Cartridge Razors vs Safety Razors

Believe it or not, there’s a whole other world outside the Gillette razor section at the supermarket. And shaving doesn’t necessarily mean irritated skin, nicks, and bumps if you play your cards right. Rather it can be a satisfying routine that you look forward to! Wonder how it’s possible? Keep on reading! Whether you are a golden-ager or a millennial, your regular shaving regimen says a lot about you. For example, do you emphasize precision over comfort or do you prefer a quick shave over a close shave? While cartridge razors have been on the trend for quite some time, there is more than one way of shaving. Ever wondered how Al Pacino, Paul Newman rocked a clean-shaven face and the right amount of stubble back in the ’70s? Then maybe it’s time to wind back to the days where safety razors were still a thing. Buckle up because we are about to put cartridge razors and safety razors in a head-to-head challenge and finally tell you which razor is better and why!

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What is a Cartridge Razor?

Cartridge and Safety Razors

When you hear the word “razor”, it’s very probable that the picture popping up in your head is of a cartridge razor. They have become popular worldwide; not to mention, they run a monopoly on the men’s grooming industry for decades now! While it may be for all the good reasons, let’s delve deeper into the subject and answer your question “What is a cartridge razor and why should I use a cartridge razor?”

Keeping your facial hair in a certain way demands proper care. Guessing that you have already hopped on the bandwagon and use a Gillette Fusion like your peers, we’ll start with the components of a cartridge razor.

You might be interested in this: Beard Conditioner: What are the Benefits?

Parts of a Cartridge Razor

A cartridge razor has multiple blades placed on its head, a handle, and two lubricating bands at the two ends of the head for a comfortable shave. It may sport a sophisticated look or a plain look based on its focus and price. Different colors, sizes, blades, and designs fuel the growing customer base in the cartridge razor industry. Without further ado, let’s see which parts make up a cartridge razor and what their functions are!

Razor Blades

Some cartridge razors have as many as 7 blades for fast shaving. To be fairly honest, the number of blades does alter your shaving experience when you weigh in precision and risks of irritating your skin.

For men with sensitive skin, the fewer blades, the better. Because not only do cartridge razors pose a higher risk of ingrown hair but also the many blades profoundly contribute to razor burns and rashes. So, it’s best to keep the blade count up to 5. You can give the best-selling Schick Hydro Sense ago.

If you’re intrigued by more blades, you should know that while they cut down the shaving time, they cannot ensure a close-shave. Unless you are satisfied with a bit of stubble in two days after shaving, going for 7 blades is a no-no from us.

Razor Handle

Moving on to the handle, there are three things that you need to consider- weight, grip, and comfort. A little weighty handle encourages careful shaving and gives the right pressure for a salon-like style. The grip is important because working in wet conditions may cause your fingers to slip. Quality razor handles have an ergonomic design alongside a well-crafted build to ensure a hassle-free shave.

Razor Head

The razor head is the best place where there’s plenty of room for tinkering. For example, a swiveling razor head moves comfortably along the contours of your face and neck. The thing about cartridge razors is that the angle between the razor head and handle matters much when getting a good shave is involved.

A rigid joint means that shaving along the jawline may be tricky if you don’t have much experience. Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide is a good option for you because it has an easy-swivel head that helps you reach every curve- be it your face or body!

Most Gillette razors have a small trimming blade at the back for hard-to-reach places.

Pivoting side to side, front to back is a feature available on almost every top-notch cartridge razor out there. So, you’re likely never going to run out of options when you try out a different razor brand.

Lubrication Strip: Why is It Important?

Apart from releasing moisture to your skin for an optimal shave, a lubrication strip on a cartridge razor’s head serves another cool purpose. The fading of the strip indicates that the blades may no longer provide a good shave and that it is time to use a refill.

If you’re a fan of cartridge razors, going for all-around lubrication is your best bet. Even if you use shaving foam, gliding the blades over the same patch of skin wipes the foam away and exposes bare skin. Now, it’s both time-consuming and hectic to reapply foam if you have coarse hair and need more than one stroke. This is where lubrication strips come to your aid! They are made of Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs), water-soluble polymers that create a lubricating coat over your skin, and keep the razor head running smoothly. Fusion5 ProShield has lubrication strips before and after the blades. It is more effective in producing an irritation-free shave.

Cartridge Razors: Are Disposable Razors Bad?

Going for a removable razor head does save your money since you can keep the handle and buy a bulk pack of razor heads later on! But many of us prefer disposable razors instead. Well, are they any good? Let’s find out!

Disposable razors, once used with care, provide a good shave up to 10 times. But if you have coarse hair and quite a lot of it, your cartridge razor will help you out in no more than 3 to 4 times. Coming in an 8 count pack, Gillette Sensor3 cuts the deal at a good price.

How do you know it’s time to throw your disposable cartridge razor away? When the blades get dull, of course! The first sign would be drawing the razor over your prepped skin and seeing that almost no hair came out. Going over that area with the same blunt razor would mean dealing with a good lot of ingrown hairs and in a more unfortunate case, redness and irritated skin.

While you can rule these out thinking about the low cost, dumping plastic razors every two weeks is the last thing the environment will thank you for. If this is not how you plan on paying back Mother Nature, invest in a quality razor handle with a removable head; or better- switch to a safety razor. We’ll discuss safety razors in another section for your convenience.

Cartridge Razor: How to Shave with a Razor?

Cartridge and Safety Razors

If you are in your teen years or stepped into the twenties, nights of crossing your fingers and praying that you wake up with a Chris Hemsworth style beard have finally paid off. Congratulations, you have officially grown stubble and now it’s time to do something about it.

Firstly, wet the area you want to shave and dab some shaving foam on. The next step is to lather it up evenly across your skin and let it stay for 2 to 3 minutes. Before you jump into shaving, wet your razor in water to activate the lubrication strip.

One important thing to check beforehand is the direction your hair is growing. Hair in the same skin patch tends to grow in the same direction but you might want to observe and look out if the situation is otherwise. Always shave in the direction your hair grows because shaving in the opposite direction causes the new hair to have sharper tips and it increases the risk of ingrown hair. It can also result in half-shaved hair and going over them again with the razor may inflame your skin.

Your goal is to keep friction to a minimum. That’s why applying a proper amount of shaving foam will help glide the razor smoothly across your face and body.

Dip the razor in water after each stroke because the hair that came out tends to get stuck in between the blades. It not only jams the blades but also shaves with less accuracy.

Cartridge Razors: After-Shave Regimen

When you’re done, wash your face and put on some aftershave balm to cool your skin. Aftershave balms have moisturizing properties as well as antiseptic agents. They prevent infections in case you get cuts and help reduce skin irritation by acting as an astringent. Men with sensitive skin can greatly benefit from an aftershave balm or lotion that has witch hazel, aloe gel, etc.

Maintenance

Taking care of your cartridge razor is quite easy. Wash your razor in warm water after shaving. Keep it soaked in a mild alcohol solution for disinfecting the blades. Keep your razor in a well-ventilated dry place for optimum durability. Change the razor blades at the first sign of faded strips, wear or rust.

What is a Safety Razor?

Cartridge and Safety Razors

While safety razors and cartridge razors serve the same purpose which is to get rid of unwanted fuzz across your face and body, safety razors are more efficient in what they do. A safety razor has a single blade to handle the shaving. Not to mention, it skips the trailblazing appearance of cartridge razors. Rather it looks simple and gets down to business faster and more effective than other shaving options.

Coarse hair tends to budge less under the light cartridges and if this is a problem that you’ve been facing, a safety razor is the best for you!

Types of a Safety Razor

Safety razors come in various types such as single edge, double edge, butterfly, twist to open (TTO), adjustable safety razor, etc. Single edge safety razors have the simplest anatomy. The handle, the base, and the top make up a double edge safety razor.

Whichever type you decide on, swapping the blade is an easy task. The twist to open design or a two-piece razor is preferable for the newbies. The twisting mechanism disconnects the top part so that you can easily remove the old blade and insert a new one.

Their straightforward design makes them quite easy to look after and clean. Moreover, a quality razor will effortlessly last a lifetime when you invest in a good one. It’s only a small one-time cost because once you have a good razor handle, you most likely will never find yourself looking scruffy and browsing Amazon for razor deals in a long, long time.

How to Shave with a Safety Razor

If you have mastered shaving with cartridge razors, safety razors will not be a tough row to hoe. A weighty razor handle from Bevel, Vikings, or Qshave will give you a nice start. You need to prepare the skin with shaving foam as usual. Install a new blade into the top of your safety razor and start with short and straight strokes. Rinse well in between and try doing a single pass over a patch of your skin while holding your skin taut.  Maintaining a 30-45° angle ensures a close shave. Last but not the least; you must not hurry while shaving with a safety razor. Apply after-shave balm when you are finished and you’ll understand why safety razors are well ahead in the shaving game.

Why You Should Use a Safety Razor

Be it a two-piece razor or a double-edge razor, the fact that safety razors do not have a complicated razor head is the number one plus point, to begin with. Cleaning a cartridge razor is an annoying chore that we all dread. Not to mention, it is frustrating to clean the hard-to-reach places, especially in between the razors where hair gets stuck. It not only looks gross and gunky but also prevents the blades from shaving with precision. However, you face no such problems when you shave with a safety razor. It is both safe and economical.

We have listed below some of the reasons why you should give safety razors a shot!

Better Personal Hygiene

Let’s face it, after a short while, cartridge razors build up hair in between the blades and the back of the cartridge. It gets quite difficult to clean them completely. Not to mention, shaving our face next time with leftover hair from the previous shave is something yucky and we do not enjoy it. But using a safety razor means you get to maintain hygiene alongside a quality shave every time!

Cheap Blades

While you may think that changing razor blades more frequently in a safety razor is nothing but a downside, their blades are a lot cheaper than those exorbitant Gillette refills that we buy in every supermarket visit ever. A bulk pack of replacement blades will last a couple of months and they are the most affordable options.

Comparing the prices of the two types of blades will give you a better idea as to how unreasonably you are being charged for razor blades. They come to a lot cheaper in the safety razor option! For example, most packs of single blades intended for 9 to 12 months coverage retails at a price lower than 20 bucks on Amazon. Only 10 if the average quality is fine by you. On the other hand, an 8-pack cartridge refill costs just as much and usually more.  Even then the results can be underwhelming.

Zero Maintenance

Shaving with a safety razor means that you can brush off another tedious responsibility from your shoulders and stay relaxed. Most of us dislike shaving because it is time-consuming. Unless you are okay with flaunting a caveman style, you cannot give shaving a rest for the rest of your life.

As a cartridge razor user, you have to pay dearly if you don’t take care of the blades. But truth be told, high-maintenance requires time and we have better use of time other than cleaning the gunk out of our razor blades.

Luckily for safety razors, the blades are so cheap that dumping them after each use has no financial effect at all. Their three-part design makes it extremely convenient to disassemble and clean. Furthermore, it is better than throwing away the whole razor in the bin.

Excellent for Shaving Coarse Hair

Shaving coarse hair requires patience and it takes more time. So, you would like a good shave to last for a couple of days at least. But in reality, performing a close shave is no less than a Herculean task because some hair just doesn’t budge under the blades. As you already know, a safety razor has one blade. So, when you hold your skin taut and shave in the direction of your hair growth, all of the hair will come off pretty easily. You just need some shaving foam,  a safety razor and you’re good to go!

Better Control

The precision that a safety razor can offer you is unmatched. A cartridge razor even with its expensive easy-swivel head struggles to reach the same precision of an ordinary safety razor. The contours of your face, jawline, and neck are the places where you need to be more careful. The disadvantage of a cartridge razor lies in its wide head. It cannot provide a shave as close as a safety razor because a multitude of blades are involved. You enjoy better control over the whole shaving process with a safety razor because the blade count comes down to one. This way, it is easier to concentrate and you can keep your beard in the exact style you like without a fuss.

Less Skin Irritation

Apart from dealing with irritated skin, razor burns have a fair share in making your post-shaving time miserable. Razor burns mostly occur when you’re using cartridge razors with minimum lubrication. The blades create more friction than safety razors. As a result, the skin becomes red, inflamed, or itchy. Once you get familiar with the ways of a safety razor, you will notice that you get lesser and lesser skin irritation which, over time, will tone itself down to zero. You do not want to unleash a multi-blade razor on your sensitive skin. It only adds fuel to the fire. Thus, the single blade policy of safety razors truly makes a huge difference.


While both safety razors and cartridge razors are excellent options to keep in your shaving collection, safety razors stay undefeated when you consider price, comfort, hygiene, and control. Cartridge razors are undoubtedly fast when they are in optimum condition. But it does not mean that they are the best. In this article, we vouch for safety razors given their wide range of benefits. Give safety razors a try and we assure you, you’ll be over the moon next time you shave!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How to Prevent Razor Burn?

Ans: Apply a good amount of shaving foam, gel, or oil and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Wash the razor after every stroke. Avoid going over the same area more than twice. Hold your skin taut and shave in the direction of your hair growth.

  • How Often Should You Replace Razor Blades?

Ans: If you shave twice a week, consider changing your razor blades every 4 to 6 weeks. On the other hand, Shaving daily will require a change every two weeks. But if you’re working with a disposable razor, 5 to 7 shaves is the limit for the best results.

Using a safety razor will require a weekly blade change if you shave less than 3 days a week. However, if you shave every day or more than 3 days a week, replace the blade twice per week.

  • How Many Shaves Do You Get from a New Razor Blade?

Ans: For an easy close-shave, a brand new razor blade from a cartridge refill pack will last 5 to 10 shaves depending on the amount of hair on your face and body as well as the hair type. On the other hand, a single blade for safety razors won’t give more than two shaves.

  • How to Clean a Razor Blade?

Ans: Cleaning razor blades is a tricky one when a cartridge razor is involved. Place the razor under a strong stream of water from behind. Removing the blades from the razor head is possible, but do it carefully. Rinsing the razor in an antiseptic solution will flush out the gunk from the corners.

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