Safety razors have been around forever and were once considered the standard in shaving. That is, until Mr. Gillette (yes, that Gillette) realized that the fastest way to get rich was to create a product that people had to throw out and constantly replace. Years and years of well orchestrated marketing campaigns made disposable razors king and safety razors obsolete…until recently of course.
So is it true? Are safety razors really that much better than cartridge razors? Is there really a difference in the smoothness of shave? Are safety razors really that much cheaper than their plastic counterparts?
Let’s have a look at the differences between the two and see who comes out on top.
Let’s start with the most important factors in choosing a razor: the shave quality. The smoothness of your shave is usually the deciding factor when it comes to choosing our razor. You want to go with an option that can give you the closest shave without irritation. Pretty simple. First, let’s take a look at cartridge razors.
Cartridge razors (also known as disposable razors) usually come with a whole lotta blades…sometimes 3, 4, 5 or even 6. Marketing execs would love to have you keep believing that more blades means a closer shave, but you’re smarter than that.
With cartridge razors, the first blade cuts the beard at the surface, which is great, but then you have 3 more blades that drag behind the first blade and remove layers of skin cells with every pass. This unnecessary irritation can cause bumpy skin and nasty ingrown hairs that take a small army to get out. The spacing of the blades also makes cartridge razors prone to clogging, giving bacteria a perfect place to grow. Cartridge razors can cause some real skin problems, and simply put, you won’t get a very smooth shave with crappy skin.
On the other hand, safety razors ignore the bells and whistles. It has just one sharp blade that cuts along the surface. Your skin doesn’t take any damage if you do it correctly. And did we mention that these blades are sharp? Quality safety razor blades are made from well-constructed steel that can slice those hairs rather than pull on them like a cartridge razor.
With less friction from the single blade, you’ll get fewer ingrowns and reduce the opportunity for bacteria to infiltrate your face. Lotts of men see a big improvement in their complexion once they switch to safety razors.
Ease of Use
Cartridge razors are really, really easy to use. That can’t really be debated. You can pretty much mindlessly scrape at your face, and eventually all the hair will be gone. Some of the newer cartridge razors come with a hinge or pivot point that moves the head of the razor with the contours of your face. This helps maintain a consistent angle so it’s really hard to cut yourself. No real technique needed.
Safety razors take a bit of skill to master. With the one extra sharp blade, there’s more of a chance to cut yourself, so the angle you take and the pressure you apply is very important. A good safety razor has some weight to it. So although how much pressure you apply is key, you can let the razor do most of the work. Modern safety razors have an easy to grip handle so there’s not much slipping involved.
When you first switch, it might take a bit longer to shave with the safety razor. As you get in the groove and understand the angles to use, you’ll speed it up and it shouldn’t take much longer than it normally would with a cartridge razor.
Here’s where it gets fun. Let’s compare the overall costs of cartridge razors vs safety razors.
First, the cartridge razor:
Initial Investment: Handle ($10), 12 pack of cartridges ($30)
Lifespan: 7 shaves per cartridge (84 shaves or 2.8 months per pack)
Total upfront cost: $40
Total first year cost: $130
Annual costs after first year: $125
And now, the safety razor:
Initial Investment: Handle ($20), 100 pack of double-edge Astra blades ($10)
Lifespan: 200 shaves per pack (using each side once = 6.7 months per pack)
Total upfront cost: $30
Total first year cost: $48
Annual costs after first year: $15
The numbers speak for themselves. That safety razor handle that you buy initially will most likely outlast you. Lots of men have razors that are over 60 years old. They just need a bit of care of maintenance. The blades are better, and you can afford to use a new blade almost every shave.
Are safety razors better than cartridge razors? Well, yes.
Safety razors may not have the giant marketing budgets behind them, but the simple fact is that you can get a much better shave with these single razors. They’re cheaper to own, and you just get a much better feeling when you’re done. Like you’re a proper man who doesn’t take shortcuts. Cheap plastic, or well-constructed steel? If you have the patience to perfect your technique, you’re in for a long life of great shaves with a straight razor.