The reason a lot of us got into wet shaving was the potential of saving money. Now, most of us has fallen deep into the wet shaving rabbit hole and spent way more money than we ever did on carts. However I have put together a list of my top picks in a few categories to get you started or even save you money on your next purchases.It’s easy to get pulled into all the flash and sparkle of new razors, artisan soaps and luxurious brushes when you get into wet shaving. Today I am going to try to give some more cost-effective options for keeping your wallet a little bit fatter(so you can spend more money on the one luxury item).
The first thing I will start with is Razors. Razors can be one of the cheaper things in wet shaving and easily the most costly as well. Many modern custom straight razors go for $800+ while the majority of modern straights cost at least $150 to start. I would recommend getting a vintage straight from an antique store or garage sale and having it honed to save a bunch of money. Problem is that if you don’t know what you are looking for that simple hone job may turn out to be a complete re-do of the razors blade and cost a lot of money. So for now I would start with a shavette and see if you lie the idea of shaving with a straight. Shavette’s can be picked up fairly cheap on auction sites and BST groups. Although there are more pricey options as well.
If you are starting out in wet shaving I think a safety razor is the way to go. Also called a DE(double edge) razor. The best thing to do is check auction sites, antique stores, markets, and garage sales……heck even ask family members if they have any. These razors can be had very cheap if you look in the right places. This doesn’t mean they are not great shavers. It’s just that a lot of people don’t know what they have or they have no use for them.
My top pick would be a vintage Gillette! For a mild and great shaving razor a Gillette Tech is pretty tough to beat. While you may luck out and find an adjustable like a Fatboy or slim, Tech’s are very common and a great starting place for new shavers. If you want something more aggressive try a Gillette Open comb New or Old Type. These are also somewhat common and can be had fairly cheap. I would say you can get one of these razors for less than $20 very easily. Just a little TLC to get them cleaned up and you are all set.
As for modern DE’s on the cheap(ish), Maggards and Razorock(Italian Barber) have some pretty nice razors for great prices. They also get really good reviews. While the fit and finish may not quite be that of the more expensive modern DE’s the resulting shave tends to be just as good!
Brushes. There are so many options and it can be tough for a new shaver to know what to get. What I have recommended to many of my friends and Newbies is to go to your local drug store and pick up an Omega Boar brush. Less than $15(in Canada even) and readily available. A seriously nice brand new brush for under $20….sometimes closer to $10. While these can take a bit of time to break in, once they are they are awesome brushes that many wet shavers use daily even after using high-priced badgers. For a little bit more money you can get a Semogue boar brush. The knots I find just a bit nicer as well as the handles. Again the Semogue boars can range from $12-$30. While some specialty stores may have these mostly these are available online. Notice that $30 is the top end!! For $30 you can get The Semogue Owners Club boar brush which I think is the best boar brush on the market!
synthetic brushes tend to be up a little bit in price although Omega makes a few reasonably priced ones that I have not tried. I have tried the Plisson Synthetic which can go for between $30 and $45. A nice brush for the price. The Muhle STF is my pick for synthetics, but it is up in price as well. A great value, but not super cheap for saving money.
As for badger’s I don’t really have a cheap recommendation. To be honest most really cheap badger brushes are just that….cheap. If I had to recommend one low-cost badger it would be a Whipped dog badger brush from Larry at whipped dog.These get really good reviews and start at about $30 shipped. While you can find some badger brushes on eBay they can be very hit and miss. When starting out I think its best to take the game of chance out of the equation.
I say stick with a nice boar brush to start and see if you like wet shaving. Then if you do invest in some higher end brushes. A nice badger is a hing of luxury, but can come with the matching price tag.
Soaps. What can I say. There are hundreds upon hundreds of different artisans and companies that make soap. Honestly most of the artisans these days make awesome stuff as well. However if I were to recommend a couple soaps to get started with the following are my picks.
Proraso green soap! This stuff can be found everywhere. From local barber shops to drugstores and every online retailer. There is a reason for that as well. Its great stuff. Easy to lather and awesome performance. I’ve seen it as low as $6 for a tub here in Canada at a local drugstore. This tub will last you quite a while as well. Cheap, easily available, and a nice scent….doesn’t get much better. While there are cheaper soaps out there, with Proraso you know exactly what you are getting. A top-notch product at a really decent price.
Secondly I would say try a shave stick! Many guys will place an order online for there first group of shaving supplies. I think this is a great idea if you are getting a bunch of stuff to start out. A shaving stick is an awesome way to try soaps at a minimal cost. While normally a shaving stick doesn’t have as much soap as a puck it does lower the cost of trying a bunch of different products. And if you don’t like the soap you aren’t out $10+. I personally really like the LaToja shave stick. This soap is always in my travel kit and I use it fairly often even while at home. It’s usually on sale for $4.99 at Italian barber. Other shave sticks worth a try are Speick, Lea, Palmolive and even Arko. While Arko is very polarizing for its scent it can be had super cheap and it performs like a champ. All these shave sticks are under $7 and get great reviews. Quite honestly if you are placing an order on Italian Barber pick up a puck of Razorock soap as well. I love the stuff and its a great bang for your buck. Always remember soap scents are very much personal. not everyone likes the same thing and I tried to recommend fairly inoffensive scents.
As for a cheap aftershave balm I cannot speak any more highly of Nivea Soft. You can get it everywhere and it is awesome stuff. Under $4 for a tube. Nice clean and pleasing scent and leaves skin soft and nourished.
Razor blades. Last but not least and probably the most difficult to recommend as everyone has a different opinion. Not only does everyone’s opinions differ but my opinion even differs depending on the razor I put the blade in. In all honesty a blade sampler is a great idea to start. they offer you a chance to try a bunch of blades before making a purchase of a whole bunch. Not the best cost-effective purchase but still pretty cheap.
As for blades that I would recommend for a frugal shaver I would say Rapira Swedish Supersteel, or Voskhod are a great all around blade. You can order them on eBay for under $12 shipped to your door for 100 blades! Scary to think you can pay $20 for a park of 4 or 5 cartridges that last about a month. 100 blades even if you use one blade for 3 shaves will last you about a year. And realistically you can get 4 to 5 shaves out of these blades. This is where you can really save money in wet shaving.
I was inspired while writing this to shave using some of my top Frugal products for today’s SOTD!
Razor : Gillette Black Beauty adjustable ($5)
Blade : Rapira Swedish Supersteel (100 for $12 or 12 scents per blade)
Brush : Semogue IB 2012 LE Boar ($20)
Soap : LaToja Shave Stick ($4.99)
Toner : Thayer’s Rose
Aftershave : Nivea Soft ($3.25)
An awesome BBS shave for about for under $45. And this stuff could last upwards of 2 months if I used it everyday. The only thing you may need to replace after a couple of months would be the soap and balm.
While you cannot expect to get a razor like the Black Beauty for $5, you will come across a lot of cheap Gillettes. The brush was on the pricier side at $20, but I have given away my lower priced boars to my dad and friends I am trying to get started…..still $20 for an awesome brush is darn good. not only are these products all fairly cheap I actually really like using them despite having much more expensive stuff at my disposal.
It’s a great thing about our hobby. The rich guys don’t get better shaves because they spend more money. It’s all about the guys using the products, not about the cost. Your technique will get you a BBS shave not your $60 jar of Martin de Candre(But this stuff is awesome).
I gotta mention my ALL CANADIAN SHAVE I had on Saturday as well. I used 100% Canadian made stuff(except the blades) and had an awesome shave.
Razor : Canadian Gillette New LC
Brush : Zenshave/HTGAM Collaboration Canadian LE
Soap : Soapy Bathman CWS Exclusive Lumberjack
Bowl : Running Raven Tsimshian Bowl
Aftershave : Huggy Bear’s Maple Bay Rum
Oh, Canada. Our home and native land…..etc etc. Just a great Patriotic shave on Saturday night. Took a break from watching Hockey Night in Canada, took the beavers and Polar bears for a walk, took off my parka and mukluks and had a shave.
in all honesty it was a really nice shave. Not perfect, but comfortable and relaxing. I think I may have under loaded the brush to be honest. Otherwise it was great and something I need to do WAY more often!!!