Shopping list for beginners

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Chosing your first equipment can be a daunting challenge. The following article is aimed at beginners looking for sound advice. We also recommend to carefully read our Beginner's Guide and the Frequently Asked Questions. Both contain information on buying (and using) your first equipment, and while it will take you about an hour to peruse, they will save you time, money, and pain.

The following list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. Neither is it authoritative. It is meant as a general guide, and based upon the collective wisdom of experienced users of the SRP Forum. If you are on a tight budget, you may also find the article Buying a straight razor on a budget helpful.

The first razor[edit | edit source]

When you have decided to aquire your first straight razor, read the section on Purchasing straight razors This section will provide you information on razor selection and brands to avoid.  

The Brush[edit | edit source]

  • Go for function, not looks. A simple brush of good quality will allow you to test both creams and soaps, whereas a more luxurious super badger will make it difficult for you to get decent lather out of soap (and even some creams). Check out this section on Brushes , it will give you an idea on the different types.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. If you are not face lathering, then invest your money in a functional bowl or scuttle, rather than an expensive brush; it will enhance your shaving experience more than the brush alone ever could.

The Strop[edit | edit source]

  • Do not build a personal relationship with your first strop. You will nick, or even cut, it. While sometimes the damage can be fixed, more often than not this strop will end up as a pasted strop.
  • If you cannot resist the urge to buy an expensive strop, get one with replaceable parts. Alternatively, get one that comes with a second-rate quality strop for little money.
  • Do not buy finishing pastes for your first strop. Palm grease will suffice. Pastes are typically used for edge maintenance, and you should be quite a few shaves away from needing that. In any event, pastes will have to be applied to another strop, unless you invest heavily into a four sided paddle strop.

Hone(s)[edit | edit source]

  • Resist the urge to buy them immediately; instead buy your razors shave ready. Familiarize yourself with the razor, finish your first few shaves and learn to strop. A strop with a fabric component will extend the life of the edge compared to just leather. If you can not maintain your razor sharp with regular stropping on canvas and leather you will dull it even more with a hone.
  • Take some time reviewing the videos in this section of the library. Honing Videos
  • Read on the different kinds of hones. What hone(s), paste(s), or spray(s) do I need?
  • Keep an eye out for a finishing hone in the classified section. Often members sale or trade their finishing hones, so there are bargins to be had. Often beginners are advised to pick up a barber's hone to maintain their first razor. This advice is sometimes debated on the forum, as to whether this is the best option for a beginner. Barber hones have been used for generations to maintain razors and sometimes are less expensive to purchase. Read about barber hones before you make one your first hone. Barber Hones A larger, more modern finisher/maintenance hone may be a better choice. There are several more instruction videos available on these, than there are on barber hones. Unless you intend to restore razors, this will be the only hone you will ever need.
  • A pasted strop is considered a viable alternative to hones, and it will most likely be less expensive.

Creams, Soaps, etc.[edit | edit source]

  • There are so many vendors in the shaving creams and soap business, that the options are limitless. Some experienced members would go as far as recommending to spend significantly more on creams et al than on your first razor, brush, or strop. Most of your options will come from on-line vendors. Familiar chain retailers may carry some wetshaving products, but most do not have an extensive inventory.
  • Make sure you understand the significance of an individual review. The more member reviews a product gets, the more accurate the results will be.
  • A wealth of product information on creams & soaps is found in the Soaps & Creams section of the forum.