safety razors vs cartridge razors: which is best?

Long has the safety vs cartridge been a recurring debate. Since development of the safety razor which in fact displaced “cut throat razors”. Men who shaved themselves rather than going to a professional barber preferred both types.

At their public introduction, straight razors, known as “Cut-Throat” razors were the popular way to shave by untrained men and barbershops.

Both types provided autonomy for hundreds of thousands across the world. The question remains: which type is best, safety razor or cartridge razor?

safety razors vs cartridge razors selection

What Motivated the Creation of Cartridge razors and Safety Razors?

It was a well-known fact that the traditional barbers razors were not very safe in use. Most folk went to well-trained barber shops to get their beard shaved. Realizing safety was desired, in 1762 French cutler Jean-Jacques Perret added a wooden sleeve to his straight razor.

The need really was so great for protective guards on straight razors they proliferated the marketplace.

Natural transition was for a new razor to be developed that offered actual protection. In the coming years, Gillette and Perret brought along the next great shaving inventions.

Cartridge Razor Invention

Introduced in the 18th century and popularized in the 20th century, the multi blade cartridge razor became the overwhelming choice for men and women.

The cartridge razor was invented in 1762 by Jean-Jacques Perret, a master cutler with advanced knowledge of making cutlery. In time, the Gillette razors hit the market. By 1971, Gillette sold the Trac II, a twin blade razor. Competing for some marketing share Bic released their disposable in 1974.

3 different safety razors

Gillette Safety Razor Invention

In 1902, King Camp Gillette opened his factory producing double edge safety razors. Two other versions of safety razors preceded, but these were far less appreciated. They were less liked because they were not as sharp.

Gillette’s safety razor had a single stamped carbon steel blade, which was thinner, less expensive and disposable. In 1903, Gillette released their original razor with a double-edged blade, we could use only one wing with each stroke.

In 1971, they released the Trac II. Innovation attributed to the Trac II was its use of two blades that could be drawn across stubble in one stroke. It offered a much better shave than single razor blades.

In. 1998 the Gillette Mach3 triple blade razors were released with six further upgrade variations over the following decade. Following along in 2006 with Gillette Fusion razors and eight incarnations each with more costly razor cartridges than the last.

What’s Different About Shaving with Safety Razors

Traditional safety razors have only two edges, one on each side of the head. You have two edges, but you can use only one at any time. Comb and blade together form a thin edge, making it fit into snug in all wet shaving areas, like under the nose. It also performs better in areas requiring precision, such as beneath sideburns.

Cartridge razors tend to be thicker with multiple blades. Thus, it lacks the ability for precision wet shaving unless you are talented at guessing where to put it to obtain a specific line. As you shave, you will take several passes over wide swaths of skin. This is where these products shine.

Preparing to Shave with Cartridge Razors vs Safety Razors

Begin with a warm shower. Showering provides moisture that opens your pores and softens your facial hair. Shaving can shock the skin if you don’t prepare initially. Warm water is a good start because it allows it to relax versus tighten up with cold water application.

Next, wash to exfoliate and remove dead cells. While your face is wet, coat your shaving brush with shaving lather. Soaps will remove any oil left on the beard hair and help condition the skin.

Finally, you are ready to shave with your safety razor. After shaving, rinse off then pat it dry with a towel. Add oil to the hair after toweling it dry. If desired, apply aftershave at this point.

The same is true when using a disposable cartridge razor. Use an aerosol can or soap that requires a brush to stir up the lather. After applying warm water, apply the lather.

Creams lubricate and lift beard hair away. It cleans you and gives the shaver a way to track where he has been.

After, shaving, rinse off any foam residue and dry off with a hand towel. If you prefer, now is the moment to apply oil then aftershave.

MACH 3 cartridge razor AND SAFETY RAZOR

Shaving Strokes Needed with Safety vs Cartridge

The number of occasions the shaving razor runs across skin represents soreness for all men. A lot of people, however, have unpleasant reactions and irritation.

Rashes, razor burn or ingrown beard hairs, it may irritate other growths like pimples or moles, etc. The less frequent you go across the cheeks, the better.

In using a safety razor it has only a single blade pulling across the jaw at anytime. Most people will pull it across two to three times per area shaved, that’s three strokes per shave.

Now, plastic razors can have anywhere from two, three, four, five, six or seven blades. For each pull, you are taking up to seven blades across the face. Usually, you have to exert more pressure, so contact is more aggressive and irritating. If you cross over each area two to three times with a seven-blade plastic razor, you have gone over this area 14 to 21 times in one sitting.

Safety Razor Shave Description

DE razors have only two edges, one on either section of the metal top, making it the best fit into all areas of your head.

It also performs best in precision areas, such as under sideburns. Along cheeks for beard shaping and along the neckline where you will want crisp clean lines if you are shaving your beard.

Shaving With Cartridges

A multi blade cartridge razor can have five or seven blades to cut the area at one time. Cutting angle not critical to execute an effective shave, apply a fair amount of pressure before pulling down over the skin.

You will feel multi-blade cartridges pulling with each stroke. Gentlemen who suffer from irritation or tenderness will not avoid that worrisome inflammation with this kind of shave.

Which Produces a Closer Cut?

Cartridges tend to have blades made by manufacturers that never tout their sharpness. They only speak of lubrication and handling of the unit. I wonder why? And, the user never suffers cuts. They get an acceptable shave, but could it be better with a sharper blade?

These products are dispensable. So throw them away, when they get too dull. Several pulls leave you hair-free and smooth.

Using a safety razor instead, the shaver can replace blades with a new one at will. Nothing is ever discarded, only used safety blades. Just unscrew the handle and release the blade, being careful not to injure yourself. These are exceptionally sharpened. You will nick yourself if you pull them and don’t take care. Purposely or accidentally.

This only needs to be pulled over your beard hair, as it grabs and slices each off precisely. Firstly, you slice the hair, then you return to the hair’s base. If you make a third run, you pull the hair’s root, getting an even finer shave.

Cost Of Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors infographic
Cost Of Shaving Infographic

Cost of Using Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors

With initial outlay of three-piece safety razors, you have a higher initial expense, but much lower later investments. Your initial outlay will average around £40.00. This will last a lifetime, only blades need to be discarded.

Replacements will set you back about £0.08 each, so will average £54.00 per annum. And, that’s if you bought a new one each year, which you’re not likely to do. So, your cost is nearer to £14.00 each subsequent year after your initial money of £54.00.

Safety razor vs disposable cartridge razor will reveal a marked difference in price. These can range from £20.00 for a multi-pack of disposable razors leading to an average monthly outlay of £11.00 per month as each has limited shaves before discarding. Annual net expense will average out at around £132 per year.

cost of cartridges vs safety razor blades compared

Blades Available for Safety Razors:

We list below the current top three double-edge blades for comparison:

They are very high quality. Feather Hi-Stainless Platinum Razor Blades are made by a Japanese manufacturer who has been in business since 1964. They use the same technology for making surgical implements. They restrict the platinum coating to a fraction of a millimeter for each tip.

These razors are extremely sharp, not recommended for novice users. Average price per packet of 100 is £26.00. Each one will last two or three shaves.

derby double edge razor blades

They manufacture the Derby Extra Blades in Sweden. They are made of steel, hardened and coated with chromium ceramic, tungsten, and chromium. Which adds strength extending life. They subject each to strict quality control processes before being shipped.

You can buy 100 for only £8.00. It is obvious why it costs so much more buying Feather Hi blades. They do not meet the same standard but serve as a good for the novice. This will last about 18 months.

Next most popular is the Russian Astra Platinum Blades. This very affordable alternative provides a sharper option than that available in a throwaway type.

These are not the same grade as the Feather Hi, but are ideal for the beginner. I can pick up a cheap packet of 100 for £7.00. Once again, you get what you pay for. These are not as good as the two previous brands.

Cartridges Available to Buy:

Top three are Gillette Fusion Proglide Silver Touch, Schick Hydro 5, and Dorco Pace 6 Plus. They design the Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive safety razor blades for use by those who suffer from redness or inflammation.

Buyers receive an ergonomically designed handle along with 17 refills. Each has five blades and a shaving lubricating system comprising Vitamin E and aloe. The whole thing is extremely light in weight.

Gillette Fusion Proglide Silver Touch features a flexball handle, offering flexibility. This feature gives you the ability to pull the skin taut as the blade pivots and follows surface contours. This comes with a lubricating strip for protection. It includes two refills one is in the package, the other is on the handle.

Dorco Pace 6 has six blades spaced comfortably in an angled open flow platform. It delivers an easy, soothing shave with the addition of lavender, aloe, Vitamin E added as a lubricant in each one. They also include ten refills with this purchase. If you are choosing this product, you are using the first six-blade razor ever.

cartridge or safety?

Storage, Transport, Cleaning, Care for Your Grooming Kit

Everyone who both shaves and travels, should invest in a Dopp Kit to store his equipment. This kit is ideal for daily use and carrying his kit safely thousands of miles from home.

Invest in a case that will hold your razor and some spare blades securely. It should have a soft-backed lining or felt lining to prevent scratching. Ensure it securely holds your razor inside the case. Always keep the case zipped or snapped shut.

For small trips, you can use a safety razor head cover to protect blades from contact with other surfaces. After securing your chosen tool, keep accessories in the multi-pocketed Dopp kit.

There will be ample room for shaving cream, aerosol sprays, oil, aftershave and hand towel. There is no marked difference between travel bags for them.

Maintaining and cleaning your plastic razor requires you to remove the blade cartridge and wash the shaft. As you shave, rinse frequently between shaving strokes. Because the blade is dispensable, it’s not necessary to rinse it, just discard it.

Compare Safety Razor to Cartridge Razor

Safety Razor


Cost: Greater initial investment, but far less repeat outlay in replacement razors.

Shave closeness: The shaving is very close as you have very keen edges gliding along your jawline.

Irritations: Well learned shavers swear by this razor, novices often curse it. It gives the best irritation-free shave when used properly. Because of the sharpness, novices need to learn patience along with technique to master shaving with a safety razor.

Convenience: Initially, this shaving process takes time to learn. So, it’s not a great idea to plan to shave while running out the door.

Training: Needing an angle of 30 degrees makes learners struggle until they get the right technique. This could lead to repeated cuts and gashes. You must be very exact shaving with a safety razor, but when you learn this, the shave is worth the additional effort.

Cartridge Razors


Cost: The cost is inexpensive to start, but over time far exceeds the safety razor.

Convenience-There is not much of a learning curve involved in shaving with cartridge razors.

Training: None.

Shave Closeness: Because of the pulling of the skin and blade dullness, the shave is close. But not as good as a sharper single blade would deliver.

Irritation: Multi-blade systems in these pull the surface in one pass and many goes result in abuse to some faces. It is especially bad for those with coarse growth or delicate complexion.

The Showdown

Still, the question lingers: which is best? After testing each, the natural conclusion is that with all the benefits of using a cartridge razor, it falls short of its primary purpose. It doesn’t offer the closest encounter without the presence of unwanted irritation. The DE, however, has pros and cons, but if it keeps its positive and discards its negative, it provides the perfect shaving experience.

Final Decision

It gets rid of each one of its negatives by education and practice. Cuts, nicks by the novice can be eliminated through practice and education. Once the user learns how to use his razor, he may shave quickly before an engagement.

Essentially, all negativity melts into oblivion. What’s left is the beauty of a closer shave, with well-trimmed sideburns, neck with far less inflammation. Today, the shaving debate is decided The Safety Razor is the undisputed winner of the title, “The Razor that Offers the Best Shave”.

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