Cartridge Razor vs Safety Razor

Tips for choosing between a Cartridge Razor and a Safety Razor.

Have you ever considered the differences between a cartridge razor and a safety razor? We have, and here we summarise our findings:

Cartridge razor – the positives:

Man using a Bolin Webb razor, M Slowboy
  • Readily available blades
  • Simple shaving technique
  • A performance shave.

The higher price for blade cartridges can deter some users. That’s understandable. They are not cheap. But remember that you are buying a quality product with an extended blade life.

The success of cartridge razors comes down to the safe, convenient and performance shave they give.

Our verdict – top cartridge blade technology and ready access will meet the shaving needs of any modern gentleman

Double-edged safety razor – the positives:

  • More control over the closeness of your shave
  • Minimal blade costs

Connoisseurs of the shaving world will always advocate the benefits of a single blade for minimising skin irritation. Despite its name, the safety razor does have a high risk of cuts and nicks, and the shaving technique can be difficult to master at first. And looking for replacement blades can be tricky.

Our verdict – Smooth finish and fun to try, but be careful.

Some history

Developed by Gillette in the early 20th century, the safety razor was the practical replacement for the precarious straight razor – commonly referred to as the cutthroat razor. The razor is a simple design with three components, the top, base and handle, that when fastened together encases a single double edged razor blade.

The term safety refers to reduced risk of cutting your face when compared to the cutthroat. The safety razor still uses an exposed single blade and this means there is still a heightened chance of cutting yourself when compared to the relatively risk-free cartridge razor.

When mastered, the technique of using a safety razor will give a great shaving sensation, but this will take practice and you will need to allow more time to ensure an even shave free of cuts.

Going shopping


While safety razor blades are cost effective, they are not as widely adopted as cartridge razors. So they are not easy to find. Regardless of where you are in the world, you can almost guarantee that you will find a selection of recognised cartridge razors in your local pharmacy or supermarket.

Gillette for example has an estimated 750 million customers worldwide. The obvious benefit to owning a Gillette compatible handle, such as the R1 or X1, is the ability to buy replacement cartridges anywhere, whereas you may have to resort to ordering safety razor blades online. It is also worth noting cartridge blades can be taken as carry-on luggage. Safety razor blades cannot.

From a pricing point of view, while not as cheap as safety razor blades, a packet of four Mach 3 blades will cost approximately £9. Gillette maintain that each blade will last 15 shaves, meaning one pack can last many weeks. We recommend you change your blade when you sense the shave is becoming rougher or less comfortable.


Gillette blades include a section called microfins that sit in front of the blades. The role of the microfins is to flatten out the skin to create a smooth shave and avoid cuts to creases in your skin.

Behind the blades is a section Gillette refer to as a Lubrastrip – a lubrication strip. The Lubrastrip acts as a sponge, soaking up water as you shave which in turn keeps the skin hydrated and reduces friction. Providing the Lubrastrip isn’t worn, it will substantially minimise irritation and ensure a smooth shave.

The Bottom Line

A sharp, quality cartridge blade will provide a consistent clean shave adequate for your daily morning routine. We have always recommended the Gillette Mach 3 blade for those with sensitive skin looking for a clean shave with minimal irritation.