Both straight and safety razors are good options if you’re looking for a close, manual shave or to recreate the traditional barber shop experience.
But what exactly is the difference between the two?
Straight razors have a long razor-sharp exposed blade while safety razors have a double-edged safety blade with a protective guard. Both do the same thing, but the straight razor offers a closer shave in the right hands, while the safety razor is more accessible and convenient to use.
There are many ways to shave, but which type of razor is best for you?
If you’ve discarded the electric razor, two of the best options available are the straight razor and the safety razor.
The manual razor is an excellent choice if you want to make shaving an enjoyable ritual you look forward to each day, or if you simply enjoy looking your very best with the closest shave possible.
It takes a steady, capable hand to wield a straight razor with confidence, which is why barber’s shops need a license to use them, and they are generally reserved for those with the patience to learn how to use them correctly.
The straight razor uses an exceptionally sharp blade that makes for an ultra close shave, but this does of course come with the risk of severe cuts and nicks if you aren’t careful.
It’s the original razor, which was used commonly up until the invention of the safety razor which didn’t come until the beginning of the 20th century.
That’s why a straight razor is synonymous with the classic barbershop experience and for many evokes strong feelings of nostalgia.
The straight razor wasn’t made redundant by the introduction of the safety blade, though, far from it.
If you want a quality shave there are few better options than the straight razor.
What it isn’t, though, is a safe way to shave.
In the hands of the inexperienced shaver, the straight razor can be a recipe for disaster as its blade is unforgiving.
Cuts and nicks are commonplace with the straight razor until you learn to master it.
You also have to take the time to re-sharpen the blade, if you aren’t planning on using a shavette which is a straight razor with replaceable blades.
If you do take the time to get to grips with the straight razor, you will be rewarded with a blade that lasts anywhere up to a lifetime and the feeling that you are a true gentleman.
The safety razor, which is also commonly referred to as a double edged safety razor, was first invented at the beginning of the 20th century.
As you might already have guessed from the name, this type of razor was presented as a safer alternative to the straight razor which was almost universally used before then.
The safety razor introduced a protective guard and a double-edged blade to the shaving formula, which made it a lot easier for men to shave without taking the time to master the blade or go to the barbershop.
This accessibility and convenience has carried through to today, as many men prefer the safety razor as their go-to tool for keeping stubble at bay.
If you’re looking for a close shave with less of the risk that a straight razor carries, a safety razor is a fantastic option.
It’s still extraordinarily sharp and gets close to the hair follicles, but the cuts and nicks should be much less common and you don’t have to spend a lot of time to prepare for the shave.
What you sacrifice in sharpness and maneuvrability, you gain in convenience and comfort.
Plus, you don’t need to sink an awful lot of time into the safety razor to get to grips with it, so you can start using it out of the box even if you don’t have much shaving experience.
Replacing the blade is very simple too.
There are many differences between the two types of razor, so let’s take a look at what they are.
The learning curve for the straight razor and shavette is much steeper than is for the safety razor.
This is one of the biggest differences between the two razors, and a potential dealbreaker for some.
If you want that superior quality shave that’s commonly associated with straight razors, you’re going to need to spend a fair chunk of time learning how to use it correctly.
If you don’t, you could end up seriously hurting yourself given how sharp the blade is.
Safety razors on the other hand require much less effort to get to grips with, and they are more forgiving because of the guard on the blade.
A straight razor is more expensive up front and if you are using a shavette will be more expensive over time as you’ll have to pay to replace the blade.
The safety razor on the other hand is much more affordable, so it’s better suited to those who aren’t looking to spend a fortune on shaving.
A big issue if you want to use a safety or straight razor on a regular basis is how easy it is to travel with.
The safety razor is easy to travel with and you can carry it in your hand luggage, meanwhile the straight razor won’t make it past the TSA.
While you can learn to use either type of razor competently, the safety razor is much more beginner-friendly than the straight razor.
A safety razor is not only more affordable, but also much less risky than the straight razor, so if you’re new to shaving or don’t want to spend much time on it then it’s by far the better choice.
A straight razor requires a much more significant time investment, not only to get to grips with it in the first place, but also to achieve the perfect shave every time.
As a result, the straight razor is for those who are patient and see value in the shaving process, as the time invested won’t be seen as a waste but as a privilege.
Frequently Asked Questions About Straight and Safety Razors
Which is better safety razor or straight razor?
The best razor for you will depend on various factors, so there’s no definitive answer as to whether the safety or straight razor is the better option.
While the straight razor is the original razor, intended to give an incredibly close shave for the discerning man, the safety razor is more accessible and commonly used.
If you want the highest quality, then hands-down the best option is a straight razor – but you need to know how to use it. If you enjoy a close shave without worrying about causing yourself a nasty cut, the safety razor is best.
Are straight razor shaves illegal?
Straight razor shaves are illegal in many states, though they are still often used in barber’s shops.
To keep things lawful, the barber shop needs to have a license to use straight razors, in which case they are perfectly fine to use.
Many barber shops opt instead for shavettes to sidestep this legal situation, as they are straight blades with replaceable blades which omits the risk of passing on bloodborne diseases.
Can you shave with a safety razor everyday?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to shave everyday using a safety razor if that’s your preference.
There’s little to no risk of overusing your safety razor and wearing it down, so if that’s your concern, rest assured it should stand up to daily use.
If you’re looking to keep your stubble from growing into a coarse beard, using a safety razor can be one of the best options.
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A Final Word From The Trending Man
There are many reasons to choose either a straight razor or a safety razor, so the one that’s best for you will ultimately boil down to personal preferences.
While the straight razor offers the old-school barber experience and a supremely close shave, the safety razor is a much more convenient – and safe – option for keeping stubble at bay.