Which Safety Razor Should I Choose? Buyers Guide (2021 Update)
Welcome to a better, cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to shave with this update to our buyers guide. The best safety razor is characterized by high quality and affordable blades. Shaving simply becomes more fun with a proper tool!
Classic razors come in different variants for different uses. By classic razor we mean:
In this article we will focus on safety razors and help you find the one that suits you best!
Different Types of Safety Razors
A razor should stretch the skin flat and gently guide a razor blade over it. How the razor shaves is determined by the angle at which it holds the razor blade, how close the razor blade comes to the skin plus which razor blade you put in it.
A multi-blade razor (such as Gillette/ Bic/ Schick) is just a handle. All the geometry is in the razor cartridge that is mounted in the front. A safety razor, on the other hand, has a razor head that actively determines how the razor blade meets the skin. Therefore, different types of safety razors shave differently. The most important difference is the design of the so-called “comb” or “guard” – a spacer that determines how tightly the razor blade runs over the skin. There is no type that is “best”, only best for you. If in doubt, you should choose a closed comb. Note: All safety razors (except beard and eyebrow razors) uses the same type of Double-edge razor blade.
The Safety Razor Background
The traditional safety razor was invented by Mr. King Camp Gillette in 1901. Since then a lot has happened in the market, but has is it really been an improvement or just a way to make shaving more complex and expensive for you? We believe that one blade is enough, a fact that has been proven in several tests. Save money, make less trash and give your day a better start!
With a double-edge razor, you can choose between many different types of blades. Common to all is that the prices are much lower than cartridges razors. A 100 pack of high-quality blades usually cost less than $10. Yes, you read correct – that is $0.10 a blade! Some people go through a 4 pack of Gillette’s a month. The savings will quickly add up over a year when a 4 pack of Gillette Fusion blades costs $20! Let us just keep it simple and say that is $200 a year vs $10 a year in high-quality safety blades. Gillette comes out at least once a year with new designs that cannot be used with older blades or handles. Now you know that a high-quality handle and comb will probably last you a lifetime…!
It is more certainly more pleasurable to shave with proper equipment. Combine a high-quality one with good shaving cream or shave soap and make a previously dull daily routine into a great way to start your day!
Quality and Environment
Once you have purchased a top quality product, it will last more or less forever. Nor will there be new models with a slightly different “improvement” that require you to throw away the old one. Get a simple hand-made quality product and be proud as well as happy. Proud that you are having a minimum impact on the environment and happy that you are getting a smoother shave.
Safety Razor Head Design Types
Safety razors vary a little in design; some have a different mechanism for inserting a new safety razor blade, others have a uniform design, and some are assigned to specific tasks. Here is an overview of the most common types.
Closed Comb Design
A closed comb is the mildest and most common type of head on a DE razor. This design is recommended for the majority of people, both beginners and experienced. With a closed comb only a small portion of the blade is being exposed, hence the name “safety razor”.
Most versions we will discuss have a closed comb. Razors from the German brand Mühle have a common head with a closely aligned closed comb (apart from a few varieties that have open comb). Whether you go for the test winner Muhle R89 or another variant of Mühle with a different design, rest assured you will get a good shave!
With a closed comb, only a small part of the blade is exposed, hence the name “safety razor”. The comb keeps the razor blade at a good distance from the skin so that the shave is gentle and kind. This type is also best suited for shaving the head and the rest of the body.
Recommended use: Normal beard growth, sensitive skin, legs and scalp hair.
Open Comb Design
For coarse and long beard growth. An open comb allows more of the blade to be exposed, and therefore the razor blade comes closer to your skin. An open comb is thus more aggressive in its setting than one with a closed comb. They have teeth similar to a comb to straighten the hair before shaving. In reality, most safety razors have a partial rather than a completely open comb. In addition to more exposure to the razor’s blade, there is also a slightly different angle of the blade. A razor with an open comb is ideal for those with a coarse and dense beard. A good razor in this category is Muhle R41.
An open comb gives an even closer shave than closed comb and glides more easily through long or thick beard growth.
Note that an open comb version is a little harder to shave with at the beginning, so if you have no experience with traditional shaving we recommend that you choose one with a closed comb to initially learn the ropes.
Please note: Mühle offers a separate head with an open comb, so if you have a Mühle razor with a closed comb like the R89, you can change to an open comb later by purchasing this head.
We do not recommend open comb razor for the beginner. They require that you are light on the paw and have good technique to avoid small cuts and irritation.
Recommended use: Dense beard growth, shaving every few days, experienced users.
Slant Bar Design
Advanced users. The head on these razors is tilted at an angle so that the razor blade has a sloping edge. While regular razors cut the hair by pushing the blade straight towards the hair, the angle of a slant bar design makes the razor blade cut the hairs with a sideways movement. In theory this provides less friction and thus requires less pressure, ensuring an even closer shave than a regular razor can provide. The chance to nick yourself is a bit higher, but if it is used correctly; the angle creates a very nice shave for people with sensitive skin since it requires less pressure against the skin. A great razor with a slant bar is the Merkur 37C.
Slant is recommended for advanced users since the blade comes very close to the skin. With a little experience, they are great for sensitive skin since they shave effectively even with feather-light strokes.
Recommended use: Sensitive skin, experienced users.
Adjustable Settings Design
Flexible. Some razors are adjustable. This means that you can regulate the distance between the comb and the blade. The longer the distance, the more aggressive and closer shave you will get. This is nice because as you get better at wet shaving, you can adjust the gap and get a closer shave. You can start with a gentle setting and adjust it more closely as you get a better technique. Most users will choose to use the same setting on the razor for their entire shave, while others use a more aggressive setting for the jaw and a gentler one for the neck. Probably the most popular one in this category is Merkur Futur and Merkur Progress. Recently there has come some serious competitors such as Rockwell 6c and Parker Variant, both very good choices.
Please note that Slant and Adjustable heads are available on fewer models and usually have longer delivery times and may be sold out due to limited production.
Recommended use: Those who use the same razor for beards and bodies or struggle with rashes in some areas.
Some razor can be disassembled into parts in addition to being compact from the start. As a rule, travel razors come in a pouch bag so that you have an overview of all the parts.
Alternatively, you can use a regular razor with a short handle, like Merkur 34c when traveling if you think the dedicated travel razors are to small.
Recommended use: Those who are traveling and want as little luggage as possible.
Precision tools. Detail razors, often called mustache and eyebrow razors, are narrow razors for trimming tiny details. Most often they are a little wider on one side.
Note: This is the only type that does not use regular, traditional razor blades, but needs its own type.
Recommended use: Fine trimming around the mustache, eyebrows, mouth and other details.
Select Handle as Desired
This is particular for Muhle razors. We sometimes get questions about what is the difference between Mühle R89, R108, Rytmo and all the other popular razors from the German brand Mühle. The fact is that almost all Mühle razors with a closed comb have the same shaving head and thus shave exactly like the Mühle R89. You can safely choose a razor based on which handle you like best! On the opposite side, all Mühle open comb razors have the same shaving head as the Mühle R41.
The different shaving heads are available separately, so you can easily adjust your razor from closed to open comb afterwards. Note: On the Twist models, the comb is part of the handle and cannot be changed from closed to open comb and vice versa.
Exception: Mühle Rocca
Mühle Rocca is an exclusive razor that shaves a bit differently than other Mühle models. This is a newer model that is made of stainless steel instead of chrome-plated brass. The advantage is that the material is even more durable and the parts can be machined even more precisely.
Although Rocca has a closed comb, it shaves slightly closer than the R89, but not as aggressively as the R41 and other open comb razors. Available in matte black finish, brushed stainless or with birch bark handle. Mühle Rocca is also available as a complete set with matching shaving brush and stand.
Customize the Safety Razor with the Choice of Blades
No one has a patent on making traditional razor blades. Therefore, you can pick and choose until you find the type that fits your skin and hair growth perfectly! The same razor will shave very gently with Derby Extra razor blades and very close with Feather razor blades. See more about how the choice of razor blades affects the razor here.