Buying Guide
By Mike Henson
on 2.5.14

Face it: you need a change in the shaving department. We’re here to tell you that a straight shave is a good shave, especially if you’re willing to take a little extra time every morning and you appreciate history and a good deal of custom. You don’t need to go nuts purchasing everything you see on the newest hipster shaving website, but you also can’t just buy a straight razor and call it a day. We’ve got your essentials.

MORE GP SHAVING GOODS: 5 Best Straight Razors | Photo Essay: Respect for the Blade | Hudson Made Beard and Shave Soap

DOVO German Classic Razor

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You can’t go wrong with the DOVO German Classic Razor. It’s made in Germany by the most well-known razor company in the world; its scales are easy to clean; and it’s going to stay sharp for a long time. While we appreciate the appeal of going on the hunt for a vintage blade, restoring a razor to shave-ready condition takes a lot of time and a lot of equipment. When you buy a razor that’s shave ready from the factory (this one is), simple stropping should maintain the sharpness for quite some time.

DOVO Prima Rindleder Smooth Leather & Linen Strop

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Stropping is one of the most important steps before letting that blade touch your face. Microscopic burs will develop on the edge of your blade over time, and stropping removes these burs and keeps your blade sharp and smooth. While there are both hanging strops and paddle strops, we’ll take the former: they offer a little more control and they look cool as hell hanging from your bathroom wall. DOVO’s leather and linen strop is just big enough to get noticed without being obtrusive.

The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Pre-Shave Oil

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Using a little pre-shave oil will go a long way in making sure that you don’t cut that mug of yours. After a hot shower, rub a little pre-shave oil over the area you’re going to shave to ensure the razor glides smoothly over your skin, avoiding nasty cuts and razor burn. The Art of Shaving makes the best pre-shave oil in the business with olive and essential oils to add just a hint of fragrance. You want the sandalwood scent. Trust us.

Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Soap

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If you want a rewarding shave, then the quality of your shaving cream is just as important as the sharpness of your blade. The most common fallacy in straight shaving (or any shaving for that matter) is that you need a lot of lather on your face to get a good shave. In fact, proper lathering is all about quality, not quantity. You want a lather that is dense, rich, and that will give you even coverage without dripping down your neck. You have two choices: soap and cream. Soap is old school; it goes in a mug, and it takes a little longer to master. But if you’re that guy, then you can’t go wrong with Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving soap in the wooden bowl. This 160-year-old company still makes the best shaving soap on the market, and once again, you want the sandalwood.

The Body Shop Maca Root Shave Cream

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Then again, let’s say you’re not a soap guy; no, you’d rather step up to something a little more contemporary that still has an old-school feel. There are hundreds of shaving creams on the market, but our favorite is The Body Shop’s Maca Root Shave Cream for Men. This cream is thick, rich, and can be applied with your fingers or a brush (you’ll use a brush). It’s ambrosial but not overbearing, and it will leave your skin tingling pleasantly. And at sixteen bucks a jar, you may as well buy two.

Colonel Conk Pure Badger Brush

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If shaving is an art, then you need a brush. Men have been using shaving brushes to build lather since the 1750s, and the technology hasn’t change much: handle, bristles. Different companies will try to sell you on the fanciness of their brush handles, but what you’re worried about is the bristle. You want a brush made with badger hair, which comes in three levels of quality: pure, best, and silvertip. Pure badger hair will be fine for your needs, but if you want a softer brush, go ahead and spring for best or silvertip (but you’re going to pay for it). The bristles on this pure badger brush from Col. Conk are long; the handle is easy to hold, and it won’t shed.

Kiehl’s Herbal Skin Toner

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Your post-shave ritual is by far the most important step of your morning routine. After your shave, splash the coldest water you can stand onto your face, then pat dry with a towel. (By the way, we said pat dry on purpose — rubbing with a towel will cause irritation.) Some guys will tell you to go right for the after shave, but we recommend splashing on a little skin toner first. This will create an even layer of fluid over your pores so that your skin can absorb the most amount of moisture possible. Go with Kiehl’s Herbal Toner; it smells outstanding and feels even better, largely because it’s alcohol-free.

The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp After-Shave Lotion

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Once you’ve splashed on the toner, reach for your after shave. Again, you want to pat this onto your face, not rub. The best aftershave on the market right now is the Art of Shaving’s Ocean Kelp After-Shave Lotion. This glycerin-based, translucent lotion goes on cool, hydrating your skin while keeping your pores feeling tight. Apply liberally and experience the magic.

Cole Haan Greenwich Shave Kit

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Having all of this equipment is great until it’s time to go somewhere. You need a shaving kit that can hold your gear snugly and still look handsome while traveling to Batswana. There’s nothing wrong with nylon, but prefer leather. Cole Haan’s Greenwich shave kit will age well, take a beating getting shoved into your suitcase, and, most importantly, it will make you look like you know what the hell you’re doing. The pebble grain leather is elegant, understated, and has a hint of rebellion about it with the bright orange lining.

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