Safety razors were invented by King Camp Gillette in the 20th century as a cheaper and easier way of shaving. Before then, people had to use straight razors that dulled quickly and required repeated sharpening. Today, safety razors remain a must-have for anyone who wants a clean-shaven look.
Gillette was initially the most popular safety razor brand in America. Now, dozens of other safety razor brands have sprung up. As a result, selecting the best safety razor for your needs can be a tiresome task.
This article contains well-researched safety razor reviews to help you choose a quality product. It also provides a list of important features and specifications to consider when buying a safety razor. You’ll learn how to shave with a safety razor and the pros and cons of the product. This article will also show you how to improve the lifespan of your safety razors. Let’s dive right into it!
Best Safety Razors
1. MERKUR Futur Adjustable Double Edge Safety Razor
Although expensive, the Futur razor gives you value for money. It features a Snap-Cap design that allows for effortless replacement of blades. All you need to do is pull off the razor headcover to load blades easily.
This safety razor also comes with an adjustable head mechanism. By turning a dial, you can control the blade’s exposure to your skin. If you want an aggressive shave, you can increase the blade’s exposure and watch it hack through your beard with ease.
Should you desire a milder shave, the product offers six different levels of adjustment. This allows you to set the blade’s exposure to the most ideal level for your skin and shaving needs.
Thanks to its flexibility, you can use the Futur Razor even if you are new to manual shaving. You could use lower settings when starting out and go higher as your skill increases.
2. VIKINGS BLADE The Chieftain Double Edge Safety Razor
The Chieftain Safety Razor gives you a clean shave without irritating your skin. Made from high-grade materials, the Chieftain Safety Razor is one of the most reliable safety razors on the market.
Because of its weight, the product is heavier and more balanced in use than most safety razors. It also has a simple design, making it easy for both novices and experienced individuals to use. All you have to do is place your blade in the razor and you are ready to shave.
The Chieftain’s unique weight distribution also lets you make strokes with minimal effort. This increases the preciseness and swiftness of your shaving strokes, reducing the time spent shaving.
This safety razor comes with a luxury mirror so you need not spend money on buying one. You also get a gift pack of Swedish 13C26 steel mild blades. It will make a perfect Father’s Day present if your old man loves traditional shaving.
3. Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor
Edwin Jagger’s Double Edge Safety Razor guarantees a wet shave that leaves your face as smooth as a baby’s butt. With this safety razor, your skin type is of little consequence. Its precise design allows it to provide a shaving angle that is gentle on all skin types, including sensitive ones.
The blade’s well-designed, chrome-plated handle improves your grip on the safety razor while wet shaving. This allows you to shave in confidence without fear of the safety razor slipping from your hands and causing injuries.
This safety razor works best when paired with a quality shaving cream. Not only will you get a comfortable shave, but you will also reduce the chances of in-grown facial hairs.
Edwin Jagger DE Safety Razors come embossed with the manufacturer’s symbol to prove authenticity. This will ensure you do not end up with a fake product. Consider this safety razor if you need a quality and long-lasting solution to your shaving issues.
4. Weishi Nostalgic Long Handle Butterfly Open Safety Razor
The Weishi Long Handle Safety Razor is one of the most affordable safety razors for people who love wet shaves. Still, it offers incredible value for the money.
Blade changes on safety razors can be repetitive, stressful tasks for many. To solve this problem, this product has a butterfly mechanism that makes the blade-change process simple and easy.
You only need to twist the knob at the base to pop open the butterfly shutter. Insert the blade and twist the knob to close the shutter. Unlike other butterfly razors though, this razor’s shutter does not open unless you twist the knob.
This safety razor is rustproof so you can use it in the shower. Moreover, you need not fear the razor slipping when wet. The handle’s texturing gives you a comfortable and secure grip while shaving.
This razor is ideal for men and women and would shave any part of your body with ease.
5. Parker 99R–Long Handle Heavyweight Butterfly Open Safety Razor
Assembled by hand to ensure the highest quality, the Parker 99R safety razor can take care of your various shaving needs. It features a solid, durable brass frame designed to last for a long time.
You need not worry about the possibility of rust either. This safety razor comes with chrome plating to prevent rusting.
The Parker 99R is suitable for people with fast-growing facial hair. With a heavy handle (patterned for a stronger grip), you can confidently use it on even the toughest beard.
Besides, the twist-to-open function on this safety razor reduces the time you have to spend changing blades. Simply twist the knob at the bottom of the razor and the top opens. Replace the old blade with a fresh one and your safety razor is ready to deliver that silky-smooth shave.
The package comes with the company’s premium razor blades to give you a clean shave out of the box.
6. Feather Double Edge Shaving Razor
This Feather DE Shaving Razor is another affordable option that delivers the same value as the expensive models on the market. Built with high-quality steel, this safety razor will give you years of problem-free shaving.
Despite its name, there is nothing “feathery” about this razor. The handle is perfectly weighted and guarantees a firm grip. This ensures cut-free shaves in and out of the shower.
Moreover, you can use the Feather Razor even if you have extra-sensitive skin. It has a well-designed shaving head that controls the blade’s exposure to your skin.
Cleaning or replacing razor blades has never been easier too. The Feather DE Safety Razor comes with a butterfly-style top. A twist of the metal ring at the handle’s base allows you to take out the blade for replacement or cleaning.
For such a bargain, Feather’s reputation spanning over 80 years in the shaving industry comes through in this DE razor.
What Is a Safety Razor?
A safety razor is a popular tool for wet shaving. It has a removable blade housed in a holder with a safety bar. This construction helps to minimize the risk of cuts and nicks while shaving by shielding the skin from the blade.
The safety razor comprises three parts:
- The razor blade
- The razor head
- The handle
Typically, the razor head holds the razor blade, exposing the blade’s edge just a little. The exposed edge is what you use to cut away stubble.
Safety razors are made from steel or brass, which makes them one of the most durable manual shaving tools. They can last for years and only require that you replace the blades periodically.
Safety Razor Buying Guide
Before choosing a safety razor, it is important to know what distinguishes a quality product. This buying guide will show you the essential questions to ask when shopping for a safety razor. You will also learn the vital features and specifications to look.
4 Considerations When Buying a Safety Razor
These are the most important things you should consider when buying a safety razor:
Skill level (Are you a newbie or an expert?)
Your skill level with a safety razor affects the type you’ll choose. If you’re an expert, you have more options. You could select a low-cost safety razor or go for a higher-priced model, depending on what you want.
You may not be so lucky if you’re new to shaving. Safety razors have a higher learning curve and you need practice to master their use. Don’t be distressed, though.
There are plenty of affordable safety razors designed for beginners. You can learn how to shave with a cheap safety razor while reducing the chances of cutting yourself.
Size of Hands (How large/small are your hands?)
It is necessary to consider your hand size when selecting a safety razor. If you have large hands and you buy a small razor, it will feel light in your hands.The lightness can make you exert excess pressure without knowing it, causing friction on your skin. This friction can cause skin irritation and razor burns.
Likewise, using a large safety razor with small hands can be problematic. You won’t be able to grip the razor properly and may find it awkward to use. If you are not careful, you could even nick or cut yourself while shaving.
Choose a model that fits your hand size and is comfortable for you to grip while shaving.
Price (What Is Your Budget?)
Like every other product, there are dozens of safety razors, all coming with different price tags. You need to determine how much you’re willing to spend to avoid over-spending.If you’re a novice, we’ll advise you to select a low-cost model. Cheaper safety razors are often better for beginners as they are simpler and less complex.
Higher-priced models can have features that you may not know how to use yet. We’d only advise you to buy a premium safety razor if you’re good with one. As your skill increases, you’ll be able to handle the complexity that comes with expensive razors.
In the world of safety razors, “aggressiveness” refers to the tool’s level of blade exposure. The blade’s exposure depends on the space between the razor blade and the safety bar (also called the blade gap).
An aggressive razor will have a larger blade gap and higher blade exposure. Hence, it will cut more hair when you use it. A mild razor has a smaller blade gap and lower blade exposure.
A milder razor is best if you’re just learning the technique of shaving with a safety razor. It is more forgiving of mistakes and reduces the chances you’ll nick or cut yourself. Aggressive razors are less forgiving and you can easily injure yourself if you’re not careful.
Most Important Safety Razor Features and Specifications
Before selecting a safety razor, here are some important features and specifications to check:
Blade Type (Adjustable/Fixed)
As we explained before, blade exposure determines the mildness or aggressiveness of your shave. You can control your blades’ exposure by reducing/increasing the blade gap. However, not all safety razors allow you to change the blade gap.
Some come with a preset level of blade exposure that you cannot adjust. Called fixed razors, they usually come in “aggressive”, “medium”, or “mild” variants. These tags show the blade gap and level of blade exposure these safety razors have.
Then there are adjustable-blade razors. Adjustable razors are popular as they let you change the blade gap, depending on the shave you want. Most adjustable safety razors come with dials that you can turn to control the blade’s exposure.
Head Design (Closed/open/slant)
The razor head houses the blades and its layout determines, to some extent, the aggressiveness of your razor. Traditionally, there are three types of razor heads. Safety razors can have the “closed-comb head”, “open-comb” head”, and “slant head”.
Closed comb razors:
These have a safety bar running along the edge of the head. Although considered old school, closed-comb razors provide an extra layer of protection from between your face and the blade. So, they are milder and less aggressive.
Open comb razors:
These offer heads with small openings in the safety bar that increase the blade’s exposure. They are generally more aggressive and are more efficient at shaving. However, you have higher chances of cutting yourself with these razors, especially if you are a novice.
Slant safety razors:
They hold the razor blade in a slanting position. Like open-comb razors, they are more aggressive and can handle tougher beards with ease. However, they require more practice to get used to than a closed-comb razor.
You should pick the headpiece design that best fits your skill and preference.
Number of Pieces (One-piece/Two-Piece/Three-Piece)
This is another important feature to look out for when buying a safety razor. The number of pieces a razor has can determine things such as ease of maintenance and longevity. Usually, there are one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece safety razors.
One-piece safety razor:
In one-piece razors, the razor head, handle, and safety bar combine to make one solid piece. They have a mechanism that opens the razor head compartment in a butterfly-like manner (they are also called butterfly razors).
Maintenance of these razors is easy. You only have to twist a knob to open the top of the razor head and remove the blades. However, they wear out more quickly as they have more moving parts.
Two-piece safety razors:
These have razor heads that unscrew from the base and allow you to change the blade. Replacing blades is harder on two-piece razors than one-piece razors. Moreover, less moving parts means they last longer than one-piece safety razors.
Three-piece safety razors:
A three-piece safety razor comprises the handle, the razor head top, and base of the razor head. Although similar to two-piece razors, this design allows you to remove the base handle.
These razors are the easiest to clean. In addition, they have less moving parts and so they can last a long time. However, replacing blades on three-piece razors can be tedious and dangerous if you are not careful.
Cartridge Razors Vs. Safety Razors
Cartridge razors comprise a plastic handle and disposable cartridges that have 3 to 5 blades. Safety razors have a metal handle and a single double-edge blade. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both razor types.
Here are the pros and cons of cartridge razors and safety razors:
Cartridge Razors Pros and Cons
Here are merits and demerits of cartridge razors:
Here are pros of cartridge razors:
- Saves Time
A cartridge razor is usually a quick and convenient way of shaving. Plop some shaving cream on your face, start shaving, and you’ll be done in minutes.
- Ease of Use
Cartridge razors are simple shaving devices that require little or no practice before you get used to them. The simplicity of these razors reduces the chances you’ll cut yourself because of poor technique. Hence, they are perfect for beginners learning to shave manually.
Cartridge razors require a low initial investment. If you check through our disposable razor buying guide, you’ll find cartridge razors that cost under $20. For a beginner or anyone looking for a low-cost shaving device, cartridge razors are an excellent option.
Here are some shortcomings of cartridge razors:
- Causes Irritation
Cartridge razors can increase the irritation you’ll feel while shaving, especially if you have sensitive skin. The more times you go over your face with a razor blade, the more irritation you’ll experience.
Contrary to what you think, a single five-blade pass equals five passes with a single-blade razor. This means the five-blade razor will cause five times the irritation of a single-blade razor.
- Expensive Over the Long Run
While cartridge razors are affordable, the replacement cartridges are not. The average cartridge costs between $5 and $10 and lasts for a maximum of three or four shaves. Calculate the annual cost of buying replacement cartridges and you’re looking at a sizeable sum.
- Negative Environmental Impact
The EPA estimates that over two billion razor cartridges find their way to landfills every year. This increases the plastic in the world and causes pollution.
Safety Razors Pros and Cons
Here are pros and cons of safety razors:
The following are advantages of safety razors:
- Less Irritation
Since it uses a single blade, you can prevent irritation by reducing the number of passes you make. By comparison, a cartridge razor takes the decision out of your hands.You may think you’re taking a single pass with your three-blade razor. In reality, you’re taking three passes, since the razor is, more or less, three blades in one. This makes the safety razor more comfortable, especially for sensitive-skinned people.
- Reduced Long-Term Costs
Visit local and online stores and you’ll get replacement razor blades at cheap prices. Most blades sell for under $1, which could help you save cash over the long term.
- Positive Environmental Impact
Unlike plastic cartridges, you can store double-edge razor blades in a blade bank for recycling.
Here are some disadvantages of safety razors:
- Higher Initial Cost
Safety razors cost more on average than cartridge razors. Cheap brands retail for about $20 and models that are more expensive could sell for hundreds of dollars.
- More Complex
Safety razors generally have a higher learning curve and require practice before getting used to them. Moreover, it takes above-average skills to handle a safety razor without cutting yourself. So they are not the most ideal for beginners who have poor technique.
- Takes More Time
You have to be careful when using a safety razor so it doesn’t cut you. With a safety razor, you can’t just dab cream on your face and start shaving away.This is possible when shaving with a cartridge razor. However, a safety razor requires slower and more deliberate strokes to achieve a comfortable and safe shave.
Straight Razors Vs. Safety Razors
Before safety razors became widespread in the 1900s, straight razors were the only options available. Straight razors don’t use disposable blades like safety razors. Instead, the blade is affixed to a pivoting handle, with both forming one piece.
The best straight razors are extremely sharp and give a closer shave than safety razors. Below is a comparison of safety razors and straight razors:
Safety razors can go for anything between $20 to $150 and more. You’ll also need to buy replacement blades occasionally. Although the blades are cheap (about $10 for a 100-blade pack), the costs can add up over time. Straight razors are pricier and cost between $60 to $200 or more. You will need to buy a honing strip and a strop to sharpen the blade, which can go for around $100. No need for replacement blades or any additional costs.
- Shaving Experience
Straight razors are sharper and give you a closer shave. However, the sharpness of the blade means there’s a higher chance of cutting yourself. Safety razors give a less close shave but are safer to use than straight razors.
In the old days, when straight razors reigned supreme, only barbers used them. Even now, straight razors have a higher learning curve and require more practice to use safely. Safety razors are more beginner-friendly and are ideal for people who haven’t perfected their shaving technique yet.
Double-Edge Safety Razor Vs. Single-Edge Safety Razor
As the names suggest, a double-edge razor has two edges while a single-edge razor has one edge. The former allows you to use two edges to shave while the latter has only one edge for shaving.
However, that isn’t all there is to both razors. Let’s compare them in more detail:
On average, single-edge razors cost more than double-edge razors. Prices for a new single-edge razor range between $50 to $200 or more. This is down to factors such as the use of heavier steel in single-edge safety razors.
You should also know that replacement blades for single-edge razors last longer compared to double-edge razors. A single-edge “injector” blade is thicker than a DE blade and lasts twice as long. The result is that a straight razor could be cheaper than a safety razor in the long term.
- Ease of Maintenance
Swapping out blades is easier on a single-edge safety razor than a double-edge safety razor. Single-edge razors come with an injector blade cartridge.You only need to insert the key and push the lever to open the razor head. Take out the old blade, insert a new one, and you’re done. By comparison, it is harder to change blades on double-edge safety razors, especially two-piece and three-piece variants.
Single-edge safety razors have lesser moving parts and do not wear out quickly. Double-edge safety razors such as butterfly-style razors have more moving parts and are more prone to wear.
6 Benefits of Shaving with a Safety Razor
Here’s why you should choose a safety razor for your shaving needs:
- Improved Shaving Experience
Safety razor buying guides often tout the superior shave the tool provides. The claim is true, at least to some extent. Safety razors give a close shave, thanks to their weight distribution.
Only straight razors can give you a closer shave, but they also increase the chances of cuts and nicks.
- Save Money
With cartridge razors, you’ll need to buy replacement cartridges that can be expensive. Conversely, a safety razor requires a single razor blade, which you can buy in bulk at cheap prices.
- Reduce Environmental Pollution
Disposable plastic cartridge razors and razor cartridges often fill up landfills and cause pollution. Safety razors are an eco-friendlier option as they last for years. You can even store your old razor blades in a blade bank and recycle it later.
- Prevent Skin Issues
Single-blade safety razors cut your hair level with the skin. This decreases the incidence of ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and skin irritation.
- Cleaner Alternative
Safety razors are easier to clean and don’t allow for the buildup of hair or bacteria. Other shaving tools that use multiple razors can get clogged with hair and shaving cream, increasing contamination risks.
- Easier to Learn
A safety razor is easier to master compared to a straight razor. It requires more time and patience to learn than a cartridge razor but delivers a quality shave.
How to Shave with a Safety Razor
Making the switch from a cartridge razor to a safety razor can be daunting, given the complexity of the latter. However, with practice, shaving with a safety razor will become second nature. Below is a systematic guide on shaving with a safety razor:
- Prepare your beard
Prepping your beard before shaving is important if you want to prevent any form of skin irritation. The goal is to soften your beards and prepare your skin for repeated contact with a blade. You’ll need to either wash your face with some warm water or cover it with a hot towel.
- Apply shaving cream
Once you’ve softened your beard, applying shaving cream or shaving soap is the next thing to do. Shaving cream from a can or tube is usually easy to apply.
Shaving soap requires a shaving brush to lather it on your face. Read our shaving brush reviews to see which brand you should buy.
- Start shaving
Follow these steps during the shaving phase:
- Make a first pass and shave with the grain.
When you start shaving, shave in the direction of the grain. What does this mean? The “grain” refers to the direction in which the hairs of your beard grow. Shaving in the same direction as your hair grain won’t remove all the hair but is less stressful on your skin.
- Make a second pass and shave across the grain.
After the first pass, rinse your face and apply some shaving cream. This time, however, shave using sideways strokes (at a ninety-degree angle). This will remove hair left over from the first pass.
- Make a third pass and shave against the grain.
While this is optional, it is useful if you have thicker hair or want a good shave. It’s simple-shave against the direction of your beard’s growth. This cuts below your skin level and leaves it smooth for up to 24 hours.
- Make a first pass and shave with the grain.
- Do your after-shave routine.
Clean your safety razor with warm water and wash your face with cold water (not warm water). Coldwater closes your pores and helps stop bleeding from nicks or cuts. Afterwards, apply an aftershave cream or balm and hydrate your skin with a moisturizer.
Factors That Decide the Longevity of Safety Blades
Here are factors that can affect the life-expectancy of safety blades:
- Facial Hair
The amount of facial hair your safety blade has to cut determines how long it will last. If you have fast-growing hair, you’ll be buying more razor blades.
- Quality of Blade
Safety blades have the different levels of quality. While most safety razor blades are made from stainless steel, each manufacturer has its own unique formulation. In addition, the grinding and coating of a razor blade affects its quality and finish.Industry experts consider blades from European manufacturers being of highest quality.
- Quality of Hair
Your safety blade will dull faster if you have coarse and thick facial hair. Fine and fairly thin facial hair means you can use a safety blade longer than usual.
- Blade Maintenance and Storage
Moisture and salt from your skin will corrode safety blades, causing them to be blunt. Washing and storing blades properly will prevent rust and extend their lifespan.
- Frequency of Shaving
The more you use a razor blade, the higher its chances of getting dull. However, this doesn’t mean you should use a blade for weeks because you shave once a week. Oxidation [caused by moisture & salt] means you cannot use a blade past a specified time limit.
How Long Do Safety Razor Blades Last?
All things being equal, the average safety razor blade should last you at least five to six shaves. This number is based on the assumption you make three passes while shaving.
However, this number may vary among individuals based on the factors we discussed earlier. If you’re a beginner, we’d recommend that you change your blades frequently. Using a dull blade will make it difficult to learn how to apply pressure and perfect your shaving techniques.
Useful Tips to Make Safety Razor Blades Last Longer
Here are some useful tips for increasing the lifespan of your blades:
- Keep Blades Dry
Ensure you wash your blade after use and remember to dry it with a dryer or towel. Any moisture left on your blade can oxidize it and make it blunt.
- Coat the Blade
You can soak the razor blade in a container filled with substances such as grapeseed oil, or baby oil. Doing this protects the blade against exposure to moisture and humidity.
- Store Razors Properly
Proper storage is necessary if you want your blades to last long. You’d want to store the blades in a humidity-free area to prevent moisture from corroding them.
This means you shouldn’t keep blades in your bathroom, which has high humidity. Instead, keep blades in re-sealable container or bag and place them in your cabinet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Safety Razors
Here are frequently asked questions answers about safety razors:
- Are safety razors as good as other razors?
Yes, they are. They give closer and smoother shaves than other razors, including cartridge-razor types. Straight razors provide a closer shave than safety razors but require advanced skills to use properly. A safety razor gives shaves as close as that of a straight razor and is easier and safer to use.
- How do I change the blades?
This depends on the type of safety razor you have. One-piece razors have butterfly-style doors that open when you twist a knob, allowing you to load new blades. Two-piece and three-piece safety razors may require you to unscrew the head to change the blade.
- Are safety razors cheaper than cartridge razors?
Safety razors have a higher initial cost but are cheaper over the long term. With a disposable cartridge razor, you have to buy expensive replacement cartridges all the time. Safety razors require only one razor blade, which costs a fraction of the price of a replacement cartridge.
Although not as popular as cartridge razors, safety razors are making a comeback as a must-have for modern-day male grooming. Magazines, barbers, and celebrities have all called for a return to the age-old tradition of shaving with safety razors. They cite reduced irritation, lower maintenance costs, and a smoother, more comfortable shave as benefits of the best safety razor.
However, if you don’t buy the right safety razor, you won’t enjoy these benefits. You need to consider different personal factors before deciding on which safety razor model to buy.
The size of your hands, your shaving expertise, the size of your budget, etc. should influence your choice of safety razor. Thankfully, our safety razor reviews cover all these angles and more.
If you are just learning how to shave with a safety razor, buy a closed-comb razor. But if you are an expert, you can get an open-comb razor for a better shaving experience.