wet shaving: cartridge vs. safety razor
in my last installment of wet shaving, i talked about why the modern shaving industry (gillette via cartridge razors) is corrupt. but, it’s not all bad. there are reasons why millions of men use gillette razors. today, i am going to briefly run you through the pros and cons of using a cartridge razor vs. a safety razor.
- this thing is fast. fast. fast. you can get a close shave in just a few minutes.
- easy to use. short of breaking out the blades from the cartridge and slashing at your face, it is pretty much impossible to cut yourself with these things.
- comfortable. there is very little discomfort when you shave with this bad boy.
- expensive. you’re paying about $4 per cartridge for these. that adds up fast.
- poor durability. even though you’re paying $4 a cartridge, these will only last 2 -3 weeks of shaving at best.
- dirty. cartridges are cesspools of bacteria. your pores will get clogged and give you acne if you’re remotely prone to getting acne.
- ingrown hair irritation. the multiple blade system cuts your facial hair below the skin surface, so you’re much more likely to get ingrown hairs.
honestly, if you’re hell bent on using a cartridge razor, i would go with the schick quattro. i think it has the best balance between price, comfort, and getting a close shave. the replacements are reasonable (as far as cartridges go). not to mention, it is also the most aesthetically pleasing design of the cartridges. let’s be honest, gillette’s creations and especially the pro-glide look like probing instruments from an alien abduction. just saying.
the safety razor
- cheap. the replacement blades for these are incredibly cheap. i paid about 20 cents a blade for my last replacement set.
- close shave. if you know how to use one, these will give you a much closer shave than any cartridge.
- clean. there is only one blade, so it doesn’t get clogged with your face juice. and you can easily afford to replace the blades every week. my complexion has improved significantly since i started using these.
- less irritation. you’re cutting the hair at the skin level, so ingrown hairs are basically non-existant with these. i haven’t had any since i switched.
- durability and aesthetics. the actual safety razor looks like a piece of art and will last a lifetime. there are few working pieces, and they’re all stainless steel. if you find a vintage safety razor from the 50s and clean it up, it will still work just as well. see if your mach 3 razor from five years ago will do that. i didn’t think so.
- bad ass. you will feel significantly more bad ass using one of these. i promise.
- expensive upfront. the stainless steel safety razor will probably set you back about $20-$40 depending on what you buy. the merkurs are around $35. you can find razors on ebay though and clean them up. but, you’ll probably never have to buy a razor again.
- steep learning curve. compared to a cartridge, it will take some time to learn how to get a close shave with a safety razor. it isn’t very hard, but it is harder than a cartridge. it took me a couple weeks to get back to pro-glide closeness.
- easier to mutilate yourself. this ain’t no straight razor, there is a safety bar, but it is easier to cut yourself. however, if you know how to shave with a two or three blade without cutting yourself. you should be fine. i didn’t cut myself with it the first time.
- time. these do take longer to shave with. you must take a little more care when shaving, and do multiple “passes” to get a close shave. it takes me a little less than ten minutes to shave with a safety razor.
to help you understand which choice is right for you, consider the following analogy:
think of a cartridge razor like an automatic transmission. you pay a premium to have them in your car and you don’t have as much control over your drive. but, they’re easy to use, easy to learn, and convenient in heavy traffic.
a safety razor is like a manual transmission. they’re cheaper. you have more control over your drive. and you feel like a bad ass when you use one. but, they’re harder to use, harder to learn, and sometimes a hassle in stop and go traffic.
i think the analogy speaks for itself. personally, i am a manual transmission kind of guy. i am also a safety razor kind of guy. you just need to decide for yourself what kind of guy you are. whatever is more important to you in a razor is what you should buy.