Now that more and more barbers are offering straight razor shaving as a service, there is growing interest in trying out a cut throat razor at home.
As a barber myself I have a lot of guys that are so wowed by the straight shave experience that they ask if they can do it themselves.
The answer is yes, of course. Like anything worthwhile it just takes some patience and determination to get good enough at it to feel like the luxurious experience that you would experience at the barbershop.
All you need to get started is the right gear and a little nudge from this guide.
In this article I will go over some tips and review the different Dovo straight razors that I think are best for beginners to do a traditional shave with.
In fact, right below there is a handy comparison table if you just want a quick look to see how the different Dovo straight razors compare. Otherwise read on for the complete guide and reviews!
- Dovo Shavette
- Best For:
The newbie who wants to learn how to straight razor shave without needing to hone and strop a blade.
- Grind Type:
- Blade Height:
- Scales Material:
- Best For:
When you graduate from disposable and want a nice entry level razor that is easy to handle.
- Grind Type:
- Blade Height:
- Scales Material:
Imitation Tortoise Shell
- DOVO Inox
- Best For:
Makes a great straight razor that an intermediate can grow with as they gain experience.
- Grind Type:
- Blade Height:
- Scales Material:
Are straight razors safe?
This is a hard one to answer.
Yes they are safe, but they are not really safe.
Ok, you’re confused. Are they or aren’t they, you want to know.
It should seem obvious that you can do some serious damage when straight razor shaving improperly. Like, “better get to the hospital ASAP” damage. Or, “I hope you know your blood type” damage.
But, at the same time, if you are slow and methodical and willing to put the time in to learn, then they won’t even produce a nick.
Keep your razor sharp and clean. Be ready to take a lot longer for your shave than you think you should. And be ready to keep learning by trial and error and you will give yourself an incredibly safe shaving experience.
On the other hand, if you are just starting out and haven’t at least talked to your barber about the dos and don’ts or at a very minimum watch a Youtube video or three, then you may as well not go the straight razor shaving route.
You’re not going to be a pro at this right away. Be humble with the straight razor and respect that it can cut you. Be patient and go very slowly keeping all the things you’ve learned in mind.
Then it can be considered safe.
Take a look at our guide on how to use a straight edge with videos to get started.
Straight razor vs Gillette
Is straight razor shaving better than using a cartridge system like Gillette Fusion? That’s the question I get asked all the time.
The simple and basic answer is, yes, a straight razor is better. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
There are pros and cons to using both so it isn’t like I would recommend everybody to start doing it the old school way.
Straight Razor Pros and Cons
- Very close shave
- Saves money over the long term
- Environmentally friendly
- Less ingrown hairs
- High initial cash outlay
- Not easy to master
- Takes longer to shave
Cartridge Razor Pros and Cons
- Easy to use
- Can shave in less than half the time as straight razor shaving
- Can shave against the grain
- No learning curve
- Gets very expensive buying cartridges
- Not environmentally friendly
- Doesn’t shave as close as straight razors
- Can cause ingrown hairs
As you can see, there is no straightforward answer to the question of which is better.
If you’re asking which gives a closer shave, then hands down the straight razor wins, but it will take a while to get used to shaving with one.
I would never say that there is not a time and place for a cartridge system. Even though I shave with a safety razor, I still keep one in the house for when I need to do a quick shave.
And if you are going to be using a straight edge razor, you should have a regular multiple blade razor when you are just starting out. It is very hard getting the right angle when using the straight razor, so for the first few times you will need to use a regular razor to get the spots that you couldn’t quite get down closely enough.
I think there are a lot of benefits to shaving with a straight edge, so to me it is worth it to take the extra time and effort to do.
A Guide to Dovo Straight Razors
I am singling out Dovo in this article because they are one of the best straight edge razor makers out there.
They are incredibly consistent, reliable, strong and crafted for longevity.
Made in Solingen Germany, they have been at it for over 100 years and have perfectly honed their product, pun intended.
If you don’t know where to start when considering straight razor shaving, then look no further than Dovo. they could be your first, and your last straight edge razor.
Here are three different Dovo razors that will be a great fit for any beginner straight edge user.
Dovo Shavette Disposable Blade Straight Edge
The Shavette is the ideal straight edge for the beginner for many reasons.
First and foremost because it uses disposable double edge blades. The only difference is that you snap them in half so you get two blades out of one.
This eliminates the need to also learn how to hone and strop a traditional straight edge razor while you learn how to actually shave with one.
And learning to shave it made very easy by the size and design.
It is called a shavette because of how small it is compared to the longer, more traditional razors.
This makes it much more maneuverable and easy to get the right angle. The total length is 5 and ¼ inches, so it is a couple of inches shorter than the total length of most traditional straight edge razors.
It fits well in the hand and the shank has a nicely textured plastic covering so your can maintain a firm grip.
The “blade” section of the razor is made out of durable aluminum with a plastic guard that helps you load the razor blade. There is even a slight bump on the end of the plastic guard to prevent the tip from digging into your skin for an added layer of protection.
The handle is made out of stainless steel.
This is exactly the razor I started out with in the barbershop and it lasted me years before the pivot pin started to get loose. It got dangerous to use because it would fly open too quickly. I replaced it with another shavette as it is ideal to use in a barbershop as well as at home. Since I am not allowed to use a regular cut throat razor and only ones with disposable blades professionally, this has been my go to razor.
You can use any double edge blades as they will all fit into the different guards that come with it.
For a complete list, check out this article of the best double edge blades.
When you want to dip your toes into the world of straight razor shaving, then you will love this little razor. Learn to use it and perfect the angle and then when you finally have it mastered, go with a traditional one where you need to hone and strop it. In fact, I would pick one of the ones I will highlight below also made from Dovo as they are so well made.
Best Dovo for Beginners
“DOVO-special” Straight Razor
When you have graduated from the shavette but still want a good traditional straight edge razor, then the Dovo “Special” is for you.
It features a ⅝ inch height blade which is the ideal width for beginners. A narrower or even wider blade can be a little bit unwieldy to the uninitiated. I find the ⅝ to be the right size for the beginner, but it is still a great size for when you get more experience, so you never really grow out of it.
The grind is also suited well for beginners as it is a half hollow. You’ll get a very fine point for the closest of shaves without the stress of getting your angle exactly right when dealing with a full hollow blade. I think that grind is better for people who have been straight razor shaving for a long time.
Carbon steel made of high quality German steel and crafted in Solingen means you have something that will last beyond a lifetime. Literally, with good care, you can be passing any Dovo razor onto your son to continue using when you’ve passed.
It is not exactly shave ready and isn’t labeled as such which is my only gripe. You will probably need to strop it before using it, but you have to be careful to not damage the edge if you strop it improperly. If you do strop it wrong, it isn’t the end of the world, you’ll just need to hone it and start over.
Featuring a rounded tip all the way across the point will make it a much safer razor for beginners than one with a French or pointed tip. Adding to the safety are the jimps on the shank where you’ll rest your finger for some extra grip protection.
The heel is also slightly rounded for beginners.
Then there is the look of it. I love the old school logo stamped directly on the blade. The scales are made out of imitation tortoise shell for a wonderful throwback vintage look. It would definitely not look out of place in your grandfather’s Dopp bag back in the day.
Little details on the design make this an ideal start razor, but it isn’t one you will outgrow. Your preferences may change over time in which you may want to upgrade, but there is nothing short term about this razor. You can be shaving happily for decades with this one.
Best Dovo Full Hollow Straight Razor
For somebody with some experience, or one who has graduated from a disposable blade straight edge but wants to dive right in, there is the Dovo Inox with a full hollow grind.
I usually recommend a newbie shaver to shy away from a full hollow grind as they can be very sharp when the proper angle isn’t done. If you feel that you are experienced enough for that, then I think you will love this blade.
Since it is a German made razor from Solingen with high carbon steel, you can be sure that the thin grind of the blade won’t snap on you.
The blade height is ⅝ inch so it is a good width for the inexperienced and veterans alike. With a slightly rounded tip it is safer than a French tip, but still straight enough along the point to be able to get into the tight corners of parts of the face.
The heel is also slightly rounded for some protection. And with jimps along the shank for a non slip grip.
I like the classic olive wood scales for a natural look and effectively one of a kind since the grain will be different for every razor.
Whether it is shave ready seems to be up to the eye of the beholder. Dovo says that their razors are all shave ready, but the general consensus is that they at least need to be stropped before they can be used.
Hopefully you are an experienced stropper so you won’t need to send the razor out to be professionally honed.
This is a nice step up from the “Special” as it has features that the more experienced shavers are looking for. But it is not so specialized that a beginner wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it safely.
Again, this ends up being ideal to use for decades as the craftsmanship is unparalleled.
Best Straight Razor Shaving Kit
Naked Armor Everything You Need in One Box
When you are new to straight edge shaving and really want everything you need to get started, I recommend the straight razor shaving kit by Naked Armor.
This way you get a high quality straight razor, the strop with stropping cream, a shaving brush with synthetic animal friendly hair, organic shave soap and a stylish leather travel pouch.
This isn’t a run of the mill straight razor shaving kit for people that don’t have any idea what they are getting into so they just give you low quality gear. The razor alone is of a very high quality. The brush may be a bit of a let down because it isn’t real badger hair, but for vegans or animal lovers this is a plus and not a minus.
The razor is made out of high carbon Japanese steel. It is extremely durable and can hold a very fine edge.
The height of the blade is 7/8ths at its widest but tapers down to 5/8th of an inch. This still keeps it in decent range for the novice without being too wide or too narrow. The length of the blade is around 7 centimeters with the weight of the entire razor coming in at 2.9 ounces.
With a slightly rounded tip, it is a bit safer to use than any French tipped ones, or ones with a pointed edge. It is full hollow on the toe end half hollow towards the heel.
The strop is nice looking with a classic black leather on one side and the other with canvas.
I’ll repeat that the quality of this straight razor shaving kit is remarkable. It is ideal for the beginner that doesn’t just want to get started, but also wants his shaving gear to be high quality and last for years.
Obviously, the stropping cream and shaving soap won’t last long, and eventually the strop will need to be replaced at some point. Though, they can last quite a number of years if cared for.
The razor, however is made to last a lifetime and beyond. It is not the type of razor that a beginner will grow out of. It still has some nice features for experienced shavers like the full hollow and wide height.
Overall, if you want to show you actually care about him and that he deserves the best, then this is the straight razor shaving kit to surprise the special man in your life with.
There is so much to say about straight razor shaving that books have been written.
That said, I hope that the information in this guide was clear and helps you to make a decision when shopping for just the right set up for a novice or expert straight edge enthusiast.
I am sure there are some of you out there that would like to know more about Dovo or Naked Armor, or just shaving in general. If you have any questions drop a line below and I will get back to you soon to help out.
In the meantime, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the proper wet shave set up so I recommend hopping over to this article on the best shaving brushes when you are considering getting started.