Are you looking to level up your wet shaving game? I’ve selected and reviewed the best straight razors for beginners, so you can have the smoothest face and most badass shaving routine.
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Dovo Straight Razor (Our Top Pick)
Dovo has set the standard when it comes to straight razors. You can’t go wrong with any Dovo tool for your first straight razor, but I’m starting my list with one of this German brand’s simpler designs.
This is a lightweight, gentle razor with a very classic, even quintessential straight razor design. The handle is made of ebony wood, which offers a very comfortable grip. Because it’s so light, you’re not at much of a risk of losing control of your razor or applying too much pressure, which will make your first shave with it relatively easy (at least when compared to a heavier razor).
The blade is made of carbon steel – a material that can reach a really high level of sharpness. It’ll cut through coarse hairs without a problem, and it has the potential to give you the smoothest, closest shave out of any type of razor or shaver. Carbon steel has to be sharpened properly (not just honed with a strap) at least twice a year, so be ready for some maintenance.
Speaking of, Dovo razors don’t arrive fully sharpened, so you’ll have to sharpen your razor yourself or take it to a honemeister once it arrives.
It’s a classic 5/8 inch width, which is the perfect size for most men – small enough to fit into tight spots, but large enough to handle regular sharpening over the course of a man’s lifetime.
It’s a full hollow grind (the Amazon listing mistakenly says “half hollow” in a few places, but that’s definitely not the case). Full hollow means that it’s very thin and flexible, which also contributes to a closer but still gentle shave.
This one easily makes this list of best straight razors for beginners.
- High-quality razor from a company with an excellent reputation for manufacturing.
- Lightweight design is easy to hold and minimizes the risks of accidental cuts.
- Wood handle provides an easy, comfortable grip.
- Carbon steel blade can achieve a very high level of sharpness, for a smooth, close shave.
- A full hollow grind is flexible, for a gentler, more comfortable shave.
- Doesn’t arrive shave-ready
- Carbon steel is a high-maintenance metal that’ll need frequent honing and sharpening.
If you want a beginner’s straight razor that feels a little heftier, this design from Naked Armor will impress. This is one of the heavier straight razors I’ve seen, which bodes well for durability and cutting power, although it might be a little unwieldy for some beginners. If you have a very coarse beard, you will appreciate the added weight.
The blade on this razor is made of stainless steel. If you’re not a fan of frequent maintenance, it’s a big bonus, because stainless steel doesn’t go dull as quickly as carbon steel. The drawback is that it can’t reach the same level of intense, ultra-thin sharpness.
The scales are also made of steel, which makes for a fairly heavy razor. It looks very cool, for sure, but the smoothness of the handle does make for a somewhat less comfortable grip.
The grind is between half hollow and full hollow, so the blade is a touch less flexible than the Dovo razors on this list. This also contributes to the heftiness of the razor, making for a blade that’s slightly less flexible and a little more stable – once again, this can be a benefit for coarser beards.
- Stainless steel doesn’t have to be sharpened as frequently as carbon.
- A heftier razor with a grind between full and half hollow is excellent for very coarse beards.
- A solid and durable razor that will have excellent longevity.
- Doesn’t reach the same level of sharpness as carbon steel
- The smooth handle makes for a less comfortable grip.
From Feather, this is technically a Barber’s straight razor (more commonly known as Shavette, although Dovo has that particular word trademarked). The most glaring difference is that this razor takes disposable blades, which have to be replaced on a regular basis.
The benefit is that you won’t have to worry about things like sharpening, honing, or shave-readiness, which can be very convenient and one of the bigger reasons why I’ve added it to this list of best straight razors for beginners.
Shavettes are usually a little rougher on the skin compared to straight razors because the disposable blades can be a little too flexible and have too much blade exposure. However, the Feather design bucks that trend, with a thick, beginner-friendly head that mimics a full hollow straight razor blade. Using it is still a little different from using the average straight razor, but it’s a great starting point, nevertheless.
Feather is a Japanese brand with a reputation for very high-quality manufacturing, which results in a very durable, long-lasting razor. It’s a great jumping-off point, but it could easily also be the first and last straight razor you buy.
Some shavettes will work with double edge blades cut in half, but the Feather razor only works with Feather-brand single-edge blades. The blades are pricier than DE ones, but they can hold up for up to 10 shaves, which is significant. You’ll have to buy them separately – for beginners, I recommend starting out with the ProGuards, which are quite sharp but have a wire guard that prevents cuts.
- Very low-maintenance option. Since it’s a barber’s straight razor with disposable blades, there’s no need to sharpen or hone it ever.
- Unusually stable Shavette design that mimics shaving with a full hollow straight razor, making for a more beginner-friendly shave.
- Excellent quality design that could easily last you for decades.
- Only accepts specific single-edge blades, unlike other Shavette-style razors.
This is one of Dovo’s more heavy-duty razors, although it’s still balanced and comfortable. As with all Dovo razors, the blade is made of carbon steel with a full hollow grind, so it will achieve a high level of sharpness once you sharpen it properly.
It offers a nice mid-level between the very light Dovo razor I recommend to most beginners and the fairly heavy Naked Armor Lancelot. It’ll feel really nice and solid in your hand, while still adding a bit of power behind each one of your strokes. It’s a great choice if your beard is very coarse!
The blade on this razor is 6/8 inches, which is a little wider. If you have a larger face or you routinely shave longer growth, you’ll have a slightly easier time shaving it quickly. That said, you may find it a little hard to use to groom the mustache area or the sideburns.
All in all, it’s a great pick for this list of best straight razors for beginners.
- Same durable, balanced, high-quality build as other Dovo razors.
- The heavy-weight design puts a bit more power behind strokes, making it a great choice for coarse beards.
- Wider blade is excellent for shaving larger faces or longer growth.
- Carbon steel blade requires more maintenance.
- Wider size makes it a little harder to groom hard-to-reach spots.
Switching to a straight razor can also be an aesthetic choice, to a certain extent. Functionally, this Dovo straight razor is very nearly identical to my top pick. It’s a light carbon steel straight razor that most beginners will find easy to hold and handle. You’ll definitely get to enjoy the pristine construction and quality of a Dovo razor.
The 5/8 inch blade is the perfect width for doing detail work or shaving hard-to-reach areas, and because it’s carbon steel, it’ll achieve a very high level of sharpness.
The only notable difference is that this razor has an imitation tortoiseshell handle (meaning no turtles were harmed in its making). If you’re not into the rustic vibe of a wooden handle or you simply like the warm-toned tortoiseshell, give this razor a go. Just keep in mind that, unlike wood, this handle material doesn’t have any natural texture. You’ll have to watch your grip a little more closely to avoid it slipping from your hand.
- This lightweight razor is very gentle and beginner-friendly.
- The carbon steel blade can achieve a very high level of sharpness.
- Imitation tortoiseshell handle offers a more unique aesthetic than other straight razors.
- The smooth handle is slightly harder to grip.
What Is A Straight Razor?
A straight razor is like a knife that you use for shaving. Nothing compares to straight razors when it comes to shave-closeness and smoothness, but they’re also very demanding.
Straight razors were the original razors, and men have been using them for centuries, with minimal changes to their design over the years, including the ones you see on this best of list of straight razors for beginners.
They have two main components: the blade, which is made of metal and is not removable or disposable (except in the case of Shavette-style razors), and the handle, which is usually made of wood, metal, or plastic, and is often foldable.
They have a reputation as being pretty hardcore, in part thanks to their role in film and literature, and also because they’re literally knives. It’s a bold choice to start shaving with one, and I commend you for making it.
What To Look For When Buying A Straight Razor For Beginners?
Types of steel… grind… all of these terms can be a little confusing, so here’s what to consider when choosing the best straight razor for beginners.
The Right Metal for You
Straight razors come in two metal options: carbon steel and stainless steel.
Between the two, most die-hard wet shavers will tell you to go with carbon steel every time. Carbon steel is a very hard metal with minimal pliability. As a result, a blade made of it can be whittled down to the thinnest, sharpest edge imaginable.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is a more flexible metal that’s also very resilient to damage. It doesn’t achieve the same ultra-sharp edge as carbon steel, but it can still be sharpened to a very respectable level. The big bonus with a stainless steel blade is that it doesn’t have to be sharpened or honed as much or as often as a carbon steel one.
Stainless steel is also more rust-resistant, so you won’t have to be quite as careful about keeping water away from your razor (although we still recommend doing so).
Most men who decide to try straight razor shaving aren’t afraid of work or a challenge, especially if the added effort will result in a smoother shave. This is why most of the razors on my list are made of carbon steel.
However, I know some of you would still rather have a slightly less demanding tool, so I still included the Naked Armor Lancelot and Feather Barber’s Straight Razor as options.
This term refers to how thin and sloped your blade is from the spine to the edge.
Most blades on the market have a full-hollow grind, meaning that they’re very thin and very flexible. They move a little with the face, and they provide a lot of feedback as you shave. You’ll be able to know when you hit an uneven spot.
Others have a half-hollow grind which means that they’re a little thicker. They’re still flexible but not as much as full-hollow razors. They can have a bit more cutting power behind them, but they’re still fairly gentle.
You probably won’t come across thicker grinds, like wedge and quarter hollow. If you do, give ‘em a miss. They’re not very beginner-friendly.
Shave Readiness – Don’t Expect It
In a perfect world, the best straight razors for beginners would all come shave-ready straight out of the box. When shopping online, that’s rarely the case.
Some manufacturers, like Dovo, sell their razors “factory-ready.” That means that the razors are ready to go to a specialty shaving store where a honemeister will sharpen the blade before it goes on the shelf.
Even the manufacturers that say they sell their razors shave-ready don’t always deliver. Straight razors can lose their edge quickly, especially if they’re jostled during travel or if they’re left in a warehouse for a long time.
The good news is that a professional sharpening service usually only costs $25-$50, and it should be easy to find with a quick search for “straight razor sharpening near me.”
When shopping around, you’ll have a hard time finding anything other than 5/8 or 6/8 inch blades, and I assure you there’s little difference between using one or the other.
If I want to get nitpicky, I’d say that a 5/8 inch blade can fit a little more comfortably against tight spots, while a 6/8 inch blade will probably give a slightly faster shave since it’s a touch heftier and won’t need as much rinsing.
That said, that 1/8 inch difference really isn’t very dramatic, so don’t let this be your main deciding factor.
This term refers to the shape of the top of the straight razor. Some of the common point shapes are round, straight, spiked, and notched. For beginners, I focused on only including razors with rounded points, which are safer to handle.
Some square and spike points can be a little sharp – you may need to be a little more careful when handling such razors. Those sharp points can be useful when trying to shave a tiny area with more precision, but that can be reserved for once you gain more experience.
How Much Should You Pay For A Straight Razor?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a great brand new straight razor for less than $100, especially if you’re looking for one of the best straight razors for beginners. You might be able to find a decent used and restored razor at a lower price point if you shop around and do your research.
Straight razors are artisan products, and while cheap factory-made ones do exist, they rarely deliver the level of quality, balance, and smoothness you can expect from an artisanal razor. More importantly, cheap razors usually don’t undergo enough quality control, so you can end up with a razor that cannot be sharpened properly at all or that has some downright dangerous flaws.
Is It Hard To Learn To Use A Straight Razor?
Learning to use a straight razor isn’t easy, but it’s also not an insurmountable challenge. You’ll have to alter your shaving technique by quite a bit, and it needs to be a mindful process. You can’t turn your brain off when you shave, because cuts with a straight razor can be a lot nastier than with other types of razors.
That said, with a good razor and a bit of practice, most men can get the hang of shaving with a straight razor.
More often than not, beginners end up having a hard time because they’ve bought a cheap, low-quality straight razor that doesn’t have a clean edge or that hasn’t been properly sharpened. In order to learn to shave correctly, it’s important you start with a quality tool that can actually cut, just like the straight razors on this list of best straight razors for beginners.
If this sounds a little intense but you still want to upgrade from mainstream razors, I think it’s worth considering a safety razor vs straight razor. Safety razors are still stylishly old-school, but they’re much more beginner-friendly.
How Do You Shave With A Straight Razor For Beginners?
Once you’ve gotten one of the best straight razors for beginners in hand, what’s next? It’s time to try your hand at shaving.
- Before you start, make sure your straight razor has been sharpened and honed. You can learn how to sharpen a straight razor yourself, but there’s also no shame in sending it to a professional honemeister if it’s not shave-ready.
- Create a nice, thick lather with shaving cream or soap, and apply it to your face.
- To shave, bring the straight razor against your skin at a 30-degree angle. This is the most important part of shaving with a straight razor, and it can take a bit of time and a few tries for this hold to feel natural and comfortable. If you’re nervous, you can practice on your arm or leg first.
- With your other hand, hold the skin you’ll be shaving so it’s tight and straight, which will allow the blade to glide over it easily without cutting you.
- Once you master the angle and hold, use short, downward strokes to shave. For your first pass, focus on shaving with the grain.
- Be careful and work slowly, especially over more difficult areas like under your jawline or above your upper lip.
- Once you finish your first pass, you can go over the areas where you missed some hairs. Otherwise, call it a day. You can try doing a second pass against the grain in a few weeks when you feel comfortable with the straight razor, assuming you feel like it’s necessary.