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7 Best Safety Razors & Straight-Edge Razors For A Perfect Shave

When only the closest shave will do.

7 Best Safety Razors & Straight-Edge Razors For A Perfect Shave

A straight razor is the only option if you want absolute precision when shaving your beard. You can obviously invest in a beard trimmer or manual safety razor, but these don’t always deliver the desired results. Also known as the cut-throat razor owing to the fact it can quite easily cut your throat, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a steady hand before taking a straight razor to your face.

While all straight razors follow a similar design: a sharpened blade that folds into a handle, the blade material can differ, as can that of the handle, too. In fact, the handle can be made from all manner of materials, including Bakelite, celluloid, bone, plastic, wood and even tortoiseshell.

Know Your Straight Razor Types

The blade itself can be categorised into five main groups, which refer to the profile, or nose type. This is the shape you see when looking at the blade from side-on. The groups are:

  • Square: Also known as the spike, or sharp, this blade type exhibits a completely straight edge, with the point at the end of the blade itself being incredibly sharp. Square blades are incredibly precise but come with the risk of pinching the skin. Use carefully!
  • Barber’s Notch: A Barber’s Notch is essentially a Round design, but with a small concave notch. While it may not have been designed for this purpose, guys have found it useful to help navigate around the nostrils to trim moustache hairs.
  • Round: A good option for inexperienced blade handlers as the rounded edge minimises the chance of injury. It does, however, sacrifice some of the pinpoint precision of the square point.
  • French: The French blade can be used to reach ‘difficult’ areas such as under the nose, thanks to a pointed toe, curving upwards to the head of the blade.
  • Spanish: A Spanish blade is similar to a Barber’s Notch in that it features a concave notch. The one on a Spanish blade, however, is much longer and the points at both the head and the toe are more pronounced, so can cause pinching if not used with care.

Straight Razor Width

You also want to take into account the width of the blade when deciding which straight razor to buy. The width of a blade is defined as “the distance between the back of the blade and the cutting edge.” Widths are recorded in units of an eighth of an inch. Sizes can vary from as narrow as 9.5mm up to 22mm, and occasionally 25m.

Straight razor newbies may want to invest in a wider blade, as it affords more surface area to scoop up the shaving gel or cream you’ve applied to your face, as well as allowing for multiple strokes before having to rinse. A wider blade is less agile however than a narrower blade, so will offer less precision as a compromise. A 16mm blade is considered to be the ‘sweet spot’ of straight razor blade widths.

Straight Razor Care

Once you’ve finished trimming your beard down to the last millimetre, or you use yours to keep your face completely hair-free, you shouldn’t just simply leave it lying around on your bathroom sink. However, if you do look after yours well enough, a straight razor actually makes for a more economical investment compared to the more convenient – and safer – cartridge razors.

Blades made of stainless steel will be rust-resistant, but won’t offer the absolute last word in sharpness. For ultra-sharp blades, you’ll want to invest in carbon steel. The flip side here, however, is that carbon steel is more prone to rusting, so you’ll want to make sure you dry it thoroughly after use and store it in a pouch. You can even apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to further minimise the effects of oxidation.

Straight razors are similar to knives in the sense they will become blunt after each use. To sharpen them, you don’t want to get your knife sharpener out, but a strop instead. A strop is a strip of leather that can be hung that you rub the straight razor blade against. Not only does it sharpen the blade, but it polishes it and can move it back into alignment if it has become slightly bent after usage.

So, with some knowledge under your belt, time to find out the very best straight razor brands currently available. Just don’t follow in the footsteps of Sweeney Todd once you’ve purchased one.