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Straight & Cut Throat Razors (22)

Choosing a Straight or Cut Throat Razor

Even with electric shaving technology more advanced than ever before, traditional straight razor shaving has made a serious comeback. Think about it a little and it’s not hard to see why -- for those with the time and patience, straight and cut-throat razors offer the sharpest shave out there. With nothing between you and the blade, you’re guaranteed smooth skin every time.

Though it’s hard to beat the sheer quality that this kind of razor provides, a close shave isn’t the only reason for this renaissance. Straight-razor shaving harks back to a time when taming your beard wasn’t just a grooming choice, it was an artform, and more and more men are jumping to resurrect this tradition of craftsmanship.

Using a straight razor takes more time -- and there’s a bit of a learning curve -- but slowing down and taking the time for a good shaving ritual can be a perfect antidote to the fast pace of modern life.

There’s more to picking the blade for you than you might think. Think of your straight razor like a bespoke suit. It needs to be tailored to fit you, and when it is, the results are magnificent. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you pick the right straight razor in five minutes flat.

Straight Razor Specs:

While there’s no need to worry about the types of features, bells and whistles you might see on an electric shaver, there are still a few things you’ll need to consider.

BLADE SIZE:  Almost all straight razors are between 2.75 and 3 inches long. What you’ll need to be concerned about is width, usually measured in ⅛ of an inch from the spine of the blade to its edge. Wider blades cut more effectively but can be difficult to wield, while smaller blades are better for precision but need to be sharpened more often.

It’s recommended that you start off with a ⅝ or 4/8 blade, but once you’ve developed some skill, you can experiment with different sizes to see what’s right for you.

BLADE MATERIALS: Your main choice in blade materials is between carbon steel and stainless steel. A mixture of iron and carbon, carbon steel is sharper and stays that way for longer, but stainless steel is unlikely to rust and easier to sharpen.

TEMPER: Straight razors are available in soft, medium and hard temper. Like carbon steel, hard tempered razors stay sharper for longer, but softer temper razors are easier to sharpen.

HANDLES: Handles are where straight-razor owners can really make a statement, and are available in everything from wood to plastic to mother-of-pearl. However, what’s most important here is balance -- preferably, your handle should weigh the same as the blade.

POINT:  Points are where things start to get really detailed. There are six main types of points -- round, square, spike, French, Spanish and a barber’s notch.

Round points are exactly what they sound like. Best for beginners, the rounded point makes cuts and nicks less likely.

Square points have an even razor edge, which experienced shavers can find useful for precision styling. Spike points are like square points, but with an edge slightly longer than the spine -- even better for fine detail.

French points are the Goldilocks blades of the straight-razor world. The tip is square but with a slightly rounded point, making them good for shaving small areas, but with an extra degree of protection.

Spanish and barber’s notch points are fairly similar. The point features a slight inward curve on the blade’s end -- not only is this great for fine detail, it allows you to see where you’re shaving in hard-to-reach areas. Barber’s notch points have a slightly larger notch, which makes it easier to open up the blade.

PROFILE: This refers to the shape of the edge of the blade. Profiles are either straight or smile shaved -- while a straight profile razor may be easier to handle in the beginning, the curved edge of a smile profile is better for men with angular faces.

GRIND: The grind of the blade is one of the most important -- if not the most important -- factors you’ll need to consider when choosing your razor. The grind refers to the thickness of the blade itself -- it’s the shape you see when you look down your blade from the point.

In order of thickness, the most common grinds are extra hollow (very thin), full hollow, half hollow, quarter hollow, near wedge and full wedge (very thick).

Professionals often use a more hollow grind -- you can feel the resistance of the facial hair with every stroke, they’re great for more precise shaving, and they’re easier to sharpen. However, if you have very thick facial hair, a wedge blade provides more cutting power.

The blade is just the beginning -- constructing the perfect shaving ritual:

Unlike an electric shaver, you can’t just run a straight razor over your face and head off to work. A shave this good takes time, after all! Ideally, you should use a hot towel to open up your pores first -- heating them in the microwave is fine. Otherwise, crank the heat up in the shower!

Straight razor blades work better with old-fashioned creams or soap then with foam. You’ll need to invest in a good shaving brush to apply your product of choice.

A straight-razor shave is guaranteed to leave your skin soft and smooth -- and, probably, a little sensitive. Aftercare is particularly important here, so be sure to slap on your favourite lotion before you head out.

Maintaining your straight razor:

If you treat your straight razor right, it could last you a lifetime, and the most important part of this is keeping it sharp and stropped.

A strop is a long strip of leather or other fabric used to clean and sharpen your razor. You’ll need to strop your razor every few shaves or so, but best practice is to do it every time. Investing in a good quality strop is almost as important as choosing the right razor.

You’ll need to hone the blade with a sharpening stone maybe twice a year. You can also get this done professionally. It’s best to make sure that the blade you choose comes pre-honed (or ‘shave-ready’).

Safety-razors:

If you’re interested in traditional shaving but not quite ready to go all the way back in time to straight-shavin, consider trying a safety razor first. While this throwback to your grandad’s day gives you most of the benefits of single-blade shaving, the blades are replaceable and the handles are easier to work with.

Choosing a Straight or Cut Throat Razor

Even with electric shaving technology more advanced than ever before, traditional straight razor shaving has made a serious comeback. Think about it a little and it’s not hard to see why -- for those with the time and patience, straight and cut-throat razors offer the sharpest shave out there. With nothing between you and the blade, you’re guaranteed smooth skin every time.

Though it’s hard to beat the sheer quality that this kind of razor provides, a close shave isn’t the only reason for this renaissance. Straight-razor shaving harks back to a time when taming your beard wasn’t just a grooming choice, it was an artform, and more and more men are jumping to resurrect this tradition of craftsmanship.

Using a straight razor takes more time -- and there’s a bit of a learning curve -- but slowing down and taking the time for a good shaving ritual can be a perfect antidote to the fast pace of modern life.

There’s more to picking the blade for you than you might think. Think of your straight razor like a bespoke suit. It needs to be tailored to fit you, and when it is, the results are magnificent. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you pick the right straight razor in five minutes flat.

Straight Razor Specs:

While there’s no need to worry about the types of features, bells and whistles you might see on an electric shaver, there are still a few things you’ll need to consider.

BLADE SIZE:  Almost all straight razors are between 2.75 and 3 inches long. What you’ll need to be concerned about is width, usually measured in ⅛ of an inch from the spine of the blade to its edge. Wider blades cut more effectively but can be difficult to wield, while smaller blades are better for precision but need to be sharpened more often.

It’s recommended that you start off with a ⅝ or 4/8 blade, but once you’ve developed some skill, you can experiment with different sizes to see what’s right for you.

BLADE MATERIALS: Your main choice in blade materials is between carbon steel and stainless steel. A mixture of iron and carbon, carbon steel is sharper and stays that way for longer, but stainless steel is unlikely to rust and easier to sharpen.

TEMPER: Straight razors are available in soft, medium and hard temper. Like carbon steel, hard tempered razors stay sharper for longer, but softer temper razors are easier to sharpen.

HANDLES: Handles are where straight-razor owners can really make a statement, and are available in everything from wood to plastic to mother-of-pearl. However, what’s most important here is balance -- preferably, your handle should weigh the same as the blade.

POINT:  Points are where things start to get really detailed. There are six main types of points -- round, square, spike, French, Spanish and a barber’s notch.

Round points are exactly what they sound like. Best for beginners, the rounded point makes cuts and nicks less likely.

Square points have an even razor edge, which experienced shavers can find useful for precision styling. Spike points are like square points, but with an edge slightly longer than the spine -- even better for fine detail.

French points are the Goldilocks blades of the straight-razor world. The tip is square but with a slightly rounded point, making them good for shaving small areas, but with an extra degree of protection.

Spanish and barber’s notch points are fairly similar. The point features a slight inward curve on the blade’s end -- not only is this great for fine detail, it allows you to see where you’re shaving in hard-to-reach areas. Barber’s notch points have a slightly larger notch, which makes it easier to open up the blade.

PROFILE: This refers to the shape of the edge of the blade. Profiles are either straight or smile shaved -- while a straight profile razor may be easier to handle in the beginning, the curved edge of a smile profile is better for men with angular faces.

GRIND: The grind of the blade is one of the most important -- if not the most important -- factors you’ll need to consider when choosing your razor. The grind refers to the thickness of the blade itself -- it’s the shape you see when you look down your blade from the point.

In order of thickness, the most common grinds are extra hollow (very thin), full hollow, half hollow, quarter hollow, near wedge and full wedge (very thick).

Professionals often use a more hollow grind -- you can feel the resistance of the facial hair with every stroke, they’re great for more precise shaving, and they’re easier to sharpen. However, if you have very thick facial hair, a wedge blade provides more cutting power.

The blade is just the beginning -- constructing the perfect shaving ritual:

Unlike an electric shaver, you can’t just run a straight razor over your face and head off to work. A shave this good takes time, after all! Ideally, you should use a hot towel to open up your pores first -- heating them in the microwave is fine. Otherwise, crank the heat up in the shower!

Straight razor blades work better with old-fashioned creams or soap then with foam. You’ll need to invest in a good shaving brush to apply your product of choice.

A straight-razor shave is guaranteed to leave your skin soft and smooth -- and, probably, a little sensitive. Aftercare is particularly important here, so be sure to slap on your favourite lotion before you head out.

Maintaining your straight razor:

If you treat your straight razor right, it could last you a lifetime, and the most important part of this is keeping it sharp and stropped.

A strop is a long strip of leather or other fabric used to clean and sharpen your razor. You’ll need to strop your razor every few shaves or so, but best practice is to do it every time. Investing in a good quality strop is almost as important as choosing the right razor.

You’ll need to hone the blade with a sharpening stone maybe twice a year. You can also get this done professionally. It’s best to make sure that the blade you choose comes pre-honed (or ‘shave-ready’).

Safety-razors:

If you’re interested in traditional shaving but not quite ready to go all the way back in time to straight-shavin, consider trying a safety razor first. While this throwback to your grandad’s day gives you most of the benefits of single-blade shaving, the blades are replaceable and the handles are easier to work with.

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