Articles

Safety Razors vs Straight Razors

safety razors vs straight razors

Many people who are thinking of making the switch away from modern cartridges often wonder where they should head first. It came to my attention that making a “safety razors vs straight edge razors” post would be incredibly helpful for them, so here it is.

Best Overall Razor

The overall winner out of all the razors below is the Dovo Classic Straight Razor. Not only is its blade suitable for beginners, it's also one of the best quality straight razors being manufactured today.

I’m now going to go over the pros and cons of each, and give my own little conclusion further down the page. If you end up even more confused, or just want to add your own thoughts on the matter, feel free to post a comment.

Safety Razors vs Straight Edge Razors – Round One

First up is the safety razor. These guys are pretty easy to use, compact, and provide a decent shave too. They will likely last you for a long time, but the major downside is that the blades need replacing.

What is pretty cool about them is that you can often set the length of blade you want to use, like with electric clippers, which gives some nice flexibility to your shave. They are also sharper than modern razors (what isn’t?).

The main advantage they have over a straight razor is convenience. Using a safety is as simple as plonking in the blade, closing it up, choosing the right setting, then going to work. The safety aspect, the “grill” type cover that users of modern cartridges will be familiar with, makes it difficult to cut yourself, while still enjoying a good shave.

You do need to replace the blades, but it’s not a big deal for most people, and still a massive reduction in cost over modern blades.

With a safety razor, you DO massively reduce your shaving bill. Replacement blades only cost around $20 for a decent amount on Amazon, and a good safety razor lasts for life.

Another advantage of the safety razor is pricing. You can get a good straight razor for around $70-100 whereas safeties only cost $30-40 for a good one.

Best Safety Razor

For those of you want want a balance between convenience and quality shave, a safety razor might be your best option. Among all the safety razors below, the best one is the Merkur Long Handled.

Picture (Click For More)NamePriceRating
Merkur Long Handled$$$4.6/5
Merkur Heavy Duty Double Edge$$$4.7/5
Edwin Jagger Double Edge$$4.7/5
Parker 99R - Long Handle SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT$$4.4/5
Sturdy Long Handle Double Edge $$$4.7/5

Find more safety razors here.

Round Two

So, let’s see how the straight razor fares. The straight razor is the ultimate in quality and provides the closest, most comfortable shave you will find.

A well-maintained blade will also last forever, so except from the occasional honing service, you can say goodbye to shaving expenses on your shopping budget, or even learn to hone it yourself.

Yes, using a straight can be more time consuming than the average person wants, but that’s not the point. A straight razor turns shaving from a chore to a hobby, so you will no longer care about time spent shaving. You’ll also need to shave less often (every other day), so the time balances out in the long run.

If you are prepared to learn the true art of shaving, and get used to a straight razor, you will appreciate it for the rest of your shaving life, and so will your partner.

Picture (Click For More)NamePriceRating
Dovo Classic Half Hollow$$$$4.1/5
Dovo Full Hollow$$$$4.4/5
Haryali 100% Wood Handle$$$3.7/5
Feather SS Japanese $$$4.8/5
Feather Artist Club$$$$4.7/5

Conclusion

The boxes below give a quick summary of the pros and cons of each razor type.

Safety razors

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Sharp
  • Easy to use
  • Sturdy
  • Cheaper

Cons

  • Blades need replacing
  • Not quite as good as straights

Straight razors

Pros

  • Sharper and smoother than anything else
  • Seriously enjoyable
  • Manly
  • A hobby and lifestyle choice
  • Will last forever

Cons

  • Tricky to learn (But it just takes time)
  • Can be time consuming
  • More expensive to get started

Best Straight Razor

The Dovo Classic is the best entry level straight razor, and will keep you satisfied even as you become more advanced.

Best Safety Razor

The Merkur Long Handled safety razor represents the best balance between convenience and quality.

 

35 Comments

  1. Thanks for this writeup. I was actually considering getting a safety razor when I saw that viral video from the Dollar Shave Club (have you seen it?). I never did, because I just don’t follow through with things like that. LOL

    But I actually do have time during the week to shave with a straight razor considering I work from home, so I see that for me, there’s really no point in getting the safety one, I’ll just go straight to straight. Now, I just have to work on my follow through….

  2. I hope Nathaniell’s not talking about his follow-through while the razor is in hand…maybe he shaves with more flair and gusto than I do! More compelling info, Dom. Still waiting for that day when my electricity goes out…or maybe the day when I have to pay for new blades for my electric shaver. THAT might get me motivated.

  3. I disagree, I think safety razors can be cool! If I’m not in a hurry I do still prefer my straight razor though.

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Yeah I’ve noticed a lot of people are still preferring the safety razors, and I’ll admit they have their merits 🙂

  4. I find that even after using a safety razor, I MUST resort to cleaning up the stubble with a straight razor. That’s just me; maybe just a little OCD! Seriously; one can’t get a better shave than with a straight razor.

  5. Maybe you folks can help me out. I’m a fully bearded guy and have no intention of changing that. But, I still need to clean up a couple times a week on the throat below the beard and on the cheeks a bit. I’m torn between straight or safety. Since I’m not shaving my entire face, does that change the game? Any suggestions?

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey great question Josh. A safety razor is probably OK for the cheeks and throat area. Sometimes the shape of safety razors can restrict you if you’re trying to go for specific angles and trims, but it sounds like it won’t be an issue for you. Make sure you get a decent one though, as the cheaper ones have been known to “pull” rather than cut through hair.

      A straight razor on the other hand will always provide a better shave, and is far more flexible in terms of the angles you can shave, but it’s also a lot more of an investment.

  6. What type of straight razor is the one on the intro picture. (Brown handle and bronze looking blade?)

  7. Hi there,
    I’m a high schooler and fairly new to shaving, so far all I’ve used is a basic gilette razor and Giovanni/Bulldog cream/gel. I am needing to shave more and more though (every other day or more) and my skin isn’t responding too great.
    Do to having a single mother I have only learned to shave from what I’ve learned on the internet but would like help finding a nice, easy set up for a relative beginner.
    Any advice?
    Thanks in advance.

    P. S. Based on how much I already need to shave, I want to learn how to do it right and get good now so it is easier the rest of my life.

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey Jensen, good to see you taking a proactive approach to shaving. What kind of set up are you looking for though? I know you want something easy for a beginner, but there’s “cartridge razor easy”, “Safety razor easy”, and “Straight razor easy”. (Cartridge is the easiest and straight is hardest), so knowing that would help me answer better.

      Most true beginners would start with either a cartridge razor or a safety I believe.

  8. Well, so far all I’ve used is a cartridge, but it tends to pull and irritate even when sharp. I am leaning towards traditioning towards a safety razor (do to ease of use over a straight edge).

  9. Hi Dominic. Thanks for the info. By sharing your knowledge & insight, hopefully you can save some young men, from falling into the “more blades=better shave” myth, that so many (myself included) buy into. They end up spending $30+ every few weeks, for cartridges that are constantly clogged & give a far inferior shave. I finally wised-up & switched to a safety razor a while back, and can’t believe how many years I dealt with the frustration & cost associated with those stupid cartridges.

    Anyway, I’m now looking to make the leap to a straight razor. I’m hoping to find one that might be a little more forgiving during the learning curve, but still gives a quality shave, if there is such a beast. Also, I’d be looking to hone the blade myself, considering the closest place to have it done for me, would be over an hour away (each direction).

    Any/all help you could provide to hopefully send me in the right direction, would be appreciated.

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey Andy, great move by deciding to hone the blade yourself. I recently exchanged emails with someone from Dovo who said that is generally the best way to do it. Learn and grow with your razor. A brand new razor can be stropped to a decent enough sharpness, as beginners don’t really want a super sharp blade anyway.

      Dovo probably are the best for a beginner as well. A 6/8 or 5/8 inch blade is less likely to cause you to cut yourself, and still gives a close shave. There is a decent one here that might be in your price range, but if you shop around you can find a few for varying prices. It’s also worth checking out this page for the comparison chart.

      Let me know if you have any more questions. Good luck!

  10. Hello Dominic,
    I’m a lifelong cartridge user for no other reason than I didn’t really know there was a better alternative.
    I have been looking into a safety razor but find myself interested in the straight razor after reading your article. My only major concern (and mind you this is strictly born of ignorance on my part) is that I shave my head. In your experience what is the best tool for the job? Are there benefits to having one over the other when shaving one’s whole head rather than just the face?
    Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hmm, this is an interesting question. I assume you’ve always been using a cartridge razor to shave your head? If that’s the case, you’ll probably be ok with a safety razor or a straight as well. My only concern is that since the straight razor takes a bit of practice to get used to the different grip styles, it might cause a few cuts the first few times you shave your head. Maybe you could start using a straight only on your face, and try it on parts of your head (using a cartridge razor to finish up) until you feel confident enough to do the whole thing. A safety would also be fine, but I think a straight would allow you to have more freedom and better angles.

  11. I’ve recently bought a shavette to try than a normal saftey razor. I have to agree that it does take more time and at the beginning cut myself quite a bit. Now that I have gotten used to it, i don’t think I will go back to a regular razor. Is a shavette a mid point to going to a full cut throat and is there any benefit getting one in terms of a closer shave as this is pretty damn close and the blades are cheap enough and no need to Sharpen the blade as you would with a cut throat.

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey Chris,

      Yeah a shavette is a good mid point for sure, and for many people it’s going to be fine. If you feel that it’s already close enough then I’d stick with that, but if you want to dice with death even more, then a cut throat can definitely offer an even closer shave. It’s a trade off though because as you say, you have to sharpen/strop a straight razor. It depends on what you are looking for in terms of sharpness and convenience. You’ve got a pretty good compromise with the shavette.

  12. Dom, thanks for the good writeup. I’ve never used anything other than cartridge razors with very (extremely brief) forays into electric shavers. My issue is that shaving hurts like hell and I’ll typically only man up to it oncertificate per week or so. I really like the idea of a straight razor due to enjoying the feeling when my barber uses one on the back of my neck. My ex recently began using a safety razor and is singing their praises. Recently he saw me shaving my face and noticed that I shave against the grain. I’ve always shaved this way to get a nice close shave. So. Here are my questions:
    1. If I decide to use a straight razor, will I have major problems if I continue to shave against the grain?
    2. My hands are somewhat shaky. I can control it fairly well but I still have a slight worry of killing myself during the simple, mundane task of shaving.
    3. I’m a cheap bastard and I have a difficult time justifying spending much money on shaving.

    There you go, my life story. What are your thoughts?

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey Brian,

      Some good questions there.

      1.) You can shave against the grain, but it’s better to do a three-pass-shave and at least shave with the grain the first time, before reapplying cream and going back for an against the grain pass. There are some tips here: http://luxuryshaves.com/shaving-tips-for-men-learn-how-it-should-be-done
      2.) A safety razor might be better as it requires less dexterity and gives you more control. Or, if you’re going to use a straight, practice on a balloon and see if you can shave it without the balloon popping.
      3.) Safety razors are cheaper, but at the end of the day a safety or straight razor is a one-off investment. Yeah it costs more, but you don’t have the ongoing costs like with cartridge razors.

  13. What do you think about a Rolls Razor?

    • Dominic Wells says:

      The Rolls is a very good razor I think. It’s a little different from the straight edge, but shaves about the same. If you can find a good one and are interested to try, I recommend it.

  14. I have used cartridge razors and salons all my life, recently I have began to attend a traditional barber who is truly an artist with my hair and the straight razor. the cartridge razors tend to irritate my face/neck area and are very expensive whereas the Barber and straight razor leave me smooth and refreshed. I have considered switching to the straight razor to reduce irritation and cost, after researching I have learned there is a difference between aerosol cream, traditional cream, and soap. I have planned on using a Parker handle, lord blade, and aerosol shaving cream to start out with. my question is, what is your opinion on the replaceable straight razors and aerosols for beginners?

    • Dominic Wells says:

      Hey Rick, good question. I support replaceable straights and aerosols for beginners, mainly because they’re a good introduction. You don’t want to fork out a lot of money on a quality straight razor and all the accessories, only to discover a few days later that it’s not your cup of tea. Replaceable straight razors aren’t amazing, but they make a good stepping stone without putting you under much financial burden.

      • So there is a noticeable difference in quality of shave between replaceable straight razors and traditional straights?

        • Dominic Wells says:

          That’s right, but don’t get me wrong, the replaceable ones are still better than cartridge razors etc, they’re just not going to hold an edge as well as a traditional straight and won’t be as “super sharp”.

  15. Wayne Hunter says:

    Probably cuz I live in India but the barbers here use a cut throat razor but its blades need to be replaced. Just have to crack a safety razors blade in half and stick it in. More hygienic too I guess.
    Would you make a comparison between safety and straight razors with replaceable blades please?

  16. Wayne Hunter says:

    Also from the comments above, you might wanna add some info about the kinda products to go with them, or perhaps an entire post about the various foams gels etc etc available.

  17. Which type of razor would be best for shaving my head? I’m basically at the end if the road with my hair and I’d like to go with the band with a beard look. I’m a little concerned with the learning curve with straight razors. I’m not sure if my scalp us the best place to get past a learning curve.

    Thanks for ask the great info — I love the site!

  18. Purplespazz says:

    I have both a safety razor with a false comb and a beastly hand made expensive as heck chopper of a straight razor. Being a United States Marine i have to shave everyday. So i choose to shave using my straight razor on the weekends because it alots me more time. I use a safety throughout the week and only have to shave sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. I take about 30 mins to shave and its almost a ritual (which feels awesome i might add and i actually look forward to it). I like both styles but i have to say i like my safety more i also feel like its alot easier to reach the harder spots like back of the jaw under the ear.

  19. safety razors and staright razors are old story..Now a days cartridge razors leads the market because you can learn to use and produce a decent shave with a modern razor in about five-minutes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*