Safety Razor Vs Straight Razor Vs Cartridge Razor: A Close Comparison

It is a hard choice to make, as each of them is suitable for different people with different uses.

So, what to do if you are spoilt for choice?

In this article, we will analyze these three kinds of razors in detail, and in the end, there is a comparison between them on different aspects.

Let’s get started!

Overview of Safety Razor, Straight Razor & Cartridge Razor

About Safety Razor

A first-class safety razor
A first-class safety razor

A safety razor, or double-edge razor, is a shaving tool with a protective device below the blade. 

The protective device is a safety bar (some may call it “a comb”), which helps flatten and tighten the skin.

Thanks to it, the shaving implement does not need many shaving skills to use and reduces the chance of getting injured. Thus, users can shave on their own and will no longer rely on professional barbers.

Lee's Razors
Lee's Razors

However, after using it four to five times, the blade is blunt, and you can not sharpen it but substitute for a new one. 

At that time, you can not just simply throw the old one into the trash, as it has already been contaminated litter with skin residue. It will create a hazard to waste workers.

Therefore, although a double-edge safety razor provides a smooth shave at an affordable price, it was only popular for a few decades. After the introduction of cartridge razors, people no longer fancy safety razors.


  • Include a protective device 
  • Initial cost less
  • Give a closer shave
  • Change a new blade with ease
  • Require no intricate shaving techniques


  • Difficult to dispose of after use
  • Need changing the blade frequently
  • Take much effort to style the beard

About Straight Razor

A classic open razor
A classic open razor

A straight razor, also known as an open razor or a cut-throat razor, has an age-old history. It was first used in the 18th century and was favored by classic men.

A straight razor can be used for generations if kept in good conditions. What’s more, open razors often come with a three-inch blade, which means fewer strokes during your shaving time.

Not just that, the razor blade and how to hold it make things easier to line up and style your beard because you can adjust the force and the angle to form your desired beard shape.

The straight razor is a time-honored shaving tool with the ability to create different styles of beard. However, an open razor requires a lot of skillful techniques.

Additionally, despite its affordable initial cost, the required maintenance is quite higher than the others. Besides, though its blade could last forever, it requires you to meticulously sharpen and hone periodically. Otherwise, you have to change a new blade quite often.

Because of all those drawbacks, after the introduction of safety razors and cartridges, we only see those razors in professionals’ houses and in barbershops.


  • A razor of a lifetime
  • Remarkable ability of styling beard
  • Cause less irritation


  • Take pretty times to be master
  • Need maintenance periodically
  • Require dexterous skills and time 

About Cartridge Razor

A cartridge and its several blades
A cartridge and its several blades

Cartridge razors, first developed in the 60s of the 20th century, are the most common shaving implement nowadays.

A cartridge razor and a safety razor share a similar concept. However, while a double-edge safety razor can only disassemble its blade, you can remove the cartridge’s entire head and replace it with another one.

Different from others, the cartridge razor provides a pivoting head of multiple blades, which will be best for people who put up with their coarse and dull beards.

Compared to the others, cartridges are your companion when traveling because they can be carried in your bags during the flight. But to be safe, you should securely wrap them up. 

Despite being a convenient and fast shaving method, a cartridge has some drawbacks. Due to its multiple razor blades, users often suffer from skin irritation and difficulties in hair removal from the tool.

It’s also not an environmentally-friendly product. The razor’s head is made of plastic. Therefore, it’s no good for the environment that the head has to be discarded because it becomes dull and rusty. 


  • Suitable for coarse and dull beard
  • Ideal for simple and efficient men
  • Pivoting and easy-to-change head
  • Lower initial investment
  • Can go with you on a plane


  • Not an environmentally-friendly product
  • Skin irritation
  • Difficult to cleanse the blades after use 

What Are The Differences Between Safety Razor And Straight Razor And Cartridge Razor?


The design of the three is different from each other, which gives you different forms of shaving.

The simplest one is the straight razor, a foldable handle with a blade sticking on one end of it.

The foldable design
The foldable design

With such an uncomplicated design, the razor needs no replacement during its lifespan, but a few times of sharpening the blade.

The others are a bit more sophisticated than the open razor. They have a handle, a blade, and a head. Even though both of them have a similar number of parts, their parts’ designs are not alike.

A safety razor and a cartridge
A safety razor and a cartridge

Both safety and cartridge razors share quite the same design: a T-shape design with a horizontal blade and a handle engraved with some knurl along its body. However, that is the end of their similarity.

While a safety razor has a 100% metal handle and only one blade with only two edges, a cartridge’s blade is usually two to seven blades adjoining each other. And its handle is a combination between metal (or plastic) and rubber.


Either a safety razor or straight razor is for facial hair only.

Shaving for facial hair
Shaving for facial hair

On the other hand, you can use a cartridge to shave both facial hair and other body parts like legs or arms.

That is because the pivoting head of the cartridge razor is much easier to control, which decreases the likelihood of getting injured.

Razor blade

In terms of the razor blade, from the oldest to the most recent razors, they have different blade systems.

Straight razor

The cutting blade of a straight razor can be a traditional one or a shavette. The traditional system is a single blade made of solid metal requiring regular hone and maintenance. 

A honed and stropped blade
A honed and stropped blade

A shavette, also called an injectable blade, is half of a razor blade attached to the straight razor by a two-pin design. With this system, you can try out many shapes and sizes of a cutting blade and decide which one suits you best.

A shavette
A shavette

In other words, a shavette is an additional shaving device apart from the traditional blade.

Safety razor

The double-edge razor’s blade is quite simple and easy to replace. It has a universal fitting that lets you test several types of brands.

The universal fitting
The universal fitting

The reason behind the name “safety razor” is that the cutting system is much safer than its previous generation. Not only does the razor have two side cutting edges, but it also has a safety bar to flatten the hair.

A safety bar under the blade
A safety bar under the blade

Cartridge razor

The other competitor in this debate is the cartridge’s multiple blades (from two to seven cutting edges).

The concept is that the more blades it has, the less your skin will bulge during shaving, giving you a comfortable and close shave.

A set of five cutting blades
A set of five cutting blades

This system also has some cons because a closer shave sometimes causes bumps or irritation on your skin.

Another cons is the type of changing blades. 

It’s convenient that cartridge razors have “easy-to-change heads”. However, depending on which cartridge’s brand you have chosen, you will have to use their razor blades. 

It is an extremely unwise choice to use other brands’ blades since the different fitting joints between the handle and the head will make you feel uncomfortable when shaving.

Cutting angle

When it comes to cutting angles, the three razors quite resemble one another. The ideal angle of the razor and the shaving area (specifically, your face skin) is about 30 to 45 degrees.

If the angle is too open, whether you are good at shaving or not, you still get some cuts or burns.

Should the angle be less than 30 degrees, you may not remove all of the hair.

When shaving with a safety razor, besides the help of the safety bar, a 30-degree angle should be the proper angle of cutting will provide a smooth and effortless shave.

For Safety Razor
For Safety Razor

Things are slightly different with a straight razor. While the angle between the blade and your skin is approximately 30 degrees, the way of holding the tool is not the same. It is suggested to turn the blade horizontally.

For Straight Razor
For Straight Razor

For cartridge razors, the set of blades always tilt to 30 to 45 degrees, so it is unnecessary to notice the blades’ direction. Make sure that every blade of the cartridge faces your skin.

For Cartridge Razors
For Cartridge Razors

Ease of use

Of the three razors, the straight razor may be the most hard-to-use implement. You have to be skillful and careful when wet shaving because it needs lots of techniques and practice.

Not just that, it has no comb or safety bar going with the tool, so adjusting the angle and controlling the pressure are big problems. With a small error, your skin may get nicks and cuts.

Safety razors and cartridges are much safer than that.

The double-edge safety razor has a comb under the blade, so you will find shaving effortless. As a result, the chance of getting yourself hurt decreases.

Unlike safety razors, cartridges have a lubricating strip below the blades. It will ease the skin immediately after shaving, partly reducing the irritation when the work is done.

A lubricating strip below the cutting system
A lubricating strip below the cutting system

The multiple blades system greatly impacts the process, as it helps remove all of the remaining hair more quickly.

The cartridge’s head is pivotable, making things easier for users; thus, the tool is always at the appropriate angle for shaving.

Shaving quality

Like time requirements, shaving results rely on experience and the tool. They can deliver the same quality after shaving if you are an expert.

But if you are not, the results are incredibly different.


When it comes to style your beard, a safety razor or a cartridge razor can only provide smooth and flat facial skin. They can not give a smooth and close shaving line.

The straight razor, on the other hand, can solve this problem well. It offer an ultimately close shave that will stay smoother longer in a face. 


Compared to a double-edge safety razor and a straight razor, the cartridge with its blades may irritate sensitive skin. Though including a lubricating strip, the risk of getting a razor burn is still high.

Suffering from razor burns 
Suffering from razor burns

Straight razors may not cause much irritation to your skin, but on an unprofessional hand, the tool can give you some small wounds.

Creating less burn and fewer cuts on your face, a safety razor is the ideal shaving implement if you seek a safe but still smooth shave.

Learning curve

Most primitive of them all, the straight razor requires at least one month to get the skill needed. It is difficult to adjust to the proper angle and the pressure not to cut your face.

With a slight difference in the design, the safety razor needs less time to master, regularly about nearly two weeks. 

From the two razors, there are two difficulties you usually get into when learning how to use them: angle and pressure.

But the cartridge’s improvement makes things easier. By being equipped with a pivoting head, the cartridge has solved the problem of correcting the angle. And thanks to the placement of the blades, you will remove your hair by applying a little pressure.

In general, learning how to use a cartridge razor takes one to two days on average.

Time requirement

Time requirement depends largely on your shaving experience.

If you are a professional, here is the time needed for each tool:

  • Straight razor: About 12 to 15 minutes
  • Safety razor: Approximately 5 to 7 minutes
  • Cartridge razor: Nearly 5 minutes

Yet, only people who are in a hurry notice the time. Shaving may sometimes be a way of relaxation during the shower for some.


When purchasing a shaving implement, you should consider the price influenced by the handle, cutting system, and maintenance.

Among the three, the cartridge’s plastic handle is the most affordable. And the open razor’s handle is the most expensive.

Not only does the handle boost the open razor’s price, but its blade also plays the role as it needs special care after every use.

Since a safety razor’s blade can be changed easily with any cutting blade, it takes you no additional maintenance cost. And the price of a disposable blade is affordable.

Shaving with a cartridge requires a much lower initial cost, but the long-term expenses are huge. Its blades always come with the plastic head, so unintentionally, you have to pay for the razor’s head many times.

Because of the plastic head, which damages the environment, you also have to pay a considerably hidden cost per year.

Which Razor Is For You, A Safety Razor, A Straight Razor, Or A Cartridge?

From our experience, although a straight razor may bring you the old-fashion feel, it is quite dangerous and takes much time to learn. So, it is not a great option for your beard.

A cartridge is famous for its convenience and less learning time. But it causes serious damage to your skin, and long-term costs are more than the double-edged one.

All in all, a safety razor is a way to go, owing to the reasonable price per year and the comfort after shaving. It has some drawbacks, like the learning curve takes time or it takes a bit of effort to pivot the head.

But you can solve the problem in no time.

Sum Up

And that is the result of the debate: “Safety razor vs straight razor vs cartridge”. Shaving with a safety razor is an effort that takes time to get used to. But if you see it as a five-minute fine art rather than a daily task, shaving is a way of relaxation.

Thank you for reading our article.

Lee Cantor

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

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