Best Straight Razor for Beginners & Pros (2023 Buyers Guide)
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In this review and buying guide, we will help you find the best straight razor – both as a beginner or if you are an experienced pro wet-shaver.
Before we dive into it – straight razors are also often referred to as straight edge razor, cutthroat, barber, cut-throat, cut throat, open-blade, straight edge, straight blade, and straight-edge razor -or as Shakespeare put it: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet“.
With the many straight razors on the market all claiming to be the best straight razor of the century or the best straight razor for beginners, it is a daunting process to choose the straight razor most likely to provide you with the best result. We all want the best for ourselves which is only natural.
However, finding the perfect straight razor is not always an easy process. The fact that there are several brands, makes and models of the straight razor in the market do not make the decision-making process any easier.
If you are looking for the best straight razor that fits your personal preferences, you should read this article to the end and you might also want to check out our review of DOVO straight razor starter kit or if you want to look at other brands as well, the best straight razor kit article.
Luckily, we have compiled a list of important factors to consider while making the decision. These considerations are designed to add to your knowledge of what is available as well as equip you with knowledge of the qualities of making a quality straight razor whether you decide to go for the Editors’ Choice – the DOVO Bismarck Straight Razor or some other top picks.
Top 3 Best Straight Razors at a Glance
Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
With that out of the way, let us get into the thick of things with some important factors to consider when considering the top straight razor for your personal preference and skill.
There are two types of straight razors:
- The classic variety with a permanent blade that must be stropped and honed
- Or those with a replaceable blade, also known as a shavette
8 Factors to Keep In Mind When You Want to Buy the Best Straight Razor for Men
Top-quality straight razor are produced with subtle but very important differences. Below is information based on our own experience as well as information available from other users on forums like Reddit, Badger & Blade, The Shave Den to help with your understanding of these features to assist with your choice before you head over to Amazon or any other online or physical shop to make a purchase.
1. Blade Type
- Round Point – This blade point is semicircular. Also often referred to as Dutch point. It is devoid of sharp ends. Compared to other blade types, it proves to be slightly more forgiving. As such, this is a straight razor best suited for beginners learning the art of straight razor shaving. You will mostly find that the best straight edge razor for beginners has a round point.
- Square Point – Square point blade has a straight point profile. This terminates into a sharp point that is perpendicular to the cutting edge of the razor blade. It proves to be particularly useful in shaving smaller areas. It does, however, require some experience to handle correctly.
- French Point – The profile designed on a French point razor blade looks like a quarter circle. It has a sharp point at the very end just like the square point. Other Brands or persons might refer to it as the oblique point.
2. Blade Width
The straight razor blade width refers to the distance between the cutting edge and the back or dull edge of the blade. The width is expressed in simple 1/8 increments. As such, a 4/8 blade translates to half an inch wide while the 8/8 blade translates into a 1-inch wide blade.
I should point out that the width of blades does in no way affect the closeness of the shave. This is provided you hone and strop the blade to give it the required sharpness. Narrower blades tend to be easier to strop than a wide blade.
A wide straight razor blade will provide a more aggressive shave. They do, however, prove very difficult to shave under the nose, especially for beginners. This goes for other hard-to-reach areas as well.
Smaller blades provide ample room to see where and how you are shaving.
3. Modern vs. Vintage Razor Models
On a broad spectrum, you only have two choices to make with regards to the straight razor. This is either a vintage or a modern version. They vary greatly and have their pros and cons.
- Vintage Straight Razors
If you are into buying old products are restoring them to their original glory, or close to it, then antique straight razors will prove to be the best and by far the most attractive option on the table. The fact that you can get vintage straight razors at an affordable price is certainly a plus. You should be warned though. Antique razors do require some tender care to restore them to their original glory and be perfect for shaving. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you hone the shaving skill first with the modern straight razor model before jumping to the vintage straight razor varieties.
- Modern Straight Razors
A modern straight razor as you would expect have the added advantage of featuring the new technology available in the market. Modern straight razors feature better craftsmanship and more often than not, they have years of experience and shaving backing their design and engineering. Needless to say, the condition of the modern straight razor version is way better than that of a vintage straight razor. But then again, a vintage well-maintained razor is usually of the same quality if not better than the modern alternatives.
No, temper in this context does not refer to those moments you flip out on your family and friends. It refers to the straight razor blades’ ability to retain their sharpness as well as their ease of sharpening.
They come with three tempers soft, medium, and hard. Generally, a hard temper straight razor will keep the edge for longer while a soft-tempered razor blade is easier to sharpen.
The straight razor is made from carbon steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel usually is less expensive compared to carbon steel and also lasts longer between sharpening. On the other hand, carbon steel blades are higher in quality and are slightly more expensive. Most beginners prefer getting a straight razor produced from stainless steel. The combination of quality and affordability is too sweet to ignore.
Grind refers to the concave indentation on the straight razor blade. A full hollow grind usually makes a razor blade sharper and lighter. On the flip side, a less hollow grind is not as sharp and is considered more suitable for beginners in the game.
7. A Shavette – What about It?
A shavette (trademark of the German manufacturer DOVO Solingen) can be likened to training wheels on bicycles. A shavette straight razor is a perfect choice for beginners learning the ropes and making the transition between “normal” shaving and the use of a straight razor. But they are also probably the best razors for barbers. They resemble a traditional straight razor in many ways. They feature a standard double-edge disposable (replaceable) blade – in some cases the same kind of blade that you would still use with a safety razor. No stropping and/ or honing stones are involved. It is a great way to get the hang of the shaving motion and generally, the technique of using a straight razor.
They are far cheaper (you can actually get good ones under $50) compared to actual open straight razor models. There are now several manufacturers that are using disposable blade systems with their personal touches – such as Feather and Parker. This type of straight razor is very popular among professional barbers.
8. Shave Ready (What Does That Mean?)
You’ve often come across the term ‘shave-ready’ used by straight razor companies like Boker straight razors, Thiers-Issard and Dovo. Many people think that the phrase is misused to get more sales. But from our standpoint, we believe it’s just a miscommunication. Here’s why:
Thiers-Issard and Dovo put in basic work on their razor edges before they leave the factory. As such, you’ll receive a straight razor with an edge that’s sharp enough to cut hair. However, it’s unlikely that the basic factory honing will offer the most comfortable and closest shave possible.
With that said, we believe that there is no need to hone a new straight razor. Our stand on this is strengthened by the fact that honing by an inexperienced user can do more harm than good. When you first receive your razor, strop it to realign the edges (not to sharpen it). Always strop before shaving, but also after shaving – this will get rid of microparticles that can build up.
When it’s relatively new, the edge is sharp. As such, you should use a less aggressive paste when stropping. However, with time the edge will get dull and require a little more work. At this point, change to a coarser paste. If you don’t know how to hone it, you should watch a couple of videos of professionals guiding you through it. Alternatively, you can send it out to a honing professional for the best and guaranteed results.
Before you pick the best straight razor for men that fits your preferences – keep this in mind:
Which Straight Razor Is the Right One for Me?
The first thing you need to do is decide if you want a regular straight razor or a razor with replaceable blades. The latter is often called Shavette and goes by the name Artist Club at Feather.
Traditional Straight Razor
The classic straight razor provides a good shave with the right technique and maintenance. However, it also requires practice in getting into the technique. In addition, maintaining and sharpening the razor is a separate hobby in itself. If you are going to start shaving with a straight razor, you must therefore be prepared for the fact that there is a lot to learn and you need some extra equipment.
Straight Razor with Replaceable Blades (AKA Shavette)
The shaving itself is done in the same way as with a traditional straight razor, but you do not need to strop and hone the razor. If it becomes dull, just change the blade. Such models are thus great for you who want to shave with a straight razor, but who do not want to spend time and money on everything around maintenance.
What Does “Full Hollow Ground” Mean?
The blade of a razor can be sharpened in various ways. By grinding we mean here how concave the blade is sharpened.
Some straight razors are so-called hollow ground. There are different grades, ranging from quarter hollow to extra hollow ground. This means that the blade gradually becomes thinner from the “back” and downwards with a concave curved shape. These straight razors have a little flex in the blade.
This type of straight razor is sharpened straight down from the back towards the tip. The blade is, therefore, thicker than on a hollow ground straight razor.
What is Best?
A wedge for a strong beard is usually recommended as there is less flex in the blade. But, there is also a lot of personal taste and pleasure and many different opinions. Most of the popular straight razors have a variant of hollow ground and this is also the most common type. It is also suitable for most people. If you have the technique nailed down, you can mostly shave with most things, regardless of how the razor is sharpened.
Does the Width of the Razor Have Anything to Do With It?
As with a lot of straight razors, there are also many different opinions here. The technique and whether the razor is stropped and set up are much more important than the width to achieve a good shave. Whether the razor is 5/8 “or 6/8” comes down to personal taste and preference. That being said – a wider blade is usually recommended for a broader face, coarser beard, and/ or if you are more experienced. But this is nitpicking.
Should I Choose Carbon Steel or Stainless Steel?
- Carbon steel is easier to hone & strop, but it will rusts if it is damp and not protected with oil.
- Stainless steel does not rust and thus withstands a little more moisture, but it is more difficult to get sharp.
The shave itself is good with both types and it is just a matter of personal taste.
What Accessories Do I Need?
Before you head over to find the best sale, keep in mind if you go for a classic straight razor (not a Shavette/ replaceable blade): As a bare minimum, you need a sharpening strop and stropping paste. You should use this both before and after you have shaved.
If you need to hone the straight razor yourself, you also need different wet stones (hones).
Read more about how to maintain your straight razor.
Best Straight Razor for Beginner & Pros (Summary)
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. DOVO Bismarck – Best Straight Razor (Intermediate & Experienced)
The DOVO Bismarck is a beauty from masterful German craftsmen at DOVO. When you first set your eyes on it, it’ll call out to you, begging to be handled and used. Its meticulous and exquisite design makes it a must-have shaving tool in every man’s grooming cabinet.
Like most DOVO straight razors, the DOVO Bismarck features a high-quality carbon steel blade. It’s super sharp and cuts through the tough beard with ease. And though their quality is right up with the stainless steel versions, they need a little more care and maintenance to last longer. Luckily, the hardening process is elaborate and gives the carbon steel elasticity, hardness and resistance.
The carbon steel blade measures 6/8 inches and is a full-hollow grind that offers an expert shaving experience. The spine, tang, and tail are washed and lasered with the gold Bismarck logo, which adds beauty to the straight razor. Moreover, the thumb hold is sculpted to accommodate the thumb for additional stability.
DOVO offers the Bismarck in two-scale options;
This razor is a true gem for any man, and it’s easy to see why.
Read the full review: DOVO Bismarck
2. DOVO Inox Straight Razor with Olive Wood Handle 5/8 – Best Straight Razor for Beginners & Intermediate Users
DOVO is a German company. It is reputed for providing high-quality products. DOVO Inox 41 Straight Razor is one example that is hard to beat. This straight razor beauty is also a contender for the best quality straight razor for newbies. Let us have a closer look.
A Long Tradition
The German manufacturer has been producing superior straight razors for a long time. This is since 1906. They have over time built a highly respected name and a solid reputation for themselves. A reputation for excellence that is well deserved. Solingen, the part of Germany where they are based, was already popular for producing quality cutting tools when DOVO got into the shaving industry.
DOVO prefers to ship all of its straight edge razors ready to go out of the box. This means that before shaving, you do not have to take it through any setup or assembly. Note: I prefer to hone & strop before first use though, this is my personal preference.
The blade on this straight razor is Full hollow, sharp, and light. Additionally, it features a rounded point that is highly suitable for beginners. It is made of grade 1.4034 stainless steel which is durable, elastic, and hard. The blade is a round point type – 5/8-inches wide. This is an added plus for straight razor lovers. Due to the choice of a stainless steel blade, this is a razor that is easy to clean and maintain. Perfect for newbies to straight blade razor shaving.
The handle is made from olive wood and looks great. Additionally, it has a strong grip and will not slip from your hand. The wood handle gives it a classic look and feel.
The edge of this blade is fine. It is as fine as gets when it comes to quality straight razor blades. This not only enhances the shave quality you get but also provides you with a graceful feel requiring no extra pressure.
Brand & Design
DOVO Straight Razor 41 Inox features a simple design that is stylish and elegant. It looks great as all straight razors from this company do, like for example the popular DOVO Prima below. The DOVO Straight Razor 41 Inox is a light razor at only around 3.5 ounces (100 grams). The rounded tip also makes it more forgiving – perfect when you are a beginner.
Read the full review: DOVO Inox
3. Dovo Prima Silver Steel – All-Time Classic (Editors Pick)
If you are looking for a Dovo Straight razor you can grow with, the Dovo Prima Silver Steel is it for you. Although it’s a classic razor, it has tasteful decorations and quality material that give it a luxurious feel. Like the Dovo Inox, the Prima Silver Steel ticks all the boxes for beginners and intermediate wet shavers. Below are some features to know.
This Dovo straight razor sports a 5/8” carbon steel razor, weighs ~ 4.23 oz (120 grams, NOT 46 grams as listed on most sites) and is ~0.18 inches (4.77mm) thick. The width is ideal for beginners as it doesn’t impede the view of the spot you are shaving and is maneuverable. At 4.23oz, the razor feels well balanced, making it easier to handle.
Carbon steel is softer than stainless steel; hence it’s easier to hone and strop. However, it’s more susceptible to rusting than stainless steel, so you should dry it well before storing it. The razor has a full hollow grind that gives it a thin edge, optimal flexibility, and sharpness. With the full hollow grind is a round point that’s a little more forgiving as you learn the ropes.
On the blade’s face and the spine are golden laser engraving that adds to the beauty of the razor. Finally, the ebony wood handle is hard, heavy, and high quality. It’s curved to maintain shape and doesn’t swell in humid environments.
4. Feather Artist Club SS Japanese Razor – Japanese Straight Razor
When it comes to a straight razor, you will notice (if you haven’t already), that the sharpness of the blade is not everything. Nonetheless, it still means a lot.
Feather SS Japanese straight razor comes in first place courtesy of its sharp blade. With this beauty, you will not have to worry about whether the blade is sharp enough or not. Additionally, you have the tech backing of a famed Japanese company.
This company and brand are one of the most respected and reputable in the industry. Not only are they making great straight razors, but they have also created a stainless steel safety razor masterpiece named Feather AS D2. Simply put, it is the best of the best.
Here is what has skyrocketed this straight razor model into fame over the past few years. First and foremost the Feather SS Artist Club is a Kamisori style straight razor like any other with regards to its body design and shape but features a disposable blade.
As such, you are in a way getting the best of both worlds. The sharp disposable blade requires no stropping and honing. Its maintenance is a walk in the park, and it can easily be replaced.
But this introduces a new concept of removing and replacing the blade. Before you freak out, the removal and replacement process is a walk in the park. All you have to do is pinch the razor head and allow the blade to drop from the socket. It is an easy and fast process.
You do, however, still need to exercise caution throughout the process since after all, you are dealing with a sharp razor blade, and any mishap could certainly spill a bit of blood.
You will be pleased to note that the blade head is spring mounted. This contributed to its ease of blade removal as well as its ease of cleaning the Feather SS with water. I should mention that the blade is also disinfectant safe.
With that, let’s have a look at some of the other features of the Feather SS.
- Feather SS straight razors are made of stainless steel. They are built to last for ages.
- The Feather SS features a resin handle. This handle sets it apart from its competition. It is heat resistant and gives a superior grip. Switching hands to get to the hard-to-reach and sensitive places such as the jawline and neck is easier with this innovation. While the handle is also shorter than that of many others the majority of reviewers feel it comfortable in their hands.
- The sharpness of the razor blade and the overall design allows for shaving without applying undue pressure.
- The handle takes 4 different Feather replacement blades (Professional, Super, Light, and Pro-Guard) that will allow you to adjust your shave to suit your skin type and beard coarseness.
- The Feather SS is comfortable and has a lightweight design. This makes it very easy to maneuver and control. Ultimately, the goal is to get a close shave every time you place the handle on your skin. The Feather SS achieves this with great finesse.
- The professional craftsmanship coupled with the design of the Feather SS razor makes it very easy for newbies to handle. Shaving with an open razor no doubt requires care and technique as discussed in this piece. But it certainly does not hurt to have a friendlier learning curve.
- Blade Type – Round Point blade
5. DOVO Straight Razor Shavette – Shavette for Beginners
It is important to bear in mind that while the shavette vs straight razors are considered to be more of training wheels in the wet shaving industry, it does not mean that they are of low quality compared to other open razors. This stands out with the DOVO Shavette razor.
While it is a beginner razor, perfect for a novice needing some time to master the art of this type of shaving, it works great for pros as well. It is a perfect means to try straight shaving while keeping your initial investment to a minimum. The DOVO Shavette is well priced, and even though the square point blade is disposable and you have to replace it regularly, it is a fairly easy blade to maintain. But when you look at it from the perspective of the requirement of sharpening blades, it is not expensive. They help you save some cash on this end.
While this has the style and looks of a traditional razor, in the way it folds, it is lighter. With the DOVO Shavette, there are also blade holder options with regards to color and blade. These are green, black and clear.
Every holder comes with a different blade type. The clear for instance features a double-edged blade that is split into two portions while the black features a blade similar to the double-edged blade, only longer.
Last but not least, the green unit features a blade that is stiff compared to the other two types. Its blade length resembles the traditional open razors.
Note that the green and black holders are costlier than the clear holder. Also worth noting is that while the blade’s sharpness is a great thing, you need to take extra care not to nick or cut yourself.
Full review: DOVO Shavette
5 Easy Steps to Follow When Shaving with a Straight Razor
While they might be back and gaining traction in the market, you have to understand that compared to the tools that technology has presented us in the recent past to make shaving more convenient, for effective straight razor shaving, you will need to master the technique.
And truth be told, it is not the easiest thing in the world, especially if you are just getting into it. But this is not to say that it is impossible. To get you started, below are the fundamentals of straight razor shaving you need to get a hang of. Follow the steps and you will be shaving like a professional before you know it
Preparing for straight razor shaving involves two things; sharpening the blade and softening the hair to be shaved.
Last update on 2023-11-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Honing is done with a razor honing stone (also called a wet stone) – usually every 3 months or so. Read our Best Honing Stone for Straight Razors article.
Last update on 2023-11-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- Softening the hair
This is done with warm water. You can either take a warm shower and kill two birds with one stone (I prefer this method) or use a wet towel and a face wash or cleanser. If you will be using a replaceable blade you should ensure that it is sharp at all times, and replaced often.
2. Lather the Area You Need to Shave
You can use your fingers to apply the gel or one of the best shaving soaps for straight razors or one of the best shaving creams for a straight razor. However, it can prove to be slightly tricky to get the shaving gel under the hairs. It is recommended that you use one of our recommended shaving brushes for this.
3. The Grip
When it comes to holding a straight razor, everyone has their preference. However, one method that most people seem to agree on and has proved to be effective is resting the first three fingers on the straight razor blade’s back and resting the pinky on the blade tang. The tang is the blade’s narrow part that is just after the pivot. The thumb should rest on the blade’s side close to the middle.
4. Shaving Stroke
Make even and slow strokes with the blade. This is especially important if you are just starting and are learning the techniques. You should always make the strokes with the grain of your beard.
You should always start by shaving your cheeks. Use the free hand to draw the skin upwards to tighten it to avoid nicking yourself. Start from the top and move downwards. Afterward, you should proceed to shave under the jaw while still tightening the skin in the process. After this spot, shave the upper lip and finally under the chin. Finish off by pampering yourself with the best men’s aftershave or a face moisturizer.
Men’s Straight Razor Compared to Other Types of Razors
Since you have been doing some research, you most likely are aware that while straight razors share some features, straight razors are still a different tool. Additionally, while they are in many ways one of the simplest shaving tools available, they also are complicated (if that is even possible).
Without a doubt, they are unique and differ with:
Your beloved grandfather may not have used a safety razor, but your dad most likely used it daily. They have been around for quite some time and they still are popular and up to date. The beauty of a safety razor is that they come in several different designs including 3-piece, 2-piece, and butterfly designs. If you have never used these before, you will go through a learning curve. We have written more about straight razors vs safety razors in a separate article.
Also worth noting is that when buying a safety razor, you will spend considerably less than you would when buying a straight razor. However, in the long run, courtesy of the replacement blades, they end up being more pricey.
Yes, even the best cartridge razors are practically everywhere. They are available in local supermarkets and convenience stores. Manufacturers run ads for their products on TVs and even at Super Bowl. But is their abundance of supply make them the best option? Well, not quite.
The cartridge razor is cheap and portable. They do not have a learning curve to them. A newbie can start using one of these and not nick or cut themselves. They allow a lot of room for sloppiness. Some of the best units features tilted heads. The tilted head is designed to provide a perfect shaving angle and comfort while shaving.
As above-mentioned, you can purchase a cartridge razor practically anywhere. That said, what are their drawbacks?
Well, they feature low-cost blades. While it is a great thing that they are cheap, they do not provide a close shave. If you are looking for a clean and close shave, you should consider safety or a straight razor.
With a cartridge razor, you can purchase the completely disposable kind. After use, and when the blade becomes dull, you can toss it out in the bin and purchase another. If you are on the move and in a hurry, they also prove to be one of the best.
But be it as it may, experts recommend spending some bit of cash to get a high-end cartridge razor.
Truth be told, none of the above-mentioned shaving tool options can beat the convenience of the best electric razor. These shavers just need to be switched on and they are ready for use. They are available in two different designs; rotary and foil. Some are even great for wet shaving and even as electric head shavers for men.
Whether an electric razor can provide you with a close shave is a matter that can be debated. But then again, what razor option can provide you with a comparable quick shave?
FAQ Straight Edge Razors
Is Shaving with a Straight Razor Better?
In many ways, it is better than a disposable razor. A straight razor has a sharp, single blade. Therefore, getting a clean shave requires fewer passes. It will cut hair close to the skin without causing irritations and ingrown hair.
Is It Cheaper To Shave With A Straight Razor?
As a beginner, it is cheaper to start shaving with shavettes instead. They are simplified versions of straight razors featuring disposable blades. It will save you the cost of buying quality strops and one or several hones for sharpening as you learn wet shaving with a straight razor.
What Kind Of Straight Razor Do Barbers Use?
Most professional barbers use shavettes and use disposable blades from popular companies like Parker and Feather. They prefer shavettes because the blades are double-edged, sharp, and do not need stropping and honing. They are replaceable and hence hygienic.
How Many Times Should You Strop A Straight Razor?
There is no specific number. However, after four shaves, you’ll notice it needs stropping for realignment. And if you maintain the blade and use a quality strop, you will need to hone once a month or a year. Grinding will be off the table.
How Much Should You Spend On A Straight Razor?
A good straight razor costs between $100 and $300. The upfront cost is steep, but in the long run, it is cheaper than alternative shaving tools. In a year, it should cost $5 to shave with a straight razor in comparison to between $40 and $100 for cartridge razors.
What Grit Sharpening Stone Do I Need For A Straight Razor?
If you have a normal razor that you wish to restore its glory, a #8000 or a #4000 grit honing stone will work perfectly. But if your straight razor is blunt, you will need to use a coarser stone.
Is A Shavette As Good As A Straight Razor?
A Shavette is more like training wheels for beginner wet shavers. Though their sharpness and build resemble that of straight razors, they do not require honing and stropping. They have disposable blades but yield similar shaving results.
Can You Use A Straight Razor Every Day?
Yes, you can. But the reality is that no one wants or has the time to straight razor shave daily. The beauty of using a straight razor is that it gives a new way of doing things and leaves you with a smooth face.
Can You Use Regular Shaving Cream With A Straight Razor?
Yes, you can. Using regular shaving creams coupled with a brush with your straight razor will yield great results and be cheaper in the long run than with cartridge razors. However, there are quality shaving creams you can use for an even better shaving experience.
Can Any Leather Be Used As A Strop?
Different materials can be used to strop straight razor blades. However, most strops are made of leather, both smooth and suede leather. The leather can either be mounted on rigid bases or left flexible.
Below Is How We Made the Choices for Our Straight Razors List
It was no easy process to compile this straight razor list. Determining the best units came down to research, personal experience, and reviews of past users. For example, if a straight razor has numerous positive reviews and ratings but was not popular or did not have a lot of traffic and sales, we dug into its details to prove its worth on the list.
And there you have it. All you need to learn about the famed straight edge razors for your skill and preference.