Some traditional shaving bargains

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.

Good value.

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.


  1. Hi Bruce,

    Regarding the Frank brush, how dense are they? I ask because I face lather soaps so like soft tips but with a good amount of backbone.


  2. Forgot to ask: Why do you recommend the finest hair? Purely to keep it a bargain? Also, have you tried a Frank Silvertip brush?

    Thanks again.

  3. Me again. Just been looking through your site (after doing a search for ‘Frank’) and have answered all of my own questions.

    I think I’m going to buy the dense short-loft Silvertip (28mm knot and a 54mm loft). This sounds the perfect brush for hard soap. I use only an Omega boar but want a little more luxury.

    Great site by the way – a wealth of information.

  4. I always enjoy the bargain articles – I got started in de shaving b/c of your high luxury, low cost blog entry. Great job Bruce.

  5. Bruce,

    I applaud you for sharing your experience and expertise! Your time spent in R&D and writing these pieces is greatly appreciated. I particularly find your bang-for-the-buck articles interesting, applicable and…right on the money!

  6. I just tried the Wilkinson razor & blade (from Boots) this morning. Yes, a very gentle and mild razor, definitely not a “beard destroyer.” Suprisingly well-balanced for a (mostly) plastic razor. I’ll have to try it with some other blade brands. But I could easily recommend it to a wetshaving “newbie.”

  7. Can’t comment on the razors mentioned here as I’ve never tried any of them – but I’d suggest the best value out there right now are the classic Gillette Super Speeds, which rarely go for more than $10 on eBay.

  8. Bruce

    which Jagger to upgrade from a weishi ?
    I suffer from sensitive skin and shave every day ?


    1. They all have the same head so it is just a matter of choosing the handle that suits you.

  9. Cheers Bruce

    I like your guide to budget shaving ! Its great fun and has fully converted me into DE shaving rather than using those daft plastic things that cost far too much . I have wasted so much on my little Hobbies over the years and have learned that £ does not = Quality in many cases.

    I also like your site despite too many adverts ! good layout and pics etc .

  10. Hi Bruce! Great blog, and this page in particular.

    I took your advice and bought the Wilkinson razor and,
    what I’m posting about now, the Turkish horsehair brush. It was excellent for a couple of months until last week the glue went and the knot came free from the base.

    There’s an easy fix for it though – just line the base with quilted (thick) toilet paper, replace the knot by pushing it hard into the now lined base and then trim off the excess paper. The paper in the base will get wet and that acts as a sealant keeping the knot securely in place.

    Thought other of your readers might be grateful for that advice! No need to spend good money on epoxies whern there are cheap (in fact, almost free) and effective alternatives to hand.

    Best to you,

    Graham .

    P.S. Also you could mention the Wrasmic shaving stick – only slightly more expensive the Palmolive but wirth a nice bay rum smell for thiose who prefer it .wit

  11. Edited; should be the Erasmic shaving stick, of course! I think my typing went right off at the end there.

  12. I purchased a Wilkinson sword classic, sometime after reading your article, very pleasant indeed. Despite the fact that it’s made of plastic, curiously the thing doesn’t feel cheap at all and is well balenced. I use it for the neck area, in my XTG process, while my Merkur 34c is absolutely too agressive for this specific job.

    Thx for the tips.

  13. Hello Bruce I want to congratulate you on a very informative and interesting website or blog I am not sure which is which. However considering that 99% of men and a very large of number of women shave, it is amazing that there are not more webstes on the correct way to shave and I myself have used the plastic Wilkinson and Derby blades and Palmolive shaving soap and got a really crap shave. So I tried a suggestion from a fellow on you tube who said that he got his best shave by lathering up and then doing one pass then rinse of the cream and apply more cream and do the second pass repeat and do the third pass, or more following the above rinse and repeat procedure. I got a great shave with no soreness whatsoever. Timetaking, but strangely enjoyable, this I do not understand because I have never liked the rtask of shaving. I now look forward to it and sort of whish that the beard would grow quicker so I could shave again.
    Does this mean that I have finally lost my marbles ?.
    However great website/blog keep it coming.
    Best wishes from David Hall.

Comments are closed.