Shaving is expensive, but companies like Harry's say it doesn't have to be. That's part of the whole premise behind the company - it even says so on the company's website. They go on to talk about how they bought a German blade factory and hired a team of hundreds of "engineers, designers, craftsmen, and chemists make our products from the finest materials and ingredients to ensure they perform as well as they possibly can".

I've been a Gillette Fusion ProGlide 5 guy for years. I mean, it's "The best a man can get", right? The downside is a 4-pack of replacement blades is $18. I've never been dissatisfied with the blades. They offer a close shave, and I rarely get nicks or cuts. When I ran out of replacements for my razor, I saw that Target offers Harry's blades and shaving cream. With all of the marketing hype behind these "quality, lower cost" razors (and the fact that a 4-pack of replacement blades is only $9), I figured I'd give them a try. Can a product at half the price offer the same great shave?

First Impressions

My opening impressions as I cracked open the package of the $10 starter kit was that this was definitely a product geared toward younger men (i.e. millennials). The packaging, design, and even the note telling the new razor owner you can contact them with any questions - even those not related to the product - just had the millennial aesthetic. That isn't a bad thing. The folksy approachability the company is trying to portray (including the easy to open cardboard packaging) is definitely a warmer first impression than the impersonal (and difficult to open) plastic packaging of my go-to Gillette blades.

The starter kit comes with a handle, 2 replaceable blade cartridges, and a blade cover designed to cover the entire head of the razor. The "Truman" version product comes in a few different colors - green, orange, and blue; with the starter pack being $10. The "Truman" is the company's plastic handle variety, while they also offer a stainless metal handle called the "Winston" for $20 with the same starter pack add-ons. I opted for the green variety in the Truman style.

The design is elegantly simple; a departure from my Gillette handle, which looks like a flashy sports car compared to this thing. While the appearance of your razor might matter to some people, I don't particularly have a preference between the two. They both have their charms, but the thing I care about most is how it performs.

Quality of Construction

The Harry's razor feels comfortable in your hand. The handle feels like it was ergonomically designed, and while it is plastic, it doesn't feel cheap. Unlike cheap disposables, the Harry's razor has some weight to it, and feels sturdy. Just like my Gillette razor, Harry's cartridges have 5 blades, a flexible hinge, and a lubricating strip to help the razor head glide and "provide a smooth finish".

In all, while they market themselves as a budget product, it looks and feels like a quality product.

The Shave

Here's where the rubber hits the road. Of all things, the quality of shave and ease of use are the most important parts of a razor to me. I'd assume this is true for most other guys.

This most crucial part is where Harry's shows its inexpensiveness over quality, in my opinion. I have a beard, so my shaving consists of a portion of my cheeks and my neck. While I was able to achieve a pretty close and comfortable shave on my cheeks, it was a whole different story on my neck.

Remember how I mentioned I rarely would get nicks or cuts when shaving with my Gillette? I mean really rarely. With my Harry's razor, I came away bleeding on my neck every single time I shaved. Not only was this a major step backward from my normal go-to razor, but I wasn't getting the same close shave on my neck I would get with my Gillette. I would consistently find myself revisiting portions of my neck to try to achieve the closeness I was used to, and I never quite got there.

I used my Harry's blades for about a month to see if maybe changes in my normal technique would alleviate these issues I was having, and I got the same results every time. Despite the consistent cuts, I'd call the results of the shave itself acceptable, but not great.

The Shaving Gel

Unlike the half-price discount you get with Harry's blades, the Harry's shaving gel is right on par with my normal go-to shaving gel, coming in at around $5 for a container. Harry's describes their gel as offering a "rich lather that protects your face and keeps you in control of your shave." It offers "an aloe-enriched formula and gentle, honest ingredients soothe and refresh your skin" that is paraben-free, sulfate-free, and never tested on animals.

I'll be completely honest, I've never considered whether my shaving gel was paraben-free, sulfate-free, or never tested on animals. These weren't selling points for me. I just bought it to get the full Harry's experience, being I was also out of shaving gel.

My impression with the gel is that it actually does a good job of doing what it is supposed to do. I used it with my Gillette razor to see if I would still get the cuts I was getting with the Harry's razor, and I didn't. Beside the selling points on the can of being paraben and sulfate-free, it leaves my skin feeling good and the scent is more subtle and pleasant than the more aggressive and somewhat chemical-smelling odor from my previous shave gel. While there's no real price difference (it's less than a dollar more expensive than my old go-to, but comes with slightly more in the can, so it's a per-ounce wash in price difference), I find myself preferring the Harry's gel.

Conclusions

Harry's razors are pretty good, but not great. If you just want a shave, but don't care about getting especially close, Harry's is a good product. It is much better than cheap disposables, yet it has a pretty inexpensive price. If you desire a very close shave or want to avoid the extra nicks and cuts, you do get what you pay for when you buy more expensive products.

As far as the shave gel goes, I'm a fan. The scent is less intense than some other brands, it leaves my skin feeling smooth and moisturized, and apparently it doesn't have bad things in it.