Straight razors are slowly making a comeback thanks to their simplicity and eco-friendly nature. As men have started becoming increasingly interested in straight razors, more and more companies have started manufacturing them, and there is a variety of straight razors you can choose. But there are certain aspects that separate a high-quality straight razor from an inferior one. So what features should a high-quality straight razor possess?
A high-quality straight razor should have the following features:
- Wooden handle
- Slightly curved handle
- Stainless steel blade
- The blade should be straight and not bent
- Balanced at the pivot point
If you are looking for a high-quality straight razor, then you should be on the lookout for the above-mentioned qualities in a straight razor. While straight razors are not complex, they come with various types of materials and in different styles. In this article, we will tell you all about the features of a high-quality straight razor and how you can choose the correct kind of straight razor to suit your shaving needs, so keep reading.
Straight razor handles can be made out of a variety of materials. But when it comes to a high-quality straight razor, you should expect to see a wooden handle on it. Straight razors with wooden handles are not just meant to look expensive and luxurious, they are also convenient to use. A straight razor with a wooden handle is going to have the following benefits:
Lightweight: Handle of a straight razor makes up for half of the razor’s body and if the handle is made out of lightweight material, you can expect the razor to be lightweight and easy to handle. Wood is a lightweight material and razors with wooden handles make it very easy to adjust the amount of pressure you want to apply when shaving your face. Straight razors with heavier handles can make it difficult to adjust the ideal amount of pressure when shaving because their weight is already applying pressure against your skin and all you can do is use the weight of the razor when shaving.
Allows shaving the edges of the face: Using a lightweight straight razor with a wooden handle comes handy especially when you are shaving the edges of your face by allowing you total control over the amount of pressure being applied when shaving these areas. Not to mention that using a lightweight wooden straight razor is going to allow you to shave without your hand getting tired.
Feel good when in your hand: Straight razors with wooden handles give the user a premium feel when holding. Wood doesn’t get as cold as other materials, which means you don’t have to hold a cold razor first thing in the morning when shaving.
Slightly curved handle
A good quality straight razor is going to have a slightly curved handle. Straight razors with a curved handle are easy to use and hold and give you an ideal grip when shaving. The curved handle allows you to adjust your grip when shaving and you can reach different areas of your face with ease. The curved handle is also user friendly and even if you are a beginner in straight razor shaving, you will be able to get a proper grip on the handle.
Stainless steel blade
Not all straight razor blades are made equal, and when it comes to quality and durability, stainless steel blades take the cake. Stainless steel blades are the toughest and the most high-quality blades you will find on any straight razor. This is why a high-quality straight razor should ideally have a stainless steel blade. Some benefits that a high-quality stainless steel blade can provide include:
Longer useful life: Stainless steel blades as the name suggests are rust-free therefore you can expect to use a straight razor that has a stainless steel blade pretty much your whole life. Blades that are made of pure steel are softer and they are not vulnerable to rusting. And since the blade of a straight razor regularly comes in contact with water, having a high-quality stainless steel blade can save you the worry of properly drying your straight razor’s blade after each shave.
Sharper: As we mentioned above, stainless steel is a lot tougher, which means you can expect a stainless steel blade to stay sharp for a long time without requiring frequent sharpening. More and more manufactures are offering straight razors with stainless steel blades due to their sharpness.
The blade should be straight and not bent
A high-quality straight razor is going to have a flawless build and the blade of a good quality razor is not bent when you look at it when holding it up, right in front of your eye. Or if you place the blade on a straight surface the blade shouldn’t be lifted upwards at any point. A bent blade is going to make it difficult to shave. You are more prone to cuts and nicks if the blade is not straight. With a high-quality straight razor, you can expect the blade to be perfectly straight.
Balanced at the pivot point
A high-quality straight razor is going to have a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. This means that the handle and the blade of the straight razor should be the same weight. A balanced straight razor is easier to maneuver and is highly precise. If the blade is too heavy and the handle is made out of a lighter material, then such a straight razor will be unstable and difficult to use. The same is true if it’s the other way around. To test the balance of a straight razor, all you have to do is open it up and place the pivot point on your finger. A perfectly balanced straight razor will not tilt to either side. This is a sign of high quality.
You should be on the lookout for the above-mentioned qualities if you are looking for a high-quality straight razor. But at the same time, you should also consider your shaving needs when picking a straight razor for yourself. You can utilize the guidelines explained in the next section to choose the best straight razor that suits your style and skill.
How to choose a straight razor
While the quality of a razor is an important factor to consider you also have to consider other factors when picking a straight razor. Straight razors come in different sizes, styles, and aggressiveness. Choosing the right type of straight razor is going to make your shaving experience a lot better. Some factors to consider when picking a straight razor are as follows:
Blade size refers to the width of the blade. There are a bunch of different sized blades you can choose from. Some common blade sizes you can find are 3/8”, 5/8”, and 8/8”. Some manufactures also make straight razors that have 4/8” blades. These sizes refer to the width of the blade from the top end to the cutting edge and you can find out the width of the blade in inches by simply dividing the blade size. For example, an 8/8″ straight razor blade is going to be a full inch in width, which is the biggest size blade you will find. As you come down to the 5/8” and 4/8” blades, the width of the blade reduces. The size of the blade is an important factor to consider because a large size blade is going to be heavier while a small blade is going to be lighter.
So if you have a very thick and full beard, a heavier 8/8” size blade would make it easier to shave that thick beard. But at the same time, the heavier weight of a larger blade is going to make the straight razor difficult to handle and it will be difficult to shave narrow parts of your face such as under the nose. While a smaller 4/8” blade is going to be ideal for shaving thinner and areas with less beard because you don’t need a lot of weight and pressure to shave thin hair. Your shaving expertise will also determine the size of the blade you should pick. If you have been using a straight razor for a while now and you are confident with your ability to use a straight razor, you can pick a bigger heavier blade. But for beginners, a smaller, lighter blade would be easier to use and maneuver while shaving.
Straight razors come with different types of blade tips. Picking the right type of tip also known as the point; is very important when buying a straight razor. Some common blade points and their differences are as follows:
Square tip: As the name suggests this type of straight razor has a squared tip. The squared tip is also sharpened, which makes it useful for shaving small areas or patches of hair such as above and below the lips. But this feature of square tip straight razors can make them difficult to use for beginners as it takes time and skill to avoid accidentally cutting yourself from the sharp tip while shaving. So unless you know what you are doing and you have plenty of experience of shaving with straight razors, you should not get a straight razor with a square tip.
Rounded tip: Also known as the Dutch point, this type of straight razor blades come with either a completely rounded or semi-rounded tip. Rounded tips are not sharp and therefore you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself with the tip. This makes the rounded tip blades extremely beginner-friendly. But the only downside of rounded tip straight razors is that you can’t do a lot of styling using these razors because the edge of the blade is not pointy enough to allow you to get a straight cut. So if you like to keep a certain style of a beard, then maintaining that style will be difficult if you use a rounded tip straight razor.
French tip: These types of straight razors have a non-sharp tip similar to the round tip razors but the only difference is that the tip of a French-tip straight razor is rounded from one side but pointy on the other. This allows you to be more precise when styling your beard but also protects your face from accidental cuts and nicks.
Notched tip: These types of straight razor tips have a concave tip and the tip is sharpened as well. Notched tip straight razors come in two variations; the ones with a bigger notch are called Spanish tip and they basically have two pointy ends on their tip. While the ones with a smaller notch and two rounded edges are called barbers tip. While the tips of these straight razors aren’t particularly useful they can still cut your face, so it is best to avoid them if you are new to straight razor shaving.
Blade profile: The profile of a straight razor’s blade is determined by the curvature of a blade’s edge. There are two types of blade profiles for straight razors; the curved edged blades and the straight edge blades. A blade with a straight edge is going to be difficult to use if you have a rounder face because a straight-edged blade will not be able to adjust according to the round parts of your face. While a blade with a curved edge will be able to shave the round parts of your face relatively easily.
Blade grind: Most people ignore the grind of the blade when buying a straight razor. But the grind of a straight razor’s blade can affect the overall performance and the feel of a razor. The grind of a blade refers to the thickness of a blade. You can tell the grind of a straight razor’s blade if you look at the razor’s blade from the tip end. Below are the different kinds of blade grinds:
Completely hollow: These types of straight razor blades are ground to be as thin as possible, with only a small amount of thickness left on the top end of the blade. Blades with a hollow grind are light and flexible, making them easier to use. And thanks to the flexibility, you can avoid cuts and nicks easily. Some hollow straight razor blades are ground so thin that they make a very specific sound when you shave with them, which is why they are also called singing razors. The sound is produced when the thin blade vibrates due to friction against the hairs and skin. The only downside is that it is really easy to damage a completely hollow blade when sharpening it, especially if you take too much of the metal off during the process.
Half hollow: As the name suggests these types of straight razor blades are ground to be thin until the middle of the blade and the other half is thicker and concave in shape. Half hollow blades are heavier than blades that are completely hollow because they have a lot more metal left on the blade. They are also harder to find because not a lot of companies make them anymore, but you can still find a straight razor with a half hollow blade if you look hard enough for one. If you want a blade that is not too thin and flexible, then half hollow blades are a step up from completely hollow blades.
Wedge: Straight razor blades with a wedge grind are thicker and they are not hollowed. This means a very little amount of metal is removed when grinding them and they are very heavy as a result. Wedge blades are not manufactured anymore because of their high difficulty level, but some men prefer old wedge blades as they are great for shaving thick and heavy beards.
All of these factors can greatly affect the type of shave you get from a straight razor and they can also affect how often you will have to sharpen the blade of your straight razor.
The quality of a straight razor is determined by the type of materials that have been used in the making of the razor and how well-built the razor is. Once you buy a good quality straight razor for yourself, it is going to serve you for the rest of your life. But as explained in this article, you have to consider other factors as well when picking a straight razor. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to straight razors. You will have to pick a straight razor that suits your skill level, the toughness of your hair, and the comfort level you expect when shaving. And if you consider all the factors explained in this article, you should be able to pick a high-quality straight razor for yourself that also suits your shaving needs.