Best Safety Razor – The Ultimate Guide

Are you confused about which safety razor is best for you? I bought my first safety razor when I decided to make the switch from disposable cartridge razors to something more environment-friendly.  You would be shocked how many disposable razors end up in landfill.

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Investing in a straight razor and all accompanying accessories seemed like a huge leap in my daily grooming ritual. Instead, a double-edged safety razor was an easier and hassle-free way to begin experimenting with wet shaving.

People usually get confused when they read the term – safety razor. It is actually a generic term that is used to address many types of razors – including single edge, disposable and cartridge razors. But I am referring to the best among them -the double-edged safety razor.

This best safety razor uses a single, double-edged blade made of high quality carbon steel. One blade usually lasts 5-6 shaves and is incredibly cheap at less than 50 cents a blade.

This safety razor can give you a very close and smooth shave in fewer passes. Lesser passes means lesser irritation. Safety razors are thus a very cost effective and convenient way to get a superior shave.

When I began exploring safety razors, I was frankly overwhelmed by the wide range of choices available in the market. I was confused about which features to prioritize, what price range to search within and which brands to look at.

I wrote this guide to assist others beginning their wet shave journey. I hope the detailed information will help you buy the best safety razor for you.

Parts of a Safety Razor

Before purchasing the best safety razor for you, it is important to understand the various parts of a standard safety razor.

Handle: Safety razors come with different types of handles – long, short, fat, thin, smooth, lined or neural. They may be fashioned from metal, wood, plastic or even Bakelite. The length and type of handle is important for balance and pressure but to be honest the “right length” depends on the length of your hand.

Razor Head: Safety razor head can be closed and flat, with a safety bar between the blade and handle. The Merkur 22 C long handled safety razor comes with this design.

Closed comb safety razor head

Or they can have open comb teeth that make them look like a rake or comb. For example, the open slats of the Merkur 25C Long Handled Razor allow shaving cream and whisker debris to slide through, making this razor design more “aggressive”. I wouldn’t recommend open comb teeth for newbies, as they require advanced shaving skills to avoid nasty cuts.

Open Comb Safety Razor Head

Ikon best safety razors come with a combination design. They have a safety bar handle on one side and an open comb tooth design on the other side. These razors offer greater flexibility for your shaving skills and shaving needs.

Types of Safety Razor 

The best safety razor should be convenient to maintain and use. Safety razor manufactures use different designs for inserting and removing the blade.

Butterfly Razor Head

Silo or Butterfly Design – This is the cutting edge design of best safety razors today. For example, The Parker 22R Long Handle Razor has “butterfly doors” in the blade handle. You can spin the handle counter clock wise to open the doors, drop the blade in and close the doors before you shave. I love the convenience of the butterfly design.

Merkur 34c 2 Piece Razor Head

Two-Piece – On the other hand, the Merkur HD 34 C has a detachable cap. The razor has two pieces that can be separated by unscrewing the blade compartment and inserting the blade between the handle and the cap.

3 Piece Razor Head

Three-Piece – The Edwin Jagger, Feather All and the Muhle R89 have a three-piece design – the handle, the base and the cutting head. The blade is inserted between the base and the cutting head.

The three-piece design makes it easy to clean. Handles are interchangeable, so this design gives you the flexibility to mix and match your preferred handle with your preferred base to create your own unique best safety razor.

One important point to remember while assembling the three-piece is that the striations on the base (middle piece) install upwards, facing the blade. If you install this upside down, you will end up removing shaving cream without the hair!

Beard Growth

Your own beard growth is an important factor to consider when choosing the best safety razor. Do you have a light beard growth and shave once a week or less? Then the Feather All, The Parker 22R Long Handle Razor or the Weishi may be a better choice for you. These are lightweight razors that are great for swiftly shaving less dense hair.

On the other hand the Edwin Jagger DE89, Merkur HD 34C, Muhle R89 and the Parker 89R are recommended for beginners with average beard growth. Their heavier weight gives you more control over shaving pressure, allowing you to remove more hair in fewer passes, with lesser nicks.

I would recommend the Merkur Slant Bar if you have heavy beard growth. Its unique slanted guard bar provides a scything motion while shaving. It can aggressively cut through dense hair and is recommended for seasoned wet shavers. Similarly, the Muhle R41 is another heavy, long handle best safety razor that works well with coarse hair.

Adjustable Blade Design

I wouldn’t worry about adjustable blades as a newcomer. But I will mention this here for any experienced wet shavers, who might be interested in taking their shaving skills to the next level.

The Merkur Progress comes with an adjustable blade design that lets you control the gap between the blade and the safety bar. As you spin the handle adjustment knob (there are six different settings), more blade is revealed, providing a more aggressive shaving experience.

Skilled shavers can fine-tune this gap with great precision to get a quick and very close shave. Obviously, you have to know what you are doing; otherwise these razors can be very unforgiving.

Newbies can simply adjust the angle of their regular razor to get a more ‘aggressive’ shave. I would recommend practising shaving at steeper angles before purchasing an adjustable best safety razor.

Overview of the Best Safety Razor Brands

Now that we have covered the different aspects of safety razor use to determine the best safety razor for you – lets have a quick overview of some popular best safety razor brands available in the market.

Merkur – Merkur is a German brand, manufacturing shaving products since 1930. Their chrome and gold plated best safety razors look like collector’s items at affordable prices. The long handled Merkur 38 is very popular among professionals.

Feather - Feather was the first Japanese company to enter the wet shaving niche in 1932. They have cheaper plastic products as well as very expensive, heavy-duty razors. Feather blades tend to be very popular and are often used in combination with Merkur handles. Their products are also known by the Seki name.

Muhle – Muhle is a German brand, manufacturing shaving products since 1945. Their state of the art, designer best safety razors come in chrome-plated finish and are great as a one-of, long lasting investment.

Parker – Parker is a European Brand that manufactures and supplies shaving products across North America, Europe and Asia since 1973. Parker Razors are unique for their “Butterfly” or silo design and Parker supplies best safety razors from the low to the high price range.

Weishi – Weishi is a Chinese manufacturing company that entered the shaving niche in 1984. Weishi Razors have plastic handles, are very cheap and are great for travelling or for your initial best safety razor experiments. They are not very long lasting and not recommended for shaving pros.

Edwin Jagger – Edwin Jagger is an English Brand that manufactures shaving products since 1988. Edwin Jagger razors are known for their elegance and smooth finish. They look like luxury items, but come at affordable prices.

Ikon - Ikon Razors are a recently launched company in Thailand. They are gaining popularity for their combination blade designs and are competing with other long-standing high-end brands of best safety razors.

Above the Tie – Above the Tie is another new player in the shaving niche. Manufactured in America, Above the Tie razors are luxury items that come with great finish, balance and weight. They are incredibly pricey but powerful.

Best Safety Razor Price Comparisons

Now that you are familiar with some of the brands, let’s do a price range comparison. There are the best safety razors within every price range. I would recommend a lower price model for your first few months of shaving if you were hesitant to commit to DE shaving in general and want to experiment. I would also recommend keeping a lower price model in your travel kit or as a back up for emergencies.

However, if you were committing to DE shaving, I would recommend you directly invest in a medium price safety razor. This will protect you from bad experiences you can have from the lower end razors and get your wet shaving experience.

There is no harm in investing in the high quality models if you are committed to the DE process and want long-term value for your money. All the high-end models come with long-term guarantees and are well worth the one-off expense.

Closed Comb Safety Razors Under $100

Best Safety Razors - $5-$20

Wilkinson Sword Classic

  • Average price: $10
  • Handle – Plastic
  • Handle length – 4”
  • Perfect for – Light Beard Growth

This Wilkinson Sword is a very light safety razor that gives you a gentle entry into the wet shaving world. Even though it is made of plastic, it has the weight and balance of a metal safety razor.

The Wilkinson is not the best safety razor out there – the only reason I am including this is that it is nearly impossible to nick yourself with this razor. You could get it cheap and use it occasionally with your cartridge or disposable, to start getting the hang of wet shaving. Its plastic feel will make it seem as familiar as your disposable while transitioning you safely to metal razors.

The Wilkinson blades are also one of the best safety double-edged blades in the market and a combo Wilkinson razor and blade package can get you started with safety razors.

Feather Twist to Open

  • Average price: $15
  • Handle – Combination plastic + metal
  • Handle length – 4”
  • Perfect for – Light Beard Growth and Sensitive Skin

Feather Twist is a Butterfly blade design. Its twist to open razor design is very popular because it is one of the few butterfly razors that actually work. It has a fatter head that reduces the steepness of the blade angle, making it good for lighter shaves. With a 66% 5 star rating, Feather popular is a best safety razor offering good value for money.

The only downside to this razor is that it can’t give a super close shave for heavier growth. It feels plastic and cheap and lacks the class and elegance of other best safety razors.

Weishi 9306

  • Average price: $10-$16
  • Handle – Heavy Copper Alloy
  • Handle length – 4”- 6”
  • Perfect for – Light and Medium Beard Growth

This Weishi model comes in classic and long handle versions. The copper alloy design makes it heavier to use with the look and finish of higher end brands.

Weishi sticks to the butterfly design as well, and the twist mechanism works exceptionally well for a Chinese product. The precision blade gap is also excellent and on par with many higher end best safety razor products in the market.

The only downside to the Weishi is that shaving for heavy hair growth may result in nicks and cuts. The heavier weight does call for better control than the Feather Twist.

Lord Premium Safety Razor L6

  • Average price: $10
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Aluminum
  • Handle length – 4.33”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

I am including the Egyptian L6 in the cheap and best safety razor list because it compares with the Merkur at half the price. It is very popular on shaving forums and gives a clean shave with fair precision.

Lord L6 is my pick in this price range of best safety razors and I always make sure I have one in my travel kit. But to be honest, I do have a Weishi in my Gym bag too!

The disadvantage of cheaper products is in their durability. The L6 comes with a three-piece design and needs to be screwed and unscrewed for blade changes.

The head is slightly short and does not engage precisely with the threads on the handle. Due to this, unfortunately, it can break or damage in the blade change process and needs to be handled with care.

Best Safety Razors - $20-$40

Merkur 33C - the Merkur Classic

  • Average price: $25-$35
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3”
  • Perfect for – Light and Medium Beard Growth

The Merkur 33C is one of the best all round razors that balance well between performance and price. Generally, all Merkur razors have an edge above the competition and the 33C is a great place to begin.

The short handle and heavy weight gives better control and precision even for dense hair. You can easily adjust angle for a more aggressive shave. The chrome-plated steel also gives a stylish, albeit industrial finish.

The Merkur 33C razor is a sensible, best safety razor for regular shaving.

The downside though is the handle length for larger hands. If you want longer handles, I recommend the Merkur 180 Barber’s Pole. It has same features as the Merkur classic but comes with a longer, non-slip handle.

The Merkur Classic is very durable and can easily survive bumps and falls. It can practically be handed down for generations – but beware – if left in a humid environment (on your basin during a shower) it can rust pretty quickly!

Merkur 34C – Merkur Heavy Classic

  • Average price: $30-$40
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The added weight and thickness of the Merkur 34C justifies the few extra dollars in cost if you have heavy growth and seek better control. It has a two-piece design that operates well.

The extra weight let’s this best safety razor glide effortlessly on your face and more pressure means less irritation after the shave. The heavier weight also minimizes cuts and nicks and is great for shaving longer hair too – for example on the head.

The only downside to the Merkur 33C and 34C is that they are not aggressive. Moreover, the extra weight makes adjusting the angle much more tricky. You would need 4-5 passes to get a super smooth shave.

Parker 99R

  • Average price: $30-$35
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Brass
  • Handle length – 4.2”
  • Perfect for – Light and Medium Beard Growth

Parker 99 is the best safety razor of butterfly design in this price range. It has grown in popularity after the new design head was launched in 2010. At 4.2” the textured handle length provides better control for long handle razors because of the higher weight. The smaller head also makes easier shave under the nose and ear lobes.

While the butterfly design is convenient, it does have the downside of poor clamping down upon the blade. Over time, the blade could become slightly loose on one side, making the razor lose its double – edge advantage and creating a “favorite” side.

Edwin Jagger DE89lbl

  • Average price: $30-$40
  • Handle – Chrome, faux Ebony, faux Ivory
  • Handle length – 4”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Edwin Jagger range of razors is relatively small and ultimately they have focused and mastered one best safety razor design. The multiple handle options let’s you pick one that suits your personal style and ensures your own razor stands out in the crowd.

No Weishi can imitate the faux ebony or faux ivory handles of this one! It is remarkably long lasting and easy to maintain compared to other three-piece razors in this range.

The Edwin Jagger is my daily use razor of choice. I do have a spare Merkur 34C I use when I want extra precision (for example, before a job interview). But my faux ebony Edwin is my daily favorite.

Vikings Blade The Chieftain Safety Razor

  • Average price: $35-$40
  • Handle – Swedish Steel
  • Handle length – 4.9”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Vikings Blade is crafted from Swedish steel in Australia. It is one of the best safety razors in the butterfly design in this price range. With its incredibly stylish design, textured handle and decent weight it is well worth considering if you want to try some less known brands.

It has a standard closed comb design and is safe if you know how to use it. Because of the heavy weight, if you apply pressure you may experience nicks even with the safety bar in place. But if handled skilfully it can give a smooth, close shave.

With 89% 5 star reviews on Amazon, the Vikings Blade is here to stay.

Best Safety Razors - $40-$70

Merkur 37C- Heavy Duty Slant Bar

  • Average price: $45-$50
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3.25”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Merkur 37C has a slanted safety bar that adds slicing action to the cut while shaving. The extra thick and short handle gives greater precision and control. It requires almost zero pressure, even for coarse hair.

A warning though, this best safety razor can be brutally unforgiving and cause nasty cuts and bruises. If you are very new, it is best to begin with the Merkur 33C and gradually build yourself up to the 37C. The trick to using the Merkur 37C is to angle it slightly and not apply pressure.

This can be compared to slicing vegetables with a knife – it is much more easier when you cut at an angle. Couple of months of practice is all you need to learn to use this best safety razor!

The only downside to this razor is that the handle can dull pretty quickly. It also doesn’t look overly stylish. It is the sensible and best safety razor that is the trademark of the Merkur brand.

Premier Rasage

  • Average price: $50-$60
  • Handle – Solid Brass
  • Handle length – 4”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Premier Rasage is an adjustable best safety razor that comes in this price range. It is an extra heavy, solid brass razor that comes with a numbered dial to choose precise settings for the blade gap. I would recommend a 4 or 5 setting for beginners. You can then gradually work your way up to 1 or 2.

The Brass handle comes in Gold and silver plate options. The gold plate is a nice change from the usual silver design of other brands.

The downside of this razor is that the dial settings are improperly configured during manufacture for some of them. It can be adjusted by reassembling the 3-piece razor in the counter clockwise direction. But reassembly could cause misalignment of the blade in settings 1 and 2.

Muhle R89

  • Average price: $55-$60
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3.7”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Muhle R89 has a close-combed three-piece design. It’s sleek, textured handle looks incredibly stylish and is made to last. The handle is thick but light and has a nice point of balance. At 3.7” the handle is a good fit for all sizes of hands.

While the head resembles the Jagger DE 89, I have observed that it has a larger blade gap, making it slightly more aggressive than the Jagger. The head geometry is very precise and aligns the blade equally on both sides.

The only downside I have heard from other people is poor grip for soapy hands. Some people also complain that it is lighter than what they prefer.

Honestly, I love Muhle R89 and use it quite frequently along with my Jagger. The Muhle gives me a faster and closer shave and I use it when I have to get ready quickly – for surprise dinner dates and unplanned parties or outings.

The Luxury Range

Now that we have reviewed twelve regular priced safety razors, I figured it was time to look at the more expensive ones. I have included this section in the guide to make it easier for those who want to purchase a high-end razor to add to your grooming tool kit. Also, if you think you are ready to take the leap into the wet shaving world and make a long-term commitment then this section is for you too.

The price of these razors may seem ludicrous for shaving, especially when compared to cartridge and disposable razors. But you need to think of this as an investment that pays for itself.

Let’s do the math – Even if you spend as little as $2 a week on your disposable razor, it still costs you over $100 a year. That means a luxury razor that costs $200 pays itself off in 2 years. After that, it actually starts saving money for you!

Closed Comb Razors Under $200

Feather All Stainless Steel Double Edge Shaving Razor

  • Average price: $150-$180
  • Handle – Stainless Steel
  • Handle length – 3.75”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

This safety razor is a product of Japanese precision engineering. The gap between the handle is so precise that is creates a safe shaving experience even if used with the extremely sharp Feather shaving blades.

The handle is long enough to suit most people and the weight of the razor prevents you from getting careless. If you are considering the purchase, note that the Feather All is a safe way to enter the double-edged shaving domain.

However, it is designed to be used at a 45-degree angle instead of the usual 30-degree angle that everyone is used to. The angle is not a matter of opinion but a choice of design. Here is a quick video tutorial on how to use a feather all razor.

But with a little training, it is an easy starting point in the best safety razor luxury price range.

Jack Black Double Edge Safety Razor

  • Average price: $125-$135
  • Handle – Cobalt plated stainless steel
  • Handle length – 4.75 - 5”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Jack Black is another German made razor that has an extra long handle with a strong weight. The heavy and think handle is exceptionally designed with dark cobalt plating that makes it stand out in the crowd. It is designed to be used by large hands, at a 30-degree shaving angle.

This razor’s three-piece design holds the blade tightly letting you shave with less pressure. It can give a close shave and its close comb head makes it very safe to use.

I love Jack Black products, and I was excited to try their razor. It makes a fine addition to my razor collection and sits well in my hand. The only downside is the non-textured handle that makes it slippery to use with wet hands. I always have to wipe my hands with a paper towel before using it.

To be honest, I don’t use it as it is, but combine the handle with my Feather All head to get the best safety razor experience.

Muhle Sophist Safety Razor

  • Average price: $150-$180
  • Handle – High Grade Resin
  • Handle length – 4.75 - 5”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Muhle Sophist stands out in the best safety razor range because of its handle material. The high-grade resin is corrosion resistant with an alluring luster. This makes it one of the most elegant, and well-engineered razors in the market.

The razor is much longer and heavier than other razors of its type. The weight is balanced with a chrome knob at the bottom. This balancing makes it a comfortable fit for large hands, giving better control for a smoother, very close shave.

Merkur Futur Double Edge Safety Razor

  • Average price: $90-$120
  • Handle – Satin-finish Chrome
  • Handle length – 4.3”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The Merkur Futur is a modern looking gadget with an adjustable precision control design. The gap between the blade and handlebar can be rotated using a dial at the bottom.

The adjustment feature is useful if you are the type of person who frequently switches between the close shaved metro and the dense bearded metro look. It also means you invest once in a blade that grows with your shaving expertise and lets you experience a more aggressive shave without an additional purchase.

Honestly, I don’t prefer adjustable design best safety razors, because they don’t last. The safety bar gets skewed or broken due to frequent dial adjustment. But in this price range, the Merkur Futur provides a high quality product that is immune to this issue.

The only downside is that the extra smooth handle tends to become very slippery when wet. Also, the process of changing the blade is slightly tricky as a clip holds the blade instead of the standard screw.

Safety Razors for Shaving Professionals

Now that we have looked at closed comb best safety razors in various price ranges, let us review some open comb best safety razors. These razors are aggressive, with more exposed blade because of the absence of the safety bar. They can be used when one has gained sufficient practice with the closed comb design.

Best Open Comb Safety Razors 

Merkur 1904 Classic Safety Razor

  • Average price: $30
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3.75”
  • Perfect for – Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The vintage design of this Merkur Classic makes it fun to use. This best safety razor is a classic replica of the 1904 Gillette model and gives a nice, close shave.

It combines the retro look with modern design, bringing with it the classic Merkur weight and balance. A very long lasting razor – and given the price point – best value for money.

Parker 26C

  • Average price: $30
  • Handle – Black Anodized Brass
  • Handle length – 3.75”
  • Perfect for – Light and Medium Beard Growth

Parker 26C is a three-piece open comb razor with a solid brass frame and a stunning black handle. The texture design on the handle gives a very good grip while shaving.

This best safety razor has an exceptionally long and heavy handle for its price range. Similarly efficient razors are 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than the Parker 26C. Good value for a great shave!

Muhle R41

  • Average price: $55-$60
  • Handle – Chrome Plated Steel
  • Handle length – 3.7”-4.2”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

The three-piece R-41 is called the most aggressive razor on the market. It maintains this reputation even after it was redesigned with a wider top cap. It has a scalloped safety bar and can give a very smooth shave in just 2 passes.

The lightweight handle comes in multiple lengths – 3.7”, 3.8” or 4.2” The combination of the lightweight handle with the open comb top gives a shave that can be compared to a straight razor.

I bought my R41 when I had sufficient shaving experience with my Parker 26C. I still managed to cut myself a little bit in the first week or two. However, with a little practice I mastered this best safety razor and then could eventually transition to a straight razor.

 Above the Tie Atlas S2

  • Average price: $180-$200
  • Handle – Stainless Steel
  • Handle length – 3.25”
  • Perfect for – Light, Medium and Heavy Beard Growth

Above the Tie’s Atlas S2 is a luxury razor in the open comb design. Manufactured in USA, it gives a moderately aggressive shave. The slanted comb further enhances the shaving experience with scything action. The 0.61 mm blade gap gives a more comfortable open comb experience compared to other blades.

It is a short, heavy best safety razor for better control and precision. However the very short handle may not be suited to everyone’s taste.

Well, that’s about it. We have reviewed twenty of the best safety razors out there and discussed their pros and cons. We can conclude that what makes a best safety razor for me may not necessarily apply to you.

We can summarize by listing a few questions you need to ask yourself before you purchase your best safety razor.

  • How much money are you ready to invest in your DE shaving experience?
  • Are you ready to go all out or experiment first before you take the big leap?
  • How frequently are you planning to use your best safety razor? Do you plan to use it regularly, only for special occasions or while travelling?
  • What kind of beard growth and skin sensitivity do you have?
  • How much pressure do you usually apply while shaving? Do you prefer more or less pressure?
  • At what angles do you normally shave? Are you ready to learn a new shaving technique or do you want to find a razor that accommodates your usual technique?
  • How much time do you spend while shaving? Some razors take more passes for a closer shave than others.
  • Do you want a classic, practical, stylish or modern looking gadget?
  • Are you looking for an easy maintenance or high maintenance product?
  • Are you looking for a very long lasting product or are you ready to experiment and explore every few years?
  • Do you want to remaining shaving in your comfort zone or do you want to keep practicing and advance your shaving skills to the next level?

Answering all these questions will help you determine your best safety razor. For example, if I wanted to experiment with safety shaving and I had a light beard growth I would start with the Wilkinson.

I would go with the Parker 99R if I was ready to commit to DE shaving but wanted a razor that accommodated my shaving style. I would pick the Merkur 34C if I wanted a quicker shave with less control.

Did this guide help you select the best safety razor that met your needs? Comment below!

Alex Palmer
 

The editor here on The Shaveyard, loving life and all things shaving.

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