Think Safety Razors are Overrated or Terrible? (Read This First)

Men across the world are beginning to realize the benefits of using the same kinds of safety razors their fathers and grandfathers learned to shave with. Much like vinyl albums, guys are learning that safety razors were superior to contemporary methods and what’s old is becoming new again.

Safety razors offer one of the smoothest, closest shaves possible and are better for both sensitive skin and thick hair than the more common cartridges or disposable razors. Safety razors are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and extremely hygienic. Some safety razors are even family heirlooms and vintage models are prized by collectors.

Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of safety razors and some reasons they might be right for you.

Why do some think that safety razors are overrated or terrible?

King Gillette patented the original safety razor to bring barbershop shaves safely, conveniently, and affordably into the home as an alternative to barber shaves or straight razors. Safety razors feature a sturdy handle that holds a single razor blade. Unlike straight razors, the blades were disposable instead of needing routine honing. Safety razors have remained available and relatively unaltered since their invention in 1901. 

These days, most men have never used a safety razor, but if you have ever been forced to request a courtesy razor from a hotel then you have probably had a bad shaving experience with a single-blade razor. 

Some of the common criticisms of safety razors are that they are:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to use
  • Complicated or time-consuming

Most men’s experiences with a single-blade razor come in either disposable razor or cartridge blade form and often leave the shaver with a lasting negative opinion and possibly scars. While the quality of cheap disposable razors is not really comparable to a fresh safety razor, the single blade can leave a lasting negative impression.

Let’s take a moment to examine some common misconceptions about safety razors.

Expensive

Expensive safety razors can be found in boutique shops and online retailers. The most expensive are often luxury or highly collectible vintage models, but they are not the standard.

Good quality razors can be found for less than $30 and replacement blades can be as cheap as $.10 each when bought in bulk.

Are you looking for a safety razor? Check out this resource with recommendations for razors at every price point!

Difficult to use

The first impression of most safety razors is often the heft. To untrained hands, the weight might feel a bit clunky. 

While safety razors are more weighty than the typical disposable razor, handles are available at a variety of weights. Once you find the one that’s right for you, you’ll find that all you need is a little bit of practice to perfect your method.

Time consuming

Most people associate safety razors with wet shaving which requires beating soap by hand until it’s foamy, meticulously brushing the lather onto the face, and slow passes of the razor to avoid cutting the face. 

If you’re in a hurry, a satisfactory job can be done with shaving cream and quick strokes going with the grain of the hair growth.

How could a safety razor be enjoyable?

Instead of rushing through your morning, taking the time to enjoy your shave can make this part of your routine as enjoyable and meditative as your cup of coffee.

Safety razors can give you one of the closest and comfortable shaves. They are also more environmentally friendly since the only waste produced is recyclable steel. By adopting some appropriate attitudes toward safety razors the entire process from shopping to shaving can be enjoyable.

Some things that men enjoy about using a safety razor include:

  • Shopping
  • Saving time 
  • Saving money
  • Saving face
  • Protecting sensitive skin

Shopping

When shopping for a safety razor remember to exercise consideration and weigh options and features seriously as they last a lifetime.

One of the first rites of passage for several men was learning to shave with their fathers. Lessons included working the perfect lather, controlling the razor, and putting the best faces forward. These lessons often traveled beyond the mirror and into drugstores where young men purchased their first razors and shaving kits.

Choosing the perfect razor was equated with finding the right partner that might be relied on for the rest of their lives. Safety razors were durable, easy to clean, and designed to last for generations

For decades, fathers would pass their shaving knowledge onto their sons. Coaching them carefully through their first blade strokes and showing them how to treat a nick. The ritual was akin to passing on morning meditation and self-care. 

It’s a truly masculine practice that has unfortunately become a lost art.

The time would inevitably come for boys to come to own their safety razors. For those that did not inherit a handle a trip to a store was required. Sometimes razors were the first purchases made from first-time wages. Boys could browse and grip several grips and weights until ultimately finding the perfect fit. The razors would be put to use for decades to come.

Is there demand for vintage razors?

Some models of razors became almost legendary and are still sought by collectors. Gillette razors with dialed handles are high in demand. Settings in the handle could be adjusted to change the distance between the safety bar and the blade. Much like the cutting deck of a lawnmower, this allowed men to choose close shaves or to maintain beards and mustaches.

The durability and ease of sanitization mean that safety razor handles found in antique shops, estate sales, and resale sites are still suitable for shaving. Understandably the use of an antique razor isn’t for every man but newly manufactured handles were once considered heirlooms.

Swing by an antique store and glance at the razors if they are available, look at the manufacturing dates, and admire the craftsmanship. Take a moment to consider the men who used them as some may have traveled the world in rucksacks as some models were standard issue military equipment in World War I.

The thought of using another man’s razor may seem dangerous or unsanitary, but it is perfectly safe after a thorough cleaning

Saves time

Certainly, the perfect shave could take up to an hour but a really good shave can be managed in only a few minutes.

Wet shave practices are proven a better overall shaving experience but they are not the only method. Safety razors can still be used with creams or gels as a part of a normal shaving routine. This makes safety razors a bit more travel-friendly since a counter full of accessories need not be packed.

Hot towels and brushed on warm lather will do more for the face and skin than many are aware. Brush application of lather means even distribution. Soap is spread beneath the whiskers creating some lift and reduction in friction. Not only is it beneficial to the skin but the process is extremely relaxing and zen-like. 

Properly cleansed and hydrated skin and softening facial hair with warm water are the only “musts” required for a decent shave. Safety razors and their replacement blades are precision-crafted that perform best when friction is as limited as possible and proper preparations have been made.

Store-bought cans of shaving cream are perfectly acceptable. Some may even have characteristics such as beard softeners that help speed up the shaving process.

There are some mornings with limited time and sacrifices must be made but foam will not ruin the stroke of any quality safety razor.

Check out this article for 8 tips for speeding up your shaving process!

Saves money

Safety razor shaving will begin with a nominal investment in the handle, but will actually save you money in the long run compared to contemporary razors.

Safety razor replacement blade prices range from $.10-.25 each. If you were to shave five days a week for one year and dispose of the blade after every shave, that would make mean the cost would only be between $26 and $65. 

There are luxury and vintage razors worth hundreds of dollars but some of the highest-rated models cost less than $30 on average. This may sound outrageous to some but, outside of an upgrade, there are few reasons that the handle would need to be replaced in a lifetime. 

Safety razor handles are constructed from various grades of steel and are designed to last for generations. Consider the price break down over thirty years compared to alternative shaving options. 

Saves your face

Safety razors are extremely hygienic.

Safety razors are easily disassembled and can be sanitized with minimal effort. A large portion of grime is removed as blades are replaced. Any residual detritus can be addressed with soap and water. And since blades are insanely affordable there is no reason to extend a blade beyond its usefulness. Pop in a fresh blade after each shave and the next shave session will be as smooth and clean as the first time.

A recent study used an electron microscope to observe the effects facial hair had on razors. Hair chips away at the steel leaving the blade more ragged after each shave. Raking residual shave gunk across the face with rough blades sounds less than sanitary yet we still convince ourselves we can get just one more shave before discarding blades. 

Replacing blades often is the first defense against forms of infection and potential cuts. Dulled blades will create excess friction and require the shaving hand to press harder than necessary to get the appropriate draw. 

Replacing a safety blade is quite safe also but caution must be exercised on the way they are discarded. Touching the edge of a razor is not enough to cut but the blades are more safely held on the sides. Make certain to understand how to load the head of your razor before attempting to position blades incorrectly. 

A small sharps box is a fantastic way to store used razors. It prevents accidental cuts while taking out the trash. It may also be a requirement for recycling in your area as a means to protect sanitation workers.

Better for sensitive skin

Razor rash and ingrown hairs are some of the worst side effects of shaving but safety razors can prevent both.

Safety razor shaving prevents ingrown hair, razor burn, and acne by not cutting so that stubble falls below the skin surface where infection may occur.

Safety razors along with a proper shave preparation ritual drastically reduce friction. A pass from a single blade has less drag than gel-coated cartridges as there are no additional blades to aggravate or inflame the skin by hysteresis. Those with thicker growth of coarse whiskers will see a marked improvement in shaving comfort as well as those with sensitive skin for the same reasons. 

Your first time using a safety razor may potentially lead to a few nicks until the proper technique is mastered. Irritation from safety razor shaving is quickly remedied by instant adjustments in pressure, angle, or shaving with the grain.