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Cut-price razors – are replacement blades too expensive?

Nobody likes paying for new razor blades and at £13 for a pack of four, you can see why. Are replacement razor blades too expensive considering new razors appear to be on offer more often than not?

Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide Power blades are £3.25 each – if we used one of them per month that adds up to £39 a year. I begrudge paying that much for a few grams of plastic and steel and I’m sure I’m not alone.

So what can we do to get a good and cheap shave? The answer is to wait till razors are on offer and buy any blades that fit, regardless of whether they’re branded specifically for the razor handle you own.

Both powered and manual razors offer a close shave

Our latest men’s razors test shows that differences in the comfort and closeness of shaves provided by powered and manual versions of leading razors is small. And because manual blades fit on powered versions of the razors, one immediate cost-saving measure to take is to buy manual blades.

All of the Gillette Fusion family of razors fit manual and powered Fusions and Fusion ProGlides. The same is true of the Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium manual and powered razors.

Both manufacturers have pointed out differences between their manual and powered blades, but we found in our tests that the shaving differences are hardly noticeable so buying the cheapest blades to fit our razors is the first cost-cutting measure to take.

New razors on offer, but not the blades

It seems that the razors themselves are on offer more often than not, but the story with replacement blades isn’t quite so rosy.

Our research found that in the last year alone, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power razor was either half price or on a two-for-one offer at Asda for 91 days, Tesco for 114 days and for 156 days at Sainsburys.

That’s great news if you’re in the market for a new razor. But since manufacturers know we’ll come back and buy their blades once we find a shave we like, it’s unsurprising that decent offers for replacement blades are very thin on the ground.

We checked the prices of three, four and six-packs of Gillette Fusion ProGlide power blades at the same supermarkets over the last 12 months and could only find half price offers at Asda and only for three weeks. So, unlike new razors, it seems that you’ll have to put up with buying full-price replacement blades.

Have you got any tips for cutting the cost of a close and comfortable shave?

Neil Johns says:
22 July 2012

Can anyone confirm if high-street shaving products contain blunting agents purposely to decrease the life of your blades?
I use Biotherm sensitive shaving foam and it’s the best product i’ve ever used. I was given a razorpit in spring of 2011 as a free gift [URL removed, thanks mods]. I had just opened a new three-pack of gillette fusion pro-glide blades and now in july 2012 i’m only just needing to buy a new pack! Razorpit is brilliant.

I can confirm that the same company that sprays the roads at night on behalf of tyre manufacturers with a substance that wears out car tyres, also manufactures the additive for shaving products which wears out blades.

Hello, as much as a particular product can be brilliant, some comments are starting to sound like advertisements – we do not allow self-promotion on Which? Conversation so please be careful with how you talk about products. Thanks.

Jim D says:
23 July 2012

I was serious when I made the comments above about only using soap/shampoo and Blue Fusion blades. Anyway, what is interesting in all these comments is that what’s good for one person doesn’t work for another. Nevertheless, I am firmly of the opinion that all gels/oils/whatever are a waste of money. I also used electric shavers for 20+yrs until I finally got fed up with the useless running life of them. Advantage of wet is that all you need for a shave is water & soap, no need to recharge.

It would be very interesting to read a Which review comparing gels/foams/ordinary soaps/shampoo.

Cutters and foils do need to be replaced periodically or battery life will deteriorate, sometimes much more than the performance of the cutters themselves. I have recently replaced these parts on a Braun shaver that is about 12 years old and it is back to running for a week (on the original batteries) before needing recharged.

On the other hand, I have a more recent Braun shaver that would not last a week even when it was new, demonstrating that a little care is needed when choosing what to buy.

Even if I got fed-up with rechargeable shavers I would use mains power. I have no intention of ever trying the palaver of blades and soap.

Cem says:
2 August 2012

Great article, will definitely be power non power ones from now on.

also a great gadget im using at the moment thats saving me money on blades is a product called razorsharp, basically it cleans the blades making them last longer. im still using the same blade after 3 months and i shave twice a week,
i got mine from amazon for £9.99
really recommend.

I’ve been using the Boots twin blade disposable razors for several years – that’s the razor that gets the lowest score in the August report…..
I use these razors with shaving oil and get a very good, close shave.
One blade will last, on average for about 6 shaves. That’s about 2p a shave. The current one has lasted 10 days and is still giving a close shave.
It’s a very subjective matter – with respect I suspect that the sample size for the recent report was far too small – and I’m certainly not tempted to use the outrageously expensive blades from Gillette or Wilkinson (50p per shave) – when I tried one of the Mach 3 razors a few months ago, the blade only lasted for about 4 or 5 decent shaves.

themagicrat says:
20 October 2012

Classic Double Edge shaving is the only way to go. Not only will you save loads of cash, but end up with a better shave. http://www.thecloseshave.com is a good place to start for those who are unfamiliar with classic wet shaving.

I’m familiar with classic wet shaving, so no, thanks!

Dave Glynn says:
15 November 2012

I switched to a traditional Double Edge Safety Razor about 6 years ago and have gone from thinking of shaving as a daily chore to actually enjoying the experience. Shaving Soap used with a good shaving brush adds to the experience too.

Yes it takes a few minutes longer to shave and it takes a few weeks to ‘learn’ to shave but I’d never go back to multi-blade cartridges – in fact I’m into straight (cut-throat) razors too now.

DE blades are so cheap at around 20p to 50p per blade and they’ve got to be better for the environment too.

Definitely double edge shaving with decent brush and shaving cream and a new or vintage razor (or both!). Shaving has become a pleasure! Loads of advice on youtube from Mantic59 and others for anyone who is interested in starting up. Been doing it for two years. No going back to expensive and nasty cartridges.

Tim B says:
15 March 2013

Double edge razors take most brands of double edge razor blades, and the costs are much less than cartridges. On the internet you can buy 100 double edge razor blades for around £6 to £15 depending on brand. The razor may cost from around £20 upwards to £150 for a very top notch double edge razor, but in the long term is cheaper due to the cheaper razor blades. Also, if you use shaving cream with a shaving brush, it goes a lot further than applying by hand.

Allan Smith says:
19 April 2013

Agree how expensive blades have been, I recently have subcribe to this company smarter shaves.

I subscribed to the Trio for 5 pounds a month and I have been getting 5 blades each month posted to me for a monthly subscription. Its been a good deal and I can change my blade every week

I’ve shopped around and managed to get 16 fusion blades in the cash & carry at £1.97 each including VAT there are 2 guys in this house hold and one shaves his whole head every day, I was really interested to read the which article on razorpit http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/bathroom-and-personal-care/reviews-ns/mens-razors/razorpit/
I’ve just ordered one from an online action site for £12:99 including delivery, so from the review and comments on this product we’ll be ok for blades for years to come ?

Johnny says:
30 June 2014

I subscribed to this company smarter shaves Quinto , its a 5 blade razors. It has been the best shave that I had in ages,. I can change my blades every week and dont have to waste my time looking for new blades and deals each month and its posted to my doorstep free of charge

ROGER says:
13 March 2015

ALDI 5 blade razors are the best I’ve ever used.
Of course they have now stopped selling them.

Their 3 blade system is utter rubbish – don;t go there!

Andy says:
15 March 2015

I agree that the Aldi 5 blade product was great – it is a shame it seems to have disappeared. I have found a very similar product in a disposable version in Tesco, Asda and Wilko own brand. It is a 3 pack for £3.50 and delivers the same great shave although the handles are lighter weight then the Aldi System version.

Pegster says:
6 June 2015

Agree these have great performance. The pivot mechanism is weak and break easily (in transit, and I fly a lot). On my last blade now, and it looks like they aren’t coming back. Have Gillette tried to sue them or something?

karen-c says:
12 July 2015

Buy own brand razors instead of the named ones. I have been using Sainsbury own brand ladies blades in my Gillette Venus shaver for a few months now, its saving a small fortune and no discernable difference in the quality of the shave.

Rob Every says:
27 August 2015

Be very careful with Amazon here too.

I found them to be the cheapest online price at just under a tenner for 10 old razor blades.

But the post and packaing was nearly half the price again for their slowest delivery times.

They are simply trying to get you to subscribe to their prime service by making normal items preposterously expensive to post.

So I will use ebay where there is no agenda and no need to try and pay for a tv series no one wants to really watch but which someone has actually paid for!

I love my Gillette Fusion but the blades were too damned expensive. Did some research and found i was paying 20-30% more at the store than buying online. Still not as cheap as getting a straight razor but i like the convenience and the close shave of the Fusion so i’m not switching away.

Incensed by the price of Gillette Mach3 blades, I bought the Aldi 6 blade Razor system as an experiment with modest expectations. The blades are about 1/3rd the price of Gillette which is still expensive IMHO but they give a much closer shave. The difference in shaving quality is so marked, I’d rate them more than 10 times better value.

I can’t imagine I would ever by another MACH3 blade, or even bother to use the two or three new MACH3 blades I still have.

Aldi also has a 4 blade system that is somewhat cheaper and fits the same handle but I’ve not tried those.

The price comparisons between the major suppliers are remarkably close. ? Also, in the age of mass production, how does the blade material/assembly arrive at such a high end price. ? Just about the only essential purchase that gives me that ‘ripped off’ feeling.

I use both Superdrug’s and Wilko’s own brand razors and blades and find them perfectly adequate – maybe they don’t last as long as Gillette or Wilkinson Sword – but the price difference is huge and so the savings are also large