Ultimate Guide to Safety Razor Blades
Safety razors have somehow come back into vogue. While you may not have seen this vintage shaving tool since you were visiting grandpa’s house, you’ll be glad to hear they are back in style.
Safety razor blades are, on the whole, more durable, effective, and economical than any kind of disposable or cartridge razors. They’ll get you a better shave time after time for far less than you’re paying now for Gillette cartridges. Safety razors are also more environmentally friendly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 2 million disposable razors find their way into landfills every year–and all of that plastic adds up.
With metal blades and handles, safety razor blades are good for your face and good for the planet.
However, your safety razor is really only as good as your safety razor blades.While the razor itself may have a glossy handle and feel perfectly balanced in your hand, the blades will determine the quality of the shave.
Thankfully, you can use a variety of different blades in the same razor. You can try out different blades until you feel like you’ve found one that’s right for you. Remember, not all safety razor blades are made equally, and not every blade can tackle every kind of beard. Personally, I love to use Astra blades because I have very coarse facial hair and sensitive skin, but you may prefer something sharper and more aggressive.
- Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Razor Blades
- Sharp steel safety razor blades made in Russia
- # of Shaves
- Price: $$
- Personna Double Edge Safety Razor Blades
- American-Made Blades for Thin-Medium Hair
- # of Shaves
- Price: $$
- Feather Double Edge Safety Razor Blades
- Extremely Sharp Blades Made in Japan
- # of Shaves:
- Price: $$$
In this article, we’ll review the top four safety razor blades on the market and discuss the criteria by which we usually judge them.
Best Combination Safety Razor Blades: Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Razor Blades
Originally based in the Czech Republic, Astra was later bought out by Gillette and is now produced by ZAO Petersburg Products in Russia. The Astra Superior Platinum Double Edge blades are the perfect combination blades as I like to say.
That is to say that they are sharp enough to tear through coarse facial hair, but they won’t ever leave your face raw and red. You can get a quality shave relatively quickly without having to pay too much attention. They’re not the sharpest blades on the market for sure, but you’ll still get a close shave on the first pass.
If you have coarse facial hair, you’ll be able to get three to four shaves out of each blade, and if you have thin to normal hair, you’ll be able to go four to six shaves before switching to a new blade. That being said, they’re significantly cheaper than Feather blades, for instance. You’ll pay less than half the price for Astra than you will for Feather.
Finally, Astra blades come in convenient packages of five blades with dispensers on the bottom for easy access. They do not, however, come with packages that allow you to dispose of them safely. If you’re concerned about throwing your blades in the trash, you’ll have to purchase a disposal case separately.
Astras would go perfectly in the Edwin Jagger razor or the Merkur 34C. A slant-head razor would probably be a bit to aggressive considering that Astras are already sharp, but it suits most other kinds of razors quite nicely.
Overall, Astra blades are one of the best balanced razors. They’re extremely sharp yet still comfortably smooth. Whenever I shave with Astra blades, I walk away with a baby-smooth face, and they never irritate my face–not even a bit. Astras aren’t as sharp as Feather blades are, but they’ll last twice or even three times as long. If you’re looking for a reliable, all-around blade, Astra safety razor blades are your best bet.
Best Safety Razor Blades for Fine Hair: Personna Double Edge Razor Blades
Personna Double Edge Razors are ideal for men with thinner facial hair but who don’t necessarily have sensitive skin. They’re considerably duller than Feather blades, but as a result, they tend to last a few shaves longer.
While you can usually get about only two to three decent shaves out of Feathers, Personna safety razor blades can last at least four to five shaves if not a whole week. That being said, they probably won’t last you quite as long as Astra blades will, but they’re not as aggressive as Astra blades either. So, chances are you’ll nick yourself a lot less often even after the fourth or fifth pass.
These blades are cheap enough though, that you can treat them as disposable blades and throw them out after just a single use. Even if you shave every single day, a single box will last you three whole months–six months if you shave every other day.
Personna blades are reasonably aggressive, they smoothly glide across your skin without ever pulling or tugging on your hair. They might irritate your skin if you have particularly sensitive skin or if you shave too often, but they also get the job done without dulling too quickly. So, it’s a trade-off.
When you open the box, be aware that the logos are sloppily printed on the razors. Some customers were dismayed and assumed they had received a cheap replica manufactured in China. This is not the case–these blades are, in fact, manufactured right here in the United States of America! You can support an American company by purchasing Personna Double Edge Razor Blades. Enjoy a close shave and show your patriotic spirit all at the same time!
Sharpest Safety Razor Blades: Feather Double Edge Blades
Feather Double Double Edge Safety Razor Blades are, without a doubt, the sharpest blades available on the market. These Japanese-made safety razor blades will slice through even the toughest facial with a single pass without ever tugging or pulling. Coated in stainless platinum, you’ll be able to get a perfect close shave every single time.
In fact, Feather produces their hi-stainless blades through the same process they produce surgical blades. Known for their precision and accuracy, Feather safety razor blades will give you the closest shave you’ve ever had.
On the other hand, these blades cost twice as much as Personna or Astra blades, and they don’t last nearly as long. On an Astra blade, you might be able to go an entire week or even two on a single blade, but you’ll immediately notice the difference between your first and second shave with a Feather. By the third shave, it will already start to feel dull. Really, you should only be able to get one to two shaves out of a Feather blade.
Now, at about 25 cents a blade, you’re still going to make out far better than you would using $3-4 cartridge razor head. So, in the long-run, an extra 10 cents really won’t make that much of a difference. You should know though that you are paying twice the amount for a super-smooth shave.
Ironically enough, you also need to be sure to be very careful with a Feather. The blade is very sharp, and it can easily cut you if you’re not paying attention. That doesn’t mean that those who are new to wet-shaving can’t use them, but they should exercise caution especially when shaving sensitive areas like the upper lip. I try my best to use Feathers only in my more gentle razors like my Viking Chieftan because the razor doesn’t need to be all that aggressive if the blade is already so sharp.
If you want a close shave though, there is no other blade on the market for you. Feather is the #1 sharpest safety razor blade available.
Smoothest Safety Razor Blades: Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades
Derby Double Edge Safety Razor Blades are some of the smoothest blades available. They are made from stainless steel from Sweden that is ground and hardened with a polymer of tungsten, platinum, and chromium ceramic for longevity and shaving comfort. Indeed, the blade glides effortlessly across the jaw-line and never causes irritation or discomfort.
You’ll likely have to make multiple passes with derby safety razor blades to get a really close shave, but because they’re so smooth, the extra shaving won’t cause you any pain. In fact, in many years of shaving with Derby razors, I don’t think I’ve cut myself even one time.
Derby razors are perfect for any men who are just starting with wet-shaving and need time to practice their technique before they begin using Feather or Astra blades, for example. You can just begin with sharp blades right away if you really take your time, but if you’re nervous, these smoother blades are a great place to start.
Alternatively, you could pick up Derby blades for days when you’re in a rush and need a quick shave. If you’re pressed for time, chances are you’re not going to want to use a sharp razor. By contrast, you can quickly run a Derby blade over your face without paying too much attention. They’re also great for weekends and lazy days off when you may not feel the need to get a super close shave.
I like to pair my Derby with a more aggressive razor like the Parker 99R because the weight and effectiveness of the razor provides a nice balance. The smooth blade will protect my skin, and the razor will provide the force needed to cut through coarse hair.
Best of all, these safety razor blades only cost $9 for a pack of 100 blades. That’s a mere 9 cents a blade–a price you can’t find anywhere else. Then when you’re done with the blade, you can slide it into the convenient disposal slot located right on the package itself.
How to Find the Best Safety Razor Blade:
When on the search for the best safety razor blade, you’ll want to consider three crucial factors: sharpness, smoothness, and aggression. Remember though, the best safety razor for one man may not be the best for another. Essentially, when you get a closer shave, you compromise comfort and vice versa. The closer to the face you shave, the more likely you are to irritate the skin.
Let’s break down these three categories:
On a smooth safety razor blade, the cutting angle is less severe. In this case, you’ll have to put more effort behind each stroke to achieve the same effect, but the blade won’t nick you as often. That being said, if you’re passing over the same area of skin multiple times, it can easily become raw.
A sharp safety razor blade will slash through coarse hair in fewer strokes, but you have to be careful with it. Remember, sharp blades aren’t necessarily better because you’ll be sacrificing comfort whenever you opt for sharper edges.
We determine how aggressive a blade is based on the blade gap and the blade exposure. The more the blade is exposed and the further apart it’s set from the clipper, the more efficiently it slices through hair and the more likely you are to nick yourself.
When choosing your safety razor blade, don’t assume that the sharpest blade is the most effective. You’ll also want to consider how thick your hair is, how much you’re willing to spend, how the blade of the handle fits in your hand, and how easy it is to change blades.
Safety razors are typically made with higher quality steel than the metal in cartridge razors. That being said, all razors can irritate your skin if you don’t prep properly. Make sure you’re applying the right shaving cream before you start and a good aftershave balm to refresh your skin when you’re done if you want to make the most of your safety razor blades.
Safety Razor Blades: Final Thoughts
Safety razor blades come in all different shapes and sizes, and the one for your beard may not work for your brother’s beard or your co-worker’s beard. Once you have your safety razor, you’ll want to try a few different blades to see which ones work for you and which ones are compatible with your razor.
Which safety razor blades do you like? We here at the Hair Clippers Club would love to hear your thoughts!