Harry's Shave Plan
Shave plans offer the ability to receive regular shipments of razor blades, shaving cream or gel, and related products on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. The company offering the plan gets a guaranteed sale; the customer never runs out of blades and shaving cream, and saves money (potentially quite a lot) on products. Assuming the blades are of decent quality, it's a win-win situation.
Harry's seems to be the most heavily advertised shave plan, at least on the web sites I frequent. I read a number of reviews, many of which were fairly obvious shills for Harry's, and a few which seemed (more-or-less) independent. I also read a number of forums where people talked about their experiences.
Without going over the "plus" side of the balance sheet just yet, the main negative thing people mentioned was that the individual blades in a Harry's cartridge are a bit closer together than on a typical Gillette (like a Fusion cartridge). This means the Harry's blades can get "clogged" faster and require more frequent rinsing, and might also necessitate some changes in shaving technique - shorter strokes for example.
I can't count how many times I browsed to the Harry's site and almost signed up - mostly holding back because I had enough Fusion cartridges to last a while (I bought a bulk pack at Costco). But eventually I got down to my last couple and signed up for the free trial and a shave plan. Based on my habits, I ended up with a plan that gives me 8 blades every 3 months and a can of shaving gel. I got my trial kit quickly and just got my first 3-month installment of new cartridges today. I've been shaving on that first cartridge for a couple of weeks.
Harry's products are nicely packaged - kind of like buying an iPhone or a Kindle, you get the feeling you're unpacking something serious when you open the box. The standard plastic handle (the Truman model) has a nice heft to it, apparently weighted within, and has a faintly rubbery surface for a solid grip.
The cartridge for the blade is easily detached and reattached, and comes with a nice plastic cover to keep "things" from knocking into the blades between uses or when packed for travel. The cartridges have 5 blades, and even just visually they're obviously more tightly spaced than the Gillette Fusion ones.
Shaving With Harry's Products
The gel provided by Harry's is ... gel. It comes out looking like gel and turns into something like a thick foam on the skin. The gel has a great "manly" scent, not strong at all yet definitely there, that will make you think about a good-old-fashioned barber shop. As described above, the Truman handle has a little weight to it and a slightly rubberized grip, making it very comfortable to hold. The cartridge slips on easily and is almost as easily removed, by gently squeezing a ring around the tip of the handle and sliding it outward.
As for the experience of shaving itself - if you're familiar with the Gillette Fusion, it's pretty different. The closely spaced blades really do shave differently. And I can understand where the complaints come in - with my Fusion cartridge I can do full, long strokes with the razor, maybe even a couple of those before having to rinse the blades, while with the Harry's it's much more likely I'll have to rinse more often - shorter strokes and very rarely more than one stroke. And it's not just how often I have to rinse - the tighter blade spacing means that each rinse takes a bit more time and water to get the hair and gel to come out.
So far that probably doesn't sound very good, but hang in there.
My first time shaving with the Harry's razor, I noted the above with a small amount of concern - I had read other reviews and forum posts indicating I might have the experience I've described so I was not too surprised, just uncertain if I would want to continue past the trial period. However I decided to use the razor long enough to get the full use of the cartridge, somewhere around 4 to 5 shaves, and I began to notice some things.
The second shave "felt" better. I do not know why. It just did. I think part of working with any razor system, no matter the type, is getting to know the feel of the handle, the exact shape and dimensions of the blade, how it rocks on the handle, etc. In short, any time you change razor systems there is going to be a brief period of adjustment. By the end of my second shave with the Harry's cartridge and Truman handle, I was through that phase.
And on the third shave I noticed something else, totally unexpected - I liked the closer spacing on the blades. Even though I was still taking shorter strokes and rinsing more, the blades felt better going over my skin.
Unsure why, or whether I was just fooling myself, I did my next shave back on the trusty Gillette Fusion, and then switched back to the Harry's razor, and that's when I figured it out: the wider spacing on the Fusion blades did indeed allow me to "shave faster" (for lack of a better phrase) but that contributed to a couple of issues that I just don't have any more with the Harry's. Basically the Fusion tends to "slip" across my face faster, which is fine when you're on the flat plane of my cheek, but which has always been problematic on my chin, around my nose and upper lip, along my jaw line and neck around the Adam's apple. Or to put it another way, on most of my face, I was constantly having to shave extra carefully with the Gillette Fusion to keep from scraping and cutting myself due to how fast it wants to glide around.
By contrast, the Harry's doesn't "slip" along my face as fast, it has just a tiny bit more "grip" on my beard - not so much that I am conscious of having to tug or scrape, just more of a sure glide. I don't worry about slipping and cutting myself with Harry's cartridges - they just move around my nose and jaw and chin and neck a a confident way. The benefits to me are two-fold - I get fewer nicks and scrapes - no more dabbing my chin with a tissue - and I feel more relaxed about the entire process. I will not go so far as to say I enjoy shaving, but it just seems like less of a hassle now.
Once I determined to stick with the Harry's Shave Plan, I went online and added an extra handle and pack of blades to my first order so I could keep spares in my travel kit. I'm a Harry's convert, and I'll be quite happy paying less, having my supplies shipped to my door, and shaving with confidence.
Pros & Cons
- Blades are 30% to 50% less expensive than premium 5-blade cartridges from well-known brands
- Handles are well made and comfortable
- Gel is good quality and smells great
- Shave plan delivers products on a regular basis - and you determine the frequency of shipments and amount of product you receive (and you can alter the specifics of each shipment before it goes out)
- Blades are quality steel and well-designed to glide smoothly but confidently (i.e. no slippage) across the face
- Changing shaving products always takes some getting used to
- Blades are more closely spaced which definitely changes some things, in particular practically guaranteeing a need for shorter strokes and more frequent rinses
If you're planning to sign up for the Harry's trial, please consider using this link: TRY HARRYS. If you sign up using that link, I get $5 off on my next box of stuff from Harry's, and assuming you continue past the trial, you also will get $5 off on your first box.