Straight Razor vs Safety Razor – the Comparison Guide
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Today’s topic is the battle between the 2 classic shaving tools: straight razor vs safety razor. As you look into shaving tools that your father or grandfather used to groom their beard, two will stand out: a straight razor and a classic double-edge razor.
And while they are both great, it’s not wise to pick the first brand you come across. We recommend learning what they each have to offer before choosing one. Also, remember that the ‘best safety razor’ is subject to several factors, including features and your preference.
But unfortunately, with all the brands and tool variations available, comparing a safety razor with a straight razor is not a walk in the park. Though they have the same goal; achieving a close shave, they excel on different fronts. For instance, the best cartridge razors offer convenience and speed without breaking your bank. On the other hand, electric razors ramp up the comfort and ease of the shaving process and feature accessories that help you achieve different facial hair grooming options.
But we shall not focus on electric razors in this piece. Instead, we shall shine a light on the differences between double edge safety razors and straight razors.
An In-depth Look at What Straight Razors are all About
When you think of a straight razor, the first thought that comes to mind is your granddad, right? And it’s okay because it’s a classic. According to the history of shaving, its earliest use can be traced back to the 1600s in Sheffield, England.
Unlike most shaving tools, the best old-style straight razors are long-lasting. Once you purchase a quality straight razor, you’ll not need to go back to the stores for another. But with such durability comes a cost. And it is this cost that causes most people to shy away from straight razor shaving. But before you write it off, bear in mind that its durability makes it cost-effective in the long run.
But we’d be lying if we said that the tool didn’t need regular maintenance to ensure its long-term service. And yes, you’ll bear the burden of the maintenance. Luckily, it’s nothing too technical. With the right tools in hand, you’ll master the art in no time.
Now, straight razors are single blades usually made from stainless steel. The steel used is strong and doesn’t rust with time. To maintain its sharpness, you will have to sharpen and hone the blade. To do this, you can purchase a razor strop (but if you got a complete straight razor shaving kit, chances are it’ll come included as an accessory). The strop straightens and polishes the blade for a cleaner cut and to prevent skin irritations.
However, if you’d rather get someone to do this for you, there are online retailers and local artisans who specialize in the art. You just need to know where you can get them.
So, wait, what are the strops made of? Most brands make them from leather. As such, they will last longer, especially with proper care.
Since the 1600s, technology has advanced and evolved straight razors in the process. Today, aside from regular straight razors, you can also get a shavette. If a beginner sees images of these side by side, they’ll probably not tell the difference between them. That’s because their design and structure are the same. Heck, even the names are similar.
However, they appeal to different people depending on their needs. The main difference between the two is that shavettes come with disposable blades. This feature means that;
- You do not have to sharpen or hone the blade to maintain its sharpness
- Shavettes are more sanitary (for those who visit barbershops)
Whether you choose a straight razor or a shavette, you cannot escape the steep learning curve involved. No, you shouldn’t expect to master wet shaving with these tools overnight. But while you may nick or cut yourself a couple of times, it’s not rocket science. With some patience and an expert on video (or blog) to follow, you’ll be a pro in no time. Learn how to maintain your safety razor.
Peaking of nicks and cuts, you should probably have an alum block or a styptic pencil close to minimize the bleeding. For weepers or minor nicks, an alum block is best. But if it’s serious, a styptic is best. We should also point out that alum helps to tone the face and has astringent properties.
An In-depth Look at the Classic Double Edge Safety Razors
Safety razors are younger than straight razors by a couple of centuries, but from the 21st-century point of view, they are old. But despite their age, there has been a craze to get them. This is probably because the best cartridge razors are heavily marketed or because of the rise of subscription boxes like Dollar Shave Club which offers value and an unforgettable shaving experience. Overall, safety razors are popular with both young and old men.
The story of safety razors can be traced back to the 1900s when the first patent was given to King Camp Gillette. Later, the razors were listed as standard field kits for soldiers in the World War.
Due to their design, safety razors are more efficient than straight razors. They’ll help you get a close shave in record time. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they offer a better close shave than a straight razor.
To top it all off, safety razors have safety bars that offer protection from the sharpness of the blades. This feature helps protect beginners from nicks and cuts as they learn.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that double edge safety razors don’t have a learning curve – they do, albeit shorter and more forgiving than that of a straight razor. With daily use, you should master the technique in about a week, a maximum of two.
At this point, we should make two things clear;
- Safety razor blades aren’t inclined at 30 degrees for efficient shaving like the best cartridge razors
- They don’t feature lift and cut technology
Because of these, you’ll have to make slightly more passes in comparison to cartridge razors.
On the flip side, just like a shavette, double edge safety razors have disposable blades which allow you to swap blades after shaving several times. This feature ensures that your razor is always sharp and your close shave is free of irritations. Because of the recurring costs involved, some people think safety razors are super expensive in the long run. But on the contrary, they are not super expensive since the cost of replacement blades for a double edge safety razor is low.
And what about the initial cost of safety razors? Well, we’ve reviewed some of the best safety razors in the industry and have found that though the prices vary, you can stick to a roof price of $50 and still get a high-quality safety razor.
With the varying prices, expect to come across different brands, types, and designs as well. Some of the popular brands and safety razors such as the highly regarded Rockwell 6 series started on Kickstarter and come in four basic designs
On the other hand, the head types available are as follows:
- Slant head
- Close comb
- Open comb
Every design has its pros and cons, and in the end, it depends on what you prefer.
How Safety Razors And Straight Razors Compare
To further explain the differences between the two tools, we’ve put together a comparison table. We’ve also thrown in Shavette and cartridge razors to give you a better perspective.
|Straight Razor||Shavette||Safety Razor||Cartridge Razor|
|Initial Investment||High||Low||Low – Medium||Low|
|Time Required for Shaving||High||High||Low||Low|
|TSA Friendly||No||Handle Only||Handle Only||Yes|
Which Shaving Tool Should You Buy?
When choosing between a safety razor and a straight razor, there are several factors to consider, but it ultimately depends on your preferences. Generally, most men into wet shaving consider shaving with a straight razor as something to be proud of. It makes them feel manlier and is, therefore, more of a lifestyle than a shaving need. This means that men who use straight razors find it relaxing and therapeutic.
On the flip side, safety razors are loved for their cost-effectiveness in comparison to cartridge razors. According to most men, safety razors provide a comfortable shave free of bumps and razor burns.
Also, given that they are easy to shave fast with, safety razors are ok for men who barely have the time to catch breakfast, let alone shave every morning.
On the flip side, if you are retired and can afford some time to spare, a straight razor is ideal for you.
Essential Straight Razor Shaving Products
Regardless of the shaving tool you choose in the end, one thing is true – you’ll need additional products to ensure your shaving experience is top-notch. Speaking of additional products, you should ensure that they are designed for your skin type and that they are of high quality.
At the top of the list of essential products is;
- Pre-shave oil
- Shaving cream/soap
Adding these two to your shaving routine will greatly improve your shaving experience.
Here’s how they all compare and how they benefit you.
You will use the pre-shave oil after getting out of the shower ad your face is dry. The oil will create a lubricated base between the shaving cream you apply later and your skin.
Pre-shave oils are made from an excellent mixture of essential oils and carrier oils. The mixture compliments your skin’s natural oil and those present in high-quality shaving creams. Learn more about if you can use regular shaving cream with a straight razor.
The pre-shave oil helps in increasing skin durability and reducing the chances of your blade skipping or tearing your skin with every stroke. And because of the lubrication, the pre-shave oil also helps you to achieve a cleaner cut at the base of hair follicles.
To save time on choosing the best pre-shave oil, here is a quick review guide.
But aside from a pre-shave oil, another important shaving component is the shaving cream. Shaving creams play an important role including;
- Providing an extra layer of lubrication on the skin courtesy of its silky smooth texture
- Retaining moisture and heat on the skin
To choose the best shaving cream, here is a quick guide.
We’ve taken the time to spell out the differences between shaving soaps and shaving creams in this piece. Nonetheless, we shall glide over shaving soaps here as well.
Generally, shaving soaps are available in different grades and forms. Also, they are better for men who use straight razors. This is because they provide more lubrication in comparison to shaving creams.
What’s even better, shaving soaps are cheaper in comparison to shaving creams.
We’ve made a review list of the best shaving soaps to give you an easier when selecting the best.
Now let’s take it an inch higher. Regardless of whether you choose a shaving cream or shaving soap, you will need a shaving brush. Shaving brushes feature different fiber grades and types. But overall, you are better off using a shaving brush to lather your face than your hands.
Not only do shaving brushes create a rich lather, but they also gently exfoliate the skin before shaving. This ensures that bacteria and pollutants are flushed from your skin pores before you glide a razor over your skin. It also helps in avoiding skin irritations.
Like with other accessories, we have a comprehensive review of the best shaving brushes for men to help with your choice.
Where to Purchase a Straight Razor or a Double Edge Safety Razor
With the growth of e-commerce, it’s easier to make a purchase online. Some of the largest e-commerce stores offer a variety of these products, where you can find different brands and pricing.
However, if you are looking to save some money, then you should consider buying shaving kits. Shaving kits are especially great for men new to wet shaving because they offer everything you need to get started.
Aside from this, we also recommend that you read through our in-depth guide on the best safety razors.
Ruiru Kibet is passionate about beard care and male grooming. He believes it’s an art form and is happy to share his insight with men across the globe. He’s into wet shaving and evidence-based grooming, a passion that helps him analyze men’s grooming brands, products, and wet shaving practices presenting you with the best recommendations and advice.