The 10 Best Straight Razors
10. BOG BlackAF
9. Sanguine Pure Wood
8. Feather SS Folding Handle
7. Black Widow Executive
6. Parker SR1
5. Equinox International Professional
4. Dovo Solingen Carbon
3. Utopia Care
2. Classic Samurai CS-102
1. Feather SS
Clearing The Forest
Human beings have engaged in body-hair removal for all of recorded history. Even prehistoric man would scrape unwanted hairs away using sharpened stones or clam shells. Metal tools capable of shaving have been unearthed in 6,000-year-old Egyptian tombs — in fact, the men of some ancient cultures would all traditionally shave their heads, possibly to aid in hand-to-hand combat.
While most men of our modern culture engage in considerably less fist fighting on a daily basis, there's still plenty of reason for them to shave. A smooth chin can make an important first impression on a big date, or help you look sharp and organized when you close the deal with that high-dollar client. Also, as many women will attest, freshly-shaven skin just feels better — to men ant their partners.
Thankfully, we don't have to use sharpened clams to achieve today's lofty beauty standards. With all of our modern technology, there is certainly a variety of ways to keep stubble at bay. A lot of guys choose to use a utilitarian electric shaver. These get the job done quickly, but definitely don't provide that smooth-as-silk feeling that the cheek so relishes.
The traditional safety razor has undergone a facelift in the last two decades, as well. A far cry from the standard, plastic, disposable type, some models even feature vibration and as many as five parallel blades to make shaving more effective. But in over 300 years of use, the straight razor as we know it has consistently given one of the closest shaves available. And with the right technique and upkeep, it can be very easy and economical as well.
Why Use A Straight Razor?
One of the great reasons to use this old-school shaving method is evidenced by the discovery of intact metal shaving tools from the 4th century B.C.E. A quality knife, kept well, can pass down through generations without losing its effectiveness.
Professional-quality models are made from a number of different high-hardness steels. Stainless steel is easier to care for and retains a good edge even with moderate upkeep. Carbon steel, popular among many enthusiasts, often holds a sharper edge for longer, but requires more experience to properly hone and a bit more work to maintain and protect. A lot of prominent brands use their own proprietary alloys with special inclusions such as silver or extra chromium, offering certain improvements to hardness and edge retention.
A good cut-throat blade might set you back quite a bit more than a pack of disposable razors. But it's the last one you'll ever have to buy, and the traditional barber's tool will give you a tighter and more comfortable shave than a safety razor ever could. Furthermore, for those facial hair artists in the crowd, the highest precision manscaping can only be done with a perfectly honed piece of metal.
Of course, using this retro beauty technique can be slightly off-putting, especially the first few times you're running that razor-sharp blade across your neck. But with care, attention, and patience, straight razors can shear the hair from your face as quickly and safely as other tools. Many cut-throat aficionados will agree that the user has far more control of an open blade than they do of the fixed-style apparatus used in safety razors that's often shrouded in plastic and gets irreparably dull after multiple uses.
Getting The Most From Your Blade
Like any knife, shaving implements become dull with use. The upkeep of a straight razor is similar to the care of any other high-quality knife. Actually, the steel used in many razor blades is comparable to that used in a lot of high-end chef's knives — some of which have directly borrowed alloys from successful razor smiths, to great culinary success. And, while the care of your heirloom-quality tool does require a certain soft touch, it's actually pretty simple, and it's something you can master with a little practice.
Let's start by touching on the concept of sharpness. A truly sharp knife has a finely tapered edge that's free from nicks and distortions, even on a microscopic level. As a blade encounters objects of varying resilience, the very edge is forced out of true. Over time, the edge curls over ever so slightly, preventing a clean cut.
Kitchen knives require frequent sharpening because they have to cut through a lot of food items that are rather hard. Because razors only ever meet damp hair, they tend to need less sharpening so long as they are properly honed. The honing process used on a straight razor is also known as stropping. The tool used (a strop) is nothing more than a leather band of a consistent smoothness that's securely anchored on one end. The barber simply pulls the strop tight and runs the razor backward down its length using gentle pressure and moderate speed.
It's a pretty simple process, but it does require a bit of practice and attention to detail. For example, too much pressure can result in increasingly rolled edges, and anything but a perfectly clean blade can damage the strop and, subsequently, the razor itself. After stropping, you should finish your blade with oil before storage. This is especially true for carbon-steel blades to keep them from oxidizing, pitting, and rusting.
Of course, as when using any hair-removal product, care should be taken to ensure personal safety. Just like any tools, your shaving kit is safest when everything is in full, working order. Luckily, a straight razor makes that maintenance easy, and leads to a great final product: your beautiful, smooth face.
Please use caution when shaving the face or other sensitive areas.