So you’ve decided to join the scores of men who are switching away from cartridge razors to double edge safety razors. Excellent choice! We promise you won’t look back once you’ve made the switch.
As with anything new taking your first steps towards choosing a double edge safety razor can seem a daunting process so we’ve specifically written this guide to help familiarise you with the world of double edge safety razors so you can make an informed purchasing decision. And if you still have questions we’re always on hand to answer them. Just send us a mail using our contact form or give us a call at the shop on 020 7409 2749.
1, 2, or 3 Parts?
There are many double edge safety razors on the market however all of them have two things in common: the handle and the razor head that holds the blade. But how the blade is interested and how the handle is fixed to the head will differ.
BUTTERFLY (1 PART)
Butterfly safety razors are one fixed unit (the handle is fixed to the head). To insert the razor blade you simply twist the handle to open the head, which opens up like a butterfly, pop in the blade then twist the handle in the opposite direction to close the head over the blade fixing it securely in place.
This type of double edge safety razor is really simple to use and there’s no chance of component parts disappearing down the plug hole! They do have their drawbacks however. Without proper cleaning and in areas with hard water it is possible for the mechanism to seize up (Merkur and Muhle both decline to manufacturer butterfly razors because of this) and it’s also possible to damage the tiny hinges by dropping the razor when open or over tightening the head.
With a 2 part razor the head unscrews with a long screw from the head base and handle.
2 part double edge safety razors are very simple to use but their design can make cleaning a little difficult and it’s not possible to swap the heads over so if you fancy a more aggressive open comb you’d have to buy a whole new razor. Beware of over tightening the head to prevent damage to the threads.
With a 3 part double edge safety razor the head, head base and handle all separate. This does make inserting the blade a little more tricky but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. You’ll also find this type really easy to clean (just put the plug in the sink first!).
Open and Closed Comb
Razor heads come in either open comb or closed comb and they each provide their individual shaving performance.
Open comb double edge safety razors are so called because the razor head is lined with what look like teeth from a comb. These teeth help guide the beard towards the blade and result in an “aggressive” shave.
Aggressiveness is the term used to define how close a razor cuts the hair to the skin and how easily it moves across your face. A more aggressive razor will cut closer to the skin and won’t glide across your face so smoothly. For a more detailed look at aggressiveness check out our blog on safety razor aggressiveness.
Open comb razors are more suited to those with thick beard hair and because of the closeness of the shave can also help to prevent ingrowing hairs.
Closed comb razors don’t have teeth. Instead they have a solid bar, called a safety bar, with notches. This helps protect the skin from the blade so expect a less aggressive shave with a closed comb double edge safety razor. For beginners we would always recommend a closed comb razor.
ADJUSTABLE SAFETY RAZORS
Adjustable safety razors allow you to adjust blade exposure by increasing or decreasing the gap between the razor blade and the head. An increased gap will provide a more aggressive shave whilst decreasing the gap will provide a less aggressive shave.
This all sounds like the perfect solution however it can take a while to find the right setting for your beard and skin. For newbies to the world of traditional wet shaving we would recommend you to put adjustable double edge safety razors to one side until you’ve honed your shaving technique with something a little more forgiving.
During your search for the perfect double edge safety razor you’re going to come across some models that have a slanted head.
Slanted blades are more efficient at cutting because they slice through the hair rather than cut down - think Guillotine - making these a good choice for men with thick beards. The efficiency of slanted blades means you don’t need to apply as much pressure when shaving making these a good choice for those with sensitive skin as well.
Weight and Angle
The weight of a double edge safety razor is a critical aspect. Unlike shaving with cartridge razors you should not need to put any pressure (or at least minimal pressure) on the double edge razor when shaving - the weight of the razor is sufficient. The distribution of weight is also an important factor. There needs to be enough weight in the head to allow you to shave without applying pressure but this also needs to be counterbalanced to an extent through the handle so that the razor head sits comfortable on the face.
It’s also worth mentioning the angle of the razor. A larger angle will result in more blade exposure leading to a more aggressive shave. Each manufacturer has a multitude of models to choose from and these will range from aggressive to less aggressive (even if they are all closed comb) so always ask the seller for advice if you are unsure which is best for you.
Many double edge safety razors are now made entirely from stainless steel and some from chrome plated brass. There are even wooden handles. Whatever material you choose if you select a reputable manufacturer you can be sure you’re buying a razor that will stand the test of time if looked after properly.
When you switch to traditional wet shaving it won’t just be your face thanking you. It will also be lighter on your wallet. You can easily pick up a well made double edge safety razor for around £30 and quality packs of razor blades at a fraction of the price you currently pay for disposable cartridge razors.