The low cost, high luxury shave

There are three points to this article. Firstly real, traditional shaving is not a walled garden like multibladed system shaving. The choices are infinite so you can tailor your shaving experience every day to be exactly what you want.

Secondly this is anti snobbery. Too many people in traditional shaving only want to talk about Simpson’s brushes, Feather All Stainless razors and Castle Forbes shaving cream, or similar expensive, high end kit. Yet there is stuff out there that costs a fraction of the price and is just as good, if not better.

Thirdly this article is about cheap shaving. How to have a great shave without spending a lot of money. Double edged safety razor shaving using a lather generated with a brush has been with us for over 100 years, there are no patents to prevent competition and there is lots of that competition from manufacturers in low cost developing countries. A recipe for bargains. We will be using kit from India, China and Egypt.

For this shave there will be no compromises. Everything will be of the very highest, most luxurious quality. You could shave with this combination for the rest of your life and be happy with it. The fact that it is so cheap is just an enormous bonus. So this is what we shall use:

Shaving soap. Palmolive tallow based shaving stick, less than 50 pence in British supermarkets. Say 1 penny per shave. This is one of the world’s great shaving soaps, it forms a smooth, lubricating, luxurious lather very easily and smells fantastic. In fact it is difficult to know what they could do better. This is raved about across the wet shaving community and is very highly sought after in America where it is not on general sale.

Brush. I could suggest a cheapo boar brush from the discount shop, but we are talking about luxury here. The Frank Shaving finest badger at $9.99 from China is our bargain, it is as good as big name brushes at ten times the price. A quality brush like this should last for decades so the cost is just a few cents per month. This is a really excellent brush that will easily and quickly face lather the shaving stick, then it will hold enough charge for several passes. It is luxuriantly soft yet has enough backbone to give your face a good massage.

Razor. The Lord L6 (in the L1822 packaging) would be an outstanding shaving razor if it was $30, but it is about a tenth of this in its native Egypt and can be picked up for just a few dollars/pounds in the West. This is a 3 piece Tech type razor so the blade is held very rigidly. The highly chromed head is an almost exact copy of the highly rated Merkur head and, if anything, shaves even better. This is a top razor even by absolute standards. The long handle is aluminium which gives it a nice balance and which just adds to the control you have over it. And as this has, effectively, an infinite life, the cost of using it is zero.

Blade. Super-Max in India are the second biggest manufacturer of razor blades in the world, making about 20% of all blades used and they are sold in 125 countries. 200 Super-Max Super Stainless double edged blades cost just £6. That is 3 pence per blade, which is less than 1p per shave. The blade snobs don’t like this blade and you can understand exactly why. However many more open minded shavers report good results.

So our total cost per shave is around 2 pence. This is a tiny fraction of the cost of using a multibladed system razor with a foam that comes out of an aerosol can. Not only is it cheaper, it is also better and it is far kinder to the environment.

I just shaved with this combination. The Palmolive stick, as ever, caught me out with just how good it is. Lush, lathers so easily and with that manly scent that is redolent of barber’s shops. The Frank Shaving brush was just perfect, face lathering quickly and well then holding enough for multiple passes. The razor is fantastic, light after a few weeks with the Mergress, but very wieldy with that long handle. And the blade was a little less smooth than my favoured Iridium to start with but quickly settled down to give an excellent shave. Two passes and a touch up gave the desired results with no nicks or weepers. All for 2 pence. How can anyone use an expensive multibladed system razor?

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8 Comments


  1. Day 2 with the same razor and blade. Even smoother. These Super Max blades like to bed in a bit before giving their best.


  2. “..this is anti snobbery”

    ” I could suggest a cheapo boar brush from the discount shop, but we are talking about luxury here.”

    🙂


  3. +1 on the Palmolive shave stick. Thankfully available from stateside online vendors now, I used to trade with shavers “across the pond” and the shipping costs were awful.

    FWIW, I have both Palmolive and Castle Forbes in the rotation and am fairly egalitarian but as long as the budget allows, top shelf is my top choice.

    Can’t “anti snobbery” be snobbery as well ?


  4. I have looked around for the Lord L-6 and have not found one available. The Lord web site appears to only sell in “container” size lots. Any help running one of these down Bruce?


  5. I’m a big fan of the Frugal Shave. I have varieties of it as well, from the absolute cheapest shave, to the most luxurious cheap shave.

    Ironically the better kit I have and use, the more information I find, and the more I try other soaps…the cheaper my better shaves become!

    I use a Schick Krona I got on eBay for $3.75, Arko/Speick/VDH Delux/Williams (which I enjoy them all really) and I was using a crappy brush sort of out of spite of the expensive brush elite to be honest. I found that a well worked in cheapo boar was a LOT different from and out of the box cheapo boar.

    But you know what’s a million times better? (yes a Frank Shaving Brush…but not my point) The Omega Pro style boar brushes. Personal shout outs going to the 20107, The Pro 48 if you’re cool with a HUGE brush, and my new love the 10098 with it’s nifty handle and all. I haven’t even broken this thing in yet and it’s like a foam mop of joy.

    And while people do get snobby about blades, I’ve never been one of them. I use what works, and feathers ARE one that work REALLY well for me. I think they’re excellent for shaving my head (which is why I like the bigger boar brushes for “face” lathering) because of the DENSE cluster of hairs on the sides and back of my head. But I’ve also had success with just about every other blade out there. The ones I find myself enjoying the most are Crystal blades, which as far as I’ve seen are rather cheap. I’ve still got about 9 more types of blade to try from my sampler and trades with others and test blades sent with various packages so who knows, I may find and even cheaper and more awesome blade!

    Let’s be honest here though, the CHEAPEST shave I can get involves my Straight. It’s a Clauss 5/8 full hollow that I bought for rather cheap, and it’s only cost is for shipping to and from the gentleman I purchased it from as he will sharpen it for free, for life. Granted shipping isn’t free, but taking good care of the blade and proper stropping (got my strop for free) means I don’t have to get it sharpened very often at all.

    I will point people to this post as an example of some kit to snag when they talk about getting in on the cheap.

    Thanks!

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