Battle: Straight vs. Safety vs. Cartridge
Tom is back with some more in-depth analysis, this time focusing on the pros and cons of straight, safety, and cartridge razors.
Right off the bat I would like to issue the gripe that I have with shaving. I have been blessed with the dense fur of my Nordic ancestors and the sensitive skin of a sunburned naked mole rat. This has made for a history of less than pleasant shaving. At this point in my life I have tried many shaving options and have decided what works best for me.
I started shaving with my dad’s hand me down electric razor. However as testosterone ambushed my system in high school, this electric razor soon could not keep up with my rapidly thickening facial pelt. I soon moved on to a traditional cartridge razor. This fine two blade design was excellent at removing more hair than my electric razor in addition to enough skin to make my face turn bright red and sting like I had just motor boated a jelly fish.
As I was feeling quite advanced, I quickly moved from my 2 blade cartridge razor, up to a 4 blade model. Anyone who has used a 4 bladed cartridge razor knows just how close together those razors are. Consequently if I went more than 2 days without shaving, the razor would clog up worse than Elvis’s arteries (too soon?). I considered it normal to include a spare toothbrush with my shave kit to scrub out the clogged hair from my razor.
During this time I had my first major epiphany that I was doing it wrong. This came in the form of my first wet shave set. While my 4 bladed wonder still clogged if I skipped a day of shaving, shaving every day all of a sudden did not seem quite as bad.
If I had gone this long without being aware of the benefits of a wet shave, I wondered what else I was missing. At this point I looked around to try out other options that would improve my shave. It was during this time of personal discovery that I tried out other cartridge razors, a safety razor, and a straight edge razor. Each had strengths, but in the end I embraced my inner yuppie and ended up right back with a cartridge razor.
I have to admit, I felt pretty awesome shaving with a straight edge razor. The fact that my significant other could not even watch me because she thought I was going to hurt myself was pretty cool too. However, truth be told, I am a chicken and figured that I was going to cut myself too. Every stroke had to be smooth and deliberate, as a result there was no way that I could ever shave this way in a hurry. I acknowledge that I am very incompetent at shaving in this manner, however I was never able to get my shaving angle just right, so I either shaved too close, making my face sting like hell, or not close enough, leaving my face feeling like a fresh sheet 60 grit sand paper. That being said, I have the utmost respect for the straight edge razor and those who can shave well with it. Shaving with a straight razor is not a chore, it is an art, and even though it is not my daily shave, I will still work on perfecting my art as often as I can.
While the safety razor was definitely quicker than the straight edge and over the long run cheaper than a cartridge razor it still left my face feeling rougher than I would like. Not as bad as the 60 grit coarse sand paper from the straight edge in my clumsy paws, closer to a 100 grit fine. Good enough to be presentable, but with a low spousal acceptance factor because by the end of the day my neck is rough enough to destroy the fabric on the collar of any shirt. That being said, the safety razor left my face nowhere near as irritated as either the cartridge or the straight edge razor. If my skin was more sensitive than it is, or if my wife was more accepting of a little stubble at the end of the day, the safety razor would be my blade.
This brings me back to the lowly cartridge razor, with one minor change that made all the difference. Three blades instead of four. I have ended up settling with a Mach 3 for daily use. It is enough closer of a shave than the other two that I can shave half as often and have similar results. The blades are far enough apart that it does not clog nearly as much as my standard 4 blade option. In addition, using this razor as part of a wet shave leaves my face much less irritated than any of the cartridge razors I have tried.
Don’t worry; I still have my safety and straight edge razors just in case there is a chance that someone sees me shaving… I have to maintain my masculine façade after all. Plus the straight edge is great when I need to remove more than a week’s worth of fur from my face. But for the 99% of mornings when I am in a hurry and no one is around to judge… I will be grabbing my cartridge razor.