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Cartridge Razors, a Gimmick of the Present

by Zack Evar |  | 2 comments

Shaving Industry Tricks

Something that is much more imposed by marketing than necessity is the everyday cartridge razor, and for simple reasons; male grooming is big business. From the profit margin side of things, brand razor manufacturers would rather sell a cheaper product at greater frequency rather than a quality razor with little to no maintenance costs and/or the possibility of needing replacing. That is exactly what is happening right now in the world of facial hair. Movies and commercials make our shaving choices for us without even properly presenting us with the whole picture.

[caption id="attachment_2550" align="alignnone" width="1024"]preparing to shave Different methods of shaving.[/caption]

Having established the reason for its present popularity, the fact of the matter is that the cartridge razor falls short in comparison to both the straight razor and the safety razor. More blades, the main feature of the cartridge razor, means that multiple edges go over the same patch, only serving to irritate the skin. Further, cartridge razors are easily clogged with hair, dead skin, and grime. These issues are easily avoided with both of the two other types of razors. To add insult to injury, after a couple uses you will need to throw the cartridge away, and not just sharpen it or change its blade like the with the others.

Does Fear Stop You?

There is an intimidation factor where shaving is concerned and that is exactly where the smallest and the meekest of the razors dazzles us with its tiny promises of safety, and well, when your face is in question, nobody can say that safety is not a good option. Even so, when properly handled no one type of razor is necessarily more dangerous than the others, or for that matter, any safer either. In just as many cases, cartridge razors have been the cause for gashes, blood, and peeled skin.

In fact, out of the three, the cartridge razor can be more irritating than its scarier looking counterparts. To put it plainly, the nooks and crannies between the razors in a cartridge are a breeding ground for bacteria. These areas clog easily with 'shave gunk', and if not properly cleaned, reusing the same cartridge can be an irritating mess. Conversely, straight razors are super easy to clean and can be sharpened and honed to preserve their integrity. Similarly, safety razors use a disposable blade, so they can be tossed in the trash after one use (please guys, put them in a sharps tin to protect our sanitation workers).

Straight or Safety Razor?

When choosing between the straight and the safety razor though, some differences do exist, and not just in the way they look.

[caption id="attachment_2548" align="alignnone" width="667"]straight razor and strop for shaving Straight razor and strop[/caption]

To start with the straight razor - from an economic viewpoint, from the moment you buy it, your shaving experience will have virtually no additional costs ever again, apart from shaving cream and perhaps aftershave. It can also be maintained (or 'stropped') without even using any special equipment, all you need is an old pair of jeans or an old belt and you are set! Be careful because if you do not do it properly, you can cause irregularities in the blade which can cut you badly next time you use it. You can also find a local shop to sharpen and hone your blade from time to time, though with consistent stropping, you can keep your blade in order for months!

With all that said, the most attractive quality of the straight razor is the proficiency with which it executes its task, after all, anyone who has ever used it will tell you that nothing can possibly achieve that level of smoothness. Another perk, which is more of a double-edged sword really, is the time it takes for proper execution of such a shave. Not many people have the courage to rush across their face with a sharp blade, but if you find the time you just might learn to enjoy this somewhat manly meditative experience. Another bonus? Straight razors can cut through facial hair of any length with ease!

[caption id="attachment_2547" align="alignnone" width="1024"]safety razor for shaving Safety razor with disposable blade[/caption]

The safety razor is the slightly costlier version with its own advantages and disadvantages as well. For starters, it does not provide as close a shave as the straight razor, but it still goes leaps and bounds where minimizing irritation and maximizing smoothness is concerned, especially in comparison to cartridge razors. Then there is also the fact that apart from an initial investment, you will have to make more purchases in the future in the form of replacement blades. Don't fret, unlike the big bucks you shell out for cartridge replacements, safety razor blades can be purchased in bulk and normally cost no more than a few cents per blade.

In terms of difficulty of use, the technique is pretty straightforward, after a couple of shaves, it becomes just as natural as using a cartridge razor. It can also be done in a short amount of time, unlike the straight razor. Another huge convenience is that one to two passes is all you need for a close, clean ultimate shave and since it has only one blade, tiny little hairs can’t get stuck in between like it is the case with cartridge razors.

Gimmick of the Present

Lastly, the cartridge razor, even though inferior in almost every single way, that is not to say that it does not have its own advantages. The thing that keeps people going to it, apart from their televisions and billboards telling them to do so, is the simple truth that it's convenient for those quick 5-minute shaves. After a couple of which you just toss it and buy a new one.

There can be said that there is a price to pay for convenience, and in many cases ignorance. Many individuals, particularly young men, have never tried using anything but cartridge razors and there are various reasons for that. In some cases, it might be fear of a bigger blade, or just the fact that on first look a $10 cartridge razor looks cheaper than a $100 safety one, without even considering the life expectancy of the tool itself. Another draw is the thought that more blades are better than one, which is simply not the case.

Either way, people who have used nothing but cartridge razors don’t know what they are missing and should remedy their predicament post haste. For one thing, anyone can cheaply try out a safety razor by borrowing it from a friend or relative and just switching out the blades. This would be both a low-cost way to experience the bliss first-hand, as well as completely hygienic since the blade is the only part that gets dirty in the process.


razor type grid

The purpose of this brief article was to give out as much condensed information about razor types as possible, with the goal of possibly changing the reader’s shaving experience for the better, so good luck and thank you for reading!


Want more? Check our our guide to the perfect shave!

Comments (2)

  • Jenifa Lorens on January 14, 2020

    I’ll admit, I liked the concept. I almost always shave after a shower, but the possibility of getting a nice shave when I didn’t shower first sounded good.
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  • A. I. Liebson on July 16, 2018

    I highly recommend the Feather AS-D2 safety razor with Crystal blades and Cella shave cream (w/the brush)—the smoothest, most comfortable shave I’ve ever had (and I’m 60 years of age).

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