In the world of shaving, shavers often treat their options as mutually exclusive. That is, safety razor shavers often spurn the pansy, costly nature of cartridge shave systems. This “us vs. them” mentality is problematic because to be fair, the choice of the type of razor you use might be situational. To understand how this might be the case, let’s take a look at some of the features of both systems to determine whey one would want to own both cartridge razors and double edge safety razors.
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- Convenience. The biggest difference between cartridges and safety razors is convenience. Many like the convenience of using a razor that does the thinking for them (e.g. pivoting head) and that butchers most of the hair in a single pass.
- Time. It can be somewhat more rapid to shave with a cartridge razor. However, with experience, the gap dramatically decreases.
Cartridge Razors are Still “Wet Shavers”
If we truly want to get anally technical, anyone using water, cream or shaving soap is a wet shaver. That means people using Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave Club (Dorco) are still in the same basic family as those using a safety razor or a straight razor.
This is just if we are being technical, of course.
I prefer to delineate each type of shaver in the following ways:
- Multi-Cartridge Razor Wet Shaver. Whether you shave in the shower, use a little soap and water post-shower, use a can of Barbasol or seriously lather up with a badger hair brush and some classic shave soap, you’re still a wet shaver.
- Safety Razor Cartridge Wet Shaver. Typically a safety razor shaver is what is most commonly thought of when someone uses the term “wet shaver,” but the term is tossed around so much, it has unfortunately become a broad misnomer.
- Straight Razor Wet Shaver. The truly hard-core and manliest among us are those that use the straight razor. The straight razor remains the original wet shaver, using a good lather to prep for a shave hundreds of years.
It should also be duly noted that not all wet shaving is mutually exclusive. If you use a straight razor, it does not preclude you in the slightest from using a multi-blade cartridge from time to time. Perhaps you do it for convenience. Or, perhaps you do it because there no other way you can get on the plane for your next important business trip.
In the end, you’re still technically considered a wet shaver. The only dry shavers I know are big butcher knife wielding Crocodile Dundee and people that use those terrible electric gizmos.
The wet shaving community tosses the term “wet shaving” around loosely, but likely 90% of the shaving of facial hair out there would technically considered wet shaving.
- The Zen. Many love the feel, time and experience of pampering one’s self. There is less of an art and “love” of shaving that comes from the cartridge version. The lather, the style. It’s classic.
- The Price. Try $2 per cartridge razor to $0.10 per double edge safety razor. There is literally no comparison. While some would claim you spend much more on soaps with safety razor shaving, having a single soap pan for six months, is not going to cost you nearly as much as a bunch of cartridges over that same time period. There is literally no comparison here.
In some cases–there may even be other reasons you may wish to use circumstantial awareness on whether or not to choose one type of razor over another. For instance, for men that like to manscape and shave EVERYTHING, there may be an argument that a pivot head with multiple blades is easier on areas of the body that 1) are difficult to see, 2) may protrude a bit more than others or 3) are difficult to navigate. After all–and without getting to specific–it may be difficult to map the shave of a different area of your body when trying to determine shave angle and hair growth patterns.
Many men use both a safety razor and a cartridge razor. For the truly cost-conscious, the safety razor can become the razor of choice for the more frequent regular shaves. Consequently, the cartridge razor is then used for extenuating circumstances where speed and convenience override the cost of a few extra seconds of lathering up and making more than one pass. In my mind, it is important to note that you would likely need to be in a pretty big hurry as the different in shaving speeds is measured in just a couple of minutes when one becomes truly proficient at the art of shaving with a safety razor.
Why Use a Safety Razor Instead of a Cartridge Razor?
Using the “old-fashioned” safety razor for daily shaving is making a comeback. However, many shaving neophytes still question the type of razor they use. Most prefer using the multi-blade cartridge razor. When you take an objective look at the pros and cons of each type of razor, using a safety razor delivers a better shave than a cartridge razor, although both have their place in the world.
While shaving with a safety razor might involve a little extra time than using a multi-blade cartridge razor, the benefits of spending a few extra minutes on a shave clearly outweigh the drawbacks. Despite some fear and anxiety around using safety razors, their benefits are becoming more widely known.
So, should you ditch the cartridge razor for a safety razor? Here are several reasons why.
A Clean Face
What purveyors of multi-blade razors don’t tell you is that the majority of shaving issues and razor burn are caused by the friction of the blade against the skin. Many of today’s cartridge razors are designed with built-in aloe-soothing strips at the top of the cartridge to help reduce friction. However, it isn’t necessarily advertised that way.
Instead of using multiple blades cutting the same hair, a safety razor cuts the hair at its proper angle and length only once. Therefore, there isn’t any real need for a lubricating strip. Using a safety razor is the only solution for eliminating friction.
One of the reasons for nicks and cuts while shaving isn’t necessarily due to the blade itself; it’s actually due to the shape of the razor and how it is handled. The weight of the handle itself combined with the blade construction makes the razor heavier. This means greater durability and stability, giving the user more control and a good handle (literally) over his shave.
Handling a razor that is too light causes the user to inadvertently put excess pressure on the razor during handling. This amount of pressure presses into the skin rather than allowing the blade to glide smoothly and gently along the skin. This results in more cuts, nicks, and friction.
Men who accept the challenge of making the switch to using a single blade safety razor often feel a little nervous and apprehensive. As we mentioned briefly above, there are a number of myths surrounding the use of safety razors, most of which are related to more nicks and cuts.
However, the reality is that more men prefer the single-edge safety razor because they can control the razor more effectively and avoid nicks, cuts, razor burn and blemishes. As a result, most men who use a safety razor agree that once they adjust to using one, they immediately see a better shave.
Using a safety razor is a great way to get a good shave and to take care of your face. In order to get the most out of your shave, consider using other tools such as a shaving brush and a proper shaving cream. These tools coupled with a high-quality safety razor will make a huge difference in the quality of your shave.
The safety razor was trusted by your grandfather, so ditching the cartridge just might be one of the best things you do for your skin. Give yourself the shave you deserve!
When to Use Both Safety Razor AND a Cartridge Razor
If I’m in a major hurry and want a quick shave–maybe in the shower–I may opt for my cartridge razor. However, for my typically daily shave routine, nothing beats the lovely smell of a soap and the feedback I get from a traditional double edge safety razor.