Engaging in straight razor vs. shavette debates has become a popular pastime among wet shaving enthusiasts. Meanwhile, those new to the double edge game have trouble deciding which of the two razors is better for beginners. The main question is which shaving product will give you the best shave? Let’s just say, it’s a matter of opinion.
Wet shavers have claimed the benefits of shaving with a shavette and the advantages of using a straight razor. But one thing is for sure: a shavette is not a replacement to help you get through the learning curve of straight razor shaving. However, transitioning from a cartridge razor to a shavette is a great recommendation.
Each razor has its benefits—pros and cons—find the best tool that works for your hair and skin type. Wet shaving is like joining an artist club and we are here to help you select the most appropriate tool for your shaving experience.
- Difference Between a Shavette and a Straight Razor
- Replaceable and Solid Blades
- Blade Size (Shavette has a shorter blade)
- Maintenance & Convenience
- Straight Razor vs. Shavette: Pros and Cons
- Pros of Shaving with a Shavette Single Blade
- Cons of Shaving with a Shavette Single Blade
- Pros of Shaving with a Straight Razor
- Cons of Shaving with a Straight Razor
- Cost Overview
- Which is Better: Shavette or Straight Razor
Difference Between a Shavette and a Straight Razor
There are different kinds of shavette.1 One bears a similar design to a kamisori, with the handle steadily attached to the blade. The other bearing features a straight razor, wherein the pivot pin attaches the handle to the blade for that iconic swinging mechanism.
A Kamisori-style shavette is easily distinguishable over a straight razor. Meanwhile, a shavette straight razor is what many beginner shavers often mistake as a less challenging version of a traditional straight razor. But is it?
Here are the differences between a shavette straight razor and a traditional:2
- Shavettes have replaceable blades, and straight razors have solid blades.
- Straight razor blades are longer than a shavette's blades.
- Straight razor blades need honing and stropping; shavette's blades are disposable.
- Shavettes are better for commercial use and for sharing razors among friends.
- Shavettes are lighter and lack the heft of a straight razor.
Replaceable and Solid Blades
A straight razor and a shavette straight razor have the same design profiles: a single narrow blade can be fixed or tucked into its handle.
Straight razors have solid blades that manufacturers forge into the spine.3 The difference between a straight razor and a shavette is that shavettes have disposable blades that clasp into a slot along the razor's spine using the following shavette mechanisms:4
- Clasp - the razor's spine has two parts wherein a clasp fixes the blade.
- Pinch - the razor's spine is a single piece with a clasp locking in the blade.
- Slide/Insert - a detachable piece acts as a blade holder, which then inserts the blade into the spine.
- Slot - the blade is pushed in a folded-metal spine.
- Screw - a rare mechanism wherein a screw holds the blade in place.
- Knob - an extremely rare mechanism with a rotating clasp to hold the blade.
When the blade of a shavette gets dull, shavers can replace them with a new one and then put the dull blades in a blade bank.5 On the other hand, a straight razor blade is irreplaceable and needs sharpening through honing or stropping to prevent dullness.
Blade Size (Shavette has a shorter blade)
The shavette blade is one-half of a double-edged (DE) blade.6 It’s the same blade shavers use for safety razors. Because of that, a shavette only has a cutting edge that is as long as a straight razor blade's width. In contrast, a straight razor's cutting edge goes from the shank until the point.
If you already have safety razor blades it’s likely that you can use them in your shavette. There are a few companies that have customized the edge blades and therefore in that case you’ll need to buy the correct fitting. Check with the shavette maker to make sure.
Maintenance & Convenience
The disposable blade makes the shavette straight razor appealing for first-time users. That is because they do not need to strop and hone a shavette’s blade. And instead, they can simply replace it.
And, voila! They will have a new and sharp blade ready to use.
On the contrary, if you want to shave with a straight razor, you need to strop it first. Stropping is an essential step in traditional wet shaving.7 It evens out the microscopic chips at the blade's edge from the previous shave, guaranteeing that your blade is as sharp as if it is brand new.
Among professional barbers, using a shavette is more practical and convenient due to hygienic regulations. Regulative agencies passed strict laws monitoring the commercial use of straight razors, especially in barbershops.8
These laws resulted from people becoming more aware of the dangers posed by bloodborne pathogens.9 In the end, shavettes proved to be the best alternative commercially to getting a close shave made from a straight razor.
However, if you are using a straight razor for your personal use only, it is entirely hygienic and easier to clean. You only have to rinse the remaining lather and hair debris off the blade, wipe it clean with a towel, and dry it properly.
Since the blade type and size of a shavette is less than a straight, it is only fitting to know that it is lighter than a traditional straight razor. A straight razor blade is made of full metal that is significantly thicker, longer, and heavier to achieve the perfect equilibrium between the blade and handle for effortless shaving. Shavettes, on the other hand, lack the heft of a straight razor because they have blades made with lighter materials like aluminum.
These factors justified why it is not a good idea for beginners to start with a shavette to learn how to use a straight razor. Your grip will entirely feel different once you transition to straight razor shaving, making the experience feel entirely new.
Straight Razor Vs. Shavette: Pros and Cons
Since shavettes are not entry-level versions of straight razors and have their own distinct features. Shavettes also provide different results for different skin and hair types. One thing is certain, whichever razor you choose you’ll still need to prep with quality shaving cream and finish off your shave with some natural aftershave.
So, when it comes to unforgiving performance, which is better: a shavette or a straight razor?
Let's weigh the pros and cons of shaving with shavette vs. straight razors:10
Pros of Shaving with a Shavette Single Blade
- The thin blades are easier to control.
- It has a short cutting edge that is perfect for touching up sideburns.
- Better blade-to-skin angle visibility.
- Low maintenance and convenience.
- Saves more space because of its compact size.
Some people do not mind the shavette's lightness because it is easy to control when shaving your facial hair. Those with a coarse beard can get the same results in two passes with a shavette rather than a straight razor which takes him three or four passes.11
But if you are in the mood for a shaving tool for touching up your sideburns, shavettes are the ideal companion. Their short cutting edge and higher visibility make them far easier to use than straight or safety razors.
Lastly, many consider shavette straight razors as their first straight because of the absence of blade maintenance and compact size. Shavettes are smaller, and their blades are disposable, making shavers save in space and some pennies.
Cons of Shaving with a Shavette Single Blade
- The blade's thinness does not balance the handle's weight causing the blades to vibrate.
- This vibration tugs on stubbles and the skin, causing razor burn and cuts.
- Shorter cutting edges can only cater to fewer areas while shaving.
- Breaking DE blades in half can cause injury and inconveniences.
- The blades dull easily after a couple of uses.
Given that the blade is extremely thin and lightweight against a long arm, the blade vibrates against your stubble and skin. This phenomenon may cause irritation and cuts.12
Although the cutting edge is indeed the same width as a safety razor, it feels easily surpassed by a straight. Given that straight razors have a long blade, they require fewer passes, which is one of their benefits over safety razors.
Pros of Shaving with a Straight Razor
- The blade perfectly balances the weight of the handle.
- The weight of a straight razor makes it easier to shave with.
- It easily bevels on the skin without vibration for a smooth and clean shave.
- With a longer blade length, it can easily shave larger areas efficiently.
- One blade for a lifetime-worth of shaving
- It is an eco-friendly shaving tool.
Straight razor blades come from a blend of the strongest steel, creating a full-metal blade. With this quality, it can easily provide balance to the weight of its handle. Hence, it does not offer aggression on the skin, the blade does not accidentally pivot back in the handle, and the shaver can have the proper grip for an effortless shave.
The length of a straight razor's blade measures 7-9 cm or 2-3.5" on average.13 It can shave more areas in less passes. Hence, a straight razor can give a more efficient shave vs. a shavette.
When comparing the blade of a shavette vs. the blade of a straight razor, DE blades lie inferior. These disposable blades aren't for long-term use. Hence, it is not logical for manufacturers to invest in premium steel.
On the other hand, straight razor manufacturers take pride in the material of the blade. They make sure to invest in high-quality steels, like Japanese steel and Damascus steel, to make the best straight razors that are guaranteed to last a lifetime-worth of shaving or more.
Lastly, and most importantly, straight razors are the most eco-friendly shaving tool. The latest statistics show that 2 billion razors end up in landfills every year.14 A straight razor can replace $1,000 worth of disposable razors, decreasing the demand, production needs, and ecological damage plastic razors contribute.
Cons of Shaving with a Straight Razor
- Straight razors have an intimidating learning curve.
- There is an expensive initial investment.
- It cannot be used on its own.
- The blades require maintenance, which involves another learning curve.
One of the major factors that drive so many shavers away from using a straight razor is its intimidating cutthroat edge, which requires beginners to go through a specific learning curve if they do not want to end up in a bloody accident.
However, all razors have their own learning curve, and learning how to shave with a straight razor is not entirely difficult. There are a lot of video tutorials online and guides, like our How To Hold A Straight Razor article, to show you the basic kind of grips. Once you get comfortable with these, it is easier to use a straight razor—even every day.
Here comes the fun part: wet shaving accessories and blade maintenance. It is impossible to shave dry with a straight razor. That is why part of the initial investment is buying products like scuttle mugs, shaving brushes, shaving soaps, strops, and, later on, a honing stone. Some people see this as a disadvantage, but if you are replacing $1,000 worth of plastic razors, it is a small price.
To save your money, why not get a complete wet shaving kit, like our Solomon Straight Razor Kit, featuring a well-crafted straight razor with Japanese steel and biblical wood handle, leather strop partnered with a sharpening paste to keep it sharp. The kit also includes organic shaving soap, a badger-friendly brush, and a leather travel case.
A shavette is significantly cheaper compared to the lowest quality straight razors. However, do not forget that you will have to spend more time replacing the blades. On the other hand, you can view straight razors as a long-term investment, which is costly at first but much cheaper in the long run.
Having a basic sharpening tool like a leather stop on hand is great for preventing a straight razor from getting dull. It saves you some time and money spent on going to honing experts. And while you are at it, you can also equip yourself with a honing stone for straight razors, just in case you have major chips on your blade in the future.
Nonetheless, straight razors will cost you less in the long run. Again, you do not need to continue buying new blades just because your old ones got dull. The only downside is you will have to learn how to strop a straight razor and how to hone a straight razor. But, trust us, it is all worth it. You can even use these skills to offer personal honing services for fellow straight razor enthusiasts?
Which is Better: Shavette or Straight Razor?
Given their pros and cons, a straight razor is better than a shavette because it has a more durable blade that is also cost-efficient and offers less aggression on your skin. It is easier to get an effortlessly clean and close shave with a straight razor and in some cases the shavette can be light as a feather which may lead to cuts and nicks.
When it comes to their blades' edges, a shavette's edge is not as sharp as the edge of a straight razor's blade. Again, these are made using different metal and steel qualities, with the shavette's blade coming from more inferior material than a straight razor's full-metal blade.
Shaving pros are right when they say shavettes are not entry-level straights. They feel different and shave differently. Due to the major variation in weight and length, beginners should not start shaving with a shavette to learn how to use a straight razor, or it will be more challenging for them to transition later on.
Meanwhile, for commercial use, more barbers prefer to use a shavette straight razor for hygiene and practical purposes. It is faster to cater and switch edges between clients with replaceable blades without the need to strop every time.
Ultimately, straight razors are better than shavettes because they are heavier, have better and longer blades, and are milder on the skin despite offering a clean and close shave.
According to a Reddit user, a straight is easier and more comfortable to use for two reasons:15
- The cutting edge is longer so that it can cover more of the face in one swipe
- There are "seams" in the shavette (the blade goes in a holder, which then goes in another holder), which tugs the hair occasionally rather than just a smooth cut.
Here at Naked Armor, our advice is that if you are serious about learning a type of traditional shaving, we recommend trying a high-quality straight razor first. A straight razor is helpful for regular grooming, and building up your skill in wielding the blade will make your senses attuned to knowing how to use other blades in the future, like a shavette.
Whatever you end up buying, please don’t just pick the cheapest edge razor off of Amazon. Do a little research and spend a few more dollars to get the right shaving experience.
Our straight razors at Naked Armor are perfect for beginners and pros alike. They are designed uniquely between a full hollow and half hollow grind, giving them all the benefits of both grinds. Therefore, they can cut easily through coarse or thin hair.
They are also made from high-quality Japanese steel or Japanese stainless steel and expensive wood or stainless steel handles. These qualities make them durable and eco-friendly with a low carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, our shavette razors are top-of-the-line, artisanal pieces. They are stylish and made from high-grade stainless steel, and they will give you a close shave and the sharp edge your beard grooming needs.
For more of our straight razors and shavettes, check out our website. We recommend both Naked Armor straight razor and Parker shavettes.
More Naked Armor Stuff to Read:
- Shavette Vs. Safety Razor: How Do They Compare?. Sharpologist. https://sharpologist.com/shavette-vs-safety-razor/
- Shavette Vs. Straight Razor Comparison: What’s The Difference & Which Is Better For Shaving?. Bespoke Unit. https://bespokeunit.com/shaving/shavette-vs-straight-razor/#difference
- J. Bartlett. Best Metal for a Straight Razor (Stainless Vs Carbon Vs Others). I Mustache You To Shave. https://imustacheyoutoshave.com/best-metal-for-a-straight-razor-stainless-carbon/. October 17, 2021
- Different types of shavette and holding mechanisms. Badger & Blade. https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/different-types-of-shavette-blade-holding-mechanisms.487763/
- Kensurfs. Blade Bank. A Must Have For Every Wet Shaver And Every Shave Den.; 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blbe3cGq-tw&ab_channel=Kensurfs. Accessed May 2022.
- Top 10 Best Razor Blades For Safety Razors & Double Edge Razors. Bespoke Unit. https://bespokeunit.com/shaving/safety-razor/blades/
- N. Gareau. How To Strop A Straight Razor. Kent Of Inglewood. https://www.kentofinglewood.com/blogs/news/how-to-strop-a-straight-razor. February 13, 2020
- Fendrihan. Are Straight Razor Shaves Legal In America. Blog Fendrihan. https://blog.fendrihan.com/2016/02/are-straight-razor-shaves-legal-in-north-america/. February 5, 2016
- Krishanani, Mukesh & Amin, Faridah & Late, Ali & Qidwai, Waris & Ali, Badar. (2014). Educational Intervention among Barbers to Improve Their Knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS: A Pilot Study from a South Asian Country. Journal of health, population, and nutrition. 32. 386-90.
- J. Bartlett. Straight Razor Vs. Shavette (Pros, Cons, Differences). I Mustache You To Shave. https://imustacheyoutoshave.com/straight-razor-vs-shavette/. September 30, 2021
- Shavette vs. straight razor sharpness. Badger & Blade. https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/shavette-vs-straight-razor-sharpness.548331/
- Everything You Need To Know About Razor Burn. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/razor-burn
- How To Choose Your Straight Razor. Couteau-Laguiole. https://www.couteau-laguiole.com/en/blog/-how-to-choose-your-straight-razor--n180#:~:text=A%20straight%20razor's%20blade%b20is,to%20thin%20and%20cut%20hair.. March 27, 2018
- Associated Press. Here's how to keep your razors from contributing to landfill waste. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/08/07/landfill-waste-how-prevent-disposable-razor-plastic-pollution/1943345001/. August 27, 2019
- Shavette vs. Straight. Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/wicked_edge/comments/2m41q1/shavette_vs_straight/