Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors: Unravelling the debate

Safety razors vs cartridge razors; it’s an age-old debate, but which is really best?

A quick search of the web and you’ll soon be bombarded with web pages preaching the benefits of the safety razor, with entire sites and blogs dedicated to the old school shaving method.

But if this really is the case then why do cartridge razors remain the most popular choice? Are we really missing a trick by not using a safety razor?

We’ve decided to investigate...

What are safety razors?

A safety razor, also known as a double-edged (DE) razor is a traditional shaving tool that was around before the days of the multi-blade cartridge razors that most of us are familiar with today.

Safety razors vs Cartridge razors

First coming about in the 1800’s, safety razors got their name as a less sinister, and more user-friendly alternative to the traditional cut-throat razors used in barber shops.

Put simply, a safety razor is essentially a single razor blade on a handle, usually with a protective barrier or “comb”. This limits how much of the blade can touch the skin, preventing any Sweeney Todd incidents.

What are cartridge razors?

Cartridge razors probably don’t need too much explanation. They’re your standard, modern razor, with multiple blades stacked on top of each other at an angle.

Safety razors vs cartridge razors

The multi-blade system uses a “lift and cut technique” which delivers a close result with minimal passes of the razor. 

Cartridge razors were developed in the 1960's, as a more convenient and (slightly ironically) safer alternative to the safety razor. By the end of the 1970's, multi-blade cartridge razors with pivoting heads were introduced.  This was a revolutionary time in the world of shaving, meaning a smooth, close shave could be achieved with very minimal effort.

Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors: Cost

Amongst some slightly more dubious claims, like “using a safety razor makes you more of a man” *eye roll*, one of the more valid arguments for using safety razors over cartridge razors is the overall cost.

In the debate of safety razors vs cartridge razors, it’s often the main point that crops up, and you know what, we can’t contend; refill cartridges for safety razors are cheaper.

That being said, we’re all very aware that the big razor companies like to have our pants down when it comes to the price of replacement blades. The good news is it’s 2017, and we no longer live in a time where we’re forced to buy extortionately priced razor cartridges from the same two companies - there are plenty of other options!

Our razor blades start from just £1.50/cartridge, and are designed to last at least around 7 shaves, so you certainly won't be breaking the bank.

Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors: Shave performance

When it comes to the shave itself, many safety razor fans argue that they triumph over cartridge razors, as they’re less likely to cause irritation.

On paper, this makes sense; the single, super sharp blade should give a clean cut, with total control over how low down the hair follicle you go.

Whilst the cartridge razor’s “lift and cut” feature provides a close result, it can pose a risk of post-shave irritation and razor burn. This is because the follicles are sometimes cut too far down, which can cause them difficulty in growing back through the skin.

There is a problem though… despite the name, safety razors aren’t the most “user friendly” of devices, in fact, they can be rather unforgiving.

The prime angle for shaving is around 30 degrees. With cartridge razors, the blades have been specifically placed at this angle, taking out the legwork and minimizing the risk of cuts.

Safety razors, on the other hand, leave the angle down to you. There’s minimal margin for error, so your technique needs to be bang on. Get it wrong, and it’s likely to result in a bloodbath.

Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors: Convenience

Now there’s no denying that safety razors can produce excellent results, however, it is worth bearing in mind that achieving this does take a fair bit of time and effort.

Cartridge razors are designed to give a super-close result with the first pass of the blades, which, although can sometimes cause irritation if you have sensitive skin or the blades aren’t fresh, it does mean that you can be in and out the bathroom pretty quickly.

Safety razors on the other hand usually require multiple, short passes. There isn’t a pivot on the head so your hand will need to do the work in that department, and as we mentioned before, it’s super easy to nick yourself if you don’t get the technique just right.

Of course the more practice you have the quicker and easier it will become, but all in all you can expect to spend significantly longer in the bathroom if you do opt for a safety razor over a cartridge razor.

Safety Razors vs Cartridge Razors: The verdict

So which is really best? Well, to be honest, it’s pretty much down to personal preference.

Here at grüum, we like to keep things as simple as possible, so to us, the convenience aspect of cartridge razors in comparison to safety razors makes them a winner in our books.

Many of the problems in regards to post-shave irritation from cartridge razors can be resolved by making some small changes to your routine. Changing your blade regularly is a big one, as is rinsing in between strokes. It could even be down to using the wrong products for your skin.

Realistically, if you find shaving a chore as it is, then safety razors probably aren’t the best option for you. If you’re really into your shaving, or super keen to save some money, and don’t mind investing your time into learning a new skill, then, by all means, give safety razors a whirl. Similarly, if you’ve exhausted all other options, and you’re still suffering from regular post-shave irritation, then safety razors might be your saving grace. Just make sure you’re prepared to put in the time and effort required!