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Battle of the Razors Royale: Straight vs Cartridge

March 31, 2019 6 min read

Battle of the Razors Royale: Straight vs Cartridge

Naked Armor

When it comes to wet shaving, choosing the proper razor is half the fun of getting an easy, comfortable and close shave.

Published by Naked Armor

But with more cartridge-based designs coming out from razor companies-each purportedly better than the last-a newbie might be forgiven for becoming confused by all the marketing slogans being hyped out there.

So to put things in proper perspective, we’re going to list down the differences between the straight razor and these so-called revolutionary designed cartridge razors.

What is a Straight Razor?

But first, we need to define what a straight razor is.

Dear newbie, a straight razor is a single narrow blade used for shaving that folds into a handle when it isn’t used. You might have seen your grandfather use one, or if not, seen one at the local barbershop.

That’s because in olden times, only barbers were allowed to use these straight razors. There is a reason for that: back then, these were known as cut-throat razors and were used by the barber in his dual role as a surgeon and as a barber. One had to undergo training as a barber’s apprentice to use the razor.

Today’s straight razor, however, has fortunately become more streamlined and modern in design and temperament. And despite the fact that anyone can now use a straight razor, barbers still include a straight razor in their tool set and barbershops still carry on the tradition of wet shaving using a straight razor. That’s because nothing beats the versatility of a straight razor.

What is a Cartridge-type Razor?

Unlike a straight, the cartridge-type razor is a 20th century creation.

Developed in the 1960s, the cartridge razor was marketed as an improvement to the straight razor. Ergonomic in shape in both handle and head, this razor had usually more than one blade tucked into a pivoted cartridge. This design keeps the blades at a predetermined angle through the shaving motion. This makes for a convenient and easy shaving, as their marketing blurbs claim.

When the blades get dull, the cartridge head is removed and a fresh one is inserted. These days, razor companies try to outdo each other by raising the number of razor blades in a cartridge head. According to them, the more blades, the closer the shave.

Close Shaving with a Straight Razor

For straight razor users, however, a single blade is all one needs to get a close shave. In fact, they find the multi-blade design ridiculous and a transparent attempt for razor companies to dupe consumers into buying them.

When used by a skilled user, a straight razor’s single blade can efficiently cut hair closer to the skin than any multi-blade cartridge razor. And because there is only a single blade shaving the skin, it reduces the incidences of razor burn, a common type of skin irritation among those with sensitive skin.

For those with coarse and curly hair, using a straight razor will also reduce ingrown hairs or razor bumps. That’s because its single blade cleanly cuts the hair, with no second or third (or even fifth!) blade following up to cut the hair under the skin.

It’s also versatile, as proven in its use over the centuries. Whether for shaving the hair off one’s head as Egyptians used to do or trimming facial hair into fashionable styles, like the English gentry, a straight razor is the ultimate facial hair grooming accessory.

It’s environment friendly. Straight razors are made of durable steel blades and wooden handles. They’re not produced with a carbon footprint and they’re recyclable.

It’s also cost-efficient, despite the relatively expensive prices that a straight razor has these days. You’re better off plunking down hard-earned money for one single investment rather than spend years buying replacement blades. Straight razors are produced to last, often becoming heirlooms passed down from father to son. If it’s a high quality straight razor, it’s going to be more valuable over time.

The downside to a straight razor? It requires time and skill. And we don’t just mean the actual wet shaving process. Maintaining a straight razor requires honing and stropping of the blade. One needs to spend time learning how to do it properly and regularly so that the blade remains sharp.

For straight razor purists though, time is something they’re willing to spend just so they’re able to get the close shave that a straight razor can give. In fact, it’s the one thing that elevates the shaving routine into an art form and a masculine ritual. Having some “Me Time” shaving with a straight razor every morning does wonders for one’s outlook for the day.

Convenience of a Cartridge Razor

But for those who want to cut to the chase, a cartridge razor is pretty much their go-to option for wet shaving.

In fact, that’s how they are being marketed by razor companies. Cartridge razors give a quick and easy close shave comparable to a straight razor. Gillette calls this the “hysteresis process” where the multi-blade cartridge creates a comfortable and smooth shaving experience for the user.

Simply put, when the first blade in the cartridge cuts the hair, it also gently lifts it from the skin, enabling the next blade to cut it further down. As the hair strand is cut shorter, each succeeding blade comes closer to the skin, shaving the hair further down.

It’s a quick way to achieve a close shave, made more easier by the fact that it is designed without the user needing some skill to shave. It doesn’t even require maintenance; once the blades become dull, just replace the cartridge head with a new one.

The downsides? The more blades in a cartridge, the easier the blades get clogged. Not only is it unhygienic but it also increases the chances of razor bumps because the succession of blades can cut the hair under the skin. Instead of growing outward, the newly cut hair grows inward, resulting to bumps and a nasty case of skin irritation.

It’s also not as versatile as a straight razor. It’s hard to trim a beard style using a cartridge razor; the design alone won’t allow you to reach those parts on your face that need delicate and precise trimming.

It’s not environmentally friendly. Cartridge blades are made from plastic, metal, lubricating strips and rubber, which are not generally recycled. At last count, some two billion plastic razor blades are thrown into the landfill every year. Guess how’s that’s making an impact on our environment.

For straight razor purists though, time is something they’re willing to spend just so they’re able to get the close shave that a straight razor can give. In fact, it’s the one thing that elevates the shaving routine into an art form and a masculine ritual. Having some “Me Time” shaving with a straight razor every morning does wonders for one’s outlook for the day.

— Derek Dodds, Naked Armor Founder

Straight Razor vs Cartridge

So to sum it all up, we’ve listed down the differences between the two of them.

Straight Razor Cartridge Razor

Performance-wise: Gives a close shave, with less razor burn and nicks

Downside: Requires skill

Performance-wise: Gives a close shave, and doesn’t require skill.

Downside: Will irritate sensitive skin

Single blade allows you versatility for shaving and trimming

Multi-blades clog up quickly, and won’t be useful for trimming awesome beard styles

Maintenance is a drag; need to strop and hone it regularly

No need for maintenance: swipe in for a new cartridge when blades get dull

Environment friendly; metal and wood are recyclable and durable

Not usually environment friendly: cartridges are plastic which contribute to plastic pollution

High-priced, one shot investment but worth it because of its durability

Relatively inexpensive; but constant cartridge replacement may lead to longer long term costs.

Needs more time

Quick and easy

Ultimately, though, it’s all a matter of your preference, newbie. Nothing beats using a cartridge razor for that first experience in shaving. However, as you adopt a regular shaving routine throughout the years, your shaving needs will also change. You will need a more versatile tool than a cartridge razor.

Here at Naked Armor, we have a fine selection of straight razors that’s guaranteed to make your shaving experience, not only easy and comfortable, but also luxurious.

Our razors are made with high-grade quality Japanese steel, with durable wooden handles sourced from sandalwood, one of the world’s most valuable timbers.

Our Spartacus Sandalwood Safety Razor Kit features a durable sandalwood handle + stainless steel accented end caps for the perfect face-to-shave ratio and balance. Meanwhile, the Solomon Straight Razor, with its hardness rating of 61-65 HRC, is designed to be a hybrid of a full hollow and a half hollow, to make sure that we capture all the best aspects of razor shaving.

If you’re looking for a kit that gives you all the shaving essentials that you will need, then click Add to Cart to get started on your wet shaving experience.

 

Other Shaving Stuff You Might Want to Read

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