Choosing a brand new safety razor can be fun and overwhelming for a new wet shaver. There are many styles and types to choose from and the fear of making a mistake often has people stuck in indecision. You can’t go wrong if you stick to the basics, so here are some things to consider when choosing your first safety razor.
There are many benefits of a safety razor and there are two general options to consider when choosing your first double edge safety razor, choosing a Brand New Safety Razor or an Antique Safety Razor. This is the first decision you’ll want to make, as this will keep you focused. Let’s explore both options.
NEW SAFETY RAZOR
The main advantage of selecting a brand new safety razor is accessibility, as they are quite easy to find in various stores and online. New razors are ready to go and do not require sterilization, unlike antique razors. There are many varying qualities and brands of new safety razors and most mainstream razors are made from chrome plated Zinc Alloy. They range in price, starting at approximately $15 CAD and going up into the several hundred dollar range depending on how fancy you want to get. The pricing is relatively consistent as it is controlled by the market, because there is a generous supply of most types and brands of new safety razors and not a lot of scarcity.
ANTIQUE SAFETY RAZOR
Using an antique or vintage safety razor is a really cool way to preserve the past and carry on someone’s shave legacy. Antique DE razors are typically made of superior materials, often made with brass that was hard stamped and then plated with nickel or gold. There are hundreds of styles and designs out there, so choose wisely. The collectability and scarcity of vintage safety razors has driven up the price quite a bit over the years, so be sure to do your market research to ensure you are paying a fair price.
ALIGNMENT TIP: If you are considering an antique, be sure to check the alignment, as they can sometimes get bent or misaligned form being stored incorrectly or dropped. A misaligned razor can be a little nippy, aggressive or give you an inconsistent shave. You can often visually inspect the alignment and blade gap it can help to pop a fresh blade in one to see if the blade gap is consistent and straight.
SAFETY TIP: You’ll want to be very careful when handling antique safety razors in antique stores, as some dealers have been known to leave old razor blades in them. This is very dangerous and unhygienic, so please handle them with care, as those blades should be safely disposed of immediately.
STERILIZATION: If you pick up an antique safety razor, be sure to properly sterilize and disinfect it before you use it. There are many sterilization methods, but many people soak the razor in Spray Nine to sterilize and get the gunk off of them, brush them with a toothbrush or a stiff nylon brush, then rinse, then soak in Isopropanol Alcohol 99% for a bit. I recommend you check out a few videos on this subject, as there are so many opinions and opinions on how to properly do this. [Razor Emporium] [Kensurfs]
COMMON TYPES OF SAFETY RAZORS
There are many types and styles of safety razors on the market, but there are typically five common mainstream types of double edge safety razors available on the market. Let’s have a peek.
TWIST TO OPEN
Also known as the butterfly, silo, turn to open and twist to open safety razor. Brand new twist to open razors are generally in the entry level to mid-range price point. The doors open by twisting the bottom of the razor, allowing the blade to be loaded. They are really easy to load and are really convenient for the user. One negative thing is that they are a bit more difficult to clean, as they do not come apart. For a deep cleaning, I recommend a soft bristle toothbrush to get into the tighter areas.
The three piece safety razor is a very common style which comes in many price points. They come with a handle, a safety bar or plate and a top cap, that all screw together and the razor blade sandwiches in-between. They can be a bit more finicky to load because of the extra piece, but this gets easier with practice.
The two piece safety razor has the safety bar fused to the handle as one piece and the top cap with a shaft that screws into the handle. You twist the bottom which releases the top cap and you load the blade over the shaft, pulling it tight to the head. Many of the Merkur brand razors are a two piece design. They are often in the mid to higher end price point, averaging around $60 CAD. The two piece razor is really a fantastic build quality, easy to load and is perfect for a wet shaver at any skill level.
Twist adjustable safety razors first came on the scene in the 1950’s. They are either a butterfly or two piece razor that has adjustment capability. They are designed to control the amount of blade exposure to meet the shaving needs of the user depending on their hair coarseness, thickness and preference. A lower number provides a mild setting and a higher number provides a more aggressive shave and this change is done with a simple twist of the dial. There are many modern two piece twist adjustable safety razors on the market and they are typically priced in the $75 – $100 CAD range.
INTERCHANGEABLE ADJUSTABLE 3 PIECE
This is the newest safety razor type on the scene, pioneered by the Rockwell Razor company. They have come up with a three piece adjustable safety razor that uses interchangeable plates to control blade exposure, much like the twist adjustable razors, but without the twisting. There are three reversible plates that offer six settings of adjustment. Each razor comes with 1 knurled handle, 3 reversible plates for 6 levels of adjustability and 1 top cap. The 6 series razors are produced in two material types, the industry standard chromed zinc alloy and a super luxurious solid stainless model called the Rockwell 6S.
There are two general safety razor comb types, the Open Comb and the Closed Comb. There is much debate as to the advantages and disadvantages of both, but here is what you need to know about them.
The closed comb head is probably the most commonly available safety razor. They often have a really nice sleek and refined design. Performance wise, they are smooth and a pleasure to shave with. The closed comb head design is pretty much available on all types of safety razors including Twist to Open, 2 Piece, 3 Piece Twist Adjustable and Interchangeable Adjustable 3 Piece double edge safety razors.
Many choose the open comb head design because of performance or style. Some experts say that the open combs make it easier for the hairs to pass through as you glide the razor to prevent clogging, working like a rake. Some experts say that the closed comb is better for thicker beards or for those that shave every 3-4 days. Open comb razors look more aggressive because of the teeth, but this has no effect on the aggressiveness of the razor. If style is your main focus of choice, many wet shavers choose the open comb to pay homage to the old classic Gillette razors. The open comb is more often produced in a 3 piece razor format.
Some have said, you don’t choose the safety razor, it chooses you! Choose the safety razor that fits your budget, feels good in the hand and aligns with whichever load type feels the safest and most natural to you. Once you get one, remember not to make the 6 biggest safety razor mistakes to avoid with your safety razor. Many wet shavers end up with several of each razor type, but you’ve got to start somewhere, so just go for it!