DE or Straight Razor?
A vast majority of wet shavers started with a cartridge razor. Some used a Gillette Mach III, others used a different type of cartridge (Schick Quattro, BIC, Gillette Excel, Trac II, etc). Many shavers also come from the Electric razor world. The quest to find the right razor is unique for each of us. Some are discovering wet shaving following issues with their skin such as ingrown hairs. Others would try it as they are now tired of the cartridges price. It could be the closeness of the shave or this chore might be more interesting with different tools... Regardless of the razor that one would choose, you are here because you are looking for a better shave. Keep in mind that regardless if you choose a safety razor or a straight razor, you will achieve the same result.
There are Pros and Cons of using a straight razor or a safety razor. You should pick what sounds interesting to you. When you start using one of those tools, you should only pick one or the other. Your technique will need to be developed and improved. If you keep using the same tools, you will achieve better results quicker. Do not be afraid of the blade being exposed compared to a cartridge razor that would offer more protection. Safety razors are a bit safer than straight razors, so it might be easier for you to start with a safety razor. Straight Razors are cooler and more "old school". Straight Razors require a bit more maintenance than a safety razor. Either tool will require more time at first to shave. Make sure that you will be ready to invest the time and efforts to learn this new way of shaving. Rare are the users that have a good shave on the first try; especially with a straight razor. The rate of success with a safety razor is higher. Do not be discouraged from trying a straight razor because of that.
Many shavers will comment on the sharpness of a straight razor as not nearly as sharp compared to a safety razor. You need to keep in mind that a straight razor sharpness relates to the razor itself, how it was sharpened and your stropping technique. It is strongly recommended to have a professional honing your first straight razor. That way, you will have an idea on what 'Shave Ready' means. The safety razor on the other hand has disposable blades. Those blades, depending on the brand, can be sharper, duller, rougher, smoother. Each have a preference and finding the right blade can be a tricky exercise. Depending on your razor, a blade can act differently. The same razor and blade could be different from a user to another. Now, it doesn't necessarily take a lot of money to get a good shave from a straight razor, but probably more so than the average DE setup. The big cost is in time. Within a few weeks, you can get incredible shaves with a DE. With a straight, it'll take months before you are getting shaves as close as you could/would within a week or two with a DE.
So why use a straight razor?
Some straight razor users will confirm that nothing else provides a closer shave. This largely depends on the user, straight razor, how it was honed, stropped, etc. The straight razor is an experience, a journey with a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Many have/will try a straight razor and quit. Quite frankly, it is not a tool for everyone--heck for most people. If you hang with it long enough, it is a very rewarding experience.
So if a straight razor is so good, why use a DE?
Compared to modern methods of shaving, a DE is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. It is much less costly to operate, more fun, provides a significantly closer shave than other modern alternatives, with zero irritation (when done properly) and dramatically cuts down and usually eliminates ingrown hairs. The DEs also have a learning curve. They are ridiculously inexpensive and incredibly sharp blades are readily available. When a blade gets dull, to the waste bin it goes. It's simple and easy. A DE is simply a tool to mow facial hair. A Straight is more of an ornamental piece of history/art.
Now I am confused. So what do I do?
Many wet shavers will use either a safety razor or a straight razor depending on their schedule in the morning. Some only use one of the two exclusively. A vast majority believe that a straight razor will take more time in the morning than a safety razor. It depends on your experience. Some are as quick using either tool. As you are looking at starting this new method of shaving, pick the shaving implement that sounds best for you. If you have more time to spend in the morning, a straight razor might be suitable. If you are more rushed, a safety razor might be more appropriate. Not everyone use a straight razor in their wet shaving life and that's all right.
Before you change to a new way of shaving, always consider how you are doing right now. If your current shaving implement is giving you passable shaves, it might be more difficult to start with a different shaving implement. If you do not like the way it shaves right now, by all means, change your razor. There are some many models of safety razors and straight razors that it would be easy to replace them. As mentioned earlier, keep in mind that the more you change your equipment, the longer it will take you to get used to this new method of shaving. It can take months before you obtain the mysterious BBS (Baby Butt Smooth) shave regardless of what you are using. Do not be shy of asking questions on the forum if you have any issues or concerns.
The Straight with disposable blades
An item that seems like a good compromise between a straight razor and a safety razor is the straight razor where you put disposable blades. There are many models on the market, some are made by Feather, Parker, Dovo (Shavette), etc. This does sound good as you would be using the safety razor sharp blades with an item almost identical to the straight razor. There are many debate as some love their disposable Straight Razors where other simply prefer the real straight razor. This is a choice that only you can make. Keep in mind that a real straight razor is more forgiving than a disposable straight razor. The blade angle is easier to work with a real straight razor.
What do you want out of your shaving experience - Fun? Comfort? Efficacy? Self-sufficiency? Economy? Convenience? The simple fact of the matter is an outstanding DE shave is going to be about on par with a straight razor shave in terms of how smooth your face will feel. In the end, both will give the same results. When you will be experienced enough, you will achieve really close shaves with either tool. Will it get any closer? Probably not.
Safety razor or straight razor? which one for you? Simple! If you just want a really good shave, save yourself a lot of time, effort and trouble, get yourself a DE. You won't be disappointed. If you want to shave with a straight razor for the "allure", the ultimate results/experience, or simply just because you have a wild hair and nothing is going to get in your way, do not waste any time on safety razors.