I don’t know about you, but I have been shaving my legs and armpits since the 5th grade. It felt so “grown up” to shave… I mean, if I’m being honest, it was a pretty exciting time. Especially when Gillette launched its line of Venus razors around the time I turned 14! I couldn’t wait to upgrade from my crappy disposable razors to one that offered a pivoting head with moisture strips surrounding the blades! That sounded so luxurious (and meant no more cuts on my ankles/knees)!!!
Over my many years (two decades!) of shaving, the activity quickly lost its allure and has become one of the most annoying chores in my beauty routine. This maintenance had also become super expensive! I mean, a pack of four 5-blade Venus Extra Smooth razor heads costs me $20 + tax at Target so I wasn’t surprised to see companies looking to disrupt the industry and buck the “pink tax“. When I started this experiment I couldn’t imagine any company being able to offer (a) better razor blades, (b) a better shaving experience, but for the overall cost savings I felt that other options were worth exploring.
The two brands that I felt might be able to stand up to my beloved Venus razor were Flamingo and Billie. I love the general business model of both of these brands — who wouldn’t be interested in stylish and affordable subscription shaving?! I ordered a starter kit from each company (a full razor: handle + blade, as well as an extra razor head) and gave each of them one week’s worth of testing. I’m embarrassed to admit that the results actually surprised me.
I evaluated each razor on the same qualifications:
1.) Handling Comfort
2.) Shave Efficacy
3.) Overall Shaving Experience
4.) Accessibility / Availability,
5.) Price, and
6.) Travel Size?
Additionally, I used my usual shower gel (Bath & Body Works “Cashmere Glow“) for the shave with each brand, so I can’t speak to each of their specific shaving creams; this is a review of the razors only.
1.) Handling Comfort: I love the metal handle with rubber grip on the underside; the weight is great and makes my shave feel… sturdier(?). The almost straight handle design is what I’m used to, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the best style for hard-to-reach areas.
2.) Shave Efficacy: I feel like the razor blades are effective enough, but they seem to dull really quickly (like after 3 shaves) so I end up needing to swap out razor heads frequently ($$$!). I will say that my number of razor bumps has not been affected by the use of this razor.
3.) Overall Shaving Experience: The Venus handle model that I have has a flexible head on it, but I still [infrequently] manage to cut myself on the backs of my knees somehow? I also noticed that the moisture strip on the Venus Extra Smooth heads dry up rapidly after the first shave so they’re less comfortable and, well, smooth.
4.) Accessibility / Availability: One of the great things about Gillette razors is that (a) all of their razor heads can be used on any of their handles, so you can plug-and-play with whichever kind works best for you, and (b) their razors are available almost EVERYWHERE (superstores like Wal-Mart/Target, pharmacies, even some deluxe gas stations) and are now offered in online mailing subscription form as well (obviously to compete with the new brands).
5.) Price: I never enjoyed having to pay $20 for a pack of 4 razors (especially with how quickly I would have to replace them!), but I did it because I thought what I was using was the best available option.
6.) Travel Size: I LOVE having a little clamshell case and mini razor handle to take with me for travel. I know that putting my daily razor in a Ziplock bag isn’t the end of the world, but the moisture strip sticks and dries to the inside of the bag, the razor isn’t protected, etc. so I really value the travel size (that also works with any Venus razor head!).
PROS: Available everywhere (read: most grocery and drug stores) as well as subscriptions now?, quality razor blades, comfortable shave experience, travel handle/case available
CONS: Expense, razor dulls quickly and moisture strips dry out rapidly
1.) Handling Comfort: Not quite as heavy as the Venus metal handle, but love the medium weight of this razor for handling as well as the matte rubber wrapped all the way around the handle for a good grip. The straight razor handle design poses the same access challenges as the Venus. That being said, I think that the styling design is very elegant and I think that the flamingo logo is super clever.
2.) Shave Efficacy: I feel like the razor blades are effective enough, but they seemed to dull after only a few shaves (like 4 or 5?) and the moisture strips dried up equally as fast. I will say that my number of razor bumps has not been affected by the use of this razor.
3.) Overall Shaving Experience: I didn’t like that the moisture strip was only above the blades instead of fully surrounding them. I also noticed that when the head flexes, the prongs that keep the head from folding under itself would stick out and often scrape along my skin (no harm was caused, it’s just an unpleasant sensation).
4.) Accessibility / Availability: These razors are available online by purchasing a la carte or signing up for a mailing subscription; I’ve noticed that Target has also started carrying them online and in-store, but they are often sold out in-store so the convenience of same-day is lost here for most customers.
5.) Price: I definitely think that you’re getting your money’s worth here. A pack of 4 razors is only $9 so while you may have to replace your razor heads fairly often due to dulling blades and dried-out moisture strips, it’s half the price of the comparable Venus razors so it’s a more affordable solution.
6.) Travel Size: No travel size available currently.
PROS: affordable, subscription-based, stylish design: weighted handle, average shaving performance, Target carries them (but are often sold out)
CONS: razor head design plastic “prongs” would occasionally scrape while fully flexed, no travel handle/case available, razor dulls fairly quickly and moisture strips dry out kind of fast
1.) Handling Comfort: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this razor because I certainly prefer a heavier handle and this one is very light. The handle shape is triangular and the underside is coated by a matte rubber to help with grip. The overall design is more arched so I was able to access the hard-to-reach spots much easier, but it definitely looks pretty similar to crappy disposable razors so I initially doubted its capabilities.
2.) Shave Efficacy: I was surprised by how effective these razor blades were — my skin stayed stubble-less for much longer (even after getting goosebumps – it’s magic!!!). I will say that my number of razor bumps has not been affected by the use of this razor.
3.) Overall Shaving Experience: I am crazy about whatever they use in the moisture strip (it’s been effective for more than 2 weeks of shaving now!) and that it fully surrounds the blades. It’s such a smooth shaving experience!
4.) Accessibility / Availability: Only available online through a mailing subscription, but it’s seriously only $9 per shipment, so I don’t see that as being a kind of deterrent. Kind of a bummer that they’re not available in-store (at least right now).
5.) Price: Talk about getting the most bang for your buck! Such an affordable set of 4 razors. I was assuming that I would have to swap them out more frequently, but I haven’t experienced that moisture strip drying out or any razor dullness yet and it’s been two weeks… I’m not actively trying to make the razors stretch, but they’re naturally (ahem, most likely by-design) long lasting.
6.) Travel Size: I would LOVE a compact, travel-sized version of this razor, Billie! Please consider this in your next product rollout!
PROS: affordable, subscription-based, quality razor blades, excellent shave experience: moisture strip (and slower hair regrowth?!).
CONS: design looks cheap (but I guess you get what you pay for?), no travel handle/case available.
Overall, I think that all three razors got the job done, but I personally thought that the Billie provided the best results. I wasn’t expecting much from it because in photos it looked like a cheap, flimsy razor like the disposable ones I had used as a kid and hated! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the shave was superb; I loved the gel surrounding the razor head because it made the shave incredibly smooth and didn’t tug at my arm or leg hairs. Shaving has once again become “exciting” in my life because the results are so enjoyable. I’ll admit that I love the convenience of my little Venus travel razor and will continue to use that until Billie creates their own version; I guess I’ll still be paying the “pink tax” on Venus razors every once in a while, but hopefully not for long!
**UPDATE** Billie just released a travel case for their full-size razor! While it’s not as compact as the Venus razor, it’s still a great option! I just took mine with me on a recent trip and it worked great! It’s magnetic (like the shower wall-mount) so it’s easy to place inside the case and easy to snap close/open. Highly recommend!
I hate when I get goosebumps immediately after I get out of the shower and my legs don’t even feel like I shaved them. LOL! What challenges do you encounter with shaving?
*disclaimer: this post was not sponsored; all opinions are my own.