Straight Razor

This straight razor is the bad boy- it is a tool of precision that is capable of producing the closest and most exacting shave.
The straight razor is the oldest method of shaving. Variations on the modern straight razor trace to the Paleolithic period and were embraced by the ancient Egyptians and within the Roman Empire. While the ancients used razors sometimes made of solid gold, straight razors with open steel blades were the most commonly used razors in the years preceding the 20th century and similar designs are still in use today. In the 19th century, straight razors were often called “cut-throats” for the obvious.

Straight razors are made of a single blade sharpened on one edge. They are often made of either stainless steel or high carbon steel. Stainless steel razors are generally more durable and hold an edge longer than carbon steel blades. The best straight razors are crafted with a single fixed blade designed to stand the test of time. Proof of this durability can be seen with those barbers and gentleman whose antique blades are still as sharp as the day they were crafted. Straight razors require maintenance including stropping and periodic honing.

Some straight razors, called shavettes (not the automobile), are made with a disposable blades. They are significantly less expensive than a true straight razor and do not require stropping or honing. Unfortunately, shavettes also lack the craftsmanship, durability, precision and value of a true straight razor. Because of its inherent inferiority to the true straight razor, we choose to exclude the shavette from this battle royale.

The Pros

A Very Close Shave.
A straight razor gives the smoothest possible shave…ever. With complete control over one blade, one may adjust the blade to potentially target and cut each individual hair. The closeness and precision offered by a straight razor in unrivaled.
Great for the skin. A closer shave means that the blade does a better job of exfoliating the face than its rivals.

The Coolest Shave.
This is a razor generally reserved for men, mostly because the notion of shaving other areas of the body is terrifying for most people. One cannot get more manly than shaving with a straight razor– that is unless one chooses to shave Crocodile Dundee style with a Bowie knife (for reference, Crocodile Dundee shaves with both a Bowie knife and a safety razor).

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Durability.
A high quality straight razor could last almost forever. Keep it sharpened and honed and one day, it may belong to your grandson.
No waste. The straight razor is the shave tool of choice for the conservationist. There is no waste. There are no replacement blades or refill cartridges. A straight razor shave is a green shave.

Tactile.
In a word of technology and synthetics, the straight razor offers a tactile feeling and the most “old world” shave available.

The Cons

A steep learning curve.
Shaving with a straight razor is an art and skill that requires a steady hand and a great deal of practice. Shaving your face with a free blade is tricky to say the least.

Time consuming.
Shaving with a lethal instrument at the throat is not a wise endeavor for someone in a rush. Shaving with a straight razor requires focus and a serious time commitment.

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Danger.
Of course the danger of a straight razor is part of the allure and what makes it so badass. A cut from a safety or cartridge razor is no big deal. A cut from this guy could be nasty. While a straight razor is the ultimate shave, for most part it is an art that should be left to the professionals. Plus, a hot towel and shave from the barber is a gentlemanly way to pamper yourself.

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