The straight razor versus the safety razor; which is better for you? The straight razor normally produces nostalgic images of the red and white barber sign, western movies, and a Norman Rockwell painting. The centuries old tool continues to be used today even with its modern competitor, the safety razor.
There is something very masculine and sexy about a man using a straight razor. Perhaps it is the potential danger and the skill needed to successfully complete a shave without a bloody mishap.
After all, it did not get its nickname, the “cut throat” razor for nothing.
Using this tool requires practice and skill. The blade should be held at a 30 degree angle and the first lathered pass should be with the grain of the whisker. For an even closer shave, the second pass will be across the grain. Modern razors have not been able to reproduce this close of a shave without razor burn or those pesky bumps.
Because the straight razor has a greater razor surface, more facial area is covered per stroke then with the safety razor. Less strokes and a sharper blade are the major contributions the straight razor offers to that superior, blemish free shave.
The straight razor has a better work ethic also. A full beard and mustache is not an obstacle and can be used regardless of the texture of the whiskers. The only thing needed for a close shave is plenty of lather. Too much facial hair can render a safety razor useless until the facial hair is cut closer to the face with scissors or a beard trimmer. The safety razor requires constant cleaning and users are often heard tapping the devise against the sink to unclog the blades.
The straight razor is easy to clean with running water or a quick swipe on a towel and with the proper maintenance will last a lifetime. Honing and stropping are techniques used to keep the straight razor sharp and polished. This takes as much skill as shaving does but is required to get the close shave that the straight razor is known for. The safety razor is much easier to keep sharp. The only skill required is the ability to snap on a new blade head and dispose of the old one.
Another advantage of the straight razor is its economical and environmental benefits. Unlike the safety razor, a person only needs to purchase the straight razor once. If maintained correctly, it can turn into a family heirloom to be passed down to future generations. This not only saves money, but also reduces waste and can be deemed as “green” in today’s earth conscious society.
If cost and waste are not an issue, straight razors can be bought with replacement blades. Some users who prefer the shave of a straight razor but the modern convenience of disposable blades can purchase these newer versions of razors. This replaces the need to hone and strop but still allows that masculine and nostalgic sense that shaving with a straight razor can bring.
The safety razor may be known as a modern convenience, but the straight razor continues to give the best shave and has benefits that fit into our modern culture.