Safety Razors vs Disposable Razors
Safety Razors? Why would anyone ever use these, if there are convenient and cheap cartridge razors with so many blades and a vibrating motor giving you the best shave in human history?
In a nutshell, because the disposable plastic razors offer a worse shave, cause more irritation to your skin, are an environmental disaster and, hold on to your seats, are actually worse for your wallet on the long run.
You probably ask yourself now how that is possible, because all the disposable razor companies tell you that their products are the best ones ever. Let me introduce you to the discussion: cartridge razors versus safety razors.
The history of shaving
First, let me give you some background info about shaving before we dive deep into the discussion.
From humble beginnings
Mankind started shaving since the dawn of time. Why we used to shave 30,000 years ago is not very well known, but it is proven that we did. Unfortunately, humankind did not invent well-designed razors yet, so seashells were used, or the hair was plucked out by hand. The first razors were invented around 3,000 BC in India and Egypt.
Afterwards, the perception of facial hair throughout history was widely determined by religion, culture, convenience in war, simple preference and rulers or role models.
Thus, beards went in and out of fashion numerous times. For example, the Romans mostly had cleanly shaved faces and only let them grow in times of mourning. The Greeks on the other hand did it the other way around. They only cut their beard of when grieving.
The perception of facial hair was strongly determined by the current leaders or other important figures of the time. From Alexander the Great to the Beatles: if you like to know if a certain society wore beards, look at the important cultural figures of history.
The safety razor revolution
What did not change until the late 19th century was the way men shaved. The traditional throat cutting razor was the only way to get rid of facial hair. Until 1880. Then the brothers Kampfe revolutionised shaving and introduced the first prototype of a safety razor.
Welcome on the stage: King Camp Gillette. Yes, he’s the founder of the Gillette company we all know today. He already set the philosophy of the company back in the day: disposability. The American salesman invented the modern safety razor with disposable blades.
Since then, those were the shaving equipment of choice for most men in the Western world. Until plastic razors were introduced in the 1980s. An “amazing” invention: worse quality of shaving, higher prices and contributing strongly to plastic pollution. Obviously, everyone was using it since then.
The marketing scheme behind cartridge razors was so effective, it got its own name: The razor and blades business model. The idea behind it is to get a reliable income by locking the customer into a recurring purchase. Companies sell the razor handles for next to nothing and make a loss from them. However, the replacement blades are sold expensively, with which the company makes a big profit. This business model made shaving the multi-billion-dollar business it is now. The lucrative model is now used in many other businesses, playing a big role in the throw-away society.
The inventiveness with the throw-away shavers was never seen before: More and more blades were added to the razor and an improved shave was promised. Even though every good barber will tell you that fewer blades mean less irritation.
Today, shaving is a billion-dollar business. Companies are making all this money with expensive replacements for your cartridge razor.
Safety Razor vs Cartridge Razor
Why would you use a disposable plastic razor? Well, they are cheaper in the first purchase and offer a more convenient and quicker shave.
So, if you don’t have time to shave, this option might be the one for you. Or just let it grow.
Safety razors on the other hand offer quite some advantages:
A close shave
First, they enable a closer shave. Only one blade, literally razor-sharp, cuts your hair. The blade is made of superior stainless steel which can be thinner (and thus sharper) than the disposable counterparts. But you will have to learn the proper technique. Don’t worry though, we got you covered on this.
This also allows you to cut your hair with less pressure in fewer strokes. The more often a blade goes over your skin, the more irritation you feel, as it shreds a bit of your skin. So you rather want to be gentle.
Saving money with style
The traditional razors save you a lot of money on the long term. If you take proper care of it, it will be the last razor you buy. And the blades are also way cheaper on the long run. The best ones cost less than a Euro per blade. Not even close to the astronomical prices for replacement blades for a plastic razor.
They also look way better in your bathroom and it just feels more like a proper shave as it is supposed to be. You realise quickly that it’s the way everyone should shave.
The environmental impact
Last, but certainly not least, safety razors are much more environmentally friendly. Made out of stainless steel with a bamboo coating, they are consciously designed to last a lifetime. Disposable razors on the other hand are made of cheap plastic, which takes several centuries to decompose. Humankind created a legacy of plastic in the ocean, it is your choice if you want to contribute to it.
If you want it quick and dirty, go for the disposables. For everyone else: the safety razor is the way to go.