Compare the following images.
Shaving with a straight razor
A safer alternative to the straight razor
The first depicts a man shaving with a razor sharp blade directly on the neck with what is known as a straight razor. The second image shows a man shaving with the safety razor. When introduced in the mid 1800’s, the safety razor provided a shaving experience that was ‘safer’ than using a straight razor by exposing only a portion of the blade to the face.
When comparing the two, it is fairly obvious to identify the shaving device that would be least likely to lead to cuts on the face at least upon first time use. In this case, that is the device that is called the ‘safety’ razor.
Now, compare the following images.
Cartridge Razor – The Gillette Mach 3
Here, the first image is the safety razor. It is a device that requires the user to manually place a single razor blade into a razor handle and then properly shave with it. The second image is one of the Gillette Mach 3 cartridge razor.
If you had never shaved before and were looking to use the option that was least likely to leave you with cuts all over your face, which would you choose? Would you choose the one with a single blade that is called the ‘safety’ razor or would you choose the version that has 3 blades and does not have the word safety in it?
Recently, the safety razor has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. I myself now use one and enjoy it immensely. It took significantly longer to learn how to use it in order to avoid nicks and cuts than any cartridge razor I used. What is interesting is that because of the new popularity, searching for things like ‘safest shaving’ or ‘safe shaving’ in a search engine will almost certainly have higher results than a cartridge razor. If a person happens to be looking for the safest shave method they might be misled.
Apart from the steeper learning curve involve with the safety razor, it is less safe than cartridges in overall handling. One must manage to remove the blade from the paper wrapper and put it on the razor safely. After using the blade, one must throw the blade away. If the original paper is still around and is hasn’t been ruined by the natural moisture around during shaving, you might have some protection of the blade. But this really isn’t safer than how a cartridge would be handled. It typically is covered with plastic that can withstand moisture. Even if you lose the cap, a loose cartridge in the trash isn’t as dangerous as double edged blade.
I think that there might be an opportunity for cartridge makers to rebrand their products in such a way as to make it clear that they are safer than safety razors.