The argument for cost per use [Leaf razor review]

This post is sponsored by Leaf Razor. I greatly appreciate companies like Leaf that help this website stay open and free for you to learn from!

Zero waste shaving.

Not something I think about all that much as a light-haired and very lazy person.

Still, a razor is an integral part of my shower kit and getting to try the Leaf safety razor recently was pretty great. I won’t pander and say trying the Leaf razor changed my life or anything like that, but it certainly upped my personal shaving game.

Before, I had a bog-standard safety razor that got the job done, no frills. Trying the new razor was a very different experience. Their razors mimic those fancier disposable razors with a pivoting head and the potential for up to three blades, making it feel much different than a basic safety razor.

The argument for cost per use [Leaf razor review]

but the leaf razor is like… really expensive

Yes. And no.

We need to talk about the artificially low cost of most items we buy.* There’s a reason our gold-standard, favorite ethical brands are pricey. It’s because someone is paying the true cost a product, and if it’s not you, it’s probably a marginalized worker or Mother Earth herself.

So, yes. The razor is expensive. But it also reflects the true production costs. A standard safety razor set in 1917 cost $5. Adjusted for inflation, that safety razor would cost $100.04 today. A 1949 Gillette ad showed off a kit for $10 – or $107.60 in today’s money!

I’m not saying there’s a need to go back to pre-industrialized levels of inefficiency; however, our current economic model has 100% artificially deflated the cost of items. Back in the day, the cost of our products reflected the time and resources required to create. Globalization had not yet emerged, so people were consuming goods made in their town or the next city over. Losing that connection has been disastrous for how we approach consumption.

* This is a discussion for those of us with the financial ability to make better decisions. I recognize that many people within our current economic system are oppressed and don’t have the means for saving up for higher-cost products. I also recognize that a majority of my readers have available disposable income to make these investments.

The cost per use argument

Let’s look at cost per use (CPU) to get a better idea at the true cost of items.

CPU: the value of an item is related to how much use you get out of it, ie. if one product is $1 and you can use it once and another is $2 but you can use it twice, the CPU is the same ($1 per use).

The chart below compares the two. We assume we’re using 3 blade edges on the Leaf each time, so the basic kit gives us 13 shaving “cycles” (ie. 13 blade replacements).

The argument for cost per use [Leaf razor review] - PollyBarks.com

Leaf – The Essentials $79

Includes: razor and 20 blades (40 edges)

With 40 edges, you could replace your 3 blades roughly 13 times.

$79/13 = $6.07/use
Gillette Venus – $7.97

Includes: handle and 2 cartridges

We’ll also add on replacement cartridges to equal 13 uses ($14.35×3).

$52.82/13 = $4.06/use

Looking at the cost of the initial kit, the disposable razor ends up costing less per use. But there are a few factors to consider.

First, what’s the cost of plastic in the landfill? It may not directly impact your wallet, but the cost of throwing away an estimated 2 billion razors per year in the US alone has a significant environmental impact.

Plus, safety razors only get cheaper as time goes on. You can buy any safety razor blades for the Leaf – such as this pack of 100 blades only costs $6.87. With the Leaf Essentials kit, that gives us about 46 cycles of shaving with a CPU of $1.86. In comparison, the Gillette blade actually gets more expensive per use. When repurchasing enough cartridges for 46 cycles, the CPU comes out to $4.85.

If we’re serious about buying items to use for the long haul, the money-saving aspect – assuming you can afford the initial investment – can’t be denied. Plus, we’re diverting so many plastic items from the landfill.

Zero waste Leaf razor review - PollyBarks.com

So do you actually like the leaf?

Honestly, I’m kind of annoyed that I like it as much as I do. I was totally ready to be like “sorry, can’t review this – what a useless luxury item” but it’s far easier to use than a standard safety razor. (I even ended up passing on my old safety razor and blades to someone who’d been wanting one, so – win!)

But let’s get specific.

Pros of the leaf razor
  • It takes away the safety razor fear. I’m a prolific cutter regardless of what razor I use, so I didn’t have too much fear going into the safety razor game. But I guess people with some dexterity fear the safety razor. The Leaf has multiple blades and a flexible head that moves as you shave means it’s far more forgiving than a basic safety razor. This would make the Leaf a perfect gift for someone who’s interested but still wants the “traditional” razor experience.
  • They come with a lifetime warranty. Again: when we’re considering the longevity of a product, that initial fee becomes less and less massive the more we use that item. A lifetime warranty helps assuage any fear that you’ll be left with an expensive bit of broken metal.
  • Their razors aren’t gendered. And not only are they not gendered, Leaf makes a specific point to call out the ridiculousness on “pink taxes” (ie. a higher cost on women’s items for no reason) and gendered products in general. Props. (Plus I got a BLACK razor. If every accessory in my life could be black, my life would be made.)
cons of the leaf razor
  • They’re expensive. But we already addressed that above, right?
  • Putting the blades in is a little difficult for those of us without steady fingers. The Leaf requires you to snap blades in half and insert the halves into three small compartments on the blade. It’s not particularly difficult, but it is a little more fiddly than the “drop it in” method of a basic safety razor. I feel like it’ll get easier with practice, but it isn’t the most simple design.

Overall, would I recommend the Leaf? 

If you have the money for an initial investment, the Leaf razor is worth the cost. You’ll get your money’s worth on a product that looks great, works well, and encourages you to honor well-crafted products and move out of the disposable culture mindset.

The argument for cost per use (CPU) [Leaf razor review] - PollyBarks.com