I was asked what I bought when I decided to get into straight razor shaving. To be honest I wanted to check it out without spending a lot of money. There are a number of great companies making good products and it would be easy to spend big bucks. I wasn't sure if I'd like straight razor shaving enough to justify spending a lot of money.
After spending some time checking out various websites with product reviews, I decided to shop around. I went to Amazon.com and due mostly to the free shipping, bought everything there.
A shaving brush, $12.95
A shave mug with soap, $18.00
An extra soap to try, $12.00
A razor, $20.00
I also bought a shaving bowel and stand to hold my brush. That stuff is nice to have, but you don't really need it.
If you shop around you can find various kits and you might get a better deal, or a combination of products that suit your tastes better. I wanted to try the sandalwood soap after seeing how much several women said they enjoyed their husbands using it. It turns out that I like it and Mrs Ipsa doesn't. I find that I like using a shave mug better than a bowl. I like the badger brush but I don't know if the boar brush is better (or not) some guys have very definite opinions one way or the other. They're about the same price so who knows?
For about $50 you can get the basic stuff you need to try it out. I guess I spent right at $75 all together, but you can get by spending less. Now that I've been shaving this way for a couple of months, I can see spending the money on a nice kit for home and maybe even a travel kit.
If you just realized that you forgot my birthday this month and you want to make up for it, I'd be happy to receive either one of these:
Dovo Desert Ironwood
Dovo Siberian Mammoth Ivory
You can spend lots of money or just enough to get by. I went the cheaper way to try it out, but if I had extra cash, I could see buying nicer stuff. The razors are pricey but they will last your life time and beyond. I do think the soaps, while initially more expensive than the stuff in a can, are better to shave with and seem to last a long time.
How does it compare? Price wise I spend about $45 a year on razors and 2 or maybe 3 cans of $6 shaving cream a year, so about $70/year. Going the old fashioned route you'd spend about $75 upfront (or more depending on a razor/strop etc) but it would average out to less per year over time since you might only need to buy one cake of soap every year or so. Nice razors and a strop run between $200 up to as much as you want to spend. Cost wise you can certainly justify it, but the main reason to do it is comfort and quality of shave, and if you like shaving this way.