5 Straight Razor Shave Benefits
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For some men, shaving with a straight razor comes with some sense of pride. But aside from shaving like your father and grandfather, and feeling macho about it, using a straight razor comes with a host of shaving benefits as well.
However, before you realize the benefits of shaving with a straight razor we are about to mention, you should first acquire the wet shaving skill. Let’s be honest; using the best razor in the world counts for nothing if you don’t know how to use it, right? Luckily, there are many experts teaching and guiding men on wet shaving all over the internet. Pick one that resonates with you and get started.
We are also aware that not all men are into straight razor shaving. But on the flip side, the tool and the art are catching on as more men want to go old school and also reap the benefits that come with its use.
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Below are some of the benefits of shaving with the best traditional straight razor.
Benefits of Shaving with a Straight Razor
1. Yield a Close Shave
Getting a close shave gives you a clean and neat look. But you should know that close shaves come with the risk of skin irritations, razor burns, and cuts (if you haven’t mastered the skill yet). But not everyone experiences this since it all breaks down to your technique and the tools you use.
You stand a better chance of getting a close and smooth shave with a straight razor without irritations than with a razor with multiple blades. We are aware that the top razor brands market their products as being great for close shaves. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is one of those times where more isn’t better. The only benefit that razors with multiple blades offer is the fact that they reduce the time you take to shave. With a straight razor, you’ll take more time. But on the bright side, you’ll get an incomparably close shave.
2. Less Irritation
Straight razors are great even for those who have sensitive skin. The reason why straight razors cause fewer irritations is that they reduce the number of times the blade glides over the skin. Now, wait a minute. Didn’t we just say that straight razors take more time? And that the best Double-Edge razors using the best double edge razor blades allows you to shave faster? Yes, we did, but we still insist that straight razors allow you to pass the blade fewer times.
Here’s our logic. A cartridge or disposable razor has multiple blades. Let’s take one that has three blades. For every stroke you make, you have to multiply it by three. This is because every blade passes over the skin. Consequently, you are bound to get three times the irritation you would if you used a straight razor.
3. Long-Lasting Investment
If you are in the search for a straight razor, you might have noticed that the initial investment is higher than that of a safety or cartridge razor. Heck, to have a wholesome shaving experience, you might have to get a quality straight razor shaving kit. According to experts, the cost is one of the reasons why men shy away from straight razors.
But before you write it off, think of it as a long-term investment. Though a straight razor isn’t cheap, the razor along with the accompanying investments lasts for several years. With proper maintenance, the straight razor should last for a lifetime.
So, while it might feel expensive, when you factor in its longevity, quality, and benefits, it’s a steal. Safety razors, though they are comparatively cheaper, have small recurring expenses which exceed the initial straight razor investment in the long run.
4. Environmentally Friendly Shaving Technique
It’s no secret we are not doing a great job of protecting our environment. In our search for comfort and convenience, we are leaving behind a trail of trash that negatively impacts the environment. And unfortunately, many shaving tools do nothing to help with this problem.
The amount of metal and plastic that you toss in the disposable garbage cans or even the quality cartridge razors pile up over time. The cans of your shaving creams don’t help the situation either. However, by choosing straight razor shaving, you can play a role in protecting your environment. You’ll do this by not throwing away cartridges, razors, and other trash that comes with shaving.
This is possible because wet shaving uses quality shaving soap and a shaving brush means nothing will pile up in our landfills. So, yes, if you are concerned about the environment, then a straight razor is your best bet.
Related reading: Can You Use Regular Shaving Cream With A Straight Razor?
5. Feelings of Manliness
Agreed, this shouldn’t greatly affect your decision to use a straight razor that the above benefits. Nonetheless, it’s a benefit you get. Many men have gone on record to say that using straight razors give them feel more manly.
And if you think about it, there’s nothing like playing ‘Russian roulette with death every time you shave. Well, you will not die, but straight razors weren’t nicknamed ‘cutthroat’ razors for naught. Moreover, there’s no other tool that comes close to giving you a similar ‘badass’ feeling.
Popular Straight Razor Brands
Let’s look at some of the most popular straight razor brands and where they come from.
German Straight Razors
By referring to straight razors from Germany, I am not talking about the entire nation but the small town of Solingen. Located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Solingen has been one of the renowned epicenters of superior quality European cutlery for ages. Solingen produces the ultimate prime quality blades. Solingen-branded open razors have proved so good that in 1938 this name had to be given legal protection!
Established in 1906 by Carl Dorp and Carl-Arthur Voos, Dovo is one of the most famed straight razor brands from Solingen. In the course of its century-plus existence, Dovo has swallowed up several other blade brands such as Tennis, Ankerflagge, Fontana, Kronpunkt, and Bismarck, bringing under one roof extensive manufacturing expertise and experience and thus leading to today’s premier quality straight razors.
For Dovo products, even the least pricey is guaranteed to serve you perfectly for many years to come provided you provide a bit of proper care and attention. If you want to get a price-friendly straight razor, Dovo straight razors typically retail at between $90 (€75) and $250 (€200) in the lower-end market segment. Dovo blades come in a wide range of handle materials including Spanish oak, ebony, desert ironwood, buffalo horn, and ordinary plastic. A popular straight razor is the bestselling DOVO Bismarck. Some DOVO straight razors are also available in various kits, a couple can be found here among the best straight razor kits as well in our article about the best DOVO straight razor starter kit.
Although wood-made Dovo handles are usually considered water-resistant, this is not completely correct since the razor is not meant to become wet. To most people, the handle material is not all that important — just go for the one that appeals to your eyes the most.
Giesen & Forsthoff – AKA Timor
Giesen & Forsthoff was founded in 1920 in Germany’s stronghold of sharp knives, Solingen. In the German shaving context, the brand is known for affordable open razors where the blade does not take a back seat to anyone, but where the handle is a bit more spartan than on many razors from competitor Dovo. Under the trademark “Timor” the Giesen & Forsthoff Company was very popular in Europe and especially in Scandinavia in the period before and after World War II. One of their most popular models is the Timor Straight Razor Plum Wood.
Founded in 1869, Böker is another major manufacturer from Solingen, albeit less renowned than Dovo. With their famed focus on employing the very best in expertise and raw materials, Böker’s main objective has always been to maintain its manufacturing standards at the very highest level.
Although the demand for open razors had waned gradually in the years following the end of the Second World War, the global market has seen some massive revival in recent years. While in the past the Solingen Company was mostly known as a hunting knife maker, today they also boast some of the most sought-after shaving masterpieces on the market. Böker designs and manufactures all their straight razors using some of the best traditional techniques, with up to 150 steps being followed to end up with these great products of shaving craftsmanship.
All Böker razors are hand-made, with the most pricey model being made from powdered, metallurgical stainless Damascus material and forming up to 180 layers of the renowned steel type for a pocketful price of USD$$$. The company also makes less expensive alternatives like the Boker King Cutter Straight Razor 140521 and the Boker Silver Steel.
Note: While silver was used to make Boker blades up to around the year 2000, today this is only a marketing term. The silver made the blade’s surface structure more refined, enhancing the Boker razor’s overall cutting experience.
Bonus Tip: You may consider paying for your Böker blades in euros rather than dollars; the euro prices seem better. And they are hard to find in the US. I am reliably informed that Böker is planning to have more offerings later in the year, so keep your ears on the alert. I prefer those amazing-looking blades adorned with a traditional hollow-ground shape. However, the imitation ivory-made handle scales are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea.
French Straight Razors
If you ask any true connoisseur about French open razors, more often than not their immediate answer will be Thiers-Issard. While Dovo can be termed as the Mercedes Benz of the razor world and Boker the BMW, Thiers-Issard is the Aston Martin!
Founded in 1884 by Pierre Thiers, the legendary blade manufacturer was borne out of the barrel-chested blacksmith’s talent and expertise in hammering out prime quality metallic items at the forge, eventually becoming a pro razor designer.
Initially, Thiers passed on his master’s knowledge and business to his son, Pierre Thiers Junior, with other members of their family joining the company later on. Although no longer family-owned, Thiers-Issard still jealously guards the high quality and tradition of its originators, with the fact that they still use only Sheffield steel to make their open razors being perhaps the best evidence of this. For those of us who love great works of art, Thiers-Issard’s special edition models are our mainstay, price notwithstanding. But other less pricey alternatives are available, with good maintenance being the only thing standing between a great Thiers-Issard razor and generations of use.
Many buyers may confuse an exchangeable razor blade-equipped Shavette either from Dovo (that has the patent for the ‘Shavette’ Trademark), Parker, or a Feather for a traditional open razor, but this is a combination of a disposable razor and a straight razor. While it is equipped with the form of a straight razor, this type carries a disposable blade. There are many manufacturers of blades for these razors, one of the more popular is the Derby blades.
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Probably you have felt or seen a Shavette in a barber’s shop when the barber is cleaning up your neck or another customer’s below the hairline. Compared to classic straight razors, these types are normally less costly than straight razors, typically USD 25-50 (20-40 euros) lower. They are great options for beginners who do not have to hone and strop before shaving, or you can use them as an interim step as you plan to invest in a more decent straight shaver as experience is gained. Some of the Feather shavette-style razors are also a good transition to the classic Kamisori (Japanese-style) straight razors.
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The Final Word
By this point, it’s evident that we are huge fans of wet shaving and straight razor and similar tools in particular. While there are other shaving tools and methods that you can use if you are running late in the morning, including electric shavers, there’s none that will provide you with the quality smooth, and close shave that a straight razor can.
With that said, if you have a steady hand, and are willing to learn, then you should consider purchasing a straight razor. I think the benefits of shaving with a straight razor are obvious.
Ruiru Kibet is passionate about beard care and male grooming. He believes it’s an art form and is happy to share his insight with men across the globe. He’s into wet shaving and evidence-based grooming, a passion that helps him analyze men’s grooming brands, products, and wet shaving practices presenting you with the best recommendations and advice. Kevin's profile on Linkedin.