The Best Shavette: Our Rankings
In the long history of shaving, shavettes—that is, disposable blade straight razors—are fairly new. And while they're actually very popular—if you've ever been to a barber shop and gotten a shave, you've experienced a shavette—most guys don't know too much about them. That's a shame, because we think they're fantastic, and there are a lot of great models out there.
So, in the post below, we'll review our favorite shavettes (including our pick for best shavette overall), and then we'll dive into the knitty-gritty: why they're a great option, how they compare to other wet shaving tools, and some interesting facts about their history and design.
Each of the shavettes below are good models, and you'd probably be fine with any of them. However, we've ranked them in the order of our favorites, from "least favorite but still good" to "our absolutely most favorite shavette." We'll start with...
The Dreadnought Shavette
The Dreadnought Shavette is our #6 pick. It's got a solid construction, we've found that it's easy to use, and it's got some great artwork on the handle—a warrior with a helmet and two swords behind his head. It's kind of embarrassing that we're such suckers for emblems and logos, but, well, what can you do. It's got a satisfying weight, and it's a good "starter" option if you want to explore shaving with a disposable blade straight razor.
The Equinox Professional
The Equinox Professional is our #5 pick. It's a sleek and stylish, and a great mid-range option. It features a blade guard that's relatively simple to use, a solid design (the two sides of the razor casing meet up nicely), and it has a decent weight to it. This is another one that we find pretty handsome: it's got two recessed areas on the handle that give it a distinct look. A good option that, when paired with a good razor blade, can provide a very close shave.
The Pure Wood Shavette Razor
The Sanguine Pure Wood Shavette is our pick for #4. It's got a unique look—shavettes are usually steel, so a shavette with a wood handle that looks a little bit more like a traditional straight razor is a neat find—and as for the piece itself, it's an effective shaver, and has a very nice balance. Sanguine actually makes a pair of mustache and beard scissors that also has a nice balance, so it's nice to see that they're sticking to what they're good at.
Sanguine also manufactures a variation on this razor, which is a more traditional steel model. Both get our "thumbs up."
The Parker SRX Heavy Duty Professional
Parker has a long history in the shaving business, and they make some fantastic safety razors. Their entry into the world of shavettes—the Parker SRX Heavy Duty Professional Razor—is another winner, in our opinion, and comes in at #3 in our list of best shavettes. It's designed for professional use, has a good weight (it doesn't feel flimsy, in other words, like some "entry level" shavettes can), and it has a lock blade holder designed to make sure your disposable razor doesn't shift. It's a great option, in our humble opinion, and this is another one that's just handsome. It's stainless steel and reflective, and in addition to being an excellent shavette, it just looks good.
The Dovo Silver Shavette
For reasons we'll explain below, the Dovo Shavette is the original shavette, and for a long time, it set the standard about what a shavette could be. Dovo was originally designed in Solingen, Germany, a town that has a long history of blade-making, and the craftsmanship is apparent. It's streamlined and without ornamentation—almost like a medical instrument—with a smooth hinge, and it accepts all types of double-edge blades. It ranks #2 on our list of shavettes, and it's a great choice, especially if you're new to shavettes—it's a little forgiving, while at the same time being capable of providing a very close shave.
The Best Shavette: The Feather SS Replaceable Blade Shaving Razor
Here it is! Our pick for the #1 shavette: the Feather SS. This really is, in our estimation, the Big Daddy of shavettes, and it's got a number of incredible features going for it:
It's extremely well-made. The handle has an arc designed to make it easy to grasp, the hinge is smooth and consistent, and the piece itself feels reflexive;
The blade head features a spring-mounted mechanism, and it's designed to make changing the blade quick and easy—making it a great option for barbers or other professionals who will use multiple blades in a day;
It's easy to clean, which isn't the case with all replaceable blade razors—and that's another reason it's a great fit for professionals; and finally
It's stainless steel, and manufactured in different colors—black, lime, and wine. With the exception of the Sanguine model we mentioned above, most shavettes are only manufactured with one design, so it's nice to see Feather providing some different options.
The Feather SS is easy to use, durable, and a great option for professionals and non-professionals alike. A truly fantastic shavette, and our pick for #1 best overall. Highly recommended.
Best Blades for Shavettes
Some shavettes come with blades, but many do not. If you're looking for razors, we like Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Blades. We find that they exist somewhere in that sweet spot between "too mild" and "too aggressive," and they provide a very close shave. There are plenty of other options when it comes to razors, and we'd definitely urge you to try different types and find what works for you, but we've had great results with Astra. Also keep in mind, different shavettes may require specific blades, so be sure to pay attention if you're getting one.
There you have it! Our shavette reviews. We promised some discussion about shavettes—how they're different from straight razors, whether they're a good option for guys who are looking to get into straight-razor shaving, and their advantages—so let's hop into that.
Straight Razors vs. Shavettes
In the minds of most shavers, these two products—straight razors and shavettes—are related, but in reality, they're actually quite different. Here's a very quick look on how it shakes out:
Traditional Straight Razors. Require a bit of upkeep. They need to be honed, they need to be stropped, and they need to be sharpened. There's a fair bit of maintenance involved, and if you're the kind of guy who likes the ceremonial/ritualistic aspect of wet shaving, that sort of thing is very enjoyable. They have a single, unreplaceable blade, and usually have a longer blade surface. Many have a satisfying weight (or at least a weight that's usually more than a shavette).
Shavettes. These have—as you'd have guessed—a replaceable / disposable blade, and the blades themselves are shorter than straight razor blades, usually more rigid and light, and usually pretty unforgiving. Many are actually a little bit sharper than the blades on a traditional straight razor. There's very little upkeep involved with a shavette—when you're done with a blade, you toss it in the proper receptacle, and load a new one—and that's that.
Those are the big differences, but there's another difference that's very important: the "feel" between the two types of razors. People assume they're similar, because they have one thing in common: a very sharp, very exposed blade, attached by a pivot pin to a handle. But the similarities end there, really—the dimensions, maneuvering, and overall experience of a shavette are very different than a traditional straight razor—even if they seem to look a lot alike.
Are Shavettes a Good Option for Beginners?
This is a very common question for guys who want to get into wet shaving with a straight razor: are shavettes a good "stepping stone" to wet shaving with a straight?
We hate to do this, but we're going to give you the old "yes and no."
It might seem like shavettes are an "entry-level" form of straight razor, but that's not really the case, and the shaving experience itself truly is quite different than shaving with a straight. So it doesn't really prepare you for shaving with a straight, because that's a different tool with a different feel.
On the other hand, learning on a shavette does increase your shaving ability, because they require you to develop a new skill set and truly concentrate on what you're doing, and that will help you with any new razor you use.
It's kind of like wondering if skateboarding will help you learn how to ride a bike. Skateboarding will increase your ability to balance, and that'll help you on a bike, but it won't do much to help you learn to steer or pedal or any of the other skills associated with biking, so in that sense, it won't help too much.
So they're not perfect stepping stone, but you can definitely use them as a tool on your way to straight razor shaving.
But here's one thing that's for sure: there's a steep learning curve with shavettes, and you are most definitely going to get some weepers. They really are sharp little monsters, and unforgiving, too—and as we've said on many, many posts on this site—there will be blood, so expect it. Go easy, take it slow, and grab a styptic pencil and some alum and have it ready, because you may need it.
Advantages of a Shavette
So now that we've scared you a little bit, let's bring you back into the fold and talk about why we like shavettes so much. They're unique tools, and they have a number of unique advantages:
No Stropping. We mentioned above that a lot of guys love the habitualistic, ceremonial task of stropping a blade, but of course... that's only some dudes. Others don't like it, and consider it a chore. If that describes how you feel about stropping, disposable blade straight razors may be a great option for you.
Blades are Plentiful. They're available in packs ranging from a couple to more than a hundred. When you get done with one blade, swap it out for the next, and keep shaving.
They're Super Sharp. Because blades are easily replaceable, you can have a brand-new, super-sharp blade for every shave. If you've got sensitive skin, or grow very thick facial hair, that can be a wonderful thing, and it may help you keep irritation and razor burn at bay.
You May Be Able to Go Longer Between Shaves. Because the blades in shavettes can be so incredibly sharp and can be incredibly effective, you can sometimes go a little longer between shaves.
They're Good for Multiple People. This is an obvious benefit to barbers, who work on different customers all day long, and swap out blades as each new customer sits in the barber chair. But it's also a good option if you've got a significant other, or a roommate who doesn't respect other peoples' boundaries, Carl, and you want to be sure you're using your own razor. We've actually got some experience with this, and it happens a lot when people live together: your wife gets in the shower, wants to shave her legs, and reaches for whatever shaver you've got in the cabinet. It happens, and you may end up not knowing how sharp your razor is. Having a shavette—where you can simply switch out a razor and easily put in a new one—is a nice thing.
It's Great to Travel With. This is a real advantage of shavettes, so we'll give this its own section.
If You Looooove Wet Shaving but Travel a Lot...
...a shavette is a fantastic option. This goes for guys in the military, salesmen or executive types who are on the road a lot, campers who are out in the wild for a while, you name it. If you love getting a straight razor shave, but don't have time to strop the blade, or don't have the space to bring along strops and hones and everything else, a shavette is a nice compromise. And, because you can bring along a number of replacement blades, you can be away from home for a while and still enjoy a straight razor shave.
Shavettes: Some Noteworthy Facts
There are a lot of very unique products in the world of men's shaving, and in our opinion, shavettes are one of the most intriguing. Consider:
"Shavette" is Actually a Trademarked Name. Yep—it's a registered trademark, and it's owned by the Dovo Company, which has been around for more than a century. They're a German company that was founded in 1906, and they're also the manufacturers of the world-famous MERKUR double-edged razor. Their shavette shaver became so popular, that most people began to refer to all disposable blade straight razors as shavettes. Companies usually hate that, because it allows other companies to cash in on their success by making a similar product, and capitalizing off the good reputation of the original product. That's actually happened to a lot of companies, and "Band-Aids" is a perfect example. "Band-Aid" is a type of adhesive bandage, and the name was trademarked by Johnson and Johnson, but now there are a lot of adhesive bandages on the market that are referred to as "band-aids." Those knock-off adhesive bandages may not be as good as Johnson and Johnson Band-Aids, but most people assume they're all the same thing. Companies are technically not allowed to use the exact name "Band-Aid," but they still benefit from the positive press that Band-Aids get. So, keep in mind—while there are plenty of good disposable blade straight razors out there, there's only one "true" shavette.
"Shavette-Style" Razors Go by a Lot of Different Names. Because companies other than Dovo are not usually allowed to use the term "shavette," you'll find disposable blade straight razors referred to in a number of different ways, including "disposable straights," "replaceable blade straight razors," "no-hone straight razors," and "barber razors." You'll find, though, that a lot of companies cheat a little, and use the term "shavette," even though they're technically not supposed to. It's something to keep in mind if you're looking for a shavette—there are many different ways to refer to the product.
They Were Invented Because Barber Shops Used to Be Absolutely Disgusting. For centuries, the "tools of the trade" for barbers were scissors and straight razors, and when it came to shaves, barbers used to use a single blade for absolutely. every. person. who. walked. through. the. door. If a barber was shaving someone and nicked that person, the barber would wipe the blood off the blade, finish up, and then waive the next gentleman into the seat for his shave and a haircut. If you know anything about Germ Theory (and most of us in the 21st Century learn very early on about the health risks of sharing personal items that are covered in bodily fluids), that is absolutely terrifying. The disposable blade straight razor was a cheap and effective way to stop the spread of blood-borne diseases and skin disorders, and it gained popularity pretty quickly. Life in the 21st Century isn't perfect, but that's one thing we've got going for us.
The "ette" Terminology is a Little Misleading. There are a lot of shaving terms that are actually the opposite of what they sound like. A "safety razor" isn't the most safe razor you can use for shaving—it's really only called a safety razor because it's safer than a straight razor, which is basically a little sword. And "shavette," with the "ette" on the end, sounds like a small, insignificant thing. The term "ette" is used for a couple of different purposes—in some instances, it's used to signify gender, like "bachelor" and "bachelorette"—but in other instances, it used to signify size, like in "cigar" and "cigarette." So "shavette" sounds like a smaller version of "shaver," and it sounds like a less-dangerous version of a straight razor, but please be aware, it is not. Just like a straight razor, it is an exposed blade that is EXTREMELY sharp, and it requires safe handling and a steady hand. As we mentioned, there are a lot of guys who want to make the jump to straight razors and use a shavette to do so, but you need to be very, very careful if that's the route you take.
One Last Note: If You're Really into Shavettes...
If you're really interested in disposable blade straight razors, you're not alone: there are some guys who really, really like shavettes, and they've actually started a group with the name of S.A.B.R.E., the Shavette and Barber Razor Enthusiast group. How great is that name? It sounds like the name of a group of bad guys in a Bond movie. It's like V.E.N.O.M. or S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N.—pretty rad. But while that name may sound like the name of an international cartel, they are, in fact, a bunch of very nice guys who are waaaaay in shavettes. They discuss models, recent acquisitions, usage tips, and even have competitions to decorate their shavettes. The internet is a magical place where there's a home for everybody, so if you're really into shavettes—and why wouldn't you be?—be sure to check them out.
Alright, that it's for us. Have fun, and happy shaving! Be good!