Razor Blades and Shaving in Cuba

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 20 — With the money I’ll receive for my journalistic collaborations, I was planning to take care of some of my most pressing problems. One of them, seemingly simple, may even end up affecting my health. It has to do with shaving razors.

In Cuba, the act of shaving is literally becoming a pain in the neck because almost no good razors exist for shaving facial hair without overly damaging one’s skin.

When I say that almost none of these exist, I’m speaking in term of decent razors that are available to everyday people, since the quality of the ones that are around are atrocious. They cost about nine national pesos (about $.45 USD), and they’re sold everywhere. But sometimes even the first time you use them you’ll cut your skin.

Other ones appear less regularly in stock though these are more expensive, costing what’s a fortune here – between $2 and $7 USD. I haven’t been able to compare the quality of these, and the fact is that I don’t know anyone who has tried them who can tell me whether the quality is worth the price.

In any case, those prices and are well beyond the reach of ordinary Cubans, and well below the expectations of the island’s elite – who use Gillette.

For some twenty-odd US dollars, really almost thirty, on the black market you can find your Gillette razor along with three or four extra blade heads. Actually that’s was what I had planned to do before receiving the money, but now my budget can’t handle it.

The last two years I’ve gotten by using those plastic disposable Gillette razors, which were given to me by some friends who brought them from abroad.

Nonetheless, sometimes I’ve still had to shave with old blades, blunt ones, because I don’t have nine pesos to shell out on a product that I know beforehand will be a waste of money.


Unfortunately, I have a sensitive skin and it gets inflamed to the point of bleeding without me even having cut myself.

I’m not the only one suffering this cruel fate; there are hundreds of thousands — or millions — of us here who have to scrape away at our faces, legs and other parts of our bodies using dull and irregular blades.

In Cuba there’s a phrase for people who are close to death from old age. Ironically, we usually say “this person has only a few good shaves left.”

If people could really tell each other’s age by the number of times they’ve shaved, and if all of us suddenly decided — owing to a lack of razors — that we would only shave when absolutely necessary, then we could say with the same irony and without the fear of being mistaken, that there are only a few good shaves left for us as well.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

4 thoughts on “Razor Blades and Shaving in Cuba

  • wet shaving is the way to go and Im surprised there are no pre 1960 Gillette fat boys floating around. The safety blades should be easier and cheaper to find and they are still the closest shave around.

  • Hi everybody,

    While “the Western countries” start to re-discover the virtues of the classical wet shaving, I am astonished to learn that the Cuban are oblivous of these methods, which are the cheapest and the best in the same time ! If plastic multiblade junk found its way to Cuba, there should be no reason why fine and inexpensive, third world produced (!) double edge blades cannot do the same ?

    Please check these links, I hope it will help you !


  • You can wax – melt together brown sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan and wax it off. It will sting, but it lasts longer than shaving.

  • You can help razor blades last longer by drying them promptly after use. Good luck!

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