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what width?

Hi guys, first time to the forum, i have done a little search but can't find what i was looking for.
I'm about the buy my first straight razor after onverting back to a safety razor a few months ago. So i thought i would have a go at a straight next.
So here is where it begins. I can't seem to find info on the why and where for the different widths. Do i buy a 5/8 or 6/8 or even bigger. And looking at the pics of all various types how do you get it close to your nose with such a rounded end.
The other point i'd like to ask is do most buy Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel.
And i have no idea at all when the quality of the steel stops and the extra money is going into some beautifully finished works or art. ie engraved blades ebony handles etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated
From the land down under
Most razors out there are 5/8 and carbon steel. I started out with a spike point with only a few nicks that a round point wouldn't have caused. So with that said a 5/8 is the best candidate for a first razor. If you have a really tough beard and it takes an axe to cut it, you might try starting with a 6/8 or 7/8 width. The extra heft makes them shave heavier beards better.
Just like a DE, you still want the weight of the razor to do the work.

5/8 was the standard width back in the day, though barbers razors were usually much larger (or at least the ones that survive seem to be larger, which may be why they survived). I suspect that this is because 5/8 seems to be the smallest size that is practical for daily shaves, the smaller sizes seem to be better edging or trimming tools, and the larger razors were probably too expensive -- keep in mind that most shavers back then could only afford one razor. Whereas nowadays most straight shavers seem to have a half-dozen or more, back then this sort of extravagance was reserved for the wealthy with their fancy-dancy "7-day sets".

As for the rounded point, that doesn't come into play at all, it's only a few millimeters and there's plenty of clearance under your nose. Rounded tips are a tad safer if you use the generally recommended tip-leading stroke, but this isn't really a big deal, the fearsome spike points are only slightly more likely to nick you.
I can only agree with what's been said. Having sought advice myself I reckon that a 5/8 with a rounded tip is the way to go for a first straight. From there you can learn how you shave (everyone is slightly different) and make your own mind up.
My minor input:

5/8 to 6/8 seems to be a good size. Bigger than that, you will have trouble getting around your nose to do your moustache unless you really know what you're doing. Remember, with a 5/8 blade, you can use a pretty acute angle (i.e. the spine of the razor closer to your face), and so will be less likely to cut yourself. With a big fat blade, you have to approach certain spots (like the aforementioned upper lip) nearly perpindicular, and if you don't know what you're doing, you'll slice yourself.

Full hollow is easiest to start with. Wedge grinds look cool, but they take a bit more skill because they give your face less feedback

Spike points look much better than round points, in my experience, but unless you have a beard you are trimming, they aren't of much use. In fact, the sharp point gets in your way and makes it very hard to shave your neck or other places where your face has peaks and valleys. Also, if you aren't careful while doing an upward pass of your neck under your ear, you will slice your ear. A round point won't do that.

Can't help much on the stainless vs. carbon argument, but I will say that if you get carbon steel razors, you must invest in some dovo sterol oil to apply to the blade hinge when you're done shaving, otherwise, no matter how hard you try to dry it off, it will rust and stain. YMMV, but this used to drive me crazy until I started oiling my blades.
I use mostly carbon blades and I don't rinse my blades while shaving, I just wipe them clean. Once I finish shaving I give the blade a rinse then wipe it dry and let it air-dry while I finish getting dressed. No water gets into the pivot, and I've never had a problem.
In all reality it's all about personal preference. The carbon vs stainless is only important if you plan on honing yourself. Carbon is easier to hone. The spike point versus round point is also personal pref. Some like one some like the other. As for size.

I started with a 4/8 and loved it. Later I got my 5/8 and 6/8 razor sharp enough and they're just fine. It's all PP once again. Just a matter of looks and feel in the hand.

As long as your razor is properly honed it all doens't really matter.
Just my observation, but having 3 different 5/8 razors, they all are slightly different in size. The spike point in particular was nice and compact, while the round points were only different in length, and it was slight at best.

This second observation might just be personal preferences, but I found if you have a goatee (I do), then a spike point is far more desirable, since you can see what you are doing around the beard, allowing for an incredibly nice trim job as you shave.

Pretty much I feel if you are a person who does not wear a beard, then a round point is probably the best option. They are a bit more forgiving than a spike point.
French points work well too, as precise as spike points but not as nick-prone. However, the easiest way to reduce the nickiness of a spike is to run the very tip down the side of your hone to knock the last hundredth-of-a-millimeter off the tip, and voila! looks like a spike, shaves like a spike, nicks like a french point.
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