Over the years, safety razors have presented in a number of forms to varying degrees. Open comb, closed comb, adjustable, and of course, the slant bar.
What is it that makes the slant bar razor so unique? Is the cutting action really any better than your standard safety razor, or is it just a myth?
As men around the world become frustrated with the expense and performance of electric shavers and cartridge razors, the popularity of safety razors is gaining more and more momentum. And within that growing band of brothers, a growing interest of slant bar razors is on the increase.
Anecdotal evidence from the wet shaving community suggests that 70 to 90% of gents who decide to take the plunge with a slant bar razor will continue to use it. Rarely reverting back to their traditional safety razor.
What’s the difference?
When you look a slant bar razor next to a more traditional safety razor, at first glance, there’s not much difference. Except maybe that one of them looks like it has a manufacturing defect, and should be sent back immediately. In fact blokes new, or with limited exposure to wet shaving, possibly won’t recognise, or even care about any differences between the two.
At closer inspection, the obvious difference that presents itself is of course the angle the blade is set into the cutting head. It just looks uneven and unbalanced. I’d go as far to say it just looks weird. But that weirdness has a very special purpose.
Standard Safety Razor
In my article What is a Safety Razor? – My Rookie Mistakes, I discuss the characteristics of your classic safety razor. It’s history, the different head designs, as well as the various comb types you’ll come across.
Now if you’re reading this, it almost goes without saying. Using a safety razor will result in a far more comfortable and irritation free shave than you’ll achieve with a multi blade razor. The awesome thing about the traditional safety razor is it’s a very simplistic, and uncomplicated design. The cutting head sits at a perfect right angle to the handle. This means that unlike the slant bar razor, when you’re sliding it over your face, the blade makes contact squarely with the whiskers.
The positioning of the razor on your face, means that the blade initially meets the hair smack bang on, rather than at an angle. And as tens of thousands of blokes (including myself) will attest to, this will give you a fantastic shave.
Slant Bar Razor
I’m not suggesting for a second that the standard safety razor is inferior, but compared to the slant bar, it’s certainly different.
If you’ve ever watched footy or maybe a game of tennis, you quickly notice it’s all about the angles. The angle at which you hit the defensive line, or the angle at which you return serve. It can mean the difference between a good play or shot, and a winning one.
Likewise, with slant bar razors, it’s all about the angle. Due to the position of the cutting head, rather than your hair being cut square on, it’s sliced at an angle.
If you are having a hard time picturing exactly what I mean, a step back into history might be helpful.
Surprisingly, as recent as 1977, the French were renowned for a particular style of execution. This of course, is the unmistakeable guillotine.
In it’s initial form, the guillotine had a blade that ran perpendicular to the frame. Although very effective, it was found however, that due to the straight angle of contact, the neck of the victim offered some initial resistance. Sometimes resulting in a more, let’s say, uncomfortable and messy cutting action.
Enter the highly recognisable angled guillotine blade. the precise angle of the blade allowed the neck to be sliced more quickly and cleanly.
As grotesque as that illustration was, the different styles guillotine highlight the fundamental differences between the two razors. Because the slant bar meets your hair at an angle, it is cut cleaner, and with more efficiency.
Slant Bar Razor Pros & Cons
- Closer Shave – Due to the angle of the blade and the resulting slicing action, most gents find that the slant bar produces a shave that’s closer than a standard safety razor
- Fewer Passes – It stands to reason that if the slant bar is providing you a closer shave, your beard reduction will be quicker, reducing your need to lather up more times than necessary.
- A Lighter Touch – Even lighter than a standard safety razor, because the slant bar razor cuts so well, very little pressure is needed for maximum results.
- Good For Sensitive Skin – This point may seem a bit contradictory for an aggressive razor, but bear with me. As indicated in the above point, a lighter touch means less contact and less irritation. Furthermore, although a slant bar razor is generally considered to be more aggressive than a closed comb, because fewer passes are needed, you have a greater chance of lessening the symptoms of sensitive skin.
- Good For Thick Hair – Because a slant bar cuts so cleanly, it will mow through thick stubble like a hot knife through butter.
- Not For Beginners – I’m not saying that beginners shouldn’t use a slant bar razor. In fact, the shaving action is identical to using a closed comb safety razor. The big difference is the aggressiveness. If you slip or make a mistake, it may result in more bloodshed than you’d like.
- Complacency – Remember when you first started using a double edge razor? If you were like me, you were particularly careful, and in time, got pretty comfortable. Maybe even nudging the limits a little. If you “get comfortable” with your slant bar and try to push the boundaries, you might pay the price with a blood donation. Be careful!
If you’re ready to explore the world of slant bar razors, here are a few good options:
Merkur Slant Safety Razor 37c
Merkur Slant Safety Razor 39c
Above The Tie Atlas Slant Razor
A slant bar safety razor may, or may not be your cup of tea. If you’re getting great results from you current razor, changing may not be a necessity.
If however, you can see the reasons behind using a slanted blade, and appreciate the benefits you can gain from it, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go.
Who knows…you just might like it!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with a slant bar razor. Drop me a line in the comments section below.
Time to get your shave on! 😉