For beginners, using a straight razor can seem daunting because the learning curve is steeper than with a safety razor. However, for some gentlemen, there is simply no substitute for the close shave that only a straight razor can provide. For these men, shaving using a cutthroat razor is a labor of love, and they learn to savor the routine. Time is one of the considerations when choosing to use a straight razor or a safety razor. Some men believe that newbies should start with a safety razor and work their way up to a straight razor, however, other gentlemen say it’s best to begin with a straight razor if that is your ultimate goal. Either way, you should be prepared to take things slowly and accept that it will take time to perfect your routine.
Pros and Cons
Using a safety razor can be more cost effective than using either a straight razor or the regular cartridge system razors commonly found at pharmacies and grocery stores. The costs associated with using a straight razor include not only the cost of the razor itself but also the hones, strops and stropping paste used to keep the razor sharp as well as the shaving brush and shaving soap or high-quality shaving cream necessary to procure the desired results from your shaving routine. The good news is that the expense drops once you have purchased all the necessary supplies since you will not need to replace them often, and a quality shaving soap like those from D.R. Harris & Co. will last throughout many shaves.
Which type of razor makes the most sense for a new wet shaver? As with most men’s grooming issues, it is an individual matter, but here is how the pros and cons stack up:
- Con — High initial investment in blade, strops, hones and sharpening pastes and shaving brush
- Con — Steep learning curve to master art of straight shaving
- Con — High possibility of nicks, cuts and scratches — minimized as skill increases
- Pro — Close and individualized shave and pride in the process
- Pro — Modest initial investment in double edged razor, with minor continuing cost of replacement blades
- Pro — Easy adjustment from cartridge to safety type blade
- Neutral — Moderate possibility of nicks, cuts and scratches — minimize further as skill increases
- Con — Fairly close shave with some limitations depending on shape and cant of the razor
Once the novice wet shaver becomes more expert, the choice will become clearer. Some men will diversify and use both types at different times. Rare is the man who abandons wet shaving once he has rediscovered the comfort and closeness of the shave possible with either the straight or the DE system.
Image credits: 365 Day 251 by Collin Harvey