I had originally intended a year ago to test Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club to do a comparison both between each other, and of course against the standard powerhouses Gillette and Schick.
Here is the problem. The first system I went with was Harry’s… and since I started using it, I have had no desire to change from it. I have been a Gillete user since the days of the Atra. The only other time I strayed was when I tried the Schick Hydro 5, and that was so disappointing that I was certain at the time that I would never stray again.
But with razors getting more and more expensive (even the prices of “cheap” disposable razors have gotten completely out of hand), like many people I started looking for an alternative. My first stop briefly was a Parker Safety Razor. I am sure this is a good choice for some but it wasn’t for me.
I had looked at the ads that frequently went through my Facebook feed (and several other web ads), for Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s. I was admittedly very leery about them. Eventually I figured for the price it was worth giving them a try. I decided to try Harry’s first. Partly because I didn’t have to decide with how many blades I wanted and I didn’t need to sign up for a monthly plan. There is no long term commitment for Dollar Shave Club, but to get started you do have to sign up for one of the plans. Harry’s made it much more simple. Yes, they do have a monthly club as well, and if you use enough blades and want to save a few cents more you can join the club, but you can simply select a blade and order a starter kit, so that is what I did.
So, now let’s talk about Harry’s. They have two handle styles, the Truman and the Winston. The Truman is less expensive colorful polymer coated zinc alloy handle. It is simple looking and very comfortable in your hand and well balanced. The Winston is a polished aluminum handle that is also well balanced and takes its cues from classic straight razor style handles. It is also well balanced. It can feel a little slick if your hands are wet.
The blades are made of German steel from a factory Harry’s bought when they started the company, so they have full control over the quality and price and are not reliant on outside vendors which allows them to better control their pricing. It is a 5 blade design. After trying the Hydro 5, I never thought I would like a 5 blade razor, and was very concerned about this. But as it turned out, these concerns were unfounded. It wasn’t the number of blades that was the problem, but the design. Some people will complain that Harry’s does not have a separate trim razor on the back, such as what is offered on the Gillette and Schick razors. But the flexibility and design of the Harry’s Razor is such that it renders that extra blade unnecessary.
So, now of course is the biggest question… The Shave. No amount of marketing, packaging, aesthetics or price is going to make up for a really bad shave. At first, I was a little concerned. The blades seemed to clog easily. But this is a problem with the only part of the Harry’s system that I was disappointed with, the shave cream. I mean it is just as good as most mass market supermarket shave cream like Barbasol, but it isn’t as good as other higher end stuff or even shave soap. So, once I switched back to my regular shaving soap (Williams Shave Soap applied with a badger brush), the shave was actually great. It is not the closest shave you can get. But for me, this is a bonus. It shaves close enough, but I have yet to wind up with any sort of razor burn or irritation.
I found that I generally get between 5 and 7 shaves out of a blade before I feel it starting to pull on the hair and dull. You may get a shave or two more out of a Gillette or Schick razor, but Harry’s blades can be purchased for as low as $1.56 per blade whereas the latest Fusion blades run around $4 each. So even if it was a 2 to 1 ratio I would still financially be ahead of the game with Harry’s.
Packaging. I left this for last as an afterthought. When I purchase my first set from Harry’s almost a year ago, the packaging and boxing of everything was second to none. It doesn’t make a shave better of course, but it just completed the whole experience. It just made everything feel top notch and another reason it stood above the others. However, over the year, the packaging has had some corners cut. it still looks better than a blister pack on a market shelf, but falls short of what it once was. But at the end of the day, if it is a choice of nicer packaging or keeping the price down, I would rather they keep the price down. So it is good enough. I mention this only because many other reviews for Harry’s written elsewhere discuss the old packaging, so I thought it best to mention where it is today.
Bottom Line: As I mentioned at the beginning, I feel in love with Harry’s from the second shave (the one with my own shave cream). They have managed to put together a fantastic combination of a high quality product and an outstanding price. I am honestly surprised that they have not yet come out with a “Harriets” or some other such program for women, I feel relatively sure it would be an equal success. Search around the web (I wish I had one of my own to give away), and you will find a discount to get $5 off of a Starter kit. That makes the initial kit $10 for the Truman or $15 for the Winston, which means that the starter kit (including handle, 2 blades and shaving cream) costs less than a couple of blades from the big guys. And speaking of the big guys, Gillette and Schick should really take notice. I still have to try the other main competitor in the low end space, but clearly at the very least Harry’s is a game changer. And I am certain that the majority of folks that give this a shot will leave the overpriced razor market and never look back.