In the autumn of 1999 I purchased a Gillette Mach3 razor. Up to that point in my life I had exclusively used an electric razor. I was quickly hooked on the Mach3. Since that time I have used Mach3 or Mach3 Turbo blades (that’s almost 15 years). The cost of razor blades has made me consider exploring a cheaper alternative. Most intriguing to me was a shave club that would send blades to my door. And so I decided to give Harry’s Winston Razor and the Dollar Shave Club 4X Razor a try. I used both of these challenging razors for extended periods of time to give them a fair trial. After a few months I reached my verdict (do you feel the suspense?).
Mach3 Turbo (Grade: A-)
Number of Blades: 3
Price Per Cartridge: ~$2.25
Shaves Per Cartridge: 14-18
I started shaving with the Mach3 and transitioned to the Mach3 Turbo. The razor feels like an extension of my hand (15 years of use will do this), so I must admit that I have a bias toward this product. The handle is easy to grip and is relatively lightweight. The cartridge is compact, yet the blades are spaced well apart so residue is easily washed free. When shaving with this razor I rarely cut myself or get razor burn. The Mach3 Turbo gives me a close shave without excessive re-shaving parts of my face. I can also easily shave the tricky areas by my nose and close to my lips.
I can remove all suspense and say at the conclusion of this comparison I chose to stay with my Mach3 Turbo. I discovered I can buy cartridges in bulk at Costco for about ~$2.00 each, which is far better than the usual retail price.
Harry’s Winston Razor (Grade C+)
Number of Blades: 5
Price Per Cartridge: ~$1.88
Shaves Per Cartridge: 8-12
I had high hopes when I ordered my Harry’s razor. In fact, I decided to order the premium Winston handle. The Harry’s Winston looks very sleek; it was the Rolls Royce of my razor test. I will confess that I really hoped it would win because it looked so good. I liked the handle–it is easy to grip and is of an appropriate weight. The blades are very sharp, yet the cartridge feels a bit light. My biggest concerns about this razor were the lack of flexibility of the cartridge, the closeness of the blades, and difficulty skirting the nose. The cartridge flexes because it is plastic, but there is not a spring system or some sort of suspension. Of the three razors it was the most reluctant to fit the contours of my face. The closeness of the five blades in the cartridge mean that residue is quick to get stuck and build up. I had trouble cleaning the cartridge. The placement of the blades in the cartridge also make shaving close to a nose nearly impossible. I also found that I had to shave over areas a few times to get a close shave. This might have contributed to the fact that this was the shortest lived cartridge of the razors I tested (Table 1). I was prone to get nicks and razor burn. I will say that when I shaved very slowly and carefully (about 3 times longer than a usual shave) I got a very close shave from this razor–but that sort of extra time just won’t work in the daily routine.
In the end this goes down as a failed venture. I’m glad I tried it out, but the blades did not live up to their sexy handle.
Dollar Shave Club 4X (Grade: B-)
Number of Blades: 4
Price Per Cartridge: ~$1.50
Shaves Per Cartridge: 9-14
My second shave club attempt was the Dollar Shave Club 4X. The club supplies a free handle, which is nice. I was impressed by the comfort of the handle and the ability of the cartridge to pivot and follow contours. While the handle and razor look cheap aesthetically, they function respectably. The blades are sharp. I found that I had to go over places a few times to get a close shave. I had minimal nicks or razor burn. Shaving around my nose was easier than it had been with Harry’s blades, but not as easy as the Mach3. My 5 o’clock shadow with this razor was the indication to me that it was not giving me as close of a shave as the Mach3.
The gap between this razor and the Mach3 is not large, but it is enough to make me miss my Mach3 when I am using this razor. I would definitely choose this razor over Harry’s based on performance (though Harry’s looks far better).
When I evaluated the razors and their performance I decided to stick with my trusty Mach3. The cost difference is minimal considering the Mach3 cartridges last longer than the challengers, plus Costco has excellent prices on Mach3 Turbo cartridges.
As an aside, a few years ago I accidentally bought counterfeit Mach 3 blades on the internet. It was the worst shaving experience of my life. I still have a few of those counterfeit cartridges (they look so real!), if you want to experience shaving misery let me know.
Do you use a razor? What is your favorite model? Do you have any recommendations? Have you had a different experience with these razors?