Safety Razor vs. Cartridge Razor – What’s the Difference?

The safety razor vs cartridge razor comparison is one of the most popular and discussed topics in the world of shaving as both types of razors have a lot of different positives and unique characteristics. You have likely heard a lot of opinions on the subject but, hopefully, we’ll be able to shed some light on the whole debate for you and point you in the right direction for your particular needs and preferences.

So, what’s the difference between these two razor types? Are safety razors better or are cartridge razors the way to go?

What are safety razors?

Let’s start with the older and more traditional razor type – the safety razor. A lot of people nowadays don’t really know what to imagine when they hear about safety razors. In fact, it’s not uncommon for men and women alike to think about cartridge razors when they hear about safety razors.

Instead, safety razors are the old-fashioned razor handles that can house rectangular double-edged razor blades. The razor blades are inserted inside the razor’s head and can safely be used with little to no risk for your skin thanks to the protective guard on the razor’s head.

It is worth noting, however, that the protective guard on safety razors doesn’t guarantee 100% safety – it’s still very much possible to cut yourself with them if you’re not careful. In fact, ironically, a good shaving cartridge razor will, generally, be safer than a safety razor. The reason safety razors are called this way is that, at the time of their inception, they were the only alternative to straight razors and they are safer than those.

Still, this isn’t to say that safety razors are “hazardous” in any way – their protective guard does offer a lot of protection and if you get used to the razor and how it should be handled, you should have no trouble using it.

Pros of safety razors:

  • A good safety razor with a nice razor blade will offer a superior shaving experience to any disposable cartridge razor.
  • Over time safety razor become cost-effective as it’s cheaper to just buy new blades for a safety razor than it is to buy whole new disposable cartridge razors.
  • A safety razor can last for a very long time if it’s cleaned and maintained well enough. This means that it can even become a family heirloom passed from one generation to another.
  • Safety razor blades generally last longer as they are of a higher quality. And this is, indeed one of the main questions in the safety razor vs disposable razor debate – “How long do safety razor blades last?” Well, a lot of factors go into answering that question but a good quality safety razor blade will outlast most good quality cartridge razor blades.

Cons of safety razors:

  • Safety razors do have a learning curve and can be a bit “unsafe” until you get the hang of using them properly.
  • The initial investment with safety razors is higher than with cartridge razors as they are more expensive even though the blades themselves are cheaper and become more cost-effective over time.

What are cartridge razors?

Cartridge razors are the standard and disposable razors everyone nowadays knows and uses. They include several small and one-sided razor blades arranged one over the other with a thing guard above them. They are generally easy and safe to use, and they are also pretty cheap. These two reasons are more or less why they are so popular today. If you’re looking for something to use for a quick and easy shave, every convenience store out there sells cartridge razors.

Pros of cartridge razors:

  • Cartridge razors are cheaper than a whole new safety razor, which makes them a lower initial investment.
  • Disposable cartridge razors are also simpler and easier to use so they have virtually no learning curve.

Cons of cartridge razors:

  • While cheaper than safety razors, cartridge razors are more expensive than the safety razor blades themselves, making them a worse investment over time. If you calculate how often you change your disposable razor and how often you’d change a safety razor’s blade, you’ll likely find out that you’re losing a 4-digit sum of money over the years.
  • Even the best cartridge razor won’t give you as good and as clean of a shave as a good safety razor. Their blades are simply not good enough.
  • If you are even a little bit environmentally-friendly, you likely know that the disposable razor industry is quite massive and is producing enormous quantities of metal and plastic every year.

So, which is better?

To put the double edge razor vs cartridge razor debate to an end, our answer is that safety razors are categorically better in every metric that matters. For one, they give better, smoother, and closer shaves, which, at the end of the day, is the purpose of a razor. You may not want a perfectly close shave and that’s a fairly fashionable choice these days, but let’s not try and fool ourselves by claiming that cartridge razors’ poorer shaving capabilities are somehow a “strength” and a “positive”.

And then, there’s the economics of the matter – buying a whole new safety razor is not a cheap endeavor, yes, but it’s a once in a lifetime investment. When maintained well enough, a safety razor can last literally decades. And since safety razor blades both last longer and are cheaper to buy than disposable cartridge razors, they will soften the impact on your wallet very quickly and very drastically. Simply put, switching to a safety razor can save you over a thousand bucks over time, depending on how often you shave.

And then, there all the other factors that we touched on such as the memorabilia factor in favor of safety razors, the environmental argument, and so on.

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