A straight razor provides a much closer shave than a safety razor. In the long term, a straight razor also costs much less than other types because there are no parts to replace, which also makes it environmentally friendly. Additionally, there are psychological associations to shaving with a straight razor; it has a ritual aspect which many men find pleasant.
When switching to a straight razor, the most important component is the razor itself. The Art of Manliness stresses the importance of purchasing good quality. Inexpensive, low-quality razors irritate skin and leave nicks and cuts. This tool potentially lasts a lifetime and may even be passed on to future generations, so it is advisable to invest in the best possible quality that is affordable.
When shopping for razors, check the quality of the steel. The temper of the blade refers to how malleable the metal is, and a razor with good temper sharpens better than poorer quality steels. To check the temper of the steel, catch the point of the blade under your thumbnail and let it slip off quickly. A well-tempered blade gives a clear ringing sound.
Most modern straight razors are ground with a hollow. Hollowing places a concave surface on each side of the blade that makes the razor lighter, sharper and easier to handle. Fully concave blades give the sharpest edge but are not recommend for beginners. Held incorrectly, they are likely to bend and spring, resulting in a cut.