Best Straight Razor in 2017 – The Ultimate Buying Guide
Science and technology has gifted mankind with the luxury Neanderthals could barely imagine. We have developed hi-tech, advanced tools for almost everything, from searching life outside Earth, create nuclear weapons, wash down human discharge and what not. Shaving has been an essential grooming act for men since the age of Alexander the Great. Despite of the majority’s inclination towards the fast and effective electric razors, the traditional way of artfully shaving the beard using straight razor has never gone short of fan following.
We have seen yesteryear’s iconic heroes shaving like that, we have seen James Bond choosing the same old-school way, outside the silver-screen, and we have grown up watching our grandfather, father and uncle carefully maneuvering the razor across their face. Legacy never goes out of fashion.
Best Straight Razor - Handpicked Choices
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Bison + Max Sprecher Straight Razor
Thiers-Issard 5/8 Straight Razor
Reviews of the Best Straight Razor of 2016
Dovo Forestal Straight Razor
Dovo is the brands veterans used to swear by in the heydays of straight razors.
Till date, the company continues to manufacturer some of the most stylish, manliest and authentic straight razors of all time. The Forestal series razors have taken the brand reputation to new heights. The cut throat sharpness of the model, combined with a sturdy construction, ease of use and flexibility are the key ingredients behind its stellar performance. The blade is sculpted from a premium carbon steel and it is festooned upon a fine wooden handle that ensures a uniform weight distribution of weight. The concise 5/8 inch long overall length is easy to operate on difficult contours, facilitating better finishing.
Dovo Bismarck 6/8 Straight Razor
This is another gem from the house of the German-based grooming tool manufacturing pioneer Dovo. If you’re looking for something pure authentic, the Bismarck series won’t fail to meet your expectations. It is particularly suitable for beginners as well as travelers due to its compact size and hassle-free operation.
The blade is made from high quality German carbon steel. During the quality test, I was amazed by the smoothness of cutting. The super sharp razor requires only a handful of light to moderate strokes to deliver pitch-perfect facial hair grooming.
Bison + Max Sprecher Straight Razor
Bison is a household name when it comes to straight razors. In Max Sprecher product line, the brand seems to have outdone its own past glories.
The razors are a perfect culmination of modern shaving technology and aesthetically superior vintage design. The model comes with a ¼ inch hollow ground razor blade, specifically manufactured to impress fastidious shavers who would nitpick the product if they find the slightest discomfort in shaving. The blade is mounted atop a carbon fiber uniplate handle that adds a classy touch to this already gorgeous piece of superior craftsmanship. With a Rockwell hardness factor of 63, Max Sprecher secures its position as one of the most monstrous shaving equipments of the era.
A.P. Donovan - Straight Razor 7/8 Cut Throat Set
A.P. Donovan Straight Razor is easily identifiable from the blade's highly-polished finish. The 7/8 blade features a hollow ground, and each A.P. Donovan razor comes with a leather strap for blade sharpening, a real wood storage box, abrasive paste & a shaving cream applicator.
The steel stands at 63 in the Rockwell hardness scale, singing panegyric of its superb sharpness and amazing edge retention capacity.
Thiers-Issard 5/8 Straight Razor
Thiers-Issard is a saving grace for customers with severe budget issues. Despite of the low expense, the model is embedded with an awe-inspiring carbon strong blade with special black etching and state-of-the-art French craftsmanship.
The 5/8 inch blade has a round tip and cuts like a champ. The maintenance is a cinch and handling it skillfully across the face won’t make you break a sweat. Thiers-Issard comes neatly packed in a leather sheath for preventing the blade against exposure to weather element for longer durability.
Types of Straight Razor
For shaving with a straight razor, the basic equipments you’ll need are a shaving soap or gel, shaving brush, a mug and a strop. Choosing a right razor is totally up to individual preference. You’ll be glad to know that apart from the pre-fixed models, you can also go for custom made razors if you want something unique. There are three main types of blades used in straight razors- replaceable, disposable and classic straight edge razors.
Disposable razors blades, as obvious from the name, should be thrown when the blades become dull after a couple of usage. It might not be a very cost-effective option if you shave regularly. Replaceable razor blades come with extra cartridges which can be replaced with the old one whenever required. The blades don’t cost much and are available in almost any local store. If you want to remain fully loyal to the vintage style of shaving, consider buying a razor with straight edge blades which need to be hand-honed at least twice a year. Also, the razor has to be stropped using oil and stropping belt before every use. Sounds like too much hassle? You saw that coming.
Preparing to Shave with a Straight Razor
Finding the best straight razor is not your final accomplishment, shaving without a hitch using one is. Wet shaving is the oldest (and manliest) form of shaving. Despite of humongous transformations in the design over the years, the heuristic rules have remained unchanged. Devising a straight razor is definitely not a child’s play. This comprehensive guide covers all the important bits you should know about in order to obtain a long-lasting benefit. If you’re already own or determined to own a classic blade razor, you will require to strop the blade thoughtfully to keep the edges sharp.
Most blades are likely to get dull after 5 to 6 months. So, it calls for mastering the art of manual honing. The whole process of wet shaving is an art form. It’s tough to match the smoothness of the deft hands of a trained barber. Nonethless, with the right techniques, tools and a bit of practice, you can too enjoy professional-level grooming right at your home.
The first step in wet shaving is to prepare yourself for what’s to follow. Apart from the main instrument, aka, the razor itself, you will need a strop belt, lubricants, a boar or horsehair brush, a high quality shaving cream, a soothing after shave and an alum block in case you accidentally mishandle the blade.
To keep the blade at function optimally, it has to be stropped with the help of a double sided strip of leather. Using a canvas, the blade needs to be scrubbed forward and backward in two strokes. Each motion is called a “lap”. For maximum impact, use at least 15-20 laps on each side of the stropping belt.
Prepare your skin for the razor work by taking a shower with lukewarm water. This will help opening up the skin pores. Then use a pre-shave or exfoliator to gently scrub the dead skin cells off and expose the tiny bits of hair concealed underneath. Try to purchase a shaving cream less on harsh chemicals. It might cost you more than regular canned shaving creams but protecting your skin against redness and rashes should be the top concern here. Soak the brush in hot water, pour a tiny dollop of shaving cream on it and apply it all over the shaving area in circular motion, with moderate pressure to produce even coating.
Now comes the real business. Hold the razor tightly, pull your skin taut using the other hand and start shaving in the reverse direction of the hair growth. According to experts, holding the blade at a 28-32 degree angle is the ideal way of ensuring zero nicks and cuts and a detailed shave. Patience is the most important thing in wet shaving. If you’re using a straight razor for the first time, you will face difficulty in working on the hard-to-reach spots. Keep calm because it will get easier with practice.
After one round, wash the remaining cream with a towel and re-apply the shaving cream. This time, use upward strokes while trying to maintain a 30 degree angle or shallower. Do not make the mistake of running a blade on slack skin as it may result in terrible injuries. Tighten the skin with your fingers, maintain the consistency of the pressure. When you feel satisfied with the results, apply some after shave lotion to prevent razor burns. Rinse the razor with cold water, pat it dry thoroughly with a towel. Make sure no water or foam residue remains unattended as moisture and steel do not share an amiable relationship.
How to Buy the Best Shaving Razor
A good blade is the key behind a smooth, lag-free shaving experience. Vintage razor blades do require some diligent maintenance. Most men don’t have the patience for stropping or honing a blade for hours. Blades shaped from quality materials such as stainless steel do not chip easily, run through your skin like its butter and retain the edge for long enough to survive for several shaves. Another advantage of stainless steel is that it is easy to sharpen. Carbon-steel is the closest worthy alternative to stainless steel. While it’s fuss-free to touch up, it is notorious for dulling quickly.
Blade Shape and Width
Concave and wedge are the basic blade shapes. Wedge razor blades area great for those who like to grow full beard before shaving them. Concave blades are more suitable for light to medium stubble. The ideal width of the blade is determined by the personal shaving preferences. Long blades cover wider area, allowing for quick shave. Shorter blades, on the other hand, are great for detail work under the chin, nose, sideburns and moustache.
Square Point Blade
This one is a pure beast, capable of mowing the thickest shaft with a very few passes for the cleanest possible shave. The square point easily adapts to the tight contours of the target areas.
Round Point Blade
A beginner’s bliss. Round point blades are medium sharp and therefore, easy to shave light stubble without getting unsightly injuries. However, seasoned users won’t be satisfied with the quality of shaving.
French Point Blade
Sharp as a chainsaw and subtle as an electric trimmer. French point blades, otherwise known as oblique blades easily access difficult-to-reach areas like under the neck and nose. You can easily spot them in barber’s shop.
An ergonomically sound handle accounts for the easy maneuverability of your vintage straight razor. The best straight razors come with handles that are textured to match the contours of your hands. The balance between the weight of the blade and handle is the matter of prime focus. A balanced handle not only provides a tight grip, but also makes it simpler for you to get a refined look without much struggle. Different brands use different material to build the handle. Resin impregnated wooden handles are a great choice as they are water resistant and provide a good blade to handle weight ration. Among other materials, ivory, bakelite, plastic, horn, acrylic, tortoiseshell and bone are regarded as solid components for constructing straight razor handles.
Summing up this Article
Whether you’re a lover of vintage style shaving or a collector of artifacts, I’m sure you didn’t expect straight razors still create quite a buzz among niche customers before Google enlightened you. Shaving with straight razor is an art and the shaving effect cannot be matched by even the most advanced electric equipments modern era boasts of. If you’re not accustomed to the techniques of handling one, you should perhaps try learning to perfect your skills using a safety razor. If you manage to finish the task without nicking yourself, the classic method of manscaping will be a welcoming switch.