fingernails, simply because the blade hooked on to them while pulling the razor in a downward motion. And though it hasn?t happened to me yet, I could easily see cutting open your fingertips simply as a result of mishandling the razor – after all, in the normal course of events, who considers the placement of a blade on the back of a razor? The Gillette company can improve the product by removing this random and generally useless blade.

For what it?s worth, you may be able to save a little bit more money – from time to time at least – with occasional discounts. Check out the Gillette coupon website where you can sign up for their newsletter coupon offers. However, consistent with the razor blade price control/monopoly conspiracy, it doesn?t seem that razor blade companies offer coupons frequently, or offer impressive savings on them when they do.

The Proglide is my solution to expensive razor blades. Other than growing a beard, have you found a less expensive way to shave?

( Photo by Kai Hendry )

3 Responses to Save Money on Razor Blades by Trading Up

  1. I can’t use disposables for the same reasons you listed. I gladly trade up and spend more for a better shave. Gillette seems to really know what they are doing in regards to this product.

  2. Hi Brian – Gillette seems to set the standard with shaving products. What would be great is if they find a way to lower the price on the Proglide. It really is a great product, but a lot of people will pass on it due to the higher purchase price, without considering the the quality upgrade.

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