Choosing a Great Straight Razor
Choosing a straight razor can seem overwhelming. A poor quality razor can leave you scratched, nicked, or worse. But a great quality razor will deliver the smoothest shave you’ve ever had. And with a little maintenance, it can last a lifetime.
There are benefits to using a straight razor. They deliver a smoother, cleaner shave than any disposable razor ever can. A quality straight razor and good shave can actually keep the 5 o’clock shadow at bay for a few more hours. Disposable razors pull the hair slightly before cutting it and the result can be unsightly and uncomfortable ingrown hairs. Using a traditional razor eliminates this problem. Green is in, and any change you make from disposable items is great for the environment. Switching to a straight razor is not only environmentally friendly; it’s also gentler on your wallet.
On the downside, learning to use a straight razor can be tricky. It is an art, a learned skill, and one you probably will not perfect in a day, or even a month. Men who want to make the switch should expect that it will take a while to perfect the method. They are not as safe as disposables, for obvious reasons. Although, for many men, (and their significant others) this might be part of the appeal. One final downside is that shaving with a straight razor does require sharpening the blade before every use, and so the process will take a little more time.
Straight razors are available in different tempers. One is not better than the other; it largely depends on personal preference. Soft tempers are the easiest to sharpen; which is good because they are also the first to lose that sharp edge. Hard tempers are much more difficult to sharpen, but it balances out because they will stay sharp the longest. Medium tempers fall into the middle both for ease of sharpening and how long they retain the edge.
Check out the balance on the razor you choose. The best razors are perfectly balanced between the handle and the blade. When the razor is properly balanced, you will have greater control of it during use. To check the balance, open the razor to about 110 degrees, and then rest the pivot of the razor on your first finger. It should hold in place without moving up or down.
There are two grinds to choose from when selecting a razor. The concave grind creates a blade that thins out in the center, and then flares again before tapering down to the cutting edge. This is preferred by many barbers as it is easy to feel the resistance of hair against it, and determining when it needs sharpening becomes very simple. The wedge grind is just that, a very simple wedge shape without any flares. Sharpening this blade requires some practice to master, but it delivers an excellent shave and is highly recommended for coarse or thick hair.
Finally, consider the finish when choosing a razor. They can be finished with plain steel, metal plate, or polished steel. The polished steel is commonly referred to as crocus, and reflects the highest quality of the three. It does not show rust, lasts longer and is the choice of many barbers. Metal plated razors typically do not last long before the metal wears off.