How To Find The Best Safety Razor
First developed at the end of the 19th century, safety razors were created for us, the average men who wanted to shave our own beards without nicking and cutting ourselves along the way. With the protective device strategically positioned in between the blade and the skin, the best safety razors were the first to make injury-free shaving possible outside the barber shop. Though today we have cartridge razors and electric razors that make it practically possible to shave while, say, on a moving vehicle, the best safety razor still provides a far closer shave than their more convenient alternatives. With a single blade, they give you more control over your shave, and they’re far less likely to get clogged with hair, oil, and shaving cream. Better yet, they’re gentler on your skin and less likely to leave you with red, irritated razor bumps. While you should still use an aftershave (Proraso from Amazon.com is my personal favorite!), once you learn to use them properly, you’ll never want to go back to paying hundreds of dollars for your Gillette cartridges
In this article, we’ll discuss the best safety razors available on the market and what criteria you should consider when purchasing yours. So here goes!
What to look for in a safety razor
There are wet shave enthusiasts that have what amounts to a collection of safety razors. Why have more than one? The reason is that there are so many different kinds and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
They definitely not a one size fits all type of scenario. Some are aggressive and some more gentle. Others are heavy and some are light as a feather. They type you get will depend on a few things so take a look at what to expect to see when shopping for a safety razor.
It may not seem important especially if you believe in function over form, but the design of a safety razor plays a big part in how it works and if it will be the right one for you.
The types of designs are one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece.
A one piece is also called a butterfly head as it twists open. Basically, the head is all enclosed and nothing needs to be removed. To load the razor you turn a knob and the “wings” spread open like a butterfly so you can simply drop the double edge razor inside.
A two-piece has the head unscrew and lift off of the body completely. It has a pin in the middle that will help secure the blade in place. You just place the blade on the body, replace the head over it with the pin in the middle and then screw it back in to tighten.
A three-piece is the oldest kind of safety razor as the head comes apart in two pieces and leaves the body so there are three separate pieces. This is more work to load up your favorite type of razor blade, and it can mean some cut fingers in the process.
For a beginner, I like to recommend one piece or butterfly style.
Almost as important as the type of blade you use, is the weight of the razor. When you have an extremely sharp blade, you don’t want to have to use any pressure from your hand to shave.
Ideally, the weight of the razor will allow you to use gravity to make the strokes. This ensures a very gentle touch so you don’t end up with razor burn, or worse, a cut.
But, how heavy should they be? Is there such a thing as too heavy? Yes, some people will be uncomfortable using a very heavy razor and may find it makes more work for them. On the other hand, a lightweight razor may require the pressing of the hand during the stroke to get close to the skin which may prove irritating.
Your hand is likely to be wet while you are shaving so the grip is very important. You may be tempted to try out a nice, smooth and shiny body since it looks nice, but you run the risk of it slipping from your hand.
I always advise people to go with a textured grip so you can always make sure it stays firmly in your hand no matter how wet you are.
Adjustable Blade vs Fixed Blade
When you are a beginner, you will probably want a razor that is very gentle. The angle of the blade will determine how aggressive it is. But, what happens when you start gaining confidence and want a more aggressive shave? Do you need to buy a new razor? If you started out with an adjustable blade razor then you never need to upgrade as you gain experience.
They usually feature a dial that can be turned to change the angle and thus the aggressiveness of the blade.
You can really run the gamut from very cheap to very expensive. You can get a good shave from anywhere in that range. I recommend fixing a budget for yourself and then spending to the top of the budget. You don’t have to get the most expensive razor, but get the most expensive one you can afford. Remember that once you pay for the razor, your only other expense is the blades which are very cheap. Even an expensive one pays for itself over time.
Best Safe Razor for Beginners: Vikings Blade
The Chieftain Best Safety Razor from Viking Blade has a heavy handle made of a sleek, shiny chrome that comes with an elegant suede and leather box. This razor will look classy on any vanity, and while the chrome handle does occasionally get slippery when wet, no other blade can compare.
The handle pops out easily, and the single blade is very easy to clean. If you’re a low-maintenance man looking for a safety razor that won’t give you any issues, this is your choice. You might want to replace the sample razor blades with ones that are slightly sharper, but otherwise, the device should be self-explanatory.
Because this best safety razor is made with higher quality materials, the handle is considerably heavier than those on most safety razor. It’s designed to give you more control while shaving. Lastly, this is the best safety razor for those quick 30 degree angle passes. It will feel balanced in your hand so that you’ll be able to easily manipulate it and turn it with your fingers without ever accidentaly nicking yourself even on mornings when you’re pressed for time.
Edwin Jagger is a British company that has been setting the standards for men’s grooming products for nearly three decades. Master craftsmen, the men at Edwin Jagger strive to marry innovation and inspiration to give you the best safety razor available.
This best safety razor is made from a polished chrome-plated brass with the company’s name embossed at the base of the handle. The handles come in rubberized grips in either ebony or ivory or die-cast, hand-polished chrome either lined or plain.
The Edwin Jagger razor will accommodate sensitive to normal skin and very coarse beards. The blades are extremely sharp, and if you’re a beginner, you’ll have to exercise caution and refrain from pushing down too hard on the handle when shaving. It will mercilessly slice through any whiskers that stand in its way providing an extremely close shave.
The handle is somewhat shorter and lighter than I expected originally. If you like short handles for a bit more control over maneuvering around your face, then you will like the stubby length. There is the option to go for a longer handle when ordering from Amazon. Either way, the razor is perfectly balanced and easy to use. With the balance weighted more towards the head, you get good control over the direction of the blade.
This is a closed comb razor that keeps the blade at an angle for a mild shave. you still need to learn how to handle the razor in the beginning, but the closed comb will reduce the learning curve.
The Parker 99R has a durable brass frame rendering it one of the heavier best safety razors you’ll find. It sits firmly in the hand, and it’s perfect for slicing through thick, coarse hair. Its long handle is suitable for men with larger hands, and the textured grip makes it easy to hold on to even in the shower.
This razor blade is uniquely designed to make changing blades as quick and easy as possible. Though changing double-edged blades can be tricky if you’re not careful, the butterfly mechanism streamlines the process. You simply twist the knob on the bottom of the handle, and the two razor head doors open outward (hence the butterfly), revealing a space for you to drop in the new blade.
Some customers complained that the knob was slippery and difficult to turn when wet, but usually, you should change the razor blade before you get into the shower. So, this shouldn’t really be a huge issue. Overall, the butterfly mechanism is very intuitive and safe. If you find you usually nick yourself when changing your blade, the Parker 99R might be the best safety razor for you.
The weight is 3.4 ounces which help cut through wiry beards with no added pressure. A good weight to a safety razor is essential no matter what, but especially when you have a thick beard. If you need to use pressure to get close to the skin, then you are more likely to cause irritation, or, even worse, nick yourself.
Another nice feature that makes it great for use on thick beards is that it has a closed comb but with grooves to keep the blade from getting gunked up with hair. Which can happen when you have coarse or a dense beard.
Best Balanced Safety Razor: Merkur Classic Long Handle MK 23C
The Merkur Long Handle 23C is one of, if not the world’s best safety razor. It’s very well-made and is comparable in style to the Edwin Jagger razor. However, you’ll find that the Merkur 23C has a longer handle and a smaller blade gap. The blade gap on the Merkur 23C safety razor blade is .025” where the Edwin Jagger blade gap is .03”.
Though the difference may seem minimal, blade gap helps to determine how aggressive a razor is. The larger the blade gap, the closer the shave is. Because the blade gap on the Merkur 23C is just slightly smaller, the shave is a bit more comfortable.
Changing the blade on this razor is a bit tricky though. Since there’s no butterfly clasp, you’ll have to disassemble the razor into three separate pieces. The razor head screws into the handle and you have to remove the head’s base plate before plopping a razor into the tabs on the top plate. Disassembling and reassembling the blade in the shower is quite difficult.
At 4.2 ounces, it has just the right amount of weight. It is heavy enough to let the razor do the work without needing to use any pressure at all. Yet, at the same time, it is not so heavy that it is uncomfortable to use.
Another great selling point is the fact that you can use it as an open comb or closed comb razor.
Closed comb means it uses a protective barrier that helps keep the best safety razor at just the right angle to the skin. Think of the closed comb like training wheels. This is great for beginners, as it takes the guesswork out of how to hold the razor. you won’t cut yourself or cut aggressively if you’re not holding it at the right angle.
Open comb removes this barrier and requires a little more experience to know that the angle is just right. for those that like a more aggressive razor, then using the open comb option is great. Basically, this razor is one to buy for a beginner but doesn’t need to be replaced when the user grows out of the need for the closed comb.
That all being said, the Merkur 23C is an exceptional safety razor with a well-earned reputation.
Best Cheap Safety Razor: Perfecto Professional Double Edge (DE) Safety Razor
This razor was my very first foray into the world of safety razor shaving. Being in my early 20’s meant I was on a strict budget and didn’t have money to splurge on a razor. My father was a barber so I had him pick this up for me when he went to get his barber supplies. (Now it’s so much easier to just grab one off Amazon!)
For somebody that doesn’t have a lot to spend or is just frugal, I highly recommend this razor.
In most cases you get what you paid for, but this razor definitely punches way above its class. It is a good razor that is also inexpensive, rather than being a cheaply made razor.
Two things make this an ideal razor for beginners or those on a budget. It is very well balanced, and it loads the blade at just the right angle to give a close shave without being too aggressive. Though, for sensitive skin the angle may be a bit on the aggressive side.
The handle is 3.5 inches for good control. It is also a good non slip handle as it has some nice rough texture to give wet hands a firm grip.
I only wish it were just a little bit heavier so as not to need to put any pressure making the pass. This is how it is able to be sold for such a low price. For most guys, it won’t matter. This will still do the trick and not break the bank.
Best DE Razor for Sensitive Skin: Merkur Futur Adjustable Double Edge Safety Razor
With six adjustable settings for the angle of the DE blade, this is the ideal razor for those that need extra control for sensitive skin.
Fine tune the perfect angle for you to make sure you are using the blade at the perfect angle for your skin type. Even other razors like the Edwin Jagger which is typically not aggressive at all, may prove to be too much for certain skin types. Without the ability to adjust the angle, if you have that razor and it is too much for you, there isn’t much you can do about it.
It is very easy to adjust, just twist the handle. This is the perfect solution for adjusting on the fly to deal with certain areas. For instance, you may only have sensitive skin on your neck. Just twist the handle to bring the setting down to mild. No need to change razors at all for different areas of the face.
This also makes it an ideal daily shaver. You can set it for a more aggressive shave on Monday and then knock it down to mild for the rest of the week so you don’t irritate your skin.
The handle is quite long at 4.25 inches giving up even more control.
Loading is a breeze as the top pops off. Drop a blade in, pop the cap back on and you’re on your way.
The name fits the look of the razor, too. It does look a bit futuristic compared to others that look like the same one your granddad would use. The finish is a smooth chrome that looks elegant. It has gentle curves and minimalist aesthetic.
Pair this with your favorite DE blades and you have a razor to last a lifetime.
Anatomy of a Safety Razor
Types of Safety Razors:
There are two types of safety razors: single-edge razors and double-edge razors. Single-edge razors were very popular in the first half of the twentieth-century. While they’re relatively rare these days, many still claim they provide a superior shave because the cap enables you to shave at the perfect angle.
Double-edge razors became popular because they were cheaper to manufacture. Manufacturers now no longer have to put finish on one of the edges. However, they also happen to be more practical because you can use both sides of one blade to shave. When one gets sudsy, you can simply flip the razor around to continue.
You’ll change the blades differently on your safety razor depending on its build. If the blade is a two-piece or three-piece razor, you’ll have to unscrew the handle from the head to insert the blade. If there are only two pieces, you simply slip the blade onto the posts on the top cap. With a three-piece razor, you’ll also have the mounting piece, which screws onto the handle.
One-piece razors use what we call a butterfly mechanism. A butterfly mechanism refers to two flaps which open outward on the top of the razor to hold the blade. You can open these doors by turning the knob on the bottom of the razor. Alternatively, these knobs sometimes adjust the blade exposure on the razor head. An adjustable razor allows you to change the aggressiveness of the blade based on your own needs.
The razor head comes with a safety bar in front to protect the skin from the open blade. However, on many razors, this safety bar comes with gaps or slants that expose more of the blade. Whether the blade has a scalloped, combed, or slanted edge, the teeth on the safety bar guide hair into the blades and generally attack the hair more aggressively.
Your Best Type of Safety Razor?
The best safety razors are back in vogue because today’s men are slowly realizing that the blades their fathers used are not only far cheaper but also considerably more effective. Though you’ll have to experiment a bit to make sure you’re shaving at that ideal 30º angle, the effort will be worth it.
Not all safety razors are made equally though. You’ll want to check out these four to see which one might work for you depending on the thickness of your hair and your personal shaving preferences. Regardless of which one you choose though, we guarantee that all of these will give you that magazine-quality shave you’ve been searching for.