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Bucking the Shave Trend: Is the Dollar Shave Club Worth It?

Looking for a cheap razor blade option? The Dollar Shave Club may be the answer.
Updated

Perhaps you've heard (or even sung) the barbershop quartet refrain that's been around for a century or so: "Shave and a haircut ... two bits!" Those days may be long gone, but there's a new player that claims almost as cheap a price tag: the Dollar Shave Club. And boy are they popular with more than 12,000 Twitter followers and close to 20,000 Facebook likes. Speaking of "face," here's how the deal works: First, you select a razor blade. Then, Dollar Shave Club sends you a free handle and a set number of cartridges each month. Yes, it's that simple.

Dollar Shave Club promises the luxury of having blades delivered to your doorstep, without needing to make a Duane Reade or CVS run. Plus, if you'll pardon our saying so, these folks are cheeky, describing their Executive blade like this: "The shave is so buttery, it feels like you’re carving turns through a virgin Wyoming snowfall." DSC has also been helped along by a weeks-old promotional video that's gone viral, and which has earned more than 3 million views.

How Does the Dollar Shave Club Cut?

Obviously, the club can potentially save you money over many major razor brands, because they don't sell fancy razors that vibrate or light up; they argue that the quality of their blades negates any other frills. And here's how they price it: For $3 a month ($1 with $2 s&h) members receive five twin cartridges; $6 buys four 4-blade cartridges; and $9 a month means receiving three 6-blade cartridges. Even with shipping, these prices are a lot lower than if you were to purchase a 4-pack of Gillette Mach 3 Turbo blades for about $15 at your local pharmacy. But since every man's face is different, here's a quick comparison of brand name razors and their associated in-store prices:

The Men's Zone 6-Blade Cartridge 4-Pack are the only razors whose price undercuts Dollar Shave Club, but the product itself doesn't feature the bonus luxe element of the comparable 6-blade DSC offering: an aloe, vitamin E, and lavender lubricating strip.

Cutting Close to Online Prices

The Dollar Shave Club's appeal is also about convenience, so to get a relative sense of its value, you must also look to comparable online options. For example, the BBB-accredited business BuyTheCase.net sells the Top Care 6-Blade Cartridge 12-Pack ($23.97 with $5.20 s&h, or $2.43 per cartridge) in which the razor itself stacks up to DSC's "Executive" blade, but comes in at 60 cents cheaper per cartridge. It's hard to vouch for the exact quality of this little-known blade, but Dollar Shave Club isn't stocking name brands, either.

You can also find discounted shaving products through Amazon's Subscribe & Save program, where recurring orders of products are discounted. The Gillette Fusion 5-Blade Cartridge 12-Pack goes for $37.97, but the price drops 5% to $36.07 with Subscribe & Save, and shipping is free (a low by $4). That's $3.01 per 5-blade cartridge, compared to $3 per DSC 6-blade cartridge; just a whisker of price and quality separates the two, if that much.

What's more, Subscribe & Save tops DSC in so far as Amazon allows customers to use coupons codes, which a savvy shopper can keep an eye out for to yield even lower prices on razors. That being said, however, prices do fluctuate with Subscribe & Save. If you sign up for automatic delivery, but don't pay much attention to the item's cost, you may find that its price has jumped in between shipments. One way to avoid this is to cancel your subscription after receiving your order; but there goes the convenience of automatic shipment!

Dollar Shave Club, too, lets you cancel your subscription any time: "We're not Columbia House Records," they quip. However DSC is also not Columbia Records in another way: their offerings are no-frills, and offer only three types of blades to choose from. If you love those blades, great, but what if you want some spice to your shave? (I can just hear these jokesters responding, "Go buy some jalapeño shaving gel, pal.")

A Close Shave

So is DSC worth it? It's easy to develop product loyalty with funny commercials, and in that case, Dollar Shave Club certainly has a following. And taking into consideration price and quality, we're hard pressed to find a better price per blade, though Amazon's Subscribe & Save comes close. But you'll have to try DSC's blades yourself to determine if their razors are right for you.

It's a close shave, then? You bet. If you want the great combination of convenience, comfort, and cheap prices, you can easily give Dollar Shave Club a go. But also keep an eye out for bargains on Subscribe & Save. (We wonder what the barbershop boys would say to that.)

Front page photo credit: Macs London Magazine
Bottom page photo credit: The Julia Group

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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9 comments
DTYoung2383
I've currently been using my DSC razors for about 5 months. I've got a few friends that are using them and their comparisons are pretty similar to mine. I went from using a Gillette Fusion. The first few shaves on a blade are pretty good. They don't get nearly as close as my GF did, and I find myself changing directions to hit spots that I missed on the first swipe. The single blade at the top is useless. The hair at the base of my nostril is pretty much a main stay. The commercials are clever and entertaining, but when it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. I pulled my rusty Gillette out at work the other day for an emergency shave, and I felt like it performed better than a fresh DSC blade. I was planning on posting a review on their page, but you have to email them, and from the looks of the positive reviews, they have no intention of posting negative ones.
m.ellen.k_photography
I get the $6 a month package and absolutely love them! I was second guessing myself when first signing up since I am a woman and did not know how they would compare to my normal raisers but they are great! You have the option of getting them every other month so if you don't shave as often its perfect! As a busy college student whos looking to shave a buck its also saving me a great deal of time. Best of all we have hard water so they wont rust like normal cheapy razors! Happy Shaving!
Topher
If you want the best shave at the best price, you should look at traditional wetshaving with a traditional safety razor and double-edge razor blades. You can get an excellent quality safety razor for less than $40, and you can buy a package of 100 DE razor blades for $12-$25 (depending on manufacturer).

You will pay a few dollars more up front, and there is a (short) learning curve with traditional safety razors. Expect to spend the first week or so getting used to it. Luckily, there is a wealth of information regarding this growing trend.

For maximum benefit, you will probably want to get a shaving brush and switch away from cheap shaving foam/gel in a can, too. This will improve the quality of the shave, but does cost a few more dollars up front. Luckily, it's optional and can always be done later.

Best of all, with the exception of the blades themselves, you're no longer dealing with cheap disposable stuff. You're buying quality products that will last you a lifetime.
snarminoxx
Factory-sealed Gillette Fusion Proglide can often be had for about 2.50 each on Ebay in a 24 pack. and 2.00 for the Gillette Fusion regulars.  Just search a bit.
brianlmoon
I have been using these for about two months now. I got the $6/month pack that are similar to the Gillette I was using. They are good razors. I think comparing them when brand new to the Mach 3, they are not quite as nice. But, a couple of days in, they are the same. The lubricating strip on the Mach 3 when new is very nice. But, it loses its effectiveness long before the blades do. For the money, the Dollar Shave Club blades are well worth it.
simplynutty
@Zeke How on earth did you shave 50-60 times on 1 blade/cartridge without is going dull? I'm guessing you have little and/or very soft hair.
@Totaltully I don't think it's uncommon to change razors weekly or at least every other week.I found this article when researching dollar shave club and I've decided to pass.

@ZerCool Thanks for suggesting safety/straight razors! I did some quick reading and I'm pretty sure I'm going that route.  Hopefully I'll be able to slow down a bit so I won't cut myself.

Thanks all.
Zeke
I have been using the Fusion ProGlide for like 50-60 shaves now and it is still gliding like a pro. That is about two months on a $4 blade. It really depends on how thick your beard is for the razors to last different lengths of time.
Totaltully
How many ppl change razors every week? Might be an outlier, but I change less than once a month. In any case, around thanksgiving you can pick up 20-30 blades for 30$ or so. DSC seems as much of a con as the big razor makers.
ZerCool
Or, instead of spending $10 a month on generic blades and razors, spend $40 (once) on a safety razor and $15 on 100 blades. Get a better shave, less irritation, and have something that looks good sitting on your bathroom shelf.
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