Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors February 02 2012

Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors 



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When it comes to the debate of safety razors vs. cartridge razors, there's no-contest - the safety razor wins each time.  Let's compare the safety razor to the cartridge razor along the key factors.

Note: We also have a guide on how to use a safety razor

What to realize before anything else

Safety razors have been around for a long time. The unfortunate truth behind the introduction of our "modern" cartridge razors is that it came from the notion of wanting a disposable razor. While he was working for Crown Cork & Seal Co. of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, King Camp Gillette (yes that Gillette)  recognized that there was no money in a product that was going to be re-used forever.  After all, a product that needs to be replaced on a consistent basis also means a consistent income from repeat sales. This disposable razor would need to appear as if it was an improvement over what was already. The important thing to take out of this little history lesson is that the disposable razor (which later turned into cartridge razors) was not an actual improvement, but only made to look like one.

Shave quality

The amount of blades on a razor is unrelated to the smoothness of your shave. Do not let any amount of advertising tell you differently. The truth is that these multiple blades actually cause more irritation because they damage the upper surface of the skin. This leads to ingrown hairs. You want a close shave, not razor burn and cuts. Shaving with a safety razor is also a lost art form, a ritual that you get to perform daily. Most men that use a safety razor find the shave relaxing. So you not only get a smoother shave with a safety razor, there is less chance of irritation and razor burn.

Aesthetic Quality

It is true that there is no account for personal taste. When you hold a chrome safety razor in your hand, you know you are holding something sturdy. Some of the brand name three and four razor cartridges look colorful and flashy and have plenty of advertising behind them, but they do not compare to the heavy feel of metal in your hand. With the cartridge razor, you are holding mass-produced plastic, with a safety razor you are holding solid metal, like a true artisan would . The safety razor has worked for the most influential men in history, and it works just as well for us today.



This is where most people realize that they have been a slave to marketing for too long. While the initial investment of a safety razor seems high to some, take a moment and realize how much you paid the last time you bought a cartridge pack for your razor. Oftentimes you only get three blades and they can run upwards of $4 per blade. Keep in mind that you are going to throw these razors away after a few uses – there is no way for you to sharpen them. Compare that to the $0.80 per blade for a safety razor blade and you will realize why a safety razor is an investment that pays for itself.

Let's do some simple math. If you shave eight times every two weeks, (say you like stubble on your casual Fridays) that means a new safety blade or cartridge every two weeks. 

After a month, the safety razor costs $1.60, the cartridge costs you $8.

In a year, you pay 12 x $1.60 = 19.80 for safety razors. Compare that to the 12 x $8 = $96 and you will notice that safety razors save you $96 – 19.80 = $76.20 in just one year. Less money and a better shave - easy isn't it?

Ignore the Marketing

They'll tell you myths like more blades = a better shave or that have some weird vibrating piece on your razor makes it more effective. If we take marketing out of the equation, it should become clear to most men that cartridge razors are simply inferior products. They represent a billion dollar industry with a marketing budget to boot, so getting the truth out will be a uphill battle. But with your new knowledge, this guide on how to use a safety razor, and our selection of fine safety razors from Merkur, the iconic German manufacturer, you'll know the truth better than your friends.