Several times on this blog I have commented on the tenuous relationship between quality and price in traditional shaving. There are shaving soaps and creams with fancy names on them that cost a fortune and are pretty useless, yet one of the very best shaving soaps in the world can be had for less than 50 pence. So I thought I would try and bring some of the best value together in one article.
Amazing, unbelievable bargains.
This first category has three entrants. Firstly the Turkish horse hair shaving brush that costs just $2.45. OK the handle looks like it was made by an 11 year old at his first woodworking class, but this is not about cosmetics. This is about an absolutely brilliant brush that works amazingly well. So well that I am frightened to buy the more expensive brushes that this vendor offers because there is no way they can offer the same ratio of ability to price.
Second up is the Palmolive shave stick which can easily be bought in British supermarkets for less than 50 pence. This tallow based (despite the name) shaving soap is one of the best that you can buy, regardless of price. And it is going to cost you about half of one penny per shave. It just amazes me that there are people in the world who are so misinformed that they spend many times this to use that awful aerosol rubbish.
Thirdly comes the black delrin Wilkinson Sword Classic razor which costs about £4. Don’t get me wrong this is not a first pass, stubble destroying uber razor. This is much more subtle, the Classic comes into its own after most of the stubble has been removed. This is a second or, preferably, a third pass razor for when you are striving for that perfect shave. And it delivers, it is so benign that you can confidently buff and polish away with gay abandon knowing that it will not bite. This is the razor for those who want absolute smoothness.
Amazing believable bargains.
Anyone involved in traditional shaving will know that first up must be the Frank Shaving badger brushes from China as supplied by Ian Tang on eBay. By buying direct from source and cutting out the middleman you get a brush that you would have to spend about five times more in the West to equal. Ian has built a reputation for customer service and has also built a range of brushes to cover a variety of tastes. Go for the Finest hair and avoid the wooden handles and you will get an outstanding brush.
Lord razors. These are available from Connaught now and on Amazon if you watch out for the different models, the L5 (in the L122 packaging) is a less mild Tech copy with a long handle for £6.90 at Connaught. The L6 Premium (in the LP.1822 packaging) for £7.90 is a Merkur copy head with the same long handle. Both these razors are simple and straightforward and work very well indeed.
Shaving soaps and creams from Godrej in India and Arko in Turkey. Brilliant products, they cost a lot less than £1 each on their native soil. In the West we must pay more for the shipping and the profit of intermediaries than we do for the product. However judicious ferreting round the web can reveal some very good deals if you are prepared to buy a few soaps or creams in one go.
Then blades. Once again the developing world delivers. Super Max blades from India and the various Lord brands from Egypt. Some suit some shavers and some others. YMMV so firstly only buy a few to try them out. If they work for you then look to spend about £5 per 100 blades, which is about a penny per shave. Used together with a Palmolive shave stick you are going to get luxurious shaves for one and a half pennies each. Don’t tell anyone who uses multibladed cartridge razors and aerosol lathers, they will have a heart attack.
Extremely good value.
Monsavon Bol à Raser is a soft French saving soap that you can buy in every supermarket in France for less than two Euros. And it is utterly fabulous. And almost impossible to get hold of outside France. If you can get your hands on some of this then jump at the opportunity, you will not regret it.
Edwin Jagger razors. These start at about £20 and are both better and less expensive than the equivalent new razors from the German brands. However they often pitch up on Amazon for about £15, which is faintly ridiculous for something so well made that works so superbly well.
The Vulfix 404 badger boar brush is one of the very best shaving brushes you can buy at any price, yet it is just £10. From its perfect, hand turned handle to its perfect, versatile knot there is nothing about this brush that can be faulted. A total absolute classic.
Taylors of Bond Street shaving creams are lush and luxurious and come in many fantastic flavours yet they are less than £7 for a big tub. This is far cheaper than the other St James’s men’s grooming companies and is very little to pay for a top draw, world class, grooming product.
Petersburg Products International razor blades. Probably the best currently made on planet earth, they will probably cost somewhere around twice what a Super Max or Lord blade does. But in the overall scheme of things they are still very inexpensive at around two pence per shave.
Simpson’s smaller shaving brushes in pure badger. The Case, Beaufort, Berkeley and Special. Less than £20 for one of the world’s best brand of shaving brushes. The smaller sizes are perfect for face lathering and perform as well as bigger brushes from some other manufacturers. And Simpson’s pure grade of badger hair, whilst not as soft as their more expensive grades, is not rough or coarse in any way and in fact give a pleasing level of exfoliation.
iKon razors. Yes these are pretty expensive, but they cost a lot less than the solid stainless steel razors from other manufacturers. Not only that, they are rated as one of the very best razors you can buy at any price. And they will pretty much last for ever.
So there we have it, how to get the most for your hard earned money. Obviously there is much more that could be added, but this is a pretty fair look at some of the amazing, through to good, value that is out there for traditional shavers.