Razors and shaving cream
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: The Secrets to Extending the Life of a Cheap Razor — Free

Note: Stupid Tip of the Day is a not-so-new regular feature of The Gate which will not be featured regularly — if at all — after today…or maybe not; but I am thinking of changing the name of this series, which depicts advice that is so well hidden in plain sight that it may seem too obvious to impart and that everyone probably knows about it, leading the person giving the advice to think that someone else might think it is actually stupid — and have second thoughts about giving it after all. Suggestions for changing the name of this series are welcomed; so please post them in the Comments section below.

have been known to use a cheap disposable razor far longer past its prime — despite the fact that my face has a tough beard yet sensitive skin — but I found out that I was not the only one who is notorious for extending the life of a cheap razor, as you will soon find out.

Shops Just For Shaving?

Having just finished an excellent dinner, two friends and I were wandering around aimlessly inside of a mall, which is quite unlike me. I typically prefer to avoid malls at all costs except when they provide air-conditioning from the brutal heat outdoors; but I enjoyed the company of my friends — one an older male and one a female closer to my age — and simply passing the time with them was really all I wanted to do, with no agenda about which to be concerned.

We were about to pass a small shop which is self-described as…

“…a masculine establishment set up to provide men with the finest shaving products and accessories. Our shops are operated by a team of shaving specialists who offer advice to customers on proper grooming techniques.”

…when my male friend suddenly went inside — as though he was lured in like the proverbial kid in a candy store.


I had absolutely no interest in this upscale shop, which was clean; well-appointed; and seemingly had every shaving accessory known to man. It was like entering a manicure and pedicure salon for men. No interest. None. Zilch…

…and yet there was my friend talking to one of the salesmen, discussing shaving techniques and tricks which verged on needing a graduate degree to understand. Pure, fine and silvertip brushes. Shaving kits in fancy wooden boxes. Travel kits encased in genuine leather — which had me wondering if the leather was Corinthian, with no apology to the late Ricardo Montalban. Silver-plated razors — blades sold separately. Pre-shave. After-shave. You name it.

The question marks were flying out of my head as well as that of my female friend in all different sizes and colors, as we stared at each other with quizzical looks on our faces — knowing we were both in an environment in which we simply did not belong.

No Passion For Fashion

No fashion plate am I, no sir — I am a jeans and T-shirt kinda guy; and if I can go through the rest of my life without wearing a suit and tie, that would be just fine with me. Halston, Gucci, Fiorruci — Sister Sledge even knew more about fashion than I.

Kinda strange for someone who graduated from the same schools — considered amongst the best in the world — as such fashion designers as Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, Kay Unger and Marc Jacobs; but I digress once again.

Shaving to me means getting in the bathroom; swipe swipe; and getting outta there. It is more of a necessity if I want a clean-shaven face than a voluntary ritual designed to pamper me.

Who Else Wants to Extend the Life of a Cheap Razor?

Clark Howard is not someone I follow because I find that his consumer advice is more often topics about which I already know and seem to be based on common sense — and his advice on extending the life of a cheap razor is no exception; but I wanted to highlight it here in case anyone thinks that I am a strange anomaly.

It is “not so much from the actual friction or wear of shaving stubble” which degrades the blade of the razor; but rather that dangerous chemical compound known as dihydrogen oxide which we use to flush the whisker and shaving cream residue from the razor itself.

That’s right: water is the culprit for shortening the life of those razor blades.

He tried blotting his disposable razor dry on a towel after each use. While using alcohol or a little drying machine you can buy at the drug store might work, he found that “with drying the blade on my towel, I could go 6, 8, or even 10 months on a single disposable razor.”

Oh, Clark, Clark, Clark. This is where you and I diverge in our techniques, my friend whom I have never met.

He victoriously and proudly declared that “now I have finally crossed the 12-month mark” with one disposable razor.

Amateur, I say.

What I Do

I have two disposable razors which I have used for years — yes, the same ones where one has one blade and one has two blades — and I have very rarely ever nicked my face.

The reason why this article is under Stupid Tip of the Day is because this is something which I have been automatically doing for years without even thinking about it; and it has worked quite well for me: after I am finished using the disposable razor, I shake it above my hand over the sink several times — air-drying it until I feel no more droplets of moisture on my hand.

Many mid-range hotel properties — such as Hampton Inn, for example — offer complimentary disposable razors and shaving cream; and all you have to do is follow these three easy steps to successfully owning your spanking-new shaving kit:

  1. Go to the front desk.
  2. Ask the person behind the front desk.
  3. Enjoy your new razor and shaving cream.


Those complimentary items can be hit or miss. Sometimes the razor is unwrapped, in which case I will wait to run it through the dishwasher at home to ensure it is cleaned, sterilized and dried before I use it. Sometimes it is sealed in plastic wrap, in which case I will consider using it right away — not that being sealed is necessarily an automatic indication that the razor is clean and sterile. Sometimes the razor has one blade; other times it has two blades. Sometimes the shaving cream is nothing more than a cheap one-use plastic pouch of some unfamiliar glop manufactured in China; but other times, it is a name-brand miniature canister of real quality foamy shaving cream — and a perfect size to place in your one-quart plastic zippered bag when passing through security checkpoints at airports.

Over the years, I have also received offers for more expensive razors which are not disposable by companies such as Schick and Gillette — free of charge because they wanted me to try them. I have at least eight of them with only one currently in use while the others are still sealed in their fancy plastic and cardboard packages.

If my beard is rough or my face has not been shaven in greater than a day, I use the cheap — excuse me, I mean free — disposable razor with one blade like a weed whacker to get the stuff off of my face; and then I use the razor with multiple blades to do the fine tuning. This has further extended the life of both razors — and without nicking my face, either…

…and if I am shaving simply for maintenance purposes and do not need to be out in public, I will use only either of the two disposable razors.

By the way, I find that the razor with only one blade not only does a great job of shaving long whiskers down to something far more manageable in which a razor with two or more blades can finish the job; but it is also far easier to clean of residue than razors with two or more blades.

If I do not want to use one of the more expensive razors but I want a close shave, I will occasionally use a spare disposable razor with a sharper blade — which will one day replace one of the two main disposable razors to be eventually rotated out of the lineup, so to speak.

A Better Solution for the Rest of Us?

I will let Clark Howard answer this one with his suggestion, as it would be something I would never consider:

“I understand my whole thing with drying the razor is more OCD than most people want to be. So for everyone else, there’s a service called DollarShaveClub.com.

“This razor club for men and women will put you on a monthly subscription plan and send you a new razor each month. There’s a $1/month razor plan, a $6/month plan and a $9/month plan. It lets you lock in low costs without having to dry the blade after each use like me.”


After thinking about it for quite a while, I do not remember the last time I purchased a razor or shaving cream — and yes, I have procured free shaving cream and gels in a similar manner to those razors with multiple blades in addition to the occasional free items from the hotel properties at which I stay as a guest.

My face is clean-shaven when it needs to be as a result. If you prefer a more luxurious experience when it comes to shaving, do not take advice from a barbarian like me. Go spend the money — however much money you need to spend — in order to have that desired experience.

Don’t worry. I will wait for you when you are done. Go enjoy your shave…

The razors which I currently use — the cheap disposable razor with two blades; the more expensive razor with two blades which is not disposable; and the cheap disposable razor with one blade — are shown in the lower center of the photograph at the top of this article, which also includes the unopened packages of razors and a few of the canisters of shaving cream. Not included in the photograph are the free disposable razors I have gotten from hotel properties. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Of course you passed up the cheapest way to save on razors. Instead of drying your razors to extend their life or paying for expensive hotel rooms to get free razors, you can save money the old fashioned way and just grow a beard!

    1. For me, there are several issues with growing a beard — and a mustache, for that matter — AlohaDaveKennedy:

      • • My beard and mustache do not grow evenly
      • • When I attempted to have either or both of them, people thought I looked better clean-shaven
      • • The beard and mustache itch after a while, which is irritating and annoying to me

      In this case, free just is not worth it to me…

  2. The fascination with keeping razor blades sharp has been around for a long time. There was a short but hysterical fascination in the ’70s with placing razor blades under plastic pyramids to keep them sharpened. The idea was that since the pyramid preserved mummies so well that it could do the same for razors. Another idea was storing a razor along the north / south axis of the earth letting magnetic fields strengthen the metal in the blade. In either case, a lot of effort spent to preserve something that’s only used, at most, a couple minutes a day.

    1. I will be the first to admit that the fascination for keeping the expense of shaving down as much as possible can be irrational, Ed — as irrational as driving miles to save pennies on gasoline, which I do NOT do…

      …but I wish I knew about that pyramid trick when I visited Egypt recently. I could have taken all of my razors with me…

  3. Good common sense tips. I will only comment on the DSC part. I have never subscribed to DSC but I did a little research and found the supplier to makes the blades for them. It is a company called Dorco and you can order straight from them. I did so and saved about 50% over the DSC price simply by ordering from the manufacturer. While it was cheaper than the Mach 3 blades I have used for literally 15 years, the quality was lousy. The design did a terrible job around my goatee, after only a few shaves would become dull, (even when I dried the blade with a towel) and overall wasn’t worth the hassle and razor burn even when using good shave gel and prepping my face with warm water. I went back to Mach 3 razors and I am a happier man for it.

    1. Thank you for imparting your experience, Captain Kirk, which shows that saving money is not always a good idea — especially if you are significantly sacrificing quality.

      As some people would say: “you get what you pay for.”

  4. Can’t recall when the last time I used a disposal razor. Going back a few years, knowledge on how to use MQ at Walgreens to obtain a RR enabled me to stock use Gillette Fusion heads. While the getting was good, I managed to lay in at least a 10 year supply.

    Now doing a ‘razor and blade’ promotion today will immediately have bargain hunters scheming on how to either get something for cheap, free or make money.

    1. You jogged my memory on how I acquired some of those razors shown in the photograph, Kevin S. Walgreens used to have some amazing rebate offers — and sometimes one could actually profit from them.

      Their rebate program is nowhere nearly as good as it used to be…

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