There are five main types of razors: cartridge razors, safety razors, disposable razors, straight razors, and electric shavers.
Below we’ll discuss the differences between each of these razor types. Additionally, we will also share some of the notable advantages and disadvantages of each razor.
5 Types of Razors
Here’s a look at the five different types of razors:
1. Cartridge Razors
Cartridge razors are a relatively modern invention and were introduced by Gillette in 1971 with the Trac II.
Cartridge razors depend on a multi-blade razor that is replaceable. What makes cartridge razors unique from many other razors is that they rely on the hysteresis phenomenon, also know as lift-and-cut. Each razor blade on the end of a cartridge razor lifts and then cuts the hair lower. Compared to other razors, cartridge razors can provide close results.
Cartridge razors are easy to learn, making them suitable for beginners. Additionally, cartridge razors will rarely cut the skin thanks to improved mechanics, including a pivoting head and comb.
Despite their advantages, cartridge razors are expensive and can cause razor bumps for some men. Razor bumps are caused when the hair is cut beneath the skin’s surface and becomes ingrown.
2. Disposable Razors
Disposable razors are a modified version of the cartridge razor. Rather than replacing just the razor head, disposable razors are meant only to be used a few times and then thrown out. The lifespan varies depending on the sharpness of the razor blade and how thick and coarse your facial hair may be.
Due to their reliance on plastic, disposable razors are becoming increasingly less popular due to their environmental impact. As discussed in another article, companies have set up special razor recycling programs to reduce environmental impact.
Disposable razors are best for out-of-home use. These razors work well when traveling for business or pleasure or when shaving at the gym. Disposable razors are TSA-compliant.
You can buy disposable razors at a local drugstore, grocery store, or online. When buying disposable razors, you can expect to pay less than $15 for a pack of 20 razors.
3. Double Edge Safety Razor
Introduced in 1903 by Gillette, the double edge safety razor was a revolutionary advancement in shaving. The safety razor gets its name thanks to the safety bar extending on both sides of the razor’s head. The safety bar flattens skin to help lessen the chance of the user cutting himself or herself.
Double edge safety razors have regained popularity due to their low long-term cost of ownership. A year’s worth of razor blades cost less than $20, making them a budget-friendly alternative to modern shaving tools. Additionally, safety razors don’t experience the hysteresis phenomenon (lift-and-cut) as there is only one cutting blade. Therefore, you are less likely to experience razor bumps when using the safety razor.
The safety razor does have some notable disadvantages. The biggest drawback to the safety razor is the learning curve. Despite a safety-focused design, surface cuts and irritation are still a concern. Additionally, safety razor blades are prohibited from carry-on luggage per TSA (although you can bring the safety razor handle onboard). Lastly, safety razor blades are hard to find locally. Purchasing online is recommended as the selection is more extensive.
4. Straight Razors and Shavettes
The oldest shaving tool is the straight razor. Made from a single blade, the straight razor requires skill to get close and comfortable results. When using a straight razor, you must always hold the edge at the optimal cutting angle. Going outside of the optimal cutting angle will result in shave irritation.
Straight razor blades must be honed and stropped regularly. Professional honing can add significantly to the long-term price of ownership. Like safety razor blades, straight razors are prohibited from carry-on luggage.
Shavettes are a modern modification to the straight razor. Shavettes have an injectible razor blade, which is simply a safety razor blade that is snapped in half. Shavettes are used in barbershops due to regulatory or sanitary reasons. Shavettes are cheaper than straight razors, making them ideal for beginners or budget-minded shoppers.
5. Electric Shavers
Electric shavers are efficient shaving machines. Able to remove facial hair without relying on shaving cream makes them ideal for men who want to shave quickly. Electric shavers are either rotary or foil-based.
Rotary electric shavers cut in a circular motion. While rotary electric shavers may not cut close to the skin, they can effortlessly navigate the face’s contours.
Foil electric shavers cut in an oscillating motion (back and forth). This cutting motion allows for a close, near razor-like shaving experience. Foil electric shavers have a large head, making them tougher to use, particularly in the mustache area.
Electric shavers are widely available both in brick and mortar and online retailers.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.