Using Disposable Razors vs Cartridges

shaving toolOne unarguable point of hygiene is the importance of shaving. For men and women, the need to possess a proper shaving tool. Despite the continuous argument between using a straight razor over a safety, most people still prefer a safety razor due to the cost of getting a proper straight one.

This raises another question (or argument), should you use a disposable or reusable razor. To avoid any excessive babbling, I will give a simple explanation of what the different razors do. Disposable razors are meant to be disposed of after they become dull due to continuous use. Reusable razors, on the other hand, use interchangeable razors.

Which is more cost-friendly, environment-friendly and user-friendly?

  • Cost

CostThings get real confusing at the start. Do you make a one-time payment for a cheap disposable razor and save cost at the moment or make an upfront payment of a reusable shaving kit and let it pay for itself in the long run (or does it?)

To avoid comparing apples to oranges, I decided to keep comparison to two different apple varieties. Simply put Gillette Mach3 men’s disposable razor vs Gillette Mach3 reusable men’s razor.

Take this as an example. A 6-piece pack of disposable razor costs would roughly cost $15 for a one-time purchase or around $14 for a 5-product subscription. The reusable razor with a single cartridge costs somewhat cost $6 for a one-time purchase. In addition to the reusable razor costs, a 15-piece pack of cartridges costs $30 for a one-time purchase.Upfront, you will be saving $4 on each razor by going with the disposable razor over the reusable one.

By tweaking a few inputs of the equation, we see that the reusable razor may eventually pay for itself over time. The saving is based on the supposition that the reusable handle will remain in good condition before running through 15 cartridges. So, if you know that handling and storing the razor handle won’t be an issue and you only care about the economic benefits, you will do fine purchasing a reusable razor and a regular pack of cartridges. Although, the savings may or may not be beneficial in other aspects.


  • Environment

Next up, which buying decision does nature prefer.

It is unarguable that going green is the way to keeping the environment in a livable condition for human life. I could go ahead talking about the benefits of going green and human life but I will go ahead and state my position. Reusable razors with cartridges are better than disposable razors when considering environmental impact.

Despite the argument that both razors impact the environment equally, the larger size of the landfills caused by disposable razors tells a different tale. Also, since most disposable razors are made of hardly reusable plastic, they are less eco-friendly.

On the other hand, most quality disposable razors and cartridges are made of mostly stainless steel, they pose a friendlier impact on the environment. Once again, the reusable razor wins over the disposable razor in the battle of environment friendliness.


  • Use

disposable razorsMoving on to a more selfish take on the topic, which razor provides a better user experience to you.

The most common argument I’ve heard is in favor of the disposable razors. The argument states that reusable razor handles are of a lower build quality. A very valid point indeed. The initial feel and quality of a new disposable razor compared to a similar reusable razor is inferior. However, over time the reusable razor begins to deteriorate in quality.

Most of the complaint about quality arise from poor care of the handle but as with any other product, diminishing quality is unavoidable. To guarantee a long period of use for razors, you should invest in a quality handle, preferably one made of stainless steel for high-end types or a solid plastic for inexpensive versions.

Still, on the quality, cartridge manufacturers are regularly accused of making sub-standard handles to increase profit margins. I can’t speak definitely to this but the lower end manufacturers will probably use this technique to keep the cost low. I have a certain distaste for low-end sub-standard razors, I do not advise anyone to go out there and purchase a top of the line high-end razor. Just research what you will be getting into.

Your research is important because you will need to stick to a certain brand if you decide to go down the cartridge route. Since no universal cartridge exists and most manufacturers to not make the cartridges interchangeable, the disposable razor gets a foot up in this area.

The high initial costs of these reusable razors won’t allow you to simply go out and test out every single cartridge you spot until you find the right one for you. To solve the issue of commitment, certain manufacturers and brands run a subscription model for their cartridges. You sign up for the service, you receive an initial kit containing one or more handles and cartridges. You then continue to receive future cartridges on a scheduled basis and even other a new handle (usually at a cheaper price).

Are these subscription services beneficial?

It depends on your personality and lifestyle. If prefer to stick to a certain product and avoid worrying about the next razor you will be getting, this is for you. Which is better? It should be obvious by now that I have a greater preference (or bias) for cartridges and handles. So yes, the award for the battle goes to cartridges.

Read through our review of Gillete Mach3