8 Best Straight Razors For Beginners & Pros (Review & 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, open-blade, straight edge 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 top pick 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, getting the best 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.
The 5 Best Straight Razors in 2020 (Summary)
If you are looking for a straight razor for beginners, you should read this article all the way to the end and you might also want to check out our reviews of the best straight razor kits.
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 making a quality straight razor whether you decide to go for the Editors’ Choice – the DOVO Inox Straight Razor or some other top picks.
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:
7 Factors to Keep in Mind When you Want to Buy a Straight Razor
1. Blade Type
Top-quality straight razor blades are produced with subtle but very important differences. Below is information to help with your understanding of these features to assist with your choice.
- Round Point – This blade point is semicircular. It is devoid of sharp ends. Compared to other blade types, it proves to be slightly more forgiving. As such, it is better suited for beginners learning the art of straight razor shaving.
- 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 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 own 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 the vintage straight razor 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. A vintage straight razor does require some tender care to restore it to the 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 its sharpness as well as its ease of sharpening.
They come with three tempers including 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 designed from carbon steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel usually is less expensive compared to carbon steel and also last longer between sharpenings. On the other hand, carbon steel blades are higher in quality and are slightly more expensive. Most men 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 are a perfect choice for beginners learning the ropes and making the transition between “normal” shaving and the use of a straight razor. 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 honing 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 compared to actual open straight razor models. There are now several manufacturers that are using disposable blades systems with their own personal touches – such as Feather and Parker. This type of straight razor is very popular among professional barbers.
The 8 Best Straight Edge Razors
1. DOVO Inox Straight Razor With Olive Wood Handle 5/8 – Best Straight Razor For Beginners & Experienced Shavers
Dovo is a German company. It is reputed for providing high-quality products. Dovo Inox 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 and 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 personally prefer to hone & strop before first use though, that 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 stainless steel that is durable, elastic and hard. The blade is a round point type – 5/8-inches wide. This is an added plus for straight razors lovers.
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
The DOVO Inox Straight Razor 5/8 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 Straight Razor Carbon Steel (sold out on Amazon).
2. Feather Artist Club Japanese Straight Razor – Best Shavette Style Choice
When it comes to an open razor, you will notice (if you haven’t already), the sharpness of the blade is not everything. But nonetheless, it still means a lot.
The Feather Artist Club SS straight razor comes in first place courtesy of its sharp blade. With this beauty, you will not have to worry 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 the 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 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 are 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 allow 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
3. DOVO Special Straight Razor – Professional Shaving at it’s Finest
Dovo is one of the leading companies in the wet shaving industry. It started its journey in 1906 in Germany. It’s the brainchild of Mr. Voos and Mr. Dorp who split their names to create the company name Dovo. Like many companies in the early 20th century, Dovo only made traditional straight razors. And with 13 members working for the company, they worked extra hard to deliver quality and durable products.
Dovo later expanded into making scissors and other grooming tools in the 1950s after their yearly production shot from 8000 straight razor units to 36.000. This happened after wet shaving become popular and the chic way to shave. As a company, Dovo is dedicated to producing masterpieces from steel. And the Dovo Special straight razor is no different.
A very sturdy and sharp razor blade that after basic factory grinding has thin gold leaf applied and finishes with high polishing which gives it an incredible shine. It takes three years of training to create such a razor, and all DOVO’s products represent the highest in quality and material selection.
Experts have fallen in love with this razor for various reasons. At the top of the list is the fact that the razor is delivered ‘shave-ready’. That being said, I personally recommend that once you pop it from the box, you should hone and grind it. And besides this, the straight razor features a 5/8” carbon steel blade. The Carbon steel blade is sharp, strong and shockingly light. The whole razor weights slighty more than 2 ounces (200 grams).
The carbon blade has a high temper, which means you will spend a little time sharpening it over time.
The blade has a rounded edge and is smaller than that of other straight razors. The small size makes it easier for users to control it in tight and hard to reach spots on the face while the rounded edge protects you from accidental cuts.
On the opposite end is a non-slip tang with designed to mimic a tortoiseshell. Though it has a non-grip feel, we should point out it’s not the best. But the silver inlay reading Dovo gives the razor a stylish look.
4. Parker SRW Stainless Steel Barber (Shavette) – Affordable Classic
The Parker SRW Shavette is designed with professionals in mind. It is however still a perfect choice for beginners and experienced shavers alike. The price is affordable and hard to beat. On top of this, it is a very high-quality product.
The Parker company has been in the industry for quite some time. In this period, it has proven itself a leader in design and innovation. The stainless steel Parker SRW lives up to the hype and industry high standards.
Below are some of the features it sports.
- The blade cover of the Parker SRW is constructed from stainless steel and not aluminum as many believe and as is the norm with other brands
- Reviewers have taken note of the Parker SRW in their hand. They complement its great balance and weight which make it smooth to use and nick and cut free.
- It accommodates both half double edge and single edge disposable blades. These blades are designed to securely snap into the blade holder. The overall design makes it easy to change the blades. It is without a doubt a great advantage for professional barbers who do not have time to waste changing blades.
- It features a rounded tip which minimizes the risk of cuts and nicks. It is beginner friendly.
- It features a 100 sharp blade perfect for professional use. It is perfect for individuals looking for comfort while shaving
- Most reviewers term Parker SRW as fun
- Blade Type – Round Point blade
5. Feather Artist Club DX Folding Wood Handle – For Serious Shavers
The Feather Artist Club DX is perfect for shaving purists. The beautiful wood handle is a very classy touch. It delivers a close and smooth shave especially in the hands of an experienced shaver.
The Feather Shaving Company has been in the game for more than 80 years. As such they certainly know a thing or two about the shaving industry – “cutthroat” to be specific.
The Feather DX round point blade is replaceable. The blade is as sharp as you would expect in any other quality product. And the best part is that they need no stropping or honing either. The blade head is spring mounted and features a one-touch mechanism that makes it easy to take apart and reassemble during cleaning. To keep the handle of the blade at your desired angle is a pivot screw. It also helps to maintain constant tension.
The handle is made from resinated wood which is a special polymer that is chemical and water-resistant and is heat-treated. With these qualities, you can easily sterilize the razor in boiling water.
The sharp blade means that one wrong move can have you shedding a bit of blood. It is imperative to exercise care and caution while shaving.
6. Thiers-Issard 6/8 Straight Razor – Top High-end Choice
Despite Germany being the leading manufacturer of quality blades; France is also known for its exceptional steel blades. One of the leading manufacturing companies of handcrafted steel blades in France is Thiers-Issard. Thiers Issard has been in the industry long enough producing good quality products which have allowed them to make their way to the top of the list of the best razor manufacturers.
What is outstanding about this French blade is its dependability which will always give you the shave that you desire since satisfaction is guaranteed. However, Thiers-Issard 6/8” could fetch up to twice the price of Böker, but this could be directly attributable to its good quality and high performance that leaves you with the best shave you could get.
This mirror-polished round point blade with a width of 6/8” is a little longer than Böker which makes it more efficient despite the fact that it could demand a slightly more experience hand when shaving with it. A full-hollow designed blade with perfect forging and grounding in France and manufactured with a round nose, it has an exceptionally good look. From its appearance, it is easy to notice its high quality make.
The handle of Thiers-Issard 6/8″ is unique, designed with horn scales and with the company’s logo portrayed in black color on the razor, perfectly rhymes with its elegant look. It is designed to provide a firm grip when using it, and the fact that it is perfectly balanced is a plus, which gives you a satisfying shaving experience. Their steel construction is quite excellent, and amazingly among today’s many mass manufacturers, Thiers Issard remains outstanding courtesy of its good quality steel construction on its products.
Thiers-Issard 6/8″ needs to be honed to a suitable edge. The honing process requires experience levels which could be uncommon for newbies since it is time-consuming and could be a little difficult.
7. Dovo Shavette – Great Beginner Razor
It is important to bear in mind that while the shavettes 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 clearly 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 despite the fact that 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. As a matter of fact, 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.
8. Classic Samurai CS-102 Professional Barber Straight Edge – Excellent Value When Starting out
This masterpiece is perfect for both pros and newbies in the game. Classic Samurai CS-102 has a lot playing in its favor. With it, you enjoy a great shaving experience at a fraction of the cost of other open razors. But this low price does not mean cheap or inferior quality. On the contrary, it is loved and preferred by professionals for its high quality.
Here are some of the many features:
- Classic Samurai CS-102 is made of stainless steel. It is easy to take apart, change parts, and reassemble as needed.
- The Classic Samurai CS-102 straight razor features a great synthesis of weight and balance. It is user-friendly especially for individuals learning the technique.
- It comes in a pouch (plastic) for added protection. This helps to extend the life of the straight razor
- It is offered in a range of colors
- Round point disposable blades
5 Easy Steps to Follow When Straight Razor Shaving
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 open razor shaving basically involves two things; sharpening the blade and softening the hair to be shaved. Blade sharpening can be done with a razor stone or a razor strop while softening the hair is done with warm water.
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Last update on 2020-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
You can either take a warm shower and kill two birds with one stone (I personally 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, replacing often.
Last update on 2020-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2. Lather the Area you Need to Shave
You can use your fingers to apply the gel, shave soap or one of our tested shaving creams. 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 rest the pinky on the blade tang. The tang is the blades 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 out 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. Afterwards, 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 with pampering yourself with either an aftershave or a face moisturizer.
Straight Razors vs Other Razors
So open razors are also known as cutthroat razors. With such a reputation, why in the world would people prefer these? Why risk getting nicked if you make a mistake or do not have the right technique?
This is a great question. To answer this question, let us make a comparison between the common razor and the cut-throat razor. Why do people still hold them in high regard? You should also check out our article about the best razor for men for more information.
A Closer Look – What are They?
They are basically simple shaving tools. They feature a handle and a sharp blade. They have been around for the longest time and are still very effective in shaving.
The traditional straight razor features a metallic blade. These blades are usually made of stainless steel which requires constant sharpening and honing to maintain its sharpness. A single blade can, however, last a lifetime when given proper care.
Getting a quality straight-edge razor is expensive. When you compare the price to that of other shaving equipment, the price might seem over the top, but the great thing is that they are 1-time long-term investments.
There is no way around this. A straight razor requires you to master the shaving technique and compared to other types of razors, they do feature a steeper learning curve. You cannot be completely effective after your first shaving experience. Shaving with straight razors is not a simple process and it requires patience. However, if you do stick with it, you are sure to be well rewarded and become a “professional”.
Straight Razors 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 on a daily basis. They have been around for quite some time and they still are popular 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.
Like shavettes, double-edged razors also feature removable blades. These should be replaced every week depending on your frequency of shaving.
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, cartridge razors are practically everywhere. They are available in local supermarkets and convenient 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 a safety or straight razor.
With a cartridge razor, you can purchase the kind that is completely disposable. 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 shaver. 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.
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 Razors
Is It Better To Shave With A Straight Razor?
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 leathers. These leathers can either be mounted on rigid bases or left flexible.
Below is how we Made the Choices for our Straight Edge Razor List
It was no easy process compiling 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 personal skill and preference.
Last update on 2020-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API