• Beginner's Tips: November 2013

    Welcome to this month’s Beginner’s Tips. Hi, I’m Jimbo. You might remember me from such Beginner’s forum posts as “Skin Grafts: A Beginner’s Guide” and “Styptic and Septic: Some Important Differences”.

    In this month’s Tips I aim to impart some of my wisdom in the area of purchasing shaving-related items. As the holiday season is fast-approaching it seems an appropriate topic.

    Whether it be for yourself or as a gift for someone else, purchasing shaving items can often be a bewildering task. There seems to be so many options - which razor? which soap? what brush? what strop? And let’s not even start on hones. Yes, even the experienced among us can have trouble deciding. Of course, many of these decisions are subjective and a matter of individual tastes. However, read on and fear not, for lo! we have some festive buying tips just for you.


    As a general rule quality comes at a price, and when we are talking about razors in particular there is a definite “quality boundary” below which we really don’t want to tread. Cheap new razors are often cheap because of poor steel. These razors will never take or hold a shaving edge — from a shaving point of view they are a complete waste of money.

    What about pre-loved vintage razors you ask? If buying someone a razor as a gift, I’d recommend staying away from vintage razors unless you really know what you are doing. There are many potential issues with older blades that only research and experience can prepare you for. If you do decide to go the vintage route at the very least make sure you see the razor in person - photos can hide all sorts of problems like cracks in the blade, loose pins, chips in the edge and so on.

    A far better and safer option is a good quality, current production razor. These include: Dovo, Thiers Issard, and Boker. Each manufacturer offers a range of models at a range of prices that should suit most budgets. Remember, most new razors are not ready for shaving from the factory — they need to be honed. Some vendors offer a honing service (either as part of the purchase or at an additional cost). It is highly recommended you avail yourself of this service.

    Poor quality razor brands — to be avoided at all costs — are listed in our Library.

    Shaving—Related Paraphernalia

    Not sure about a razor as a gift? There are many other shaving—related items that would make someone’s day.

    A leather strop is essential when straight razor shaving for keeping the edge keen on a daily basis. Strops range from the basic to the highly sophisticated, with prices generally mirroring the quality. Look for a good quality leather and professional fit and fittings. Some strops may also come with a linen or canvas piece - these are not essential but some people do prefer them.

    A nice shaving brush is one of those things that can turn a mundane shave into a luxurious experience. Brushes come in many shapes and sizes and use various bristle materials. Arguably the nicer brushes are made with badger bristles. Badger comes in various grades, the most luxurious of which is known as “silvertip”. Various other things to consider when buying a brush are the handle material, the size of the “knot” (the amount of bristles) and the “loft” (the floppiness of the brush).

    Soaps and Creams:
    Again, a good soap or cream can make shaving a very special experience. There are a huge array of soaps and creams out there, and I won’t try to list them all here. Premium brands include: Penhaligon’s, Martin de Candre, and Castle Forbes to name but a few.


    A good vendor is more than just a nice guy or gal. A good vendor stocks good quality product and/or provides a good quality service, offers sound advice, and will not try to capitalise on people’s lack of experience to foist sub-standard wares upon them. A good vendor also backs up their product with reasonable returns or refunds policies, after sales care and so on.

    There are several things you can do to sort the wheat from the chaff. First, take a look at the items your prospective vendor is selling: Are any of the brands they sell in the “do not buy” list? A vendor who stocks known rubbish is exploiting your inexperience. Second, consider the vendors listed here at SRP and/or our site sponsors (see the advertising banners, or go to the Site Sponsors section of the front page) — all are knowledgable, helpful people who stock good quality products.

    So there you have it. Hopefully some of those tips can help you out this festive season, or at least give you a place to start. If you do your homework you can avoid the major pitfalls and end up with something that will not only stand the test of time, but provide you or yours with wonderful shaving experiences for years to come.

    From all of us at SRP: Happy Holidays, and good luck!

    Adam G., gugi, Birnando and 20 others like this.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Beginner's Tips: November 2013 started by Jimbo View original post