The most common wet shaving razors can be categorised as follows:
Cartridge Razors: This type is where the cartridge head can be replaced at the end of it's useful life. An example of this would be the Gillette Mach 3 Cartridge.
The three blade Mach 3 from Gillette allows for a shave with less pressure on the skin and with fewer strokes, this in turn helps reduce cuts and skin irritation. The swivel head follows the skins contours helping you to get that closer shave.
The 5 blade Fusion Cartridge shaving surface creates less friction and therefore less irritation than the Mach 3 blade. 15 microfins follow the skins facial contours. Also incorporates a precision trimmer, a useful addition for straightening those sideburns.
Safety Razors: Commonly called the Double Edge Razor or DE razor. Requires a separate shaving blade which is inserted into the head. These are relatively very cheap when compared to the cartridge head replacements for the Mach 3 and Fusion. The DE Razor generally comes as a 3 piece screw top rod where the head is unscrewed for razor blade insertion or as a Twist to open (TTO) butterfly head where the head cleverly opens out to allow the blade to be placed within.
The key advantages of this type of safety razor are ease of blade replacement and cleanliness. The “butterfly” is easily opened by twisting the handle to allow the head to be quickly flushed through with clean water.
Variations of the DE Razor include a Closed Comb option or an Open Comb (Open Tooth) option.
The closed comb refers to the razor heads solid bar running along the cutting edge. It provides a degree of protection for the user from the blade and is generally considered less aggressive than the open tooth version.
Most experienced traditional wet shavers comment that a safety razor gives a smoother, closer shave.
Shaving with this type of razor produces a comfortable, close, but non-aggressive shave and is therefore ideal for first time Safety Razor users.
Cut Throats, Straights or Open Razors: Undoubtedly the closest shave you can achieve is with a straight razor. The reason for this is the blades ability to cut the whisker cleaner and thus avoiding dragging the stubble. Once mastered not only will you achieve a better shave but long term it will prove a more economical investment. A quality straight razor should last a lifetime, thus saving on costly blade replacement.
Along with your cut throat razor you will need a strop and some strop paste. This essentially sharpens the blade. Usually between 7 to 15 shaves are possible before you need to strop. The use of straight razors is fast increasing, many preferring to use this “old school” method of shaving because of the reasons mentioned earlier.
Shavettes: The main advantage of the shavette is that after about 4-6 shaves the blade can easily be replaced relatively cheaply. A shavette uses disposable blades like the safety razor but the blade is exposed similar to an open, straight razor. Care though should be taken with exposed blade edges. Many users will snap a double edge blade in two (care needed!) to use in a shavette as there is only one cutting edge.