This is a guest post from Seán Treacy, owner of Manly Stuff.

Have you ever thought about the evolution of the shaving razor you’re using? Probably not but it’s an interesting story of need, opportunity and greed.

This article is a quick read of the beginnings of the cartridge razor and why a double edged safety razor is still a better investment.

By double edged safety razor, we are of course referring to the fantastic DE Safety razors, just like the ones that we make at manly stuff. It’s double edged because a single blade is exposed on both sides for shaving with.

Safety razors began their popular rise during World War I then grew exponentially during World War II with a sharp decline in the ’60s.

So what happened to the beautiful safety razor and why the decline?

Safety razor blad strop and badger hair shaving brush with shaving bowl

The double edged safety razor initially took off to replace the ultimate shaving accessory, the straight razor.

A straight razor is a single blade made from some form of steel and is the benchmark when it comes to a hot towel shave or barbershop shave. A straight razor requires quite a bit of upkeep and care to ensure the blade stays sharp and in good condition.

The double edged safety razor had a replaceable blade that didn’t need to be stropped and there was less chance of nicking yourself with little technique needed to get a great shave. This ensured its popularity caught fire as men could get a super close and smooth shave in half the time and with half the effort of a straight razor.

The DE safety razor essentially came about because of a contract that the Gillette Safety Razor company won. To supply razors to the entire US army, 32 million blades to fit 3.5 million razors. This helped Gillette stamp their authority on the market whilst also making the safety razor model popular.

The Safety Razor then started to decline.


Like any company, they need to make money.

With the patent on safety razors running out, Gillette and other safety razor manufacturers needed something new to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and kept their customer base.

Heavy marketing followed and the economics of cartridge razor blades and disposable razors started to make sense. To the cartridge razor companies.

The Shaving Industry traditionally works by what’s called “loss leader marketing”, that is you give away something very cheaply or free then make money on another critical element of the product.

Like a discount supermarket where you go for the specials then leave with your weekly shop.

Gillette pioneered loss leader marketing in shaving by giving away a cheap disposable plastic razor then charging a fortune for the replaceable blades, they’re still at it as people buy in to their marketing guff and pay over the odds.

People buy into the brand and then the razor manufactures have you forever, or so they thought.

This model falls apart if you can get a cheap razor from Gillette and then cheap blades elsewhere.

Cartridge razor manufacturers need you to buy their expensive blades and that means they need to control the patent for the blades.

As the 60’s came to an end, the patent for Double Edge Shaving was running out. Which meant that the shaving companies had two options, charge for the razor or make new blades.

The Creation of the Cartridge Razor

Safety razor shaving kit with de safety razor and shaving brush

With the loss leader model being too profitable to drop, the big companies developed the new cartridge head so they could patent it and sell it at huge margins.

These changes were technologies driven by marketing, not the search for a better shave. Which is why you won’t see any barber worth their salt shaving with a cartridge razor or a disposable razor.

A shave with a straight razor or a double edged safety razor is much better than a cartridge razor, just the big brands won’t make as much money from you.

We’re not even going to start on electric razors. A quick shave is not something we’re fond of, and neither should you!

Appreciate your skin and take the time to shave properly, give yourself 10 minutes in the morning for some uninterrupted bliss, you won’t regret it.

Why are people reverting to the safety razor?

Safety razor blad strop and badger hair shaving brush

The reason more people are coming back to double edged shaving and it’s revival is that people are getting sick of the corporate vomit being thrown their way.

Shaving with a DE Safety Razor feels better, does a better job and the razors are beautifully made to last.

You’ll get less irritation from a double edged shave then from a hashed up cartridge razor shave with some awful gel.

There is not better feeling than lathering up some shaving soap with a nice mug of warm coffee beside it.

People are happy to pay a bit more to save in the long run, have you compared the prices of double edged razor blades to cartridge razors? It’s a no brainer!

OF course, people are more environmentally conscious now too, the only waste with a safety razor is the blade, which can be recycled.

So we whole heartily welcome the revival of safety razors and more durable goods. You’ll enjoy a better shave and in the long run, really save money if you shop smart.


About the Author: Seán Treacy, owner of Manly Stuff believes that for the best shave, you need the best tools. Sean felt that the cost to start Wet Shaving was too high and often for sub-par products. He took it on him himself to source the best products for the best price possible. With a background in marketing and business development, he was able to work hard to bring some fresh, innovative products to reality and partner with some unique producers along the way. What started as a hobby led to a successful business. Seán started with shaving then branched out into lifestyle goods such as wooden watches, hand stitched leather wallets and cotton ties. Manly Stuff is the only store you’ll need for essential grooming and lifestyle accessories for men. You can follow Manly Stuff on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.