Two blades, three blades, five blades on a razor? It seems like razors are getting more, and more complex these days, but are shaves really getting any closer? The truth is there is a solution to all of your shaving problems, and it doesn't involve drug store brand shaving fads.
Let me explain:
Long before the razors we have today, your great grandfather used a solid metal straight razor to get the cleanest, smoothest, most comfortable shave ever.
But not all straight razors are created equal, and if you buy the wrong one you will be disappointed. On top of that, your blade will not hold up for nearly as long as you want it to.
To help in your search for the best straight razor, we at Faveable spent hours going over product reviews, researching each top-of-the-line brand, and sorting through opinions to bring you the best of the best when it comes to straight razors.
Keep in mind, most of these razors say they are shave-ready, but factory shave ready and true shave ready are two different things. So do yourself a favor and find yourself a quality strop (here is our top pick).
Assembled by hand and made from real stainless steel. A practical snap-lock blade holder keeps blades from migrating during shaving sessions.
It's not ideal for beginners; many seasoned shavers admit they still cut themselves often. You can reduce this risk by moving the blade slowly and using plenty of shaving cream.
These blades are sharp, so watch out! Even experienced shavers unintentionally cut themselves with the stainless steel blades if they don't shave slowly and use plenty of shaving cream. There's a rounded exposure at the blade, and that also helps reduce the risk of cuts.
The snap-lock feature helps keep the blade from moving while you shave. That means you can use it on your neck or face, though most men use it for beards.
This razor works well with barbershop single-edge blades or half of a double-edge blade. Five stainless half blades are included.
Sleek and attractive, with a slight curve for comfort. The blade folds into the stainless steel handle after use so you don't cut yourself when you grab the razor for your next shave.
Because this razor is made from stainless steel, it can get a bit heavy. That's a good thing, though, if you tend to rush through shaves. The weight isn't uncomfortable, but it slows you down a bit.
This shavette razor costs just over $20 when it's not on sale. Most men think that's a great price, especially since this Parker rivals the performance of pricier razors we've researched.
Each razor is handmade by an individual Artisan Technician, from start to finish, in America. The Hart Steel Square Point is one of the most balanced razors you’ll find.
Square points take a lot of skill to use without cutting yourself, so they aren't the best for beginners. However, once you master shaving with a square point you can't beat the precision.
This is the first time America has produced anything like a blade from Germany. Hart Steel finally steps up on the USA’s razor game with the 5/8 square point. This blade is so good for cleaning up a beard; that cut-throat tip will not leave a single hair out of place. You’ll get a clean, crisp beard line every time.
Here is another area where Hart Steel innovates. A single piece, instead of the traditional two-sided scales. This is an eye-catching and functional design. This razor is adjustable where the blade attaches, allowing you movement to get the blade as tight or as loose as you want it. The blade is also super easy to swap out if you fancy. You should be diligent about wiping any straight razor dry after each use, but as a bonus, you also get a silicone infused cotton sheath that wicks away any moisture left behind.
This straight razor is about $100 cheaper than our top pick for basic models, but still significantly more than the rest of the straight razors on the list.
The Feather SS is a lot more user-friendly than foldable straight razors. And you can choose different blades and even guards until you get the hang of it.
You will have to buy the blades separately, they aren’t included with the handle. Traveling with the Feather SS is a challenge too because the blade doesn't fold away.
You have a few different options for the Feather SS, but the Feather Artist Club Professional Blades are hands down the best pick. They are comparable to a 4/8 or 5/8 wide blade and are scary sharp! Most users report each blade lasts anywhere from 5-8 shaves and come in a 20 pack. So even though they are disposable, you will still save a lot of money compared to modern razors for barbershop - while still getting quality shaves every time.
This is where the Feather SS really stands out. The rest of the straight razors have a blade that folds into the handle, not so with the Feather SS. The black resin handle is ergonomically designed to fit your hand and give you more control as you guide the blade over your skin. You won’t have to worry about the scales slipping in your grip and fileting your jawline.
Long term this isn’t this most economical choice on our list, but all the men we talked to agree across the board that having the best shave of your life is worth the extra cost.
The razor doesn't have much flex, so it's great for straight-blade newbies. Easily removes neck hair but can also be used on the face.
Some guys complain it's difficult to load and remove the blade from this razor, so they often end up with bloody fingertips. Also, you have to press a bit harder on your face than you do with razors from other brands, so keep that in mind if you switch - otherwise you might cut yourself.
This razor has a straight blade with very little flex, which is why it's great for guys who usually use disposable or electric razors. The lack of flex makes it easier to shave your face and neck without cutting yourself.
This sharp blade was made in Solingen, Germany. DOVO blades usually measure 5/8", but this one is thinner. That's another reason why this razor is great for beginners.
The black handle of this DOVO razor blade is made from seamless plastic. It's comfortable and lightweight in your hand, though not as comfortable as higher-priced shavers on our list. You can use this razor if you're left or right handed.
This is a great razor for beginners, but it's probably not something you'll use forever. However, it only costs around $30, so you can justify replacing it after you get comfortable with a straight blade.
Smooth wooden handle is easy to grip and maneuver. Great for close shaves, even if your hair is coarse or thick.
Some men say this DOVO razor doesn't arrive shave-ready and requires sharpening, while others say they used it straight from the box. It's jsut a matter of your personal preference.
This sharp razor boasts a 5/8” full hollow carbon steel blade. That means its easy for razor newbies as well as long-time shavers to navigate this blade through their facial hair, gently yet effectively removing stubble.
24K etching on the blade reminds you that this DOVO razor is the real deal, not a knockoff drugstore razor blade. Some men use this blade straight from the box, but a handful of guys complain they had to sharpen it first.
You may be hesitant to buy a wood-handled razor due to wood's inability to withstand moisture, but don't worry: This wood is covered by a waterproof seal. The handle is crafted from light olive wood, and each razor has its own unique grain.
The handle is curved slightly for comfortable gripping as you remove unwanted facial hair. When you're done with the blade, slide it back into the handle to avoid a sharp surprise during your next shave.
This razor isn't cheap, but it's not meant to be. Despite its high price tag, you're likely saving money since you won't have to buy disposable razors anymore. This is a razor you'll use for years.
Let's get one thing clear: shaving with a straight razor is NOT easier! Anyone who says so is either about to sell you a straight razor or has spent months practicing. Safety razors are, by, far the easier choice.
It takes a lot of practice to master the art of shaving with a straight razor. If you're not careful, you can seriously injure yourself. There is nothing to stop the razor from cutting deep into your skin. Some men have actually DIED as a result of using straight razors, though more from infections from poorly maintained implements than bleeding out. Straight razors also require more maintenance in order to keep them in good condition.
So why do men use them? What makes them so special or useful?
As you can see, there are a lot of pretty great reasons to take up using a straight razor!
If you're worried about safety, straight razors are definitely not the safest choice. They're a single sharp blade applied directly to your skin, with no protection whatsoever. Safety razors are the much safer choice—it's right there in the name!
However, straight razors aren't as dangerous as you might think. Many experts recommend practicing shaving a balloon before you start shaving your face. You'll find that you pop a fair few balloons, but eventually, you'll master the art of shaving with a straight razor. As long as you are careful, precise, and delicate, it's far less dangerous than you might think.
One expert recommends using a 5/8 or 6/8 grade razor (these numbers refer to the angle of the blade). These have the best angle, meaning they are less prone to catching or cutting your skin. They're also most widely available and economical.
Straight razors are pretty simple: they're made of a steel blade attached on a swivel to a handle of wood, horn, ivory, or metal. However, you'll be surprised to find they come in a wide variety of types:
When you consider a razor, you can't just look at the style of the handle or the shape of the blade. You have to consider all the features: from the metal to the grind to size to the point.
Blades usually come in either stainless or carbon steel. Stainless steel requires far less maintenance, and they tend to hold their edge longer than carbon steel. However, they are more difficult to sharpen, and the harder steel isn't as comfortable for shaving. Stainless steel razors are also harder to find, and fewer manufacturers produce them for the time being.
Carbon steel is the metal used for the vast majority of razors, thanks to the fact that are much easier to sharpen, and they can get very sharp. However, they don't hold their edge as long as stainless steel blades. They are also much more prone to rust, so they require a lot more maintenance in order to keep them in good condition.
Did you know there are more than 16 different types of blade grinds? The term "grind" refers to the hollowness of the blade. Simply put, the more hollow the blade, the thinner the edge, and the sharper the blade will be—but also more delicate.
The width of razor blades can range anywhere from 3/8" to 8/8". The wider the blade, the heavier it will be.
For heavier beards and thicker hair, heavier blades are a good option. For maneuverability and safety, a thinner, lighter blade is the better choice. Wider blades have a hard time getting into the hard-to-reach places, but lighter blades tend to struggle with coarse and thick whiskers.
For beginners, it's recommended to start with either a 5/8 or 6/8 blade. This will give you enough maneuverability while still enabling you to slice through heavy whiskers.
Blades come with a wide variety of points, but most are one of the six below:
Straight razor handles come in a broad range of materials: ivory, horn, wood, and metal are the most common. The type of handle you choose is more a stylistic choice than practical.
In order to shave with a straight razor, you need a few tools:
Straight Razor – You can't shave without the razor itself! Don't cheap out and buy the low-budget ones, but look for a razor that is made of quality steel, with the right point (see above), and has a good edge. Low-quality razors will irritate your skin and increase the risk of nicks and cuts.
Razor Hone – You can't use a simple whetstone to sharpen a razor blade, but you need a special honing stone to do the job. Most whetstones have a very coarse grit, but you need something between 4,000 and 8,000 grit (like a woodworking whetstone) for the job. You can find ceramic "barber hones" or simple stone straight razor hones.
Strop – The strop is the length of leather or canvas that is used to smooth out the blade's edge after you finish stropping it, similar to how you use a synthetic cloth to buff up your shoes after polishing them.
Shaving Cream or Soap – DO NOT use shaving foam (the canned stuff) for a straight razor shave. Always use either a thick cream or old-fashioned shaving soap. These shaving products nourish your face and infuse your skin with a layer of moisture that will reduce nicks and cuts.
Brush – You must have a brush (made with either boar or badger hair) in order to lather up the cream, apply it to your face, and raise your whiskers for easy shaving. Don't bother applying the shaving cream with your hands, but always use your brush.
With these five tools, you have everything you need to get the job done!
Before you can start the actual shave, you need to sharpen (hone) the razor. Very few razors come pre-sharpened, and even pre-sharpened razors should be honed in order to refine that edge.
To hone your straight razor:
Note: A quality blade can last up to 8 weeks without needed to be honed.
To see how it's done live, watch this video: How to Sharpen (Hone) a Straight Razor
But the sharpening process isn't done when you finish honing it. Now you've got to strop the blade to put the finishing touches on it.
To strop the blade:
Note: Don't rush this part! Take it slow, and focus on smooth strokes of the blade. You'll build up speed over time until you'll be able to strop the blade in 30 to 60 seconds.
Now that you've done all the prep work of honing and stropping the razor, it's time to get the hard part: the shave itself!
Step 1: Prepare your face. Start off with a hot shower, or apply a hot, moist towel to your face to open up the pores and soften the hair. Next, apply a pre-shave oil, and finish with a layer of shaving cream or soap. Let the lather sit for 2-3 minutes before shaving.
Step 2: Grip the razor properly. This is the tough part! The simplest grip is as follows: rest your index, middle, and ring finger on the back of the blade, just above the joint. Place your thumb along the side of the blade, as close to the middle as you can comfortably reach. Your pinky finger will be tucked under the tang of the blade. This grip will help you hit your face and neck, though you'll need to adjust it for your upper lip and around your mouth.
Step 3: Stroke it right. Focus on slow, consistent strokes that go with the grain (in the direction of hair growth). The blade should be held at a 30-degree angle, and DO NOT apply pressure. The razor should be sharp enough to slice through the hairs without the need for you to press. Make sure to strop the edge (canvas side first, finishing with the leather side) between each stroke, and rinse the blade well between strokes.
Step 4: Shave from right to left. Start with your right cheek, shaving downward in short, smooth strokes. Move on to your jaw, then down the right side of your neck. Move on to your left cheek, down your jaw, and to the left side of your neck.
Step 5: Upper lip, chin, under the chin. Always start with your moustache and upper lip, then move down the sides of your mouth to shave your lower lip and chin. Finish with your neck directly beneath your chin.
For newbies, stick with one pass, as that will help to reduce the risk of cuts, nicks, and razor burns. However, for a more detailed shave, do one pass with the grain, then follow it up with a pass across the grain (sideways) and one against the grain (upward).
Warning: ALWAYS wash your face and re-lather with each new pass!
It's vital that you take good care of your straight razor to keep it in good condition! Here's what you need to do:
NEVER, EVER, EVER shave with a rusty or spotted blade! If there are rust spots, replace the blade—no sense risking tetanus to save money.