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Straight Razor or Safety Razor – Which One is Better

by Lisa Hayden
Straight Razor or Safety Razor

Have you been involved in ubiquitous men's debate? No, we are not talking about boxers or briefs here, this is the duel about straight razor or safety razor.

If you've been a wet shaving enthusiast or simply prefer a "manly" shave, both offer plethora of reasons to hold on to your fort in a debate.

Don’t you just hate seeing that stubble growing yet again and realizing that you need to pick up that razor once more? Unfortunately for men, shaving is a necessary part of their routine, unless they want to sport a full beard or moustache. If you have to do it often, the quickest and easiest way is preferable.

This is the reason why the safety razor is a staple in most men’s bathrooms. They are fast, cheap, and convenient. If you like maintaining a clean shave, you can get the results you are looking for in a short amount of time.

However, if you want even better results and a lot less skin irritation, then it is a good idea to try out a safety razor. Most people only know them from barbershops but do not realize that they could also use them at home. Still, is it worth it to try it out or stick to your safety razor?

The Safety Razor

safety razor advantages

The most common shaver in the world started out in 1901 when Gillette released its first safety razor. It became hugely popular because it offers a safety guard to protect the users from cuts while shaving. Here are important things you need to understand and learn about this kind of shaver.

1. How It Is Designed

It has been created to reduce the risk of getting cuts while using a blade directly. Still, it does not mean that people are not getting cut while shaving. The problem is, most people use it every day, many times without paying too much attention. They end up applying excessive pressure and getting cut or at least getting the skin irritated. This is an example of how safety design can still lead to cuts. Obviously, people using a straight razor have to be much more careful.

The risk is higher when the safety razor is too light. Without much pressure required to use it, people end up pressing down too much on the skin. Still, despite this risk, it is considered the safest way to get a close shave, especially for older men whose hands might be unstable.

2. Learning How To Use It

It has been sort-of a rite-of-passage for teenagers and young men to learn how to shave properly. Seeing them with some nicks and cuts is proof of how difficult it can be at the beginning. The fact is, it requires practice and time.

Much of the risk has been reduced after the development and release of cartridge razors. These are even easier to use, although not as good at creating a close shave. The main difference between a safety razor and a cartridge razor is that the handle and the blade of the former are firmly attached. The cartridge razor can move to always stay flat on the face.

Safety razor set

Safety razor set

This means you need to hold the safety razor at the right angle for a smooth and injury-free shave. The great news is, once you have mastered doing it, it becomes very easy to use. Again, all you need to do is to keep the blade at just the right angle.

If you have just started using it, just be patient and take it slow. You will need a learning curve to reduce accidents.

3. How To Maintain It

When you are using a straight razor, you have to accept that sharpening the blade is part of the routine. Much like cartridge razors, safety razor blades can be easily replaced when they wear down. You might also want to change them when you notice some changes in your skin or when the hair has different lengths.

To keep your safety razor in top shape, you should take it apart fully every few months and clean it thoroughly. With only three parts, dismantling and cleaning it is quite uncomplicated. Use boiling water to clean it.

4. How Much It Costs

As with many things, you might want to invest in a more expensive but top-notch model to get good quality. It is not more expensive than a cartridge razor, but it is certainly a lot less costly than a straight razor. All things considered, safety razors are one of the cheapest ways to maintain a clean shave.

A good one has an all-metal handle, as opposed to plastic. The double-edged blades of the safety razor actually only cost about 5 cents per blade and will last a week when used regularly. On the other hand, disposable razors cost 40 cents for every headpiece, so you can save money on the safety razor in the long run.

The Straight Razor

straight razor advantages

If you have ever gone for a shave at your barbershop or if you have watched movies of barbers shaving men, then you will certainly have seen a straight razor. Because it is an open blade, most people might feel apprehensive about the straight razor. This is quite understandable because they can, and they have to be sharp. But the fact is, you will never get a closer shave as with a straight razor.

It is certainly not for everyone, especially if you find yourself too busy to dedicate the time and the focus to shave. But if you love the feeling of a smooth face, especially after you go for a barber shave, then you might seriously consider trying it out at home. Be prepared to spend a lot of time practising though, among other things you need to know about straight razors.

1. It Requires A Routine

If you think using a safety razor already requires a bit of prep, then you should know that a straight razor has more steps. For best results, apply a hot towel to the face before applying a pre-shave oil. Afterwards, you can apply the shaving cream and start shaving.

2. The Blade Needs Maintenance

While your single blade of good quality can last a lifetime, it does require care and maintenance. The problem is, when it is dull, it is more likely to cut you, so you need to sharpen the blade every few months. There are tools you can buy to maintain it, like hones (restores the teeth of the blades after continued use) and strops (which polish and straighten the blade).

straight razor barber set

Moreover, you need to clean the blade with hot water after every use, drying it completely after. This is crucial in preventing rust. You may also use olive or mineral oil to maintain the blade. Interestingly, you can swap the blade of your straight razor if it is old or you prefer a different one.

3. You Need To Be Very Careful

Straight razors have an advantage of covering more surface area, so you need fewer strokes to get rid of facial hair, simply because the blades are much longer. Plus, you really get a close shave like with no other razor out there. Still, the fear most people have is understandable because it is dangerous. To avoid any cuts, you will need a lot of practice to perfect your technique.

It’s a good thing you won’t really end up with a life-threatening injury when you misuse your straight razor. But just because the blade is exposed, you can expect it to be a tad riskier than other shavers. All you need is the right hold and method.

Hold the blade with three middle fingers on the back and the thumb on the side. The pinky should be on the handle (or also called tang). You will not need so much pressure using your straight razor and being gentle is safer.

Which One Is Better?

straight or safety which one?

When it comes to the best shaver, there is not much difference between a straight razor and a safety razor. The results are both great, although a straight razor might deliver a slightly closer shave. In fact, experienced shavers will know how to use both and might even alternate them.

It all boils down to your personal preference and schedule. If you prefer quick and easy (because you also do not have much time), then a safety razor is a good choice. It is also an improvement over disposable razors, especially when you hate the next-day stubble.

Both require a pre-shave routine to protect the skin from any irritation, so you will need to invest a bit of time whether you opt for a straight or safety razor. A straight razor might take you more time until you become a master, but when you consider how good the shave is and how long you have between shaves, you might end up saving time. At the very least, fewer shaves will make your skin happier.

A straight razor is, however, not for you if you do not want to spend time maintaining your equipment. The fact is, a safety razor and other disposable options require less maintenance because you only need to replace the blades.

Shaving is a routine task many people do not necessarily look forward to. This is the reason why opting for the closest shave possible, you achieve better results and reduce the need to shave again after a couple of days.

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