Straight razors have always ruled the world of shaving for centuries. They took over from the era of shaving using knives, and in functionality and appearance, they still resemble their predecessors. It was until the late 1800s and early 1900s that safety blades came into existence. They were designed to help reduce cross-infection risks since the sharp edge of a straight shaver is fully exposed, and the chances of suffering deep cuts and nicks are relatively high.
After the invention, the two rented the waves and offered services to men and women worldwide. While straight razors came in prior, their safety counterparts took over and became more common among the public, while they only remained with professional barbers and specialists. That’s because the safety razors offered gentler shaves and were easier and safer to use.
Coming down to the 70s, Bic brought in another stir in the world of shaving with their disposable razors. This was another hit since they were easier to use, less expensive, and offered quicker shave than their two predecessors. However, not everyone fell for the latest innovation. Some men still felt that the straight razor provided a better experience, add to a classy gentleman feel, and acts as a great nostalgia.
On the other hand, several men feel that the safety razor is the best to have, while others have a great attraction to the efficiency of disposable blades. It’s therefore easy to feel overwhelmed and confused when shopping for a shaver. However, we help you make the right decision by looking at each type’s unique features, functionalities and why you may (not) choose one over the other in this article. Here it goes.
1. Straight Razors
Straight razors are the most traditional types of shavers and have been here for centuries. However, they are not very common since they need a steep learning curve to operate safely and use. That’s why you’ll most probably see them on movies, TV shows, or high-class professional barbers and stylists.
However, they are recently making a comeback since users feel that they are classic, offer a more gentleman look, and a great heirloom due to their durability. They feature a metal single-edged blade that you can re-sharpen several times and a wooden handle, which doubles up as the blade’s storage. Some of the features of this shaver include:
• It takes time to learn and a lot of practice to use
• It offers a very close shave and free blade control.
• More risks of deep cuts and nicks since the blade is exposed.
• It can last you more than a lifetime with proper care, stropping, and sharpening.
• Expensive to purchase initially since you also need to purchase stop and stropping paste
• Not expensive to maintain since if you strop regularly before use, you may only need to sharpen twice yearly.
• Its blade is often at least three inches, making it possible to shave a big surface within a few strokes.
• Extremely sharp blades, not ideal if you have shaky hands
• You can’t replace blades. In case of damage, you have to repurchase the whole unit.
The risk associated with a straight razor is why only specialists often use it, especially when shaping sideburns, shaving the back of the neck, or lineup beards. It’s also ideal for sensitive hair, as long as your hand is steady.
2. Safety Razors
From their name, these shavers are easier and safer to use than their predecessors. They feature a handle and double-edged blade connecting at the head of the handle. Unlike straight razors, the safety pieces use a disposable blade and are less expensive. They also require skills and practice to use. However, their learning curve doesn’t take much time.
These shavers have their blades sandwiched between a cap at the top and a safety bar at the bottom to maximize safety. Thus, only a small section of the sharp edge comes into contact with the skin, lessening the risks of an irritation, cut or nick, and making them ideal for anyone. They are also fit for sensitive skin and are suitable for any user. Here are the features of a safety razor:
• Most affordable
• Easy to use
• Provide closer shave than a cartridge or disposable blades
• Best for beginners
• Different types of blade qualities, so you can choose the one that fits your skin’s sensitivity and needs
• Blades are replaceable, so you don’t have to wait to sharpen, replace and proceed
• Gentle on your skin
• Some variants are ideal for women’s legs and armpits.
• You can also use it on the face as a dermaplaning tool.
Safety razors have been the most common shavers since their inception. However, in the 70s came the next innovation that has also caught the attention of many users. The modern cartridge and disposable razors copied the concept of the safety razors in their appearance and functionality. They have a handle connected with a T-shaped blade holder attached at the tip. The only difference is that the safety shavers are entirely metals, while the disposable counterparts are often plastic.
3. Disposable Razors
Disposable and cartridge razors are among the latest technology in the world of shavers for men. These razors take a lot in terms of functionality and appearance from safety shavers but are quicker and more efficient than their counterparts. However, their material has a very significant contribution to the quality of their service. The plastic material makes them lightweight; hence to use, you have to exert more pressure and press them down a little more. As a result, they increase the chances of irritation, nicks, and cuts.
The cartridge razors come with a series of blades for a closer shave. The disposable blades also often come with this technology. That also results in more risks of cuts and shaving irritation. As a result, they are not an ideal option for sensitive skin and susceptible to shaving irritations. Similarly, disposable shavers are meant for single, or two-times use. As a result, they are ideal for traveling and camping. While they cost less, they can be expensive in the long run due to continuous replacement. Here are some outstanding features:
• Low-quality blades
• Less initial cost but expensive in the long run
• High chances of irritation, nick, and cuts
After knowing how different types of shavers look and their functionality features, it’s time to choose the razor that best fits your needs. There’s no one type that we can deem as the best since they both have hits and misses. As a result, the decision lies on why you are shopping for a razor and what best describes your needs.