The Straight Razor Guide for beginners
7 of the best blades available today
Welcome to our definitive straight razor guide. If you are a man that loves a timeless style and yearns for the days of old school barbershops then you are obviously researching the straight razor for a reason. These are timeless devices designed to trim our dense 5 o’clock shadows and to feel good while doing it. Not only do they glide across the face in skilled hands, they look straight classic and are instruments of masculinity that have been, for a large part of the population, lost to time.
The hapless safety blade destroyed a rich tradition and consumed a culture of honourable beings serving society in the highest of crafts – by shaving, trimming and maintaining beards. We have become lost as a culture. Manliness is a characteristic that is no longer prized. We are told its wrong and made to feel inferior for it. We are told to ignore the primordial brewing of our homo sapien brains. But why?
The metrosexual of the 2000’s mocked the bearded man and the androgynous male became the epitome of cool. Millions of men and women lost their way and the sexes became merged in a cruel dance that lead to a loss of modern identity. Suddenly it was okay for you to cry like a sissy if you stumped your toe. Real men, do cry,! That’s true. But for valid reasons. Your girlfriend left you in a bad way? Then cry. You broke a nail? Don’t. Stop.
This brings us to our fundamental disconnection with identity. There is confusion. Who am I as a male? What is my purpose?
The tool is a reflection of the man
Don Norman in his book the design of everyday things tells us that knowledge is in the world. While he is referring to the psychology behind understanding the functions of objects, I believe we can extend this notion to include knowledge of ourselves and our culture through the object. Enter the Straight razor.
The narrow-bladed straight razor defined the male sex for centuries. First invented in 1680 in Sheffield, England, the considerable skill required to weild the tool created countless generations of talented barbers, highly skilled in the art of grooming. It is time to return to our culture of craftsmanship and skill, we must prize the talent and hard work that goes behind the expert operation of this instrument.
The straight edge razor still exists today and we can learn to sharpen and hone our skills in its usage. Here is a roundup of the best straight razors available today:
Here are the best straight razors for the modern gentleman
Wow, this one is really nice. I imagine this as the kind of blade the man/God Thor would use to trim his face. He would definitely be using the best straight razor created by mortal men.
This one comes in an ornate wooden box and the steel used in the blade is a particularly unique quality tempered steel alloy. Mmmh, tempered steel alloy. Those words create gear lust right there. The unique combo creates a very hard carbon steel which works great for maintaining a sharp blade and although its on the higher end of the price spectrum you do get what you pay for. It will stay sharp for longer than usual when compared to other brands.
It’s an awesome product to buy and is great quality for the price. It comes sharpened and oiled so thats one less step to worry about. And what about that polished wooden handle? So dapper it will make a tux look like a track suit.
This one sports a ‘King Cutter’ style blade shape and is one of the finer best straight razors available. It uses Japanese Stainless steel and has a minimal design with a curved mahogany handle. This is the type of straight razor your great grandpa used while shaving in the trenches of some God forsaken war zone. Relive the spirit of another era with this clean and sharp blade.
It’s a well put together utensil and feels weighty in the hand. Pair it up with a good shaving cream and after shave balm and you’re good to go.
Okay, so this one is a folding model but it also uses safety razors. Safety razors? Dafuq you say? Look, chill. For a lot of newbies out there this is exactly what they need in their shivering hands. They haven’t developed the fine tuned motor skills to weild heavier instruments. Seriously though, if you are new to straight razors, your first time around the block you’re gonna look like you just had an intimate session with Edward Scissor hands.
Take it one step at a time. This model is a great entry point into this new world of shaving and you don’t have to worry about sharpening the damn thing. Parker is a respectable brand that also happens to make great pens. I trust them, maybe you should too.
This black on black cut throat style straight razor from Velvet Forge is a beautifully crafted instrument. Delivered in a leather carry case the first thing that will impress you is the very well thought out packaging. In addition to the leather pouch you get a tin box which is nice enough to be a gift. The device itself has a genuine steel blade and comes sharpened out of the box. This is definitely one of the classier altenatives out there at the moment, the black steel finish looks professional and will impress the most elite modern gentleman out there.
If you have never shaved with a straight razor before this one is also great beginners. Make sure you do give it a couple of strokes on the strop before giving it a test run. Even though it does come sharpened you do want to make sure it is ready to go on the first outing.
This one is a vintage classic. Don’t go all hipster on us and start gushing at the 1950s kitsch of it all. If your a true man that wants a hard as nails razor; buy the Boker King Cutter.
German engineered so you know if you mess up you could potentially slice your throat from ear to ear, its sharp enough to peel the first layer of your epidermis. Please. Don’t do that (read the disclaimer for God’s sake). This bad boy has a unique shape known as ‘King Cutter’ so you know Jamie Lannister would love it. Also know as ‘Spanish point’, this shape is great for positioning the blade across your face at different angles. And for suicide. But don’t do that either. That shit is just wrong.
Been one of the more affordable blades on our list does not mean a major drop in quality. This one offers a unique feature, it uses disposable blades instead of using a strop in order to sharpen (like the Parker). While some might say this defeats the purpose of having a straight razor in the first place there are also times when you will be staying over at your mistresses abode and won’t be likely to take your higher end blade in fear of losing it.
This one has become quite popular as a beginners blade and also for hairdressers and stylists that are not too keen to learn the full range of skills required to operate these utensils (bunch of pussies if you ask me). But, like I said, if you’ve never used one before or you want a casual blade to carry on holidays, this one is cheap and easy to use. It is light, has great balance and is easy to maneuver across the skin in all manner of positions.
This stainless steel beauty hails from the land of the rising sun. With a non folding design these eastern inspired blades work the same way as your standard folding blades. At least as far as technique goes that is. It has a heat resistant gum handle and an excellent grip which makes the blade extremely easy to use. Its a little smaller than your conventional straight razor and feels lighter in the hand.
You won’t instantly feel comfortable with this blade if you have ever used a western style blade. But make no mistake, these Japanese makers have some of the best straight razors out there.
This one is definitely outstanding and one of the better offerings in its price bracket.
Straight Razor Technique
A Straight razor is not a toy, so all you helpless saps that are expecting instant gratification from your first shave will be surprised and disappointed. The use of these fine instruments requires a trial and error approach to shaving and mastering of techniques such as stropping (sharpening the blade), finding the right blade angle during usage, length of stroke and applying the shaving soap. Don’t let the learning curve weigh you down though. It’s well worth it in the end.
As far as some practical advice; Never shave against the grain on a first pass. With the first pass you should shave with the grain, second pass goes across the grain, finally the third pass you can shave against the grain. Don’t take this as gospel neither. Develop your own methods as you become more expert in the various skills. Post in the comments if you have some good advice too.
Remember to be extra careful around sensitive curved areas of skin such as above the upper lip. If you are shaving the neck area try and stretch the skin above the jawline, holding the blade in one hand and using your fingers to hold the skin back with the other. Sometimes shaving in the shower will also help you minimize major cuts as the constant lubrication will protect you from making major mistakes.
If you’re new to this I guarantee that you will cut yourself. But after all, falling down and getting back up is part of developing any worthwhile skill. Just make sure if you are removing chunks of flesh that they are small ones and adjust your technique accordingly. Don’t be a hero, small strokes at first till you master the blade, which should be your primary skill to focus on at the start. In a few weeks you will be making safety razor shaving men feel like the cowering lambs that they are. Stand tall, stand strong, you have found your masculine roots.