There are several important differences between safety razor shaving and cartridge razor shaving. Knowing these key differences will help you evaluate which shaving method is best for you and your hair removal needs.
First let’s evaluate the key differences between a safety razor and a cartridge razor.
A safety razor holds and uses a thin flat double edge blade that has two sharp edges on each side. These blades are removable, contain no plastic and are made of stainless steel. The blades are also recyclable. There are many types of safety razors, for a more in-depth look at various safety razor types, read Choosing a Safety Razor.
CARTRIDGE AND DISPOSABLE RAZORS
A shaving cartridge often has multiple blades that are encased in plastic that connect to a proprietary handle or come as a complete fixed plastic disposable unit. The angle of the blades are preset and positioned for optimal shaving results. Shaving cartridges are designed for speed and convenience, with the theory that multiple blades can provide a closer and smoother shave, which is true for many users. Shaving cartridges or disposable razors are not recyclable and must be disposed of in the garbage.
The method or process of shaving with a safety razor is different compared to cartridge razors because of the extra passes required. What is a pass? This is the process of applying lather or shave cream, shaving your lathered skin until the lather or foam is all gone and then repeating the process.
With a cartridge razor, you can often finish your shave in one pass, whereas with a safety razor you often complete your shave in two to three passes. This will depend on the amount of growth you have, so the number of required passes will vary. These added passes can lengthen the time it takes to do the average shave depending on your technique and process, but not by much.
THE LEARNING CURVE
The great thing about cartridge and disposable razors is that there is virtually no learning curve. Because the blade angle is pre-set and can’t be manipulated, you simply run it on your skin and that’s it.
There is a bit of a learning curve with safety razor shaving, as you have to manually maintain the optimal 30 degree angle of the blade while shaving. Mastering this tool does take time and this learning curve can vary from person to person. Generally, most start to get comfortable with handling and using a safety razor after 30 days. Like anything practice makes perfect. For more tips on using a safety razor, see 6 Mistakes to Avoid with your Safety Razor.
Many wet shaving enthusiasts that shave with a single blade enjoy this slower method. The added time typically provides improved results for most, and is often referred to as meditative or Zen-like. For many people these improved results include less irritation, redness, as well as the elimination of razor burn and ingrown hairs. Some also feel it provides a much closer and smoother shave, but that depends on the user’s skill level and the products used.
A fast close shave is an advantage for cartridge shavers. Because it is typically quicker to shave with a shaving cartridge, those that value the speed and convenience factor would choose this method in favour of safety razor or straight razor shaving.
There is no argument that shaving with a safety razor is far less expensive than shaving with conventional shave cartridges. Safety razor blades cost on average .30 cents each compared to $3.50 each for conventional shaving cartridges, when purchased at the department store. Most people that shave with a safety razor can get 2-5 smooth and clog free shaves per blade.
Generally speaking, shaving with a safety razor is more of an upfront cost and cheaper long-term. Whereas shaving with a cartridge razor is more of a long-term cost with less of an upfront investment.
The great advantage of cartridge and disposable razors is that they are extremely accessible. You can get them at any drugstore, supermarket, corner store or even dollar store. You can also buy them online or by subscription.
Safety razor blades aren’t always that accessible. You can sometimes get one or two brands of safety razor blades at drugstores, pharmacies or supermarkets. Larger centers often have a wet shaving supply store or mobile supplier. For most, ordering online is the preferred method.
If you are someone that does a lot of travelling and you like to carry-on, then a disposable or cartridge razor is the way to go. You can easily put them in your carry-on luggage with no issues with security.
Safety razors can be put in carry-on luggage, however the blades are not allowed. If you do carry-on with your safety razor, it is always best to take it out and put it in the bin, as security will need to physically inspect it to ensure there is no blade inside.
If you do travel a lot to the same destination, you can always leave blades at that location. You can also mail them to yourself in advance. Another tip would be to mail them to your hotel, guesthouse or Airbnb in advance of your stay. Ensure you check with them first, as they may not be able to accommodate this.
REASONS TO CHOOSE A SHAVING CARTRIDGE OR DISPOSABLE RAZOR
- You don’t get razor burn, irritation, redness or ingrown from shave cartridges.
- You found a shave cartridge brand that works for you.
- The price of shave cartridges doesn’t concern you.
- You value accessibility and products that are easily available.
- You don’t want to spend valuable time learning how to shave with a new tool.
- There is no conceivable way that shaving could ever be an enjoyable experience.
- Old school razors and brushes don’t excite you.
- You do a lot of carry-on travel.
REASONS TO CHOOSE A SAFETY RAZOR
- You get razor burn after shaving with a shave cartridge or disposable razor.
- You immediately get red irritation and or ingrown hairs after shaving.
- You are fed up with the cost of shave cartridges.
- You hate rusty shaving cartridges.
- Clogging cartridges make you mad.
- The thought that Americans toss over 2 Billion disposable razors each year concerns you.
- You feel that shaving a chore.
- You aren’t concerned with learning a new tool, if anything it sounds like an interesting thing to learn.
If you are in search a cost effective, irritation free shave that uses recyclable blades, then safety razor shaving will be perfect for you. The little bit of added time will far exceed the improved results on your wallet and skin.
If you are someone that values accessibility and currently gets good results with a conventional shaving cartridge, then stick with it, as this the way to go for you. The added costs will be well worth the convenience factor for you.
Either way, getting a great shave is important, so here is to a great shave!