What is the Best Straight Razor For Beginners? It looks ridiculously cool, tough, and it’s practical. Every man has the point in his life where he thinks “I’m going to buy a straight razor and shave old school.” and it’s not just because of the scene of a woman shaving James Bond with it in Skyfall.
Going for a classic wet shave is a big decision, but one we all wish we could do comfortably, not just because we want to look like 19th-century Irish gang members, but because straight razor shaving is superior to the cartridge and electric shaving in pretty much every single case.
Men have used the “cut-throat” razor for generations, and it has not and will not go out of style.
In recent years, the benefits of wet shaving are becoming more and more public and more and more men are heading in that direction, keeping wet shaving and the juggernaut that is the straight razor alive.
If so many men are getting back in that game, then it must mean something, right?
IS STRAIGHT RAZOR SHAVING BETTER?
You might think “Why shave with a contraption that looks like it can my head off with enough effort?” Well, in the age-long battle between cartridge razors, safety razors, and straight razors, the straight razor would come out on top.
There are many reasons men are still using straight razors decades after other options became available:
IT’S MUCH, MUCH MORE COST-EFFICIENT
We all know how much it costs for grooming per month when it comes to the expensive cartridges, subscriptions, disposable razors, double-edged blades, and often even having to replace the razor itself. That’s not a problem when it comes to the straight razor.
Of course, you’ll have to pay a little bit upfront for the whole setup: the razor itself (which can vary in price, depending on what you’re going for (More on that later), a good whetstone to straighten, or hone your straight razor, and a good belt to strop or polish/shave your razor.
Once you take care of your razor properly, you don’t need to spend money on it later, kind of like a car you take care of so it doesn’t require maintenance later. The less waste you create, the less money you spend, too.
THE CLOSEST SHAVE OF YOUR LIFE
You wouldn’t believe how close a shave you can get if you’ve never tried a straight razor. If you thought your super expensive ultra mach laser shaving death ray 3000 that costs $50000 and plays music gave you a smooth clean face, you haven’t seen anything yet.
You see, when it comes to cartridge razors, there’s a tiny barrier between the blades and your skin. The individual hairs are basically caught between the multiple blades to snip them off, like a tiny guillotine.
Obviously, this can’t reach the lowest end of the hair itself, and it’s why we shave against the grain. When it comes to the straight razor, however, you have direct contact with the blade itself against the hair, cutting it off in a single stroke.
Logically, it sounds a bit dangerous and it is less safe than cartridges and does have the tendency to leave you with more cuts if you’re not careful.
Despite this, it’s wholly worth it once you get the technique down. Your face will be looking and feeling as smooth as a baby.
IT HAS SKINCARE BENEFITS
The straight razor doesn’t just shave your skin, it also takes care of it. Because of the extremely sharp blade and the direct contact with skin, the razor shaves off dead skin which can pile up on your face.
This exfoliates your skin and promotes the growth of new cells and collagen. Pair it up with a brush to clean away any dirt or hairs and you’ve got a perfect bonus skincare routine.
On the other hand, cartridges are simply not as clean. Because of the separations and crevices and different compartments, the razor or the blades can store dirt or bacteria and it’s harder to clean those tough spots.
This is bad for your skin, as once you shave with it, you can get ingrown hairs, bumps, acne, and even infections if the blades become rusted or too unclean.
With the straight razor, however, you’ve got an easier and more guaranteed cleaning process and a cleaner shave in general.
NOT JUST GOOD FOR YOU, BUT ALSO THE ENVIRONMENT
As mentioned before, wet shaving produces less waste; as you don’t need disposable razors, cartridges, or double blades.
Of course, not only do you throw these out when you’re done with them, but you also throw away the boxes, packages, paper, and even the receipt and bag they came in.
Look at how much of that is going straight to the ocean (Unless you recycle like a fine citizen).
The number of disposable razors thrown away in the U.S alone is in the billions, which causes millions upon millions of tons and feet of waste and wastelands. Don’t just wet shave for yourself, wet shave for the Earth.
IT’S GOOD TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Shaving with a straight razor is difficult, it takes time and practice, and learning. All this results in a craft that you hone (Haha, get it?) over time; it’s a craft that has been learned and put into practice by millions of men across history.
It’s like cooking, or driving, everyone needs to learn something new to get a fresh outlook and to get some good brain food. The shaving session itself requires focus, calmness, and time.
This results in a sort of meditation or relaxation as it’s just you, the razor, and that satisfying sound of shaving. It’s also very personal.
All people are different; they have different head shapes, faces, hair types, hair patterns, and a bunch of other niche differences that require some tweaking. Fortunately, with the straight razor, you can tweak and adjust as much as you want.
You have the angle of the razor itself and how much you want it open wide or more on the narrower side, you have the pressure you need to add, you have the width of the blade itself you need. You can tailor all these things for your liking and end up as a master of your own shaving domain.
Plus, it looks really really cool. What did James Bond say when Moneypenny caught him shaving with a straight razor? “I like to do things the old-fashioned way.”
STRAIGHT RAZOR VS SHAVETTE
You might have heard of a “shavette”, or you might have even seen one and thought it was a straight razor. While we can’t blame you, as they do look pretty similar on the outside, there are big differences.
The biggest difference is that a straight razor is just one singular blade, kind of like a pocket knife. On the other hand, a shavette is just a compartment where you add single or double disposable blades, similar to a safety razor.
This means that the shavette doesn’t require the level of care and maintenance that a straight razor does.
The shavette also has a shorter shaving surface area, as the blade itself is only placed midway through the spine, while the straight razor has an all-blade spine. Regardless, the shavette has many advantages:
It’s much cheaper, even the highest quality ones
It requires less maintenance and doesn’t need honing or stropping
It’s cleaner and safer to use hygiene-wise for more than one person in a barber environment
Nothing is perfect though, as the shavette does have disadvantages:
It’s a bit trickier to shave with and could lead to more cuts and razor burns due to its weight
Creates more waste because of the disposable blades
Generally lower quality than a straight razor
Despite all of that, a shavette is recommended for beginners and first-timers, if you just want to get a feel of how the experience and technique, and you don’t want to splurge on a full set of a straight razor, strop, and whetstone.
Just bear in mind that the straight razor is more forgiving in the experience with its heavier weight and sleeker design. So, if you get a few cuts, don’t give up hope.
WHAT’S A STRAIGHT RAZOR MADE FROM?
So, you’ve made the decision and now you’re on your way to the world of cut-throat shaving. Now, there are a few things to know first. The basic components of a straight razor should be common knowledge to you.
The point is the furthest… well, point on the blade; it’s either square or round, and it’s usually used for precision and for difficult areas. Next up is the spine, which is the back part of the blade.
That’s the part you hold very firmly between your thumb and index finger. You can also use it to adjust the angle of the blade to your liking. The tang is that trigger on the back, it controls how far the spine opens from the handle.
Some men like to hold the tang instead of the spine for comfort and safety. The edge is obviously the sharp bite of the blade, pretty self-explanatory. The handle is made up of scales.
The handle is the most important factor when it comes to your grip. You have many different materials that can be used for the handle such as wood, plastic, metal, horn, ivory, and others. The nicer the handle, the more expensive the razor.
Lastly, you’ve got the pins or pivot pins that hold the whole thing together. There’s one up top holding the handle to the blade itself, and one at the bottom holding the two hollowed-out pieces of the handle together to keep the blade in.
The pins themselves also rotate as you adjust the angle of the blade.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A FIRST STRAIGHT RAZOR?
Choosing your first straight razor can be difficult and confusing; you have so many types, brands, options, materials, and even colors.
Now, you can’t just go on Amazon and buy the cheapest one of the nicest looking ones and go to town on your face. There are basic things to consider first before buying your first blade.
THE TYPE OF THE BLADE
The blade comes in many different types. While they may look similar, they do affect the process. When it comes to the points, there are three options to choose from:
Round Point: This is the most convenient blade type for beginners, as the point itself is semicircular, without any sharp edges. You don’t need the precision here; you just don’t want to cut yourself.
Square Point: Obviously, as a square has edges, the square point has sharp ends for precision shaving and small tough spots. It’s the easiest one to cut yourself with, so maybe leave that one for when you’re more experienced
French or Oblique Point: The best of both worlds. It’s more of a quarter circle, so you’ve got a bit of a sharp end of a square point, with the added safety of the round point.
THE WIDTH OF THE BLADE
The width is how far the back is from the edge. It’s important to know the width as the narrower the blade, the easier it is to hold and use for beginners, especially in narrower areas like your mustache.
A larger blade is more powerful, but definitely harder to use and could lead to some serious cuts. An average razor will come in a 5/8 inch or 6/8 inch width.
THE MATERIAL OF THE BLADE
As for materials, you have two options:
Stainless steel: It’s cheaper, stays sharp for longer, and it’s still very durable.
Carbon steel: It’s higher quality, but more expensive. It’s obvious who wins in the beginner category (It’s stainless).
THE GRIND OF THE BLADE
The grind is somewhat of an indentation of the blade. It’s hollow, and the degree of hollowness varies. If it’s a full-hollow grind, then the blade is sharper and the weight is lighter.
If it’s less hollow, it’s not as sharp as the full-hollow (Still sharp enough, of course) so it might be your beginner choice.
THE TEMPER OF THE BLADE
The temper is directly correlated to the sharpness of the blade, as in how long it stays sharp and how easy it is to sharpen in the first place. There’s somewhat of a paradox between a hard temper and a soft temper.
The hard temper stays sharp for longer, but the soft temper is much easier to sharpen, even if it doesn’t retain its sharpness for long.
THE MODEL OF THE RAZOR
Razors come in two models: Vintage and modern. With the vintage models, you’re looking at a more affordable price, a classier design, and the bonus of feeling like you own something old.
However, they will pretty much have to be restored. If you’re a collector, this is great news for you, but if you’re a beginner, you might want to opt for the modern models, which utilize the latest technological advancements, they have the design and engineering down to a tee.
Modern models come in many price ranges, but the best and highest quality ones will cost you a fair amount.
BEST STRAIGHT RAZOR FOR BEGINNERS (2021)
What is the best straight razor to get as a beginner? Now that we have all those factors in mind, it’s time to pick your weapon of choice. Below are our recommendations for the top straight razors, ranked from cheapest to most expensive:
#1. PARKER SRW STRAIGHT EDGE BARBER RAZOR (SHAVETTE)
Remember when we said a beginner might want to start off with a shavette, to get the feel of the straight razor shaving experience before moving on to the big leagues?
Well, it makes sense that we start off with an affordable and sturdy shavette. Parker is a classic and reputable name in the razor game, and the SRW is a testament to that.
The blade is stainless steel, which is better than most shavettes in the price range. Speaking of beginners, you’re also looking at a rounded point, which we’ve mentioned is more forgiving when it comes to accidental cuts.
The weight of the razor is also a selling point, as the heavier the razor, the more gravity takes over and makes the experience overall easier for you.
There’s also a snap/lock mechanism to insert the blades and keep them securely in place. The mechanism also aids in aligning the blade accurately, as angles are everything in this game.
As for the handle, you’re looking at white resin, which can be a bit of a disadvantage as plastic isn’t the favored material for razor handles, but the weight balances it out, so you won’t have any troubles with the grip.
The blades are the best part of the deal. First of all, the razor takes both half double edge and single edge blades, so you don’t need to look all over the shops or snap anything in half (That stuff’s dangerous, I tell you.
I get anxious every time I do it). The blade also comes with one hundred shark super stainless half blades. A hundred blades could carry you over for MONTHS.
Reviewers complimented the balance control, and needlessness of heavy pressure on the razor, stating that there’s really nothing more needed when it comes to the straight razor shaving experience, especially as a novice.
#2. FEATHER BLACK SS FOLDING HANDLE RAZOR (SHAVETTE)
For the price range, the Feather Black SS has got you covered for a higher quality experience. The specialty of the blade lies in its engineering and design that’s intended to give you the best possible shave.
Again, we’re looking at a rounded head (You really don’t want those cuts) and stainless steel (Remember, it retains sharpness for longer).
If you’ve noticed, the blade itself is quite narrow, which is perfect for getting to the tough spots and precision shaving.
Your mustache won’t suffer here (I mean, it will, it’s getting hacked off but you get my point). Feather promises the cleanest and most hygienic blade, that’s the autoclave, disinfectant safe, and even heat resistant up to 135°C (275°F).
The handle is made from synthetic super resin, which prevents slipping and provides a good grip. Come on, the black just looks cool.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this razor is its easily replaceable blade. You just pinch the top of the head and the blade instantly comes out when you want to replace it with another one.
The razor takes 5 Feather blade options. This head operates on a spring mechanism for easy dismantling. For cleaning, you can use boiling water (it will handle it), or any disinfectant of your choice.
Reviewers praised the comfort of the blade, as well as the smoothness of the shave. The blade system is also a high point of compliment. Some have noted that you really need to be careful with it, as it’s “a beast”.
#3. DOVO STRAIGHT RAZOR
Perhaps you want to move on from the shavette phase and enter the proper straight razor world full force. In that case, the Dovo straight razor is the most classic and safest option you can get.
It’s the no. 1 choice for beginners, as it’s easy on the wallet, as well as simple enough to use. The razor has a carbon steel blade (Remember, that’s the high-quality one).
Dovo offers rigid German production, with a sharp, full-hollow version or half-hollow version blade. As the beginner guide goes, rounded point!
The carbon steel high-quality blade will last you a long time until you’re ready to move on to more advanced blades (Not that you really need to).
The biggest selling point here is ease. The width of the blade is 5/8 inches, which is on the narrower side for beginners.
Another version is 6/8 inches if you’re feeling confident. The blade comes pretty sharp, but you might need to give it a hone and a strop just in case. Even after just one hone and strop, it’s incredibly sharp.
The razor is lightweight but requires minimal pressure for shaving due to the sharp carbon steel blade. As for the handle, we’ve got a black ebony handle that looks stylish and authentic.
The grip is pretty good and it’s easily maintainable, though the handle itself could be a bit too light or fragile. Reviewers were impressed by the sharpness of the blade, as well as how easy it is for starters.
The quality of the steel was another talking point. If you’re wondering which is the best razor for beginners, this might be the one for you.
#4. FEATHER ARTIST CLUB SS WOOD FOLDING STRAIGHT RAZOR (SHAVETTE)
Okay, we’re back in the shavette category, and while this one is a bit heavier on the wallet, but you get what you pay for. As per Feather’s standard, we got a Japanese stainless-steel blade. Same as the black SS, it’s heat and disinfectant resistant.
The body is 5.6 inches, with a nice and hefty 51-gram weight. When it comes to replaceable blades, you can’t get any better or any higher quality.
The rounded point again helps with control. The biggest selling point of this version, however, is the beautiful and artisanal wooden handle.
The handle not only looks spectacular, but it also provides excellent grip and extra weight so that the shave is more comfortable.
The wooden handle is definitely worth the price increase from the lighter, resin version. The easy blade replacement mechanism is also a delight and a staple of Feather products.
The blade is very precise and gets to the tough spots easily. Though, it might not be the easiest blade to handle for beginners. Perhaps we should leave that one until you get the technique down to a tee.
#5. DOVO SPECIAL STRAIGHT RAZOR WITH IMITATION TORTOISESHELL HANDLE 5/8’’
With this one, you get all the benefits of the Dovo straight razor, but with a cool and stylish tortoiseshell handle. The razor offers a 5/8 half-hollow ground blade.
The blade is as close to shave-ready out of the box as you can get, but it’s still advisable to hone and strop it before giving it your first shave. The real star here is the sleek tortoiseshell handle.
It’s made of synthetic resin, but it still offers a proper and comfortable grip and control. Reviewers were impressed by how close to shave-ready it is, but some doubt the worthiness of the extra cash for the handle.
All in all, it’s up to you and your preference.
#6. DOVO INOX STRAIGHT RAZOR WITH OLIVE WOOD HANDLE 5/8
This is it, the peak of Dovo craftmanship. This one is extremely suitable for both beginners and ones that have been in the game for some time.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful it looks before getting into the specifications. For the blade, it’s full-hollow. For the point, it’s rounded. The blade is stainless steel this time, with a width of 5/8 inches.
This combines all the previously mentioned traits that make for a good beginner blade, but it doesn’t stop here. The handle is the most distinct part of this razor. Wood handles reign supreme, and this one is olive wood. Wood handles translate to better grips.
The handle actually has a special pattern on each razor, so you get to have a one-of-a-kind one. Reviewers praised the sharpness of the blade and how extremely close it is to shave-ready, and how it only needs very light honing and stropping to get it perfect.
At a slightly higher price point, it’s not the most cost-friendly option, and there are perhaps cheaper ones for a beginner razor. However, you can’t deny the craft put into it. If you’ve got the money, why not?
Recommended: Best Straight Razor For Barbers.
All in all, the world of wet shaving is a vast one to venture into. As long as you’re willing to go the extra step, you’ll just need to keep in mind all the necessities before drawing your weapon.
Wet shaving can completely change your shaving experience, and men who have decided to take that route swear by it.
For most, it’s therapeutic, enjoyable, meditative, with room to grow and evolve. Some even enjoy the craft so much they get into collecting, and trying to find the best and most special razors, whetstones, and strops for the complete experience.
Remember, start with a shavette to get the hang of it, go slow, you can’t run before you walk. Once you’ve graduated from shavette grade, you’ll want to consider buying your first proper cut-throat razor.
For beginners, you want rounded point, narrow blade, perhaps a half hollow grind, and a comfortable grip. For brands, Dovo, Parker, and Feather are your top contenders.
The Dovo classic straight razor might be your first choice, and you can move up from there. Just make sure you enjoy the process, and you will never look back.