Are Cartridge Razors As Bad As Some Claim?

You’ve likely heard opinions from both ends of the spectrum: some individuals swear by cartridge razors, while others firmly believe they damage your skin and hair.

For most, cartridge razors aren’t inherently bad and remain one of the most popular and widely accessible options for shaving. However, those with exceptionally curly facial hair or those with sensitive skin will often find that cartridge razors can be more problematic.

Here’s why:

Why Cartridge Razors are Bad News for Those With Curly and Coarse Hair

The most significant problem people encounter with cartridge razors is the development of razor bumps (ingrown hairs). These are caused by cartridge razors for two primary reasons: the number of blades and the shaving technique employed.

Cartridge razors lift and cut your hair with each pass. An increased number of blades leads to a more aggressive shave. If too aggressive, the razor can cut the hair below the skin level. Upon regrowth, the hair might curl into the skin instead of growing through the pore, resulting in an ingrown hair. Those with thick, coarse, or curly hair are especially prone to this issue because their hair is more likely to curl back into the skin.

Secondly, not shaving properly, such as shaving against the grain or using too much pressure, can also contribute to the development of razor bumps as it exacerbates the likelihood of hairs being cut below the skin’s surface.

To prevent this issue, consider using a two-blade cartridge razor. Alternatively, a safety razor, containing only a single blade, might suit you better.

Cartridge Razors and Your Skin

Shaving is a stressful event for your skin. It involves scraping a sharp object through the outermost layer, causing friction and irritation. This action can lead to redness, inflammation, and even exacerbate existing conditions like acne and rosacea.

Skin sensitivity varies among individuals. Those with sensitive skin might experience irritation, razor burn, or even allergic reactions to the lubricating strip found in many cartridge razors, which often contain various chemicals for a smoother glide.

By using fewer blades, performing fewer passes, or using a well-formulated shaving cream or gel, you can minimize the potential for irritation. Additionally, taking proper care of your skin before and after shaving, such as using a pre-shave oil and applying a soothing aftershave balm, can also help reduce any adverse effects from using cartridge razors.

Trial & Error

Determining whether cartridge razors are right for you ultimately depends on a process of trial and error. You might need to experiment with different types of razors, various brands, and alternative shaving techniques to discover what suits your hair and skin type best.

Before investing in countless shaving tools and products, it’s important to understand your skin and hair type and learn the correct shaving techniques to avoid adverse post-shaving effects.

In most cases, simply knowing the direction of hair growth and shaving accordingly (known as the grain) can significantly reduce the risk of developing ingrown hairs, razor bumps, or skin irritation.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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