A list of things that have fallen out of style throughout would fill volumes. Fads, trends, fashion, entertainment – you name it.
Like the straight razor, for instance.
While the straight razor remains one of the most effective shaving tools, it certainly isn’t used by today’s men as much as, say, a cartridge razor. But, in many ways, straight razors represent the manliest shave out there; after all, they’re also known as “cutthroat” razors.
Put another way, using a straight razor is like turning pro. Mastering its technique means you’ve reached an exalted level of shaving.
All that said, we want to help you reach the next level – if you so desire – with a list of the best straight razor brands for 2017. We start with the Feather SS Japanese Straight Razor and go on to present five other high-quality razors.
Let’s get started:
- Before you buy: 7 things to consider when purchasing a straight razor
- The 6 best straight razors of 2017
- The how-to of shaving with a straight razor (A simple, 5 step illustrated guide)
- Straight razors vs. all the rest
- Here’s how we chose our best safety razors
Before You Buy: 7 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Straight Razor
Choosing the right straight razor for you is an important decision. While straight razors have, for the most part, a rather simplistic design, there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Moreover, when you consider that shaving with a straight razor is a challenge unlike any other, a little knowledge goes a long way in ensuring that you’re up to that challenge. Before we get into our straight razor reviews, here are some things to keep in mind while buying a straight razor:
1. Blade Type
Straight razor blades have different point types and categorized as such:
- Round point
In this case, the blade point profile is semicircular and is without sharp end points. It’s a more forgiving blade than other types which makes it suitable for beginners.
- Square point
A square (or sharp) point blade has a straight point profile that terminates at a very sharp point perpendicular to the razor’s cutting edge. It’s particularly useful in shaving small areas but requires some experience in handling.
- French point
The profile on a French point blade resembles a quarter circle and ends in a sharp point like a square point blade. It’s also known as an “oblique point.”
2. Blade Width
The width of the blade refers to the distance between the back of the blade and the cutting edge. The width is expressed in 1/8 increments, so an 8/8 blade is 1-inch wide and a 4/8 blade is a half-inch wide.
- The width of the blade doesn’t make a significant difference in the closeness of your shave as long as you strop or hone the blade to its proper sharpness. In general, smaller blades are easier to strop.
- A larger blade makes for a more “aggressive” shave but – especially for beginners – harder to shave under your nose and other hard-to-get spots.
- Smaller blades make it easier to see where you’re shaving.
3. Vintage vs. Modern Straight Razors
Your options include purchasing a vintage (used) straight razor or a modern one:
If you like buying older things – and restoring them – then a vintage straight razor is an attractive option for you. You often can buy them at a reasonable price, although they may require some tender loving care to get them back into shaving shape. Beginners may want to become proficient with a modern straight razor before jumping into the vintage game.
Modern razors have all the advantages of new technology, better craftsmanship (in most cases), and years of shaving and customer experience behind them. The condition of a modern blade is often better than that of a vintage blade. But, again, a well-maintained vintage razor is of the same quality as modern razors.
No, we’re not talking about those days when you roll out of bed in a crappy mood. Instead, we’re talking about a straight razor’s blade, which can have a soft, medium, or hard temper – which determines how long it will keep its edge and how easy it is to sharpen. In general, the harder the temper, the long it will keep its edge, while a softer temper is easier to sharpen.
Straight razors are made of stainless steel or carbon steel. Stainless steel razors are less expensive and last longer between sharpenings, but carbon steel blades are of an overall higher quality. But most men use razors made of stainless steel.
The grind represents the concave indentation on the blades. A full hollow grind makes the blade lighter and sharper, while a less hollow grind is not as sharp and usually better suited for beginners.
7. What about a shavette?
A shavette is not unlike a bicycle with training wheels in that it’s ideal for those just transitioning into shaving with a straight razor. It looks just like a straight razor but takes a standard double-edge razor blade that you’d also use in a safety razor. It’s a way to get used to the shaving motion and technique of a straight razor – and much cheaper.
The 6 Best Straight Razors of 2017
So, here they are, the best straight razors of 2017:
The sharpness of the blade isn’t everything when it comes to straight razors.
Then again, it means a whole helluva lot.
With the Feather SS Japanese Razor, you won’t have to worry if your blade is sharp enough because you’re getting one of the sharpest blades you’ll find anywhere. You’ll also have the backing of a Japanese company (Jatai) that’s among the most respected names in the razor industry.
But back to the blade.
While the Feather is a straight razor with a body like any other straight razor, the blade is disposable so, in a sense, you’re getting the best of two shaving worlds. The blade is not only sharp, but it doesn’t need honing or stropping, making them easy to maintain and replace.
Replacing the blade on the Feather SS is a simple matter of pinching the razor head and letting the blade drop out. It’s a fast and easy process, but you still need to take care when changing blades because, well, they’re razor blades and they’re sharp.
The blade head is spring-mounted which also helps make removing blades easy and makes it easy to clean your razor with water. Meanwhile, the blade is disinfectant safe.
Let’s look at some of the other features of the Feather SS:
- The razor’s body is made of stainless steel and built to last a lifetime.
- The Feather SS’s resin handle is another feature that sets it apart from the competition. It’s extremely heat-resistant and provides superior grip. Switching hands to reach sensitive places such as your neck and jawline has never been easier. The handle is shorter than those on other straight razors, but reviewers like how it feels in their hands.
- The blade’s sharpness and razor’s design make it easy for you to shave without applying extra pressure. Just let the blade do the work.
- The Feather SS has a comfortable, lightweight design that makes it easy to maneuver over your face. Your goal is to get a close shave every time you put a blade to your face, and the Feather SS lets you accomplish that goal.
- The craftsmanship and design of the Feather SS make it easier for straight-razor newbies to handle than other straight razors. Shaving with a straight razor requires technique and care (as we’ll discuss later), so it’s nice to have a friendlier learning curve.
Type: Round point blade.
- Blade’s sharpness is second to none
- Easy to replace blades
- Lightweight design makes it easier to use
- More expensive than other straight razors
While you’ll pay more for the Feather SS than you will for other razors, it’s a case of “you get what you pay for” because it’s a superior shaving tool that will last a lifetime. This razor is a great long-term investment and the best straight razor 2017.
Considering that the German company Dovo produces several high-quality razors, this was a tough choice. But the Dovo Straight Razor Carbon is tough to beat.
It’s also the top contender for the best straight razor for beginners.
Let’s take a closer look:
Dovo has been producing superior blades since 1906. They have a reputation for excellence that’s well-deserved. The area of Germany (Solingen) was already known for producing quality cutting tools before they got into the razor blade market.
Dovo’s ships all of its razors ready-to-shave, which means that there’s no prep work involved before you have your first shave.
- The Blade
The blade on the Dovo Straight Razor is half-hollow, light, and sharp. It also has a rounded point – which is often better for beginners – and is made of high-quality carbon steel that’s hard, durable, and elastic. Also, the blade is 5/8” wide – another plus for straight razor neophytes.
- The Handle
The wooden Dovo Straight Razor handle is ebony and not only looks great but provides a strong grip that won’t slip in your hand.
- The Edge
The edge of the blade is as fine as you’ll get with any straight razor. It not only enhances your shave but gives it a graceful feel that doesn’t require you to apply extra pressure.
- The Design
The Dovo Straight Razor has a simple design that’s both elegant and stylish. It simply looks good.
Type: Round point blade.
- Excellent for beginners
- Finely-crafted blade
- Wooden handle looks great, provides great grip
- Sometimes requires repeating strokes
We don’t want to over-emphasize that this razor is great for beginners – because experienced shavers will love it, too – but Dovo’s products are known for being beginner-friendly. While it’s not cheap price-wise, it’s another wise long-term investment.
The Parker SRW is designed with professional barbers in mind but is a fine choice for do-it-yourselfers, as well. It also comes at a price that’s hard to beat.
Oh, and it’s a quality razor, too.
The Parker Safety Razor Company has 40 years of experience in shaving and men’s grooming and is a leader in innovation and design, including in the area of straight razor shaving. Their SRW Stainless Steel Straight Edge Razor lives up to their high standards. Let’s take a closer look at some of its features.
- The blade cover of the Parker SRW is made of stainless steel and not aluminum, as with some brands.
- Reviewers like the feel of the SRW in their hand. It has excellent weight and balance that make for a smooth, cut and nick free shave.
- It takes both single edge and half double edge disposable blades. The blades snap securely into a blade holder while the razor’s design makes it easy to change blades. That’s a major plus for professional barbers who don’t have time to waste on changing blades.
- The tip is rounded to minimize the risk of nicks and cuts. In turn, that makes it beginner-friendly.
- It comes with 100 Sharp blades that give you months worth of shaves. And it all comes at a price that won’t ruin your budget.
- As mentioned, the SRW is made for professional use but is great for folks like us who do our shaving in the comfort of our home.
- Many reviewers said that the SRW made shaving with a straight razor “fun.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Type: Round point blade.
- Very reasonably priced
- Changing blades has never been easier
- Handle is made of plastic
While there’s nothing overly fancy about the Parker SRW, you get a quality razor at a nice price. It’s easy to change its blades and easy enough to maneuver that beginners will fall in love with it.
We mentioned shavettes earlier. An important thing to remember, however, is that – while they’re considered the “training wheels” of straight shaving – they’re not of a lesser quality than other straight razors.
The Dovo Silver Shavette Straight Razor is a case in point.
Yes, it’s a great razor for beginners and others who need some time mastering straight razor technique, but it’s also an excellent razor for anyone. Dovo, which is all about German craftsmanship, wouldn’t have it any other way.
And, yes, it’s a great way to try straight razor shaving without investing a ton of money at the start. The Dovo Silver Shavette is reasonably priced, although the blades are disposable and you’ll have to buy replacements. On the other hand, you’ll save time sharpening the blades (besides, the Shavette’s replacement blades aren’t that expensive, anyway).
While the Dovo Shavette has the look and style of a traditional straight razor, i.e., it folds out, it also feels like one while in use – although it’s lighter. Keep in mind, heaviness is not a bad thing when it comes to safety razors, but the Shavette gets the job done with a lighter touch.
You also get a choice of three blade holders: clear, black, and green. Each holder takes a different type of blade:
Clear – Uses a double-edged blade that’s split in two.
Black – Uses a specialty blade that’s similar to a double-edged blade but longer.
Green – Uses a specialty blade that’s stiffer than the other two types and is similar in length to a traditional straight razor.
Note: The blades for the black and green holders are a bit more expensive than those for the clear holder.
The blades are also very sharp, which is always a good thing, but you’ll need to take extra care not to cut yourself as you’re first getting the hang of the Dovo Shavette.
Type: Square point.
- Gentle learning curve
- Sharp blades
- Less maintenance than standard straight razors
- Construction is a little on the light side.
You have to start somewhere, and the Dovo Shavette is not a bad place to start when it comes to straight razor shaving. You’ll get a close shave that’s comparable to a traditional straight razor and, hey, it’s great for travel, too.
If you’re serious about taking your shaving routine to the next level, then it’s time to consider the Feather DX Folding Wood Handle Razor.
The Feather DX is serious business and ideal for shaving purists. It looks good thanks, in large part, to its wooden handle, and delivers a smooth, close shave – especially if you have an experienced hand at straight razor shaving.
It’s also a serious investment, with a price that exceeds most other straight razors. That said, however, the Feather DX will likely last you a lifetime and continue to provide smooth shaves for the rest of your grooming days.
And, with over 80 years of experience, the Feather Shaving Company knows a thing or two about the shaving business – straight razor and otherwise. Feather is a leader in the Japanese safety razor market and nearly all Japanese barber shops car Feather’s products.
The Feather DX supports all of the company’s ArtistClub blades – light, professional, super, and ProGuard. The blades are replaceable – another nice feature – and, rest assured, as sharp as any straight razor blade out there. They don’t need to be honed or stropped and last a long time.
We also like the blade head, which is spring-mounted with a one-touch mechanism that’s easy to take apart and reassemble for cleaning. There’s also a pivot screw that maintains constant tension to keep the handle at the desired angle.
The resinated wooden handle is one of the Feather DX’s best features and is made from a special polymer that is heat and chemical resistant. It’s also water-resistant, and you can easily sterilize the Feather DX in boiling water.
Another plus is that the razor and blade act as one unit to help assure a smooth shave. The Feather DX is treated with a finishing material that helps guarantee a smooth stroke over any facial skin. Yes, this is a tool serious straight razor using men should consider, but it’s also user-friendly.
The Feather DX’s body is rust- and chemical-resistant.
While the Feather DX blades are very sharp, meaning you can’t just hack away at your face with this it, it also has great balance and superior grip control that make it very user-friendly. Don’t get us wrong, one wrong move can get the blood flowing, but the Feather DX makes the shaving process less difficult than with other straight razors.
Type: Round point.
- Superior craftsmanship
- Resinated wooden handle
- Easy to work with
The Feather DX is a serious straight razor for serious shavers. Its price may scare you away, but it’s an investment that will continue to pay dividends the rest of life.
The pros use it, guys like the rest of us use it, and it’s very reasonably priced.
What’s not to like about the Classic Samurai CS-102 Stainless Steel Professional Straight Edge Razor?
Indeed, this razor has a lot going for it. You’ll enjoy the straight razor shaving experience at a fraction of the cost of other razors, but its lower price tag doesn’t mean “cheap,” as evidenced by the many professional barbers who use it every day.
Let’s take a peek under the hood and break it down some more.
- The razor is made from surgical grade stainless steel. It easily comes apart when you need to replace the (disposable) blades.
- The Classic Samurai CS-102 has an excellent synthesis of balance and weight and is very user-friendly if you’re just starting your straight razor journey. The bottom line is that it simply feels good in your hand.
- It comes in a plastic pouch for extra protection. Keeping the razor in its pouch when not in use will extend its life.
- It comes in six colors to suit your fancy: black, brown, blue, cream, white, and red.
- You’ll get a generous supply of Derby single-edge razor blades with your purchase.
- You have to love the Classic Samurai C2-102’s value. After all, it’s a professional grade straight razor that’s also perfect for anyone who is using a straight razor for the first time.
Type: Round point.
- Easy to use thanks to its combination of balance and weight
- Excellent value
- Great for straight razor newbies
- Blades are as smooth as other brands
Sometimes you get what you pay for, but in the case of the very reasonably-priced Classic Samurai CS-102, you’re getting a real bargain. It’s a great razor for beginners, but professionals like it, too.
The How-To of Shaving With a Straight Razor
First, a word from Captain Obvious: “Straight razor shaving is different than other types of shaving.”
Even as we jest, however, there’s still need to emphasize that shaving with a straight razor is entirely a different ball of wax. A straight razor is the Holy Grail of shaving tool, but it’s not for everyone, either (and that’s OK, too).
Using a straight razor isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially for a novice. But if you master the technique, an incredibly close shave is sure to follow. Here’s a look at the fundamentals of straight shaving.
1. Getting started
Prepping for a straight razor shave comes down to two things: sharpening your blade – either with a leather strop or razor stone – and softening your whiskers with warm water (either in the shower or with a wet towel). Or, if you have a replaceable blade, making sure the one you’re using is sharp.
2. Lather up
3. The grip
Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to holding a straight razor, but a popular and effective method is to rest the first three fingers on the back of the blade and your pinkie on the tang – the narrow part of the blade just beyond the razor’s pivot. Rest your thumb on the side of the blade near its middle.
4. The shaving stroke
Use slow, even strokes with a straight razor, especially if you’re getting the hang of using it. Always shave in the direction of your hair growth.
5. The sequence
Start by shaving the side of your face and use your non-shaving hand to draw the skin upward. Start at the top of your cheek and work your way downward. Next, shave under your jaw while drawing the skin tight, then shave your upper lip, and finally under your chin. Tilt your head back to elevate the chin area before shaving it.
Straight Razors vs. All The Rest
So, why in the world would you use a razor that was once commonly known as a “cut-throat” razor and will bite you in the face if you don’t handle it correctly?
By now, however, you get the idea that we think highly of straight razors, which are even older that old-school but still an effective shaving tool. To this day, many men swear by them and rave about the super-close shave they get while using one.
But let’s take a closer look and compare straight razors to all the rest. In the end, you need to find the razor that’s right for you and how much effort and care that you want to take with your morning shave. We hope you take a lot of effort and care, of course, but to each his own.
Straight razors – a closer look
What it is: As mentioned, straight razors have been around a long, long time. Like hundreds of centuries ago. In it’s most basic sense it is a simple tool – you have a handle, and you have a blade (usually very sharp) that you drag across your face.
A traditional straight razor is a single blade of metal, usually stainless steel, that requires honing and sharpening to keep it as sharp as possible. A single blade can last you a long time – even a lifetime – with the proper care.
Price: There’s no getting around it – a quality straight razor is often expensive (a few hundred dollars expensive in most cases), especially when compared to the price of other razors. The good news, however, is that it’s a good long-term investment because it will last you a long, long time – even for the rest of your life. Moreover, you won’t spend a lot of money on blades as you do with cartridge razors, for instance.’
Learning curve: There’s also no getting around the fact that straight razors require more technique than other types of razors and come with a steeper learning curve. You won’t become a true adept at using a straight razor in just a couple of shaves, but if you stick with it – and weather the storm of a few nicks and cuts along the way – you’ll get a remarkably close, clean shave. Think of it this way: shaving with a straight razor is considered an art form in many circles. You can’t say that about other shaving methods.
Of course, there is always a shavette if you want to take several test drives before getting behind the wheel of the Lamborghini.
Straight razors, comparatively speaking
By now, you should understand the features of a straight razor (and that not every straight razor is the same). In a way, it’s the most basic of shaving tools while also being one of the most sophisticated, if that makes sense. It’s certainly different when compared to:
Double edge safety razors are probably what your dad, and not your great-grandfather used, and remain popular today. They come in a variety of design types, such as a two-piece, three-piece and butterfly, and require some getting used to if you haven’t used one before. Like a shavette, a double-edge safety razor has an ejectable blade that you should replace after a week’s worth of shaving.
The initial cost of a safety razor is less than many straight razors but the cost of replacement blades can make it a pricier investment in the long term.
Cartridge razors are everywhere – on TV, at your local supermarket, at the convenience store, hell, even gas station mini-marts carry the damn things. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them, because cartridge razors have served men well for a lot of reasons: the initial investment isn’t much, they’re very portable, they don’t require much technique (the best one have heads tilted to the ideal shaving angle), and, as mentioned, you can buy one almost anywhere.
Their drawbacks? For one, their blades can cost a small fortune and sometimes don’t give you the amazingly close shave you’ll get with a straight or safety razor.
You can even buy cartridge razors that are completely disposable – not just the blades. After a week of shaves, you just toss the entire razor away and grab a new one. They’re also great if you’re in a hurry.
But we recommend spending the bit of extra money on a quality cartridge razor.
You’re just not going to beat the convenience of an electric razor. Just hit the ‘on’ switch, and you’re ready to shave. They come in two designs – foil and rotary – and are good for wet shaving in many cases.
Whether you’ll get the kind of close shave as you would with other razors is debatable. But, then again, what other razor can you just pop out of your desk drawer and use for a quick touch-up before an important meeting with a client?
Here’s How We Chose Our Best Safety Razors
Compiling a “Best of” list is never easy and includes a list of the best straight razors. Determining our final choices came down to personal experience, a lot of research, and the many reviews of others. For instance, if a razor was rated highly in other reviews, but hadn’t generated a lot of buzz, or traffic, on Amazon, then we dug deeper.
As always, we value and appreciate your input. Let us know what you think about any of the straight razors we’ve listed here or others you’ve used. Your feedback is important to us.
Until next time, friends.