What are some good cheap alternatives to the Mach 3 razor
April 18, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I've used the Mach 3 razor on my face for the longest time and I have been very happy with its performance. But Gillette's recent price increases are just not something I can absorb in my current economic situation. What are some good cheap alternatives that would be available in NYC-area stores?

I'm pretty open-minded. But I'm not interested in investing in a straight razor. Or in anything that's only available online.

As always, many thanks in advance.
posted by jason's_planet to Shopping (31 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you can get a double-edged safety razor, that would be the way to go I think. I'm sure you can find somewhere that carries them (maybe someone from NYC can step-in with advice on that). They are not much harder to shave with than the cartridge razors you are used to, they give you a fantastic shave, and the blade replacements are dirt cheap.

That's how I shave now, and I haven't looked back since.
posted by Diplodocus at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2010

Best answer: Have you considered buying a double-edged safety razor? The initial investment will be a bit high, but the blades are dirt cheap. You can still used canned cream, or for a bit more you can buy a brush and make your lather the old fashioned way.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2010

Best answer: What about sharpening your Mach 3 blades? Makes them last many times longer than they would otherwise, and is much easier than you think. YMMV.
posted by drpynchon at 10:13 AM on April 18, 2010 [11 favorites]

look and see if duane-reade has a store brand...i've used rite-aid's generic mach 3 blades, and they're just as good and like 1/2 the price...if they don't have it, kmart probably does...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2010

I once looked into the safety razor thing but for a reason that escapes me I decided to pass on it. I use Gillette Sensor XL which is a 2 blade cartridge. IMO more than 2 blades is just marketing BS. And of course I buy just the cartridges and have a permanent handle which is cheaper than buying the whole razors. The gel style shaving cream seems to be the best.
posted by dino terror at 10:15 AM on April 18, 2010

Best answer: I will suggest the best, most economical option for you: Safety Razors.

Go to an antique store and find an old Gillette Super Speed or a Tech for about 10 bucks, and then get some blades at Walgreens for a dollar or two. A cheap brush can be had as well, if you so choose, but the razors work fine with shaving cream (Red Can Barbasol is my can of choice).

If you want new, check this listing of NYC Shaving Shops

Check out Badger and Blade or The Shave Den for the community, or to pick up a good condition razor.

I know you said no online, but once you get a cheap safety razor, you can get 100! Derby blades on Amazon for a song (I bought a box LAST YEAR and I'm only halfway through)

Feel free to MeFi-mail me for more info.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:16 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yep, I came here to post what Diplodocus and sonic meat machine said. I've been using my late grandfather's double-edged safety razor (it looks just like the Merkur model, but was apparently made by Gillette). A 10-pack of blades costs $2.50 at the local grocery store, and can easily last 2-3 shaves. I generally replace the blades after one or two shaves.

To me, it's not any better nor worse than using a Mach 5. I've used 3, 4, and 5 blade designs, and I get as little or as much razor burn and nicks as I do with a double-edged blade. I try to do everything the same, but my results are wildly inconsistent. That's a story for another AskMe.

Seriously, if cost is a concern, look at a double-edged system. It's super cheap in the long run.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:17 AM on April 18, 2010

In the shower, I take a washcloth and run the razor against it headfirst, like the guy in drpynchon's link. It removes the hair that's gunking up the blade and sharpens it, making the razors last a much longer time.
posted by stavrogin at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2010

If you're really in love with your Mach 3, look on eBay for blades in bulk.
posted by almostmanda at 10:42 AM on April 18, 2010

Best answer: Note that Mach 3 blades are one of the most popular things for people to shoplift and otherwise steal from stores and warehouses so if you are buying off eBay there is a decent chance they might very well be stolen.
posted by Authorized User at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2010

I use the knockoff blades like sexyrobot and sharpen those like drpynchon.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2010

I buy the older (blue not green or orange) Mach 3 variant. Packs of 8 are about £4 cheaper and fit just fine into the handle as they've not (yet) changed the connector type.

Not sure if that'll work outside of the UK.
posted by mr_silver at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2010

For legit safety razors (and lots of variety so you can find what works best for your face) check out West Coast Shaving online. They sell razors too.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:29 PM on April 18, 2010

If buying on Ebay or in non-major-chain-stores, look out for fake Mach 3 blades. Ouch.

Also, if you know someone who has a Costco membership, they have excellent prices for bulk Mach 3 blades. I would have ditched the Mach 3 long ago because of the expense if not for Costco.
posted by ROTFL at 12:37 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you considered using coupons to bring down the cost of the brand you like?

In the 4/4 Sunday papers, there was a $4 off 1 coupon for Mach 3 cartridges, and recently there have been some other fairly good ($3/1 Mach 3 Disposable, Buy 1 Mach 3 Disposable get one free) Mach 3 coupons. I have a few I'd be happy to mail you (must Mefi mail me) or there are websites where you can buy coupons in bulk for a small handling fee (the $4/1 coupon is .20 on the site I linked).
posted by anastasiav at 12:38 PM on April 18, 2010

I usually use the CVS/Duane Reade mach3 knockoff. works fine.
posted by jonmc at 1:03 PM on April 18, 2010

My husband just used his anniversary-present Merkur safety razor this morning for the first time, and we're both really impressed.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:22 PM on April 18, 2010

You can also take mach 3s or disposables and run them up your arm (opposite of shaving motion) when they start to get dull and it resharpens them. I was a skeptic until I did it; works like a charm.
posted by zennoshinjou at 1:29 PM on April 18, 2010

I currently use a Weshi safety razor I picked up on eBay with a years worth of blades for under 20 bucks, shipped. The Weshi is a bit more gentle than the Merkurs, but it's also not quite as nicely made.

That being said, prior to that, I used Dollar General brand "Triple Blade" cartridges at like half the price. Couldn't tell the difference.

Third option: when I travel I usually carry a Bic single bladed razor, the "sensitive skin" kind. You know, cheap orange handle with the white shaving head. It lacks everything that makes the Mach 3 so expensive, and it works every bit as well. I'd say the experience is quite comparable to the safety razor really. It should run you $2 tops for a pack of 10-12. It's worth a shot, and every drugstore and grocery store in the US seems to have them.
posted by piedmont at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2010

Another vote for safety razors. I found the holder at an antique store for maybe $10. I managed to find Merkur blades at a knife store - Excalibur, or whatever the standard mall knife store is called. So that's another type of store you can look for. Merkur is not essential, but came highly recommended from various sources - and even at a premium still came out cheaper than Mach 3s.
posted by O9scar at 2:19 PM on April 18, 2010

Maybe it's my very resilient beard, but I always find the "store brand" knockoff blades to be not worth the price savings. They lose their sharpness after one shave, and even on the first shave they are much less precise than the Gillette brand blades. So you save a few bucks up front, but cut yourself more while shaving and have to change blades even more often. Every once in a while I freak out at the price of the real thing or can't buy my blades (also a Sensor Xcel user and very pleased with it for many years) and try the DuaneReade/RiteAid/CVS brand knockoff.

I always regret it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2010

I will also add that disposable razors, of any brand, are not worth buying if you have the kind of facial hair I do. All they do is scrape and cut. They don't even begin to accomplish the job.

I may have one hell of a beard though.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2010

I sharpen mine on my arm!
No, silly, not that way. This way:
While it's a creepy video, don't let it influence the validity of the information.
I saw this about a month ago and have been using the method and have been using the same Gillette Mach 3 for that same month. It's a money saver!
posted by willmize at 2:59 PM on April 18, 2010

I agree with those folks who have problems with the CVS knock-offs. Despite being cheaper, they just don't shave as well, and I always regret buying them. Can't wait to try the sharpening method listed above on my Mach 3!
posted by newfers at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2010

Nthing the safety razor - my merkur makes shaving a real pleasure - it does the job really well, blades are extremely cheap and it's genuinely nice to use a well-engineered piece of kit, rather than the plastic, marketing-driven, mass market tat most use...
posted by prentiz at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2010

Another option is to keep using the Mach 3 razor but after to you finish shaving wash the razor and store it in a glass that has about 3/4 of an inch of cooking oil in it. This will stop the blade losing its edge. I can get about 3 weeks out of a razor using this technique.
posted by hithere at 6:07 PM on April 18, 2010

Female here, so the areas I shave are much less dense in hair, but I find that a sharp double blade works as well as a triple blade. So, I buy store-brand double blade razors, which are usually about $2-3 for a 12-pack. I don't use the razors for that long, just while they're new and sharp, but at around 17 cents each, that's not such a big deal.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:22 PM on April 18, 2010

I discovered from a website a couple years ago that if you dry off your razor after shaving it lasts way longer. I started wiping my Mach 3 blades off on my towel after my shave and they last 3 - 4 times longer now! Apparently one of the major causes of dulling is microscopic rust.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 10:40 AM on April 19, 2010

Ok, I just watched that sharpening with jeans link from above and I doubt the jeans are sharpening the blade - I think maybe he's just drying it like I do.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 10:42 AM on April 19, 2010

Response by poster: Lots of good, informative responses here. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon. Not bad at all.

My choice: the old-school safety razor. I'm hearing some strong testimonials on its behalf. And the novelty factor is attractive to me as well.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!
posted by jason's_planet at 7:43 PM on April 19, 2010

Response by poster: An update:

I wound up buying a double-edged safety razor for $25 from Pasteur Pharmacy on the Upper East Side. And I've been pleased with the results.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:42 AM on July 17, 2010

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