Are Straight Razors Safe? What You Need To Know!

By Jean Alfonso / July 21, 2018

Are straight razors safe? It sometimes seems ridiculous to even think about this, considering that most barbershops use them over any other razors. But it does beg the question of whether or not they’re safe enough for home use.

Straight razors come with their share of benefits and drawbacks, but that doesn’t mean that safety or cartridge razors don’t have their own set of issues.

This article will shed light on what makes straight razors great and also what makes them a tough choice. We’ll also compare some key elements of shaving with and without a safety net so you get a full picture of what might happen if you make the change to straight razors.

Shaving with a Straight Razor Pros and Cons

We often judge shaving with a straight razor based on experience. When you visit a barbershop and place your trust in the hands of a trained professional, it’s a different feeling. Sure there’s a bit of anxiety but there’s also that sense of awe.

Shaving with a straight razor has plenty of pros when it’s done by a professional but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have merit if you’re the one doing it.

The most superficial way to look at it is that it’s how things used to be done. It’s how real men shaved in the past so it would be a nice tradition for you to maintain. Especially since there’s so much pampering to go around these days.

Straight razors also give you the closest cut imaginable. It’s as simple as that.

Here are some other facts that you may not have considered:

  • Straight razors allow you more freedom than cartridge razors. With cartridge razors, you have to keep your cuts short and do a lot of rinsing between cuts. It’s safe and doesn’t require much skill, but it sure can take a lot of time.
  • Of course, safety razors give you plenty of freedom too. After all, with adjustable safety razors you can expose as much of the blade as you want. But there’s still that safeguard in place. You’re also forced to perform small passes.
  • Straight razors can do long passes and shave a larger area than a safety razor or a cartridge razor.
  • Straight razors are a different breed. They’re not as susceptible to clogging with facial hair. Therefore, you can take longer cuts and be done with shaving in record time. This however leads us to one of the first true drawbacks.
  • Straight razors are dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you’re trying your best to not cut too close to the skin, you may still lose your grip and cut yourself.
  • On the other hand, shaving too slow is more tiring. As fatigue sets in, the risk of accidents increases. Safety razors also take a bit of time since you need to keep a constant pressure and work with small passes.
How safe are straight razors?

Now, let’s talk finances for a bit. A straight razor is usually expensive. If you plan on using one, you should go for reputable brands and get something high-end anyway. The sharper the blade the safer you’ll be, even though that may seem weird.

Cartridge razors may seem cheap as an initial investment but think about the long-term cost. You may end up paying up to hundreds of dollars every year for blade replacements, new aloe strips, new cartridges, etc.

Straight razors come with blades that last for years. But are straight razors safe? – Yes, they are since you can sharpen the blade again. And, most of them can be sharpened again for a fraction of the initial investment. A great straight razor could last you a lifetime if you take good care of it.

There’s also a variation that may appeal to you more. If you don’t trust the sharpening process, there are always shavettes available. Those are straight razors with disposable blades. You could just get a brand new blade whenever you feel like yours is going dull.

Another downside is that you’re more likely to get skin irritation from a straight razor. At least until you know what you’re doing. That aloe strip on cartridge razors isn’t there just for show. It really helps soothe the skin as you shave.

Another minor inconvenience of straight razors has nothing to do with shaving. It has everything to do with traveling. Straight razors can be used as a weapon, so they’re subject to baggage check. If you don’t have a sturdy bag or case for yours, it may get damaged in transport.

Safety Razor vs Straight Razor: Video

Straight Razors vs. Safety Razor Closeness

We can’t argue with the clean and smooth shave of a high-end safety razor. They’re designed to cut as closely to the skin as possible with minimum effort. However, whether you like it or not, most average straight razors still achieve a closer cut.

Are there any real advantages to a very close cut? For one, there’s a significant difference in skin smoothness. Another would be that your beard takes a few days longer to develop. Therefore you won’t have to shave as often.

You should also consider that a straight razor not only cuts better but it also gives you more control over the blade.

Safety razors may come with an adjustable blade height. But, even the lowest setting on a safety razor won’t cut as smooth as a straight razor. The blade is not as sharp and not enough of it is exposed.

And, you also have that barrier between the blade’s edge and the skin.

Wrap Up

To answer the initial question ‘are straight razors safe?’ the answer is yes and no. They’re safe in the hand of a professional or in the hand of someone with plenty of practice. 

Should you get one? It depends on what your goals are. If you want more freedom of movement when you shave and having the smoothest skin afterwards, you can go for it.

Just make sure to not take it lightly. Even years of shaving with a safety razor will not get you close to being able to safely shave with a straight razor every time.

About the author

    Jean Alfonso