Straight Razor vs Safety Razor

By Jean Alfonso / November 19, 2017
Straight Razor vs Safety Razor

You might be thinking of switching away from modern cartridges and probably wondering where you should start first. I thought writing a Straight Razor vs Safety Razor article would be really helpful, so here we go.

Trends come and go like summertime slot filler TV shows. Maybe this is why men’s grooming is becoming more of a hassle than ever before. It is certainly more time consuming than ever to get ready for a date, a meeting, or even going to the gym.

The expectations are higher than ever for men to always look their best. Even hipster and grunge looks require a certain time investment in pairing the right colors, clothes, and accessories. The age of men being ready to head out before their female partners are behind us.

Like with almost every other aspect of our lives now, we tend to rely a bit too much on technology to give us a decent shave. Convenience aside, trimming only gets you so far. Unless you’re going for a scruffy look or Wolverine-like beard, the electrical options are quite limited in what they can accomplish.

Let’s look at two of the most popular grooming tools that have stood the test of time. One is definitely found in all professional barbershops. The other, you can see advertised probably two times per hour regardless of what channel you’re viewing.

We’re of course talking about the good old-fashioned blades. No matter how far technology has come, no electrical device cuts as cleanly and close to the skin. Here’s what we consider to be the two best options if your goal is to have smooth facial skin.

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Trends come and go like summertime slot filler TV shows. Maybe this is why men’s grooming is becoming more of a hassle than ever before. It is certainly more time consuming than ever to get ready for a date, a meeting, or even going to the gym.

The expectations are higher than ever for men to always look their best. Even hipster and grunge looks require a certain time investment in pairing the right colors, clothes, and accessories. The age of men being ready to head out before their female partners are behind us.

Like with almost every other aspect of our lives now, we tend to rely a bit too much on technology to give us a decent shave. Convenience aside, trimming only gets you so far. Unless you’re going for a scruffy look or Wolverine-like beard, the electrical options are quite limited in what they can accomplish.

Let’s look at two of the most popular grooming tools that have stood the test of time. One is definitely found in all professional barbershops. The other, you can see advertised probably two times per hour regardless of what channel you’re viewing.

We’re of course talking about the good old-fashioned blades. No matter how far technology has come, no electrical device cuts as cleanly and close to the skin. Here’s what we consider to be the two best options if your goal is to have smooth facial skin.

Straight Razor vs Safety Razor

Straight Razor vs Safety Razor: What You Need to Know

The straight razor and the safety razor are two traditional wet shaving tools that can accomplish a far superior clean cut to that of the now popular electric shaving machine. Although at first glance they do the same thing, there are many differences between them.

First thing’s first, let’s talk investment. Without a doubt, the straight razor is a long-term purchase. With proper maintenance, a single blade can last you a lifetime. While the initial cost will be higher, you are not required to make additional adjustments or buy accessories.

The safety razor is not as cost-effective. Blades need to be replaced quite often to make sure you are using only the sharpest ones. This is essential in both achieving a very close cut and preventing clogging.

As shaving is considered a coming-of-age ritual, it comes with a learning curve. Regardless of which tool you decide to use, you will have to invest some time to increase your speed and accuracy. Evidently, the safety razor will be a bit easier to handle in the beginning.

Although the uncovered blade requires more skill and confidence when used, it is not something reserved just for professional barbers. Everyone can learn to use it properly if given enough time.

If you are considering starting out with a safety razor before moving on to the sharper blade, know that it is not always the best way to do this. In theory, it may seem like one is more beginner-friendly, so it would make sense to start there. However, the hand motion, the grip, and the positioning are not the same.

Most experts believe that a skilled safety razor user can still find it difficult to master shaving with a straight razor. Because there is more room for error, the added pressure can take a toll on you. Working with the sharpest blade is mandatory in the kitchen, but it might not be for everyone when it comes to using such a tool close to vital areas.

Always consider how much time you want to spend shaving or how much time you can actually afford to dedicate to this manly ritual. If you are the busy corporate type or work erratic schedules, you’ll find that a straight razor takes too much time. Sure, the end result is smoother and the process is more empowering, but not everyone can afford to do it and that’s okay.

The safety razor produces very similar results and is much quicker. On the other hand, you may not be the type of person who shaves at home at all. You might enjoy the experience of a barbershop. If that’s the case, you will most likely get a shave from a straight razor as almost any respectable barber is trained to use one to perfection.

The Safety Razor: Pros and Cons

We’ve established that this is a very beginner-friendly tool for both teenagers and even adults that don’t have the best hand to eye coordination or confidence. It takes a bit of practice to get things right, but if you are looking for a clean cut and smooth skin, always pick a blade over an electrical shaving machine.

We have found that people often mistake the word safety for a promise of no cuts whatsoever. This is hardly the case. These tools have safety features that make it harder for you to slip up and injure yourself, but by no means are they flawless in design.

Let’s summarize the most important features of this beginner-friendly grooming tool. These are the factors to always consider before making a purchase. Cost-effectiveness and the amount of time you will spend learning how to use it are not the only things to keep in mind.

Checklist for Safety Razors

  • Good prep
  • Shaving cream or shaving soap
  • Shaving Brush
  • Blade
  • Safety Razor
  • Aftershave
  • Alum Bloc (Optional)
  • Witch Hazel (Optional) - You can use this instead of aftershave or can also be used together with aftershave 

What We Like

  • Cheap initial cost
  • Cuts closer to the skin than an electrical shaving machine
  • Great for people in a hurry
  • Allows more room for error than the cutthroat blade

What We Don't Like

  • Can clog if you let too much time pass between shaves
  • More accessories may need changing even with proper maintenance

The Straight Razor: Pros and Cons

The straight razor is the classic barbershop tool for grooming. It’s been around for hundreds of years and the fact that it is still in use speaks volumes about its efficiency. Although as far as end results go, this tool performs amazingly, there are also some drawbacks to owning and operating one.

Maybe you can’t spot the differences right away, visually, but feeling the skin after a shave will reveal the difference. This classic tool provides the closest and cleanest cut possible. It is really impressive how such a simple design can still function so well in this day and age.

Here is a rundown of the pros and cons you have to consider when it comes to this grooming tool. Whether you want to buy one for yourself or you are tempted to get a professional shave, it’s better to know exactly what to expect.

Checklist for Straight Razors

  • Good prep
  • Shaving cream or shaving soap
  • Shaving Brush
  • Blade
  • Straight Razor
  • Strop
  • Aftershave
  • Alum Bloc (Optional)
  • Witch Hazel (Optional) - You can use this instead of aftershave or can also be used together with aftershave 

What We Like

  • Can last you a lifetime
  • There’s nothing better for a silky, smooth finish
  • In the hands of a professional it can turn shaving from a chore into an experience
  • You don’t need to worry about clogging

What We Don't Like

  • High risk of cuts
  • It takes a lot longer to master

Necessary Complementary Products

There is a reason why both these types of blades are also referred to as wet shaving tools. You will always need additional grooming products. Shaving creams and oils should be applied before and after the process is finished. Also, never underestimate how dangerous it can be to use either of these grooming tools on dry skin.

Because these items can cut, and not just trim like the electrical shaving machine, it’s good to keep some disinfectant close by. Any small scrape can get infected fast. When first learning how to operate the blades, chances are that you will make a mistake at least once. Never neglect an open wound, but don’t get discouraged either.

Verdict

While they are indeed very similar products, they are also clearly suited for different people. Cost-effectiveness aside, not everyone will enjoy dedicating more time to grooming and having to be extra careful. However, if you are looking for the smoothest skin possible, choosing a bladed tool is the way to go.

If you can afford to spend more time shaving, then you also have enough time to master using the straight razor. There’s a reason why professionals continue to use it after all this time. Nothing cuts closer to the skin.

If you are the type of person that can’t fit long shaving sessions into your schedule, but you still enjoy having a smooth skin, then a safety razor will be your go-to product. The differences between their results are not really visually noticeable, but actually feeling the skin will tell another story.

The coolest part about both these tools is that either can be used as your sole grooming tool, or you can combine them with an electric trimmer. If you don’t need a full shave, you can always just use them to accentuate certain areas. If the pros do it on a daily basis, why shouldn’t you give it a chance, too?

Choosing the right product to suit your needs should be easier now, once you take all the features we’ve mentioned into consideration. Also, keep in mind that for the best experience possible, you can’t settle for the cheapest tool. After all, you wouldn’t want to replace an expensive blade or exchange accessories every week.

About the author

    Jean Alfonso