By Jeremy Bender, Cheapism.com
Shaving is a vital part of a man's life. Whether beards are in vogue or out, every man owns at least one manual or electric shaver for those days when appearing clean-shaven is a must. And for any guy who is job hunting or works in an industry that insists on minimal facial hair, a daily shave with a quality, preferably cheap, razor blade is embedded in the morning ritual.
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As all men know, the cost of replaceable razor heads for a traditional shaver quickly adds up. A five-pack of Gillette Fusion five-blade cartridges, for example, fetches about $26 at Walmart. Assuming one cartridge lasts a week, the annual cost approaches $260. Fortunately, there are several low-cost off-brand alternatives available through convenient sources.
800razors.com specializes in delivering razor blades and handles that stand up well to Gillette for about half the price. The website offers 12-cartridge packs of five-bladed razors for $26 that are nearly identical to the Gillette Fusion; packs of 24 cartridges go for $50. The cost savings, compared with Gillette, run to approximately $80. 800razors also sells three-bladed razors that are comparable to the Gillette Mach 3 at a value price -- 15 cartridges for $26 versus $36 for the Mach 3.
In terms of quality, 800razors' five-bladed razors make the grade. They feature ceramic-coated blades, a precision trimming blade, and an aloe and vitamin E-infused strip for a clean, close, and healthy shave. A review at About.com commends the quality of the shave and spacing between the blades that ensures a thorough post-shave rinse.
This ecommerce cite offers a convenient subscribe feature. Buyers can arrange automatic delivery of a new set of cartridges to a specified address in four-month intervals. A standing order for 15 cartridges of three-bladed razor heads every four months costs $104 for the year. Although this is not a cost-saver, it is a convenience. Shipping is free.
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Dollar Shave Club is another online vendor that specializes in selling quality razor heads for a bargain price. This e-vendor operates on a subscription model that delivers a set number of cartridges on a monthly basis. It sells three tiers of blades, each increasingly expensive, although still cheap compared with name-brand alternatives.
Buyers also have more options. The most basic head is two-bladed with a lubricating strip that carries a monthly charge of $1 for a box of five cartridges (shipping and handling bring the total closer to $3 per month). The step-up is a four-bladed replaceable razor that costs $6 monthly for a box of four cartridges, each of which also features a lubricating strip. Dollar Shave Club's priciest deal is a six-bladed razor with a lubricating strip, packed four to a box, that comes with a monthly fee of $9. Shipping is included with orders of these pricier cartridges.
One friend who uses Dollar Shave Club had nothing but praise for the company and the product. He was thrilled with the quality of the shave and how much he was saving. A reviewer at Geek.com awarded the company a top score, saying the low-cost replaceable razor heads cut through multiple days of hair growth without a problem and the automated delivery always arrives when it's meant to.
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Dorco may be the cheapest source for razors yet -- not surprising given that the company supplies many of the razors sold by Dollar Shave Club. By ordering straight from a razor supplier, 24 cartridges of six-bladed razors can be had for only $32.
In terms of reviews, loyal fans who posted on the company site assert that the Dorco-brand blades are substantially higher quality than many bearing well-known labels, and sell for significantly less. Its SXA5040 six-blade, for example, maintains its sharpness and rinses easily, according to reviewers. The only problem some occasionally encounter is a less-than-exacting trimmer blade on the back of the cartridge.
The one disadvantage of doing business with Dorco directly is that all orders must be placed in bulk, and there is a minimum order of $25. If you can manage to find storage space for multiple packs of razor cartridges, you can order half a year's worth of six-bladed heads for $32, shipping included.
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