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Straight Razor/Carbon VS Stainless Steel

Carbon VS Stainless Steel

This is an interesting topic. Personally, I've always been quite fond of Stainless Steel razors, however only recently has the online straight razor community embraced them as an equal to the Carbon Steel razor, and just a matter of 3-4 years ago, I was one of the few fellas preaching the effectiveness of stainless steel razors.

So why would you buy a carbon steel razor?

Well, many feel that carbon steel razors shave closer, or rather; you are able to put a finer edge on a carbon steel razor. While I can attest, it is easier to put a finer edge on a carbon steel razor, I wouldn't say they can develop a finer edge, as many stainless razors I own, and have honed have had every bit as superlative an edge as their carbon steel "brothers." Carbon steel razors are more readily available, less expensive, and are offered in a wider array of handle materials. Carbon steel razors also tend to not be as robust as a stainless steel razor, so nearly all "singing" razors are actually carbon steel razors, as they can/will bend and contour to your face easier, as the metal had more spring, or give to it. Lastly, carbon steel razors can/will rust if not properly looked after and cared for--much easier than a stainless steel razor. Now, the care of a carbon steel straight razor isn't overly difficult, complex or time consuming (see the section of the guide on the care of carbon steel razors) so don't write them off as too much effort.

Why a Stainless Steel razor?

Well, first, and most obvious, stainless steel bladed razors "Stain-Less" as the name would imply, so the chance of your prized possession rusting away, showing water spots, oxidation, etc is greatly reduced. For instance, some carbon steel razors like Thiers Issards can show water spots no matter what you do with/to them and no matter how careful you are. Stainless razors also tend to be a little stiffer/more robust when compared to a carbon steel razor of the same grind, so gentlemen with heavier beards tend to enjoy them, and while stainless steel razors take a little longer to hone, their edge typically lasts longer than carbon steel razors.


I cannot say one razor steel is definitively superior to another, as they both have their pros and cons, however for new straight razor shavers, or straight razor shavers in particularly humid/wet areas, I personally would recommend a stainless steel razor, as it will require less maintenance, and will hold the edge longer, which will allow you to concentrate on what's most important--the shave. Remember if you are a new straight razor shaver, you shouldn't be immediately concerned with the razor taking longer to hone, as you should be purchasing your razor pre-honed, as discussed in What is a shave ready razor?.

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