Choosing a straight razor can be tricky. If you’re a novice, how will you know exactly what you need to be looking out for, anyway? Straight razors may not be my forte by choice, but I’ve spent enough time trying to buy one for other persona that I have to admit (and I’m not being vain): I really know my razors.
Straight razors do have quite a few advantages, but finding a quality one will be advantageous. Straight razors can last a very like time (like a lifetime) with regular maintenance. They are also better for the planet, because you won’t be chucking out disposable razors after just a couple of uses.
If you’re not the kind of guy who maintains his razor well, then this is probably not the best option. You’ll need to spend a little time on it to keep it working at its optimum performance level (a straight razor needs to be very sharp to work its best), but it’s worth it—really. Here’s why:
• You’ll have that traditional edge. If you’re into bespoke suits, oxfords, and pipe smoking, and you’re still using a disposable razor, for shame. Straight razors are like a rite of passage into respectability.
• Straight razors are also available in disposable versions now, too. The most popular type is from Japan by Feather Safety Razor Co. Ltd., and it’s perfect for the aforementioned men who want a close shave but can’t be bothered with the preparation and trimmings.
• Using a straight razor is a skill. If you always sprout a 5 o’clock shadow and you never can get a great shave, you may want to check out this method. A slightly closer shave can give you a few extra hours’ leeway in the PM.
• Reducing waste. Why not? You’re getting a better shave out of the bargain, anyway.
When you’re shopping for straight razors, you’ll need to pay attention to quality. It’s recommended that you buy your first straight razor at the shop so you can check out different kinds and see first hand what makes one straight razor better than others.
Don’t spend too much on your first razor though. Let’s be honest, no matter you how much you learn theoretically about straight razors, you still don’t know what you’re doing, plus you’re not even sure yet if this kind of shaving is for you.
The temper of your straight razor is important. Straight razors are available in either soft, medium, or hard temper, and they all have their selling points and negative points. A hard tempered razor is more likely to keep its edge longer, but a soft tempered razor is much easier to sharpen. A specialist can discuss which one is best for you according to how maintenance-minded you are and your shaving requirements.
Look for straight razor with the best balance. Optimum ones are balanced equally when the weight of the handle and the blade are equal, and will make a real difference when you’re shaving.
Check out the grind of each blade. You can choose between concave and wedge grinds. Concave grinds are “Barbers’ Choice” because you can feel the resistance of your beard with each stroke of the blade. Wedge grinds are great for guys who sport a heavy beard from time to time, but they can be tricky to sharpen properly. They may not be ideal for the novice!
Make sure that the razor is professionally honed and ‘shaving ready’ before buying it. Later you may learn honing your razor if you happen to stick with straight shaving.
One last word of advice: never buy a razor that looks nicked or scratched prior to purchase. No matter what the salesperson says, it’s not the same thing as one with a smooth blade. Why buy damaged merchandise when it could damage you?