If you’re a shaver who relishes the precise cut of a manual razor but aren’t so keen on forking out upwards of $5 for high-end razor cartridges, then Shave Union reckons it has the solution. Inspired by the runaway success of California-based Dollar Shave Club, which pioneered the razor subscription model, Shave Union claims to offer quality razors delivered to your door while undercutting the big-name brands.

How it works

Shave Union has 3 subscription types: 6 blades a month for shavers who develop a five o’clock shadow by noon ($15 monthly including freight), 3 a month for those who shave every other day ($11 monthly) and 3 blades bimonthly ($11 every other month) if you only shave once or twice a week.

Each subscription includes a handle and blade free with your first order. The handle is a standard plastic unit, which feels flimsy but does the job.

Our trial

I signed up to the 6-razors-a-month package. Usually I shave with disposable 3-blade razors, going through about 10 a month shaving every 2 or 3 days. I found the 5-bladed stainless steel Shave Union cartridges with aloe vera strips a definite improvement over my mid-range disposables, giving a clean, quick shave.

Over a month, 6 refills were more than enough for shaving every day or two. I managed at least 3 shaves from each blade, with a couple surplus at the end of the month. I spent a couple of dollars less over the month than I’d usually spend on disposables and enjoyed a smoother shave with less skin irritation.

However, a slightly shaggier staff member said they don’t cut as well as his usual Gillette Mach 3s when tackling a week’s worth of stubble. The pivoting head and the handle weren’t as good at manoeuvring around his neck and jawline compared to the firmer linkage between his Gillette handle and cartridge. Shave Union blades are almost half the price of Mach 3 cartridges, which retail for about $19 per 4 pack.

A surprising plus was my partner found they work as well as her usual Gillette Venus razors, so the service is also viable for women. Founder Lizzi Whaley says about half of the 400 subscribers are women.

Verdict

Overall, Shave Union is a well-executed concept offering great convenience and reasonable value for decent 5-bladed cartridges. The performance of the razors isn’t quite on par with the best multi-blades, but is a definite improvement over budget disposable razors.

Note: Dollar Shave Club has an Australian operation they say ships to New Zealand for no extra cost, although shipping will take longer. We’re interested to hear anyone’s experience with Dollar Shave Club – let us know in the comments.

First Looks are written from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.

By George Block.