Whether you are looking for a closer shave, aiming to boost your eco and environmental credentials, or simply looking to add something new to your look, a safety razor, also known as a butterfly razor, can be a great investment. These handy tools offer you the chance to enjoy all the benefits of a disposable razor, but without any of the concerns about single-use or disposable plastics. A safety razor can also help you to enjoy a closer shave and more successful, striking results, as well as standing the test of time – even if you spend a little more on the initial purchase, you can rest assured that this is a great investment.
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What Exactly Is A Safety Razor
For most of us, our experience with razors and shaving will come primarily from plastic cartridge razors. Safety razors, however, can offer a far more durable, long-lasting option. So just what is a safety razor? In the simplest terms, a safety razor refers to a “T” shaped, double-edged single razor blade, which is designed to offer a shave as close as possible to the skin – the end result is clean, clear lines and a professional-grade finish, without the need to visit an actual barber for a shave.
This offers benefits over a plastic, multi-blade cartridge – the shave will be closer and so more precise and accurate. In addition, the fact that a single blade passes over the skin – as opposed to between three and five that could come with cartridge razors – reduces the chance of irritation or razor burn. This makes a safety razor a perfect choice for sensitive skin, or for those who are looking to get the closest possible shave in the comfort of their own home.
You will still need to use a proper technique when using a safety razor – they can still be dangerous if not used correctly.
The Difference Between A Straight Razor And A Safety Razor
Despite the somewhat misleading description, safety razors are not inherently safer than straight razors – the “safety” refers to the nature and location of the razor. In a safety razor, the blade is safely enclosed in the head of the razor, rather than being exposed. They essentially work in a similar way to the plastic, disposable razors which are typically a very popular choice in society. Unlike these plastic cartridge razor designs, however, safety razors are typically made of metal, and so last for longer than cheaper alternatives.
In general, safety razors come in two types: double-edge, which has two exposed edges, or single edge, which has one edge exposed.
Straight razors, on the other hand, are typically seen in old TV shows, Westerns or gangster movies – though they are also making a comeback on the mainstream market. As the name suggests, straight razors consist of long, sharp, straight pieces of metal which are attached to a handle, and able to pivot in a range of directions. Also known as a “cut throat” razor, these are very sharp, offering an extremely close shave – but they can also be extremely dangerous. Click to learn more about the difference between straight razors and safety razors here.
Unless you know exactly what you are doing, using a straight razor is a job best left to the professionals. Fortunately, a safety razor allows you to enjoy similar results at home.
Parts Of A Safety Razor
Before you start using your safety razor, it is a good idea to have a solid understanding of the main parts: the cap, the mount and the comb.
The cap is a crucial part of the structure and is the place that is set aside for the razor blade to gently rest upon. The cap will sit on a threaded post, and this will then screw into the handle for a secure finish.
The mount is another important aspect of any safety razor – this comes in two options: fixed or loose. As a rule, a two-piece safety razor has a fixed mount, and a three-piece safety razor has a loose mount. The choice between these two is ultimately a personal one, though three-piece razors can be easier to clean, as they can be more fully taken apart.
The comb is perhaps the most diverse section of the safety razor and can vary from brand to brand.
Closed Comb: The most common option is a closed comb – this is great for beginners, as it helps to offer a mild, close shave, and will carefully tighten the skin before you make the cut. There is an even distribution of pressure along the full width of the head.
Open Comb: An alternative option is an open comb – as the name suggests, this increases the exposure of the blade, switching out part of the safety bar for a “teeth” design, and this offers a more aggressive cut. It is best to steer clear of open comb safety razors unless you have plenty of experience, as they can be trickier to navigate. They are, however, great for longer facial hair.
Slant Bar: For something a little different, try a slant bar razor. This is a type of safety razor blade that cuts the hair at an angle, rather than straight on, reducing pressure on the follicle. These are perfect if your skin is a little more sensitive, as slant bar safety razors can reduce the risk of ingrown hairs and rashes.
Top Tip! Pair a slant bar razor with a sensitive shaving cream to help reduce irritation while shaving.
What To Look For In A Safety Razor
Whether you are purchasing your first safety razor, or simply interested in making the switch from cartridge razors to safety razors in the future, there are a few considerations to help you make the right choice and find the best safety razor for you.
The “aggressiveness” of your tool will refer to the sharpness of the razor blade you opt for, as well as the number of times that the blade and razor head will need to pass over the skin in order to get a close shave. The more aggressive the blade, the fewer passes you need. Beginners should start with a less aggressive option, as this can increase your risk of nicks, or opt for adjustable razors to allow you to control the level of aggression.
As we mentioned, you will need to choose between a straight or slant bar – straight bars are the most common types of safety razors, but slant bars offer a closer shave.
There will be a guide next to the blade in your safety razors, and this will direct the hair to make your shave smoother and more effective. If your hair is longer and thicker, you should opt for an open comb as this allows the hairs to be more easily separated. Be aware, however, that this will also be more aggressive.
Why Should You Use A Safety Razor?
So just what advantages can safety razors offer? There are a number of benefits – the most obvious being the number of blades involved. Safety blades only have one blade, and this allows you to limit and reduce the number of times that the blade will pass over your skin. With cartridge razors, you can have up to four razor blades per unit – if you make four passes across your skin, you are exposing your skin to sixteen passes, and this can result in irritation, cuts, nicks and ingrown hairs.
Safety razors can also be more hygienic, as there is nowhere for bacteria or debris to gather in the razor head. With a double edge safety razor, the blade is exposed, and this makes it easier to clean and maintain good hygiene. As an added bonus, safety razors are cheaper and better for the planet – you only need to make one investment to last for a number of years.
Despite being easier to clean, you will still need to take good care of your safety razor, keeping the razor head clean and hygienic after every use.
Taking Care Of Your Safety Razor
There is no denying that safety razors can offer a more hygienic option, but you will still need to spend time taking care of your razor in order to help preserve and enhance its lifespan, and keep your tool safe and clean.
There are a few tips to remember:
Keep It Dry
Make sure that you keep your razor dry and free from moisture when not in use – any razor left to sit in water will become damp, and could rust.
Clean It Regularly
Get into the habit of cleaning your razor after every use to keep it in the best condition. To do this, take the razor apart, and place them in a dish with water, vinegar and baking soda. Leave them for 30 minutes or so, rinse and then dry with a dry cloth, polishing as you go.
Do not leave your razor blades or any part of your safety razors to soak for more than 30 minutes, or you risk rust.
How Often Should You Shave
The amount that you shave will depend largely on the look you are aspiring to – a clean-shaven look will require a lot of dedication, and you will need to shave every first or second day to maintain a clean face. Ultimately, the amount you need to shave will depend on two main aspects: the look you aspire to and your genetics; that is, how fast your hair grows. If you are looking for the best travel shavers & electric razors, click here to get more information.
What Can Impact How Often You Shave
- Diet – the more nutrients in your diet, the faster your hair will grow
- Hair color – the darker your hair, the more you will need to shave, as the hair will be more visible
- Hormones – the level of testosterone in your system will also impact how fast your hair grows
- Aesthetic – the look you want
- Genetics – some people are simply hairier than others!
Top Tips For Shaving
- Use a shave gel – this will calm and moisturize the skin
- Use a moisturizer – especially if you shave often, as this can cause the skin to become dry, irritated and flaky. This is particularly important if you are using multi-blade razors
- Use the correct technique – especially if you are using a double edge razor
Any Downsides To A Safety Razor?
As with any razors or grooming tools, there are always risks that can come with using safety razor blades. Cuts, nicks and scratches are the most common issue many shavers face, and these are even more likely with a double edge safety razor, as you are using two blades. That does not mean that double edge safety razors are more dangerous, simply that you need to be slower, more cautious, and use the correct technique.
Safety razors can also cause issues when traveling – getting them through security at an airport, for example, can be tricky. In these situations, it is usually easier to opt for a traditional plastic razor, as this will be more easily recognized and should cause fewer issues. Alternatively, you can just buy a throwaway, disposable razor when you reach your destination – though this is much less environmentally friendly! Make sure to read our review of the best nose hair trimmers next.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shaving With A Safety Razor Better?
Shaving with a safety razor is better in that it offers you a closer, cleaner and more precise shave than you can achieve using a standard cartridge razor. As a bonus, a safety razor will usually offer fewer ingrown hairs, rashes or the risk of an allergic or irritated reaction.
What Is The Difference Between A Straight Razor And A Safety Razor?
The difference between a straight razor and a safety razor lies mainly in the location of the razor blades – in a safety razor, the blades are enclosed inside the head, while in a straight razor, there are exposed blades, and this allows users to enjoy a professional-quality close shave without having to employ the services of a professional.
Can You Shave Everyday With A Safety Razor?
You can shave everyday with a safety razor, but just be aware that the more frequently you shave, the more you will have to pay attention to your skin and face care – your skin is likely to be more stressed, and this is the case whether you use safety razors or cartridge razors, as safety razor blades will still cause you to shed dead skin cells, and this can result in irritation.
How Long Does A Safety Razor Last?
A safety razor will last for as long as you take good care of it, and the blades will last for around seven days at full sharpness. The exact lifespan of your razor will depend largely on the model and brand you opt for, but on average, you should get around six to seven shaves out of one razor.
Are Safety Razors Cheaper?
Safety razors are cheaper in the long term, as they tend to last longer than cheaper plastic options. They may be a little more expensive in the short-term, as the initial investment cost tends to be higher, but it is well worth putting the cash in, as you can save money over months or years.
Whether you are wondering just what is a safety razor, or looking to make the switch for good, our informative guide has everything you need to know to make a smart, informed decision. These are great for enjoying a close, precise shave – especially if you have thick hair – and are a more eco-friendly option. Best of all, they can save you serious cash in the long term!