Safety razors, like safety itself, have a time and place. They're efficient, cheap, and allowed on planes, but disposable shavers don't offer a shaving experience, only a facial trim. For a man who takes shaving seriously – someone with a lather preference, a beaver brush, and a process for getting water just the right temperature – there is nothing like a straight razor. And with its elegant handle and thinly ground blade, the handsome new Ram's Horn 5/8 inch Razor from The Art of Shaving and Thiers-Issard is both classic and perfect for anyone trying traditional shaving on for size.

The hollow-ground, carbon steel razor is simultaneously flexible and heavy in the hand with a satisfyingly long tang, the spur sticking out past the handle. The blade, which has a nice thick spine, chops into hairs at their root and, with its round point, is better suited to fresh-faced (read: non-mustachioed) men. Barberspeak aside, this straight razor is about as straightforward as they get. If a man can learn to shave with it – stretching the skin and running the edge almost parallel to the face – it will reward him with refreshingly smooth cheeks and possibly better skin.

If mistakes are made, there will be blood, but straight-razor nicks are red badges of courage, not evidence of carelessness.

It is no small wonder that the razor is so well made; Thiers-Issard has been shaping barber blades since the 19th century. Though the Art of Shaving model lacks the gold finishing Issard adds to its most expensive products, it has the feel of a considered product precisely because it is one. Each razor is ground, finished, and sharpened on an antique Belgian waterstone in an aging factory in France. The end result is a tool that is anything but disposable. [$275,]