What is the Difference Between Safety Razors?
Most safety razors look the same but they have many distinct differences. These differences make them perform quite differently. Some work amazingly well while others not so well.
I have about 6 or 7 safety razors from all different manufacturers. And I have to say that every one shaves differently even though every one is a closed comb design.
I’m going to discuss the differences between safety razors. You’ll want to know these before buying a safety razor.
First lets first talk about design features and then I’ll talk about the manufacturers quality or lack thereof.
Safety Razor Comb
Safety razors come in 3 different combs or head styles/types. There is the closed comb, open comb and adjustable comb. The difference between the closed comb and the open comb is the razor blade gap. The open comb obviously has more opening or gap while the closed comb is a smaller blade gap. The more blade gap, the more aggressive the cut or shave. Open combs are designed for cutting more hair or coarse and/or wavy hair. There is more risk of cuts with an open comb safety razor since the blade is more exposed.
Closed comb safety razors are designed for cutting shorter hair and/or finer hair. The blade gap is much smaller than on a open comb razor. They are also great for beginners. The blade is more protected by a metal bar. This keeps your skin away from the blade preventing cuts and nicks. If you shave everyday, you will want to use a closed comb safety razor. They shave very close without nicks or razor burn.
The 3rd type of safety razor is the adjustable comb. These razors have a knob that adjusts the amount of blade gap. There are usually 5-7 settings from mild cut to very aggressive. You can chose which setting works best for your beard. It saves you from buying more than one safety razor although they are more expensive.
Safety Razor Construction
There are 2 materials usually used to make a safety razor and those 2 are brass and stainless steel. There are some safety razors that are made from titanium and aluminum but not very many. Stainless steel and brass are great materials for a safety razor. They are durable, inexpensive and machinable. Most safety razors are also plated or coated with chromium to prevent corrosion and to provide a smooth surface for shaving.
The safety razor handle can be metal or it can be covered with plastic, carbon fiber, rubber or exotic woods like bamboo or rosewood. These are just to make it look nice, so you can pick any of these but please take note that you want the handle to be non-slip. When you shave, the razor is going to get wet and soapy or foamy. You don’t want the razor to slip out of your hand while shaving. Knurling on the handle makes a nice non-slip surface as does rubber. Consider these.
3 Piece and Butterfly Safety Razors
Most safety razors are a 3 piece design and consists of the handle, base plate and top plate. The handle screws into the top plate which sandwiches the base plate. The double edge razor blade sits in between the base plate and the top plate. These razors are a simple design that work very well. You can’t go wrong with a 3 piece safety razor.
Butterfly Safety razors are a 1 piece design. The head is mechanical and opens up when you turn the knob on the bottom of the handle. You then place a blade in the head and then close the butterfly mechanism to secure the blade.
3 piece and butterfly safety razors do not shave differently. The head design does not affect the shave.
Safety Razor Handle Length
Safety razors are available with many different handle lengths from just under 3 inches to almost 4 inches. Some people like the short handles for shaving the face. I like a longer handle. It gives me more handle to grasp and hang on to. The short handles are hard for me to control. My Parker 69CR safety razor has a really long handle. I like that. You should go for something in the middle for facial shaving, like a 3 inch handle. Try the Edwin Jagger DE89 or the Muhle R89 safety razor. These 2 have middle ground length handles and are excellent choices.
If you want to shave parts of your body or legs with a safety razor then get a longer handle. It will give you more reach and provide more handle to hold on to in the shower. Razors in the shower can get slippery and the more handle there is to grip the better. Look for a safety razor with a 3.5″ or longer handle. The Parker 69CR will work for shaving legs.
Safety Razor Quality/Brands
Here is something to remember….not all safety razors with the same design will shave the same. For example: a Merkur closed comb safety razor will not shave the same as a Edwin Jagger closed comb. They each have different dimensions and tolerances on the parts, especially the base plate and the top plate. Better quality parts will make a razor shave close and smoother. If you buy an expensive $160 Feather safety razor, it will shave smoother than a nonnamed $10 safety razor. You can bet on it.
I have about 7 safety razors and have used all of them several times. They all shave differently. My favorite is the Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razor. It just shaves closer and smoother than any other razor. And I use the exact same double edge razor blades in all of them. I like the Feather Hi-Stainless double edge blades.
Merkur safety razors are very popular. I have the 34C safety razor. Even though it is a very highly rated safety razor, I don’t care for it. I like the Edwin Jagger much better. The 34C does not shave as smoothly as the Edwin Jagger, even with the same blades. Both of these safety razors cost about the same at $40.