You may recall from my previous article, “An Introduction To Tradional Wet Shaving”, that over the past two months I’ve become a wet shaving convert. It’s been somewhat of a steep learning curve, but a decision I haven’t regretted in the slightest.

So why should you throw away your multi-bladed cartridge razor, with its billion dollar R&D, and go back to using technology that’s nearly a hundred years old? Read on and I’ll give you several very good reasons why…

1) It’s significantly cheaper

And I’m not talking a couple of bucks cheaper, either. I’m talking significant long term savings!

“Erm… Aren’t you forgetting the cost of the double-edged razors – you don’t get much change from a twenty for those!”

I’ll readily admit that your initial outlay can be higher. I, personally, spent as little as possible – I’ve been duped by “shaving systems” in the past, and I wasn’t going to drop a fortune on something that didn’t work. The total price for razor, soap, brush and five replacement blades? The same as a dozen replacement cartridges for my old razor (and you really don’t want me to tell you the mark-up they charge on those things!)

Let’s take a look at the long term savings after your initial investment; prices here are quoted in GBP, though I imagine it’d be roughly the same in other countries. I’m using what I’ve found in my limited experience as a template, but still I think this demonstrates my point…

Before: £58.70 per annum
After: £22.50 per annum

That’s a yearly saving of £36.20 on blades and shaving foam alone! Plus, those are the figures using my ‘shoppers savvy’. Had I been paying recommended retail price for the items (many people still do), the savings would’ve been even higher!

2) It reduces the risk of in-growing hairs

Modern tri-bladed cartridge razors use a process called hysteresis. The first blade pulls the hair, while the subsequent blades cut; this means the follicle is left to retract beneath the surface of the skin afterwards, leaving you with a satin-smooth face. It’s a great idea that genuinely works, and one that led to the ubiquity of tripled-bladed razors.

However, the retraction at the root means your follicle has to emerge from under the skin again and, if your facial hair is anything like mine, it’s not guaranteed to take the same path the second time around.

This means you’re more susceptible to in-growing hairs, which in turn means you’re more likely to suffer irritation. If you find you’re suffering terribly from in-grown hairs then I ask you to switch today. In the past two months my in-growing hair rate has gone from several every week to one. Yes, just one solitary in-grown hair in the past eight weeks!

3) It’s not as difficult to do as you might think

If you take one look at that uncovered blade and wince then you’re one healthy, sane individual; you’re scraping away at your delicate skin with two exposed sharp-edged surfaces designed to cut, cut, cut!

Don’t worry though; millions of men around the globe use a double-edged safety razor every day without decapitation. You’ll probably find the adjustment period tricky, and experience a few nicks, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to pick up the new method.

Plus, there’s plenty of help at hand. Not only are there a range of great videos on YouTube to watch and fantastic books available to teach you about the subject, there’s also plenty of dedicated forums and lengthy tutorials posts explaining how to do everything.

4) Consider the environmental impact

I’m hardly what you’d call an environmentalist’s dream. In fact, I’m dubious about much of the anthropogenic hustle we’ve experienced in recent years. I don’t see how me recycling a newspaper once a week is going to prevent multi-national corporations from churning out hundreds of gallons of toxic irritants into the ocean every day. Anyhow…

Think about how much of your current disposable is made of non-recyclable materials. I’m guessing virtually all of it. My old system was more plastic and rubber than it was metal.

Double-edged razor blades are simply pieces of pressed metal. When you’re done with the blade, simply store it in a small sealed tin. Then, when it’s full, drop it off at a recycling centre that accepts old blades. Congratulations – now you can feel a sense of planet-saving self-righteousness that can only be offset with the environmental damage caused by eating a tin of imported lima beans. Speaking of environmental damage…

5) It’s better for you.

Take a peek at the cavalcade of ingredients inside that can of pressurized shaving gloop. Really, I mean it; read the side of that can perched on top of your bathroom shelf. If it’s anything like mine used to be, it’ll look something like this:

Water; Palmitic Acid; Triethanolamine; Isopentane; Glyceryl Oleate; Stearic Acid; Fragrance (Parfum); Isobutane; Sorbitol; Glycerin; Hydroxyethylcellulose; PTFE; PEG-90M; Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter; Tocopheryl Acetate; PEG-23M; Propylene Glycol; Glyceryl Acrylate Acrylic Acid Copolymer; PVM MA Copolymer; Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice; Methyl paraben; Propyl paraben.

I don’t wish to be a “Negative Nelson” about this, but Isobutane has been banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union, Polyethylene Glycol has been known to cause skin irritation, and ‘parabens’ have shown close links to reproductive cancers in laboratories. And I thought this stuff was supposed to help improve my shave?!

By contrast, my new block of shaving soap contains the following:

Glycerine, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Castor oil, Purified water, Sodium hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan oleate, Soybean protein, Wheat protein, Peppermint essential oil, Tea tree essential oil, menthol.

Not exactly chemical free, but hey, at least I can pronounce ‘sorbitan oleate’. Plus, if basic preservatives are still a little too ‘hardcore’ for you, you can always make your own soaps at home!

6. There’s less irritation

Think about the number of individual blades going over the surface of your skin every time you use your multi-blade cartridge system. In my case it was four blades every swipe.

That’s four blades requiring multiple passes; no wonder my skin turned to sushi after every shave! With the ‘old skool’ safety-razors, one pass is just that – a single blade taking a single cut each time. Combine this with fewer chemical irritants, virtually no in-growing hairs and plenty of hydrating lather, you’re going to get a smoother, less painful shave each and every time.

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About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

9 Responses

  1. Peter

    I must agree that wet-shaving means less waste. Just think about all the non-recyclable plastic that goes into multi-blade cartridges and handles, and the aerosol cans that release harmful by-products into the environment. Switching to old-style shaving props won’t gain you entry into Green Peace by itself, but it is a good start.
    I’m using a Merkur razor . It permits a close shave while still offering maximum protection from razor burn.

  2. Johnathan

    Hey Peter,

    Some good points; I’d not even considered all the handles, and at the rate ‘they’ want you to upgrade to their latest products, you’ll be throwing away a perfectly good handle every 18 months or so!

    By contrast, the double-edged razors are a thing of beauty unto themselves. I’ve heard really great things about the Merkur Razors, in particular the Heavy-Duty model which seems to be the universal recommendation for beginners (such as myself).

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. JimR

    Excellent article. I converted myself almost a year ago, and it’s been great. Shaves are more comfortable, more interesting and FUN. I can’t say that I’ve SAVED money, as I’ve become a bit of a hobby-ist/collector, but I could if I wanted to…*ahem*

    And, I must put in a plug, I went form DE safety razors to a straight edge, and I haven’t looked back. I loved my Merkur Futur, but I ADORE these open razors. And they’re even better for your face (it’s true!).

  4. Johnathan

    Hi JimR,

    Thanks for your kind words; I’ve found the whole experience to be really enlightening.

    Ultimately, the cost issue (as you rightly mention) is one of choice rather than necessity. I think most people who convert choose to develop it into a new hobby. Collecting the paraphernalia becomes part of an enjoyable pasttime; who knew that something as simple as shaving could transgress ‘chore’ and turn into a fun leisure time activity!?

    I’ll readily admit it – those open straight razors scare the living **** out of me 😀 I’m sure it’s pretty easy when you know how, but right this second I’m happy with the DEs. Maybe after a few years of finally getting a pleasurable shave I’ll give it a try 🙂

    Thanks once again for all the comments: just to let you know, I’ve a follow-up to this article, imaginatively called “6 More Little Known Benefits Of Traditional Wet Shaving”. It should be posted Sunday/Monday time if anyone’s interested 🙂

  5. Ben

    I’ve been wet shaving for about two years now, and I can’t believe people switched from using decent DE razors to these crappy plastic atrocities. I had to use a disposable razor while traveling last week and I felt like a was shaving with a garden trowel.

    I’m just warming up to the idea of shaving with a straight razor. They scare me too, but some of those razors are so nice I imagine it is like shaving with a work of art.

  6. David

    I switched from my electric razor years ago to wet shaving with a safety blade and never went back. But I’m not going to go forward either to a straight blade (funny how the phrase cut-throat razor has been dropped). I still accidentally nick myself at times, so the old fashioned blade (which looks like something from a hardware store) is just too risky.
    Tried oils and shaving foam and in the end a mild soap works best.

    Have you seen that 6 minute Scorsese movie The Big Shave? There’s a nasty nick or two!