Shavette vs Straight Razor – Which One is Better?

 A Dovo shavette sitting on a wooden surface above a Dovo straight razor with the 'VS' abbreviation between the two.

Dovo Shavette Above a Dovo Straight Razor

If you’re trying to decide between a shavette and a straight razor, then there are a couple of things to consider that we’ll discuss in this post.

I honestly don’t think that one is better than the other. There are definitely things I like about each one, but the decision is highly personal based on your shaving habits and personal preferences.  In this post I will talk about the differences you will encounter between using a shavette vs a straight razor as they relate to shave preparation, long-term maintenance, ongoing costs, and actually shaving with each one.

Shave Preparation

Shavette

When you are using a shavette to shave you can jump right in, metaphorically speaking because actually jumping with sharp objects is a bad idea, with very little to no maintenance.  At most, you might have to insert a new blade if the old one dulled to the point where shaving with it is uncomfortable.

Straight Razor

You will need to strop your straight razor before each shave which will add a few minutes to each shave.

Long-term Razor Maintenance

Shavette

There is virtually no maintenance for shavettes over the course of their lifetime.  The only maintenance you might do is use rubbing alcohol a Q-tip to clean the blade after you are done with it. You don’t really need to do it, but some people like to do this with their razors.

Straight Razor

You will need to hone your straight razor periodically in order to keep it in shaving shape.  In essence, the edge slowly gets banged up enough to the point where it will not shave as well as it did before.

Ongoing costs / Maintenance

Shavette

Shavettes use disposable blades. You will be forced to buy replacement blades as long as you want to continue shaving with a shavette.

Straight Razor

A straight razor’s costs are primarily upfront.  Assuming you don’t damage them, you only need to buy a straight razor, strop once.  If you plan on honing your razor yourself, then you can add sharpening stones to that list.  The only ongoing costs you will see with a straight razor are strop pastes, and fluid/oil for your sharpening stones.

If you decide to pay someone else to hone your razor for you, then you will incur whatever they charge for honing which will definitely add to the cost of shaving with a straight razor.

Although the upfront costs of straight razors are significantly more than a shavette, in the long-term it might be actually cheaper than a shavette.

Shaving

Shaving with a shavette and straight razor are largely the same with the following exceptions:

  • Blade length: Most shavettes take a safety/DE razor blade which is significantly shorter than the blade of a straight razor. This means that it can take more passes with a shavette to shave the same amount of skin area. The only exception to this is a Dovo shavette which can take long blades with the black insert and this gets you closer to the length of a true straight razor.
  • Weight: Shavettes tend to be lighter than straight razors. This definitely gives you a different shaving experience when shaving with a shavette versus a straight razor. Personally, I like the weight of a straight razor over any shavette I have shaved with.
  • Blade sharpness: Shavette blades are machine sharpened. As a result, the blades are sharper than a straight razor. My personal opinion is that it’s easier to nick yourself with a shavette than with a straight razor.  With straight razors I feel that I can sense when the straight razor is about to dig in and I can stop shaving before I nick myself, but by the time I feel the shavette dig in I have already nicked myself. The machine sharpened blades of a shavette are advantageous when you’re first starting out because you know it’s your shaving technique that is the issue and not the sharpness of the blade if the shaven’t is cutting through your hair.
  • Shaving long hair: When you shave long hair with a shavette there is the potential for hair to get stuck between the blade and the blade holder. This can make it harder to shave with until you clear out the clog. A straight razor is a solid, single piece of metal with no places for the hair to wedge into. The longer hair just passes over the cutting edge and collects on the side of the blade.

My Personal Preference

I definitely prefer to shave with a straight razor over a shavette because I like the shaving experience. There is some intangible quality about shaving with a straight razor that just can’t be put to words.

With that being said, I tend to shave the most with a feather razor, which is similar to a shavette, because of the convenience factor of not having to strop the razor or hone it. Even then, I still get more pleasure out of shaving with a straight razor than a feather razor. The feeling of a straight razor in your hand while shaving is second to none.

Final Thoughts

Shavettes can be great training wheels for straight razors since they are the same style as straight razors. They allow you to develop the muscle memory that will transfer directly to shaving with a straight razor. Mind you, there still is a difference between shaving with a straight razor and a shavette, but it’s a pretty easy transition.

If you can’t shave your beard or hair with a shavette, then you know your shaving technique is off and needs improvement.  You don’t have to worry about if it was properly honed or stropped like you would with a straight razor, with the exception of “shave ready” straight razors. Basically, a shavette takes the blade edge sharpness out of the equation when you are first learning.

Ultimately, the only way to know which one you prefer is to shave with both of them and decide for yourself.

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