If you are new to wet shaving, you’ve come across a long-standing debate, ‘straight razors vs safety razors; which one is better?
The fact that some experts swear by safety razors and others by straight razors doesn’t help the situation.
But as a man who cares about his grooming, you cannot be at peace without knowing which one is better or best for your needs.
To help put your mind at ease, we’ve compiled a detailed comparison guide between safety razors and straight razors.
Overview of Shaving Tools at Your Disposal
The debate can make it seem like you only have two products to choose from. But there are numerous products to use, including:
- Electric shavers
- Cartridge razors
- Straight razors
- Disposable razors
- Shavettes (though basically, they are simplified straight razors)
- Safety razors
A cartridge razor and an electric shaver will provide a good shaving experience. With these, even though they are much more popular, you will not achieve the smoothest or closest shave. Moreover, the shave quality isn’t always consistent. We'll compare different types of razors in another article, for now this is safety vs straight razors.
With a safety razor and a straight razor in hand, you’ll achieve a smooth and close shave effortlessly. Additionally, they are cheaper in the long run and do not require a lot of maintenance. However, you will have to learn how to wet shave.
Don’t buy into the whole ‘it’s a difficult technique to master’ story. With a little bit of effort and consistency, you’ll have it down in no time.
Now, let’s look at how the two giants compare.
First, we should point out that the term safety doesn’t mean they are completely safe. If you are careless and aloof while shaving, you will get some cuts. So why use ‘safety?’ Well, unlike other shaving tools, the blade is enclosed within a razor head. This reduces the aggressiveness and makes it more accommodating for beginners.
Judging from its design, we can describe a safety razor as an improved version of a cartridge razor. The former has a better build and is designed to last. In most cases, it’s made from metal or an alloy. When the blade gets dull, you replace the blade instead of throwing the whole tool away.
There are two broad categories of safety razors;
- Single edge razors
- Double edge razors
Double Edge razors have two edges that help you save time when shaving. On the flip side, a single edge razor has a single edge. In terms of function, the two types will yield a close shave. As such, your choice will come down to what you prefer.
But if you are looking for the cheaper option, the single edge razor will do. If you are concerned about speed, then a double edge razor works wonders.
You’ve seen these razors in TV shows and movies. Heck, you probably have a picture of your grandpa using one of these.
Straight razors have been around for eons. Though they look better now, their genera design hasn’t changed much. They are a long piece of sharpened metal on one end and a handle on the other. Unlike safety razors, straight razors can cut through the skin easily. Actually, some experts like to call them cutthroat razors. The blade measuring three inches which cover a large surface area when shaving. With a couple of strokes, you’ll be done shaving.
A straight razor will get you the closest shave. But aside from learning how to wet shave, you should learn how to handle it first.
Straight razors are a one-time purchase. However, to enjoy a great straight razor shaving experience you need to keep it sharp; learn to strop and hone the blade regularly. Using a dull blade will result in skin irritations and ingrown hairs.
How do They Compare?
Both tools offer a high-quality shave but sport some difference.
Depending on the quality, a safety razor can cost anything between $30 and $150+. In addition to the initial cost, you also need to purchase replacement blades every two months. Fortunately, replacement blades are cheap.
On the other hand, straight razors cost between $50 and $200+. They are more expensive, but they do not come with additional blade costs. However, to keep the blade sharp, you’ll spend on a strop and a hone which costs about $120.
With both tools, you’ll need extra wet shaving tools, including shaving cream, shaving brush, and a shaving bowl to have a good experience.
Both tools have a learning curve to it. However, given that straight razors have a completely different design, some argue that they take longer to master.
Even after mastering wet shaving, always be patient. Hurrying it will lead to cuts and skin irritations.
Both razors need some level of maintenance to last long.
For a safety razor, thorough rinsing after a shave will do. But for a straight razor, you should apply olive oil after rinsing to prevent rusting over time. Also, it would be best if you honed it every six weeks.
Which One Should You Choose?
There’s no perfect razor for anyone. Instead, consider your needs and personal preferences. If you want a close shave minus maintenance worries, then a safety razor is great. But if you don’t mind the honing and stropping and love a classic look and the heritage behind it, then a straight razor may just be perfect for you.