If there is one thing you don't want to wing, it's your safety razor. Pick the wrong one and you can find yourself in a world of pain...and skin irritation. Choose the right tool and you'll get the perfect shave every time. To help you make the right choice, we've put together a list of the best safety razors for beginners.
Why the best safety razors for beginners in particular? Because beginners have specific needs when it comes to wet shaving. The razor of choice for an experienced shaver may be too aggressive or require a certain skill for a beginner to use. If you are just starting out, you wouldn't want to use a throat slitter like Merkur Futur. You would opt for a safety razor that gives you optimal control, comfort and safety.
We believe these five are the best safety razors for beginners because they provide optimal comfort and safety. In addition to reviewing each razor, we also cover the key things to look for in a good safety razor for a beginner. Without further a do let's start with the basics.
What is a Safety Razor?
A safety razor is any razor that protects your face from exposure to an open blade. Back in the day, men used to shave with straight razors, which had an open, fully uncovered blade and required a certain skill and balls to use.
By comparison, the blade in a safety razor is enclosed in between metal plates or a cartridge, allowing only for a portion of the blade to be exposed. This design limits the exposure to cuts and your chances to slice your face up.
Technically, there are two types of safety razors: double edge and cartridge. To find out which type is better check out Double Edge vs. Cartridge Razors.
In this article, we focus on the double edge safety razors. They give you a better shave, keep your skin irritation free and are much cheaper than their cartridge counterparts.
Double edge razors come in two varieties: three-piece and butterfly. The three-piece double edge razors consist of two metal plates, which form the head, and a handle. The razor blade goes in between the two plates of the three-piece safety razor.
The butterfly safety razors have an opening mechanism that looks like a butterfly. Usually, you twist the handle and the head opens up for you to place the blade.
Both varieties of double edge razors are popular and perform the same. Arguably, it is easier to load the blade in a butterfly razor, which makes them easier to use. Nevertheless, the most popular safety razors for beginners are three-piece razors.
What to Look for in a Beginner's Safety Razor
There are two main things you want to look at when searching for a beginner's safety razor: the handle and the head.
When you look at the handle, you need to consider two things: length and grip. Safety razors' handles come in two length: long and short. Long handles put more weight on the blade when you rest it on your face. Because the razors with long handles are heftier, they may be a bit harder to manipulate. That's why, as a beginner, you may want to pick a razor with a short handle. Most of them are light and easy to use.
The grip of the handle is also important. Some razors like Edwin Jagger DE89bl, come with a smooth metal handle. It looks gorgeous but it requires some special dexterity to hold it with soapy hands. Even as an experienced wet shaver you want to have maximum control over your razor. That's why it's best to get a razor with a ridged handle. The options abound. Most double edge razors come with textured handles to allow better grip.
Generally, there are two types of razor heads: the open comb style and solid bar. The open comb and solid bar refers to the plate that sit under your blade.
An open comb heads provides for more exposure of the skin to the blade. If you have thick or long beard, an open comb razor could be a great choice for you. The comb will guide your beard to the blade and give you a closer shave.
Straight bar razors have a solid bar, which is usually at some slant. As a general rule, straight bar razors are considered less aggressive than the open comb ones. They are usually the better option for guys with medium or thin hair growth.
As a beginner, you are better off starting with a straight bar razor. After you've developed a technique and you feel you need smoother shaves, you can go for an open comb razor.
How aggressive a safety razor is comes down to one thing: how easy it is to cut yourself shaving with it. The more aggressive, the razor, the easier it is to get a cut. At the same time, aggressive razors also give you a closer shave with less strokes.
Prim and Prep lists three factors that make a razor aggressive:
- the angle of the blade when you load it in the head of the razor;
- the size of the gap between the blade and the bar;
- the amount of blade exposure your skin gets when you shave.
The thickness of your beard and the sensitivity of your skin should guide you how aggressive your razor should be. If you don't have sensitive skin but you have thick beard growth, you may need to go aggressive. If you have sensitive skin and thin beard growth, a mild razor would work best.
An aggressive razor would be one that has a big gap between the blade and bar and gives your skin a big exposure to the blade. Merkur Futur on its last setting is considered one of the most aggressive razors on the market. The gap between the blade and the slanted straight bar is huge. Many open comb razors are also considered aggressive because they give your skin extra exposure to the blade.
To determine how aggressive you need to go with your safety razor, start with a medium one. Merkur 34C or Edwin Jagger DE89 are good options. If you feel you are not getting a close shave with a medium razor, then you may need to go more aggressive. Merkur 37C or Merkur Futur are good ones.
The safety razor blade is technically not a part of the double edge razor. It's important, however, to pick the right one, especially if you are just starting out.
Safety razor blades can be sharp, mild and anywhere in between. What blade you pick depends on your beard. If you have a thick, coarse beard, get a sharp blade (e.g. Feather, Kai). If you have sensitive skin and thin beard, a milder blade will work better (e.g. Shark). As a beginner, go with something in the middle. Astra Platinum are the blades I started with. They are not very aggressive but are gentle enough to handle sensitive skin.
Want to know more about picking the right blade? Read What are the Best Razor Blades for a Safety Razor?
To sum it all up, the best safety razor for a beginner would be one with a butterfly mechanism, straight bar allowing for a narrow gap between the bar and the blade, and a short handle with a ridged grip.
If this feels limiting, it's because it is. The truth is that there are plenty of great safety razors for beginners that are not butterfly and don't have short handles. Below, we've picked five of the best safety razors for beginners. Read on to find the right one for you.
The 5 Best Safety Razors for Beginners
Knowing how to pick the right safety razor when you are just starting out is one thing. Having a list of already tested options for you to try makes your life even easier.
Below are five of the best safety razor for beginners. We put the list together based on our own experience and the recommendations of the shaving experts on various forums and grooming blogs. Our focus was to pick the best shaving razors specifically for beginners. This is why we put emphasis on the razor's ease of use, performance, and aggressiveness.
Merkur 34C Heavy Duty
Chrome Plated Zinc Alloy
Made in Germany
Edwin Jagger DE89
Chrome Plated Brass
Made in England
SEKI Edge Feather AS-D2
Chrome Plated Brass
Feather Double Edge
Merkur 34C Heavy Duty
If you are looking for one razor to use for the rest of your life, there is no better than the Merkur 34C. It is a superbly crafted, versatile German shaving tool that will meet your needs whatever they are.
Merkur 34C is manufactured by the German company DOVO Solingen, based in Solingen. Founded in 1906, DOVO manufactures some of the best straight razors, scissors and safety razors under the brand Merkur Solingen. The superb quality of the DOVO products doesn't come by accident, Solingen, located in North-Rhine Westphalia, is also known as The City of Blades for its excellent reputation in manufacturing swords, knives scissors and razors.
Merkur 34C is a testament to the craftsmanship and quality of shaving products that come out of DOVO and Solingen.
Merkur 34C is a two piece razor with a short handle. The heavy duty version weighs more than you'd expect from its size. This extra weight makes the razor feel less like a toy. Yet, Merkur 34C is light enough to allow good control and comfort.
The handle is ridged providing more grip and minimizing slippage.
The head of Merkur 34C features a head with a straight bar. The slant is minimal providing a small gap between the bar and the blade. The small gap minimizes the exposure of your skin to the blade. This feature makes Merkur 34C fairly mild and one of the best safety razors for beginners.
You can get Merkur 34C on Amazon for approximately $32.
Edwin Jagger DE89
Edwin Jagger produces its double edge safety razors in Sheffield. Similar to Solingen in Germany where the Merkur razors are made, Sheffield is a city known for razor and blade manufacturing. The Edwin Jagger safety razors are known among wet shaving enthusiasts for their sleek looks and superb quality.
Edwin Jagger DE89 is no exception and this is why it has made our list of the best safety razors for beginners. With a beautiful chrome finish, this razor comes with a short handle (3.4 inches) and a straight bar head. The upper part of the handle features an engraving with the name of the company, which makes the whole look of the tool beautiful and sophisticated.
There are several variations of the DE89 model. DE89L comes with a handle with striped pattern. The original model DE89 comes with a smooth handle, which makes it hard hold with soapy hands.
The best model of the DE89 line is DE89KN14bl. This is the model that comes with a knurled handle that enhances wet and soapy grip.
If remembering the model is a bit of a brain teaser, here's how to remember it:
- DE - stands for double edge;
- 89 - this is the year in which Edwin Jagger introduced this model of safety razors;
- KN - it is short for "knurled" and refers to the grip of the handle;
- 14 - stands for 2014. This particular model was introduced in 2014.
Edwin Jagger DE89 weighs just under 100g, which makes it feel like a good quality razor. It is still light enough to manipulate comfortably. The chrome finish of the safety razor is good quality and the whole look and feel shows attention to detail. The head screws on perfectly and the ridges on the screw seem deep and solid.
A word of caution: because it is made of cast iron, if you drop it, it may break.
SEKI Edge Feather AS-D2
If money is not an issue, SEKI Edge Edge Feather AS-D2 is another excellent choice for a beginner's safety razor. For a cool $150, this stainless steel razor can be yours.
The price tag seems a little steep but SEKI Edge doesn't disappoint with in the quality department.
This safety razor is made in Seki, Japan - a town known for its high quality knife and blade manufacturing. Feather, the maker of the famous razor blades, also produces this brand of double edge safety razors.
SEKI Edge is made of stainless steel with a matte finish. It packs a good weight and the etched handle ensures a solid grip even with wet and soapy hands.
The weight of the head and the handle are well balanced, which makes SEKI Edge feel comfortable in your hand. The head features a straight bar with a minimal slant. The gap between the bar and the razor blade is small allowing for a minimal blade exposure.
How does SEKI Edge compares to the other safety razors on this list? It is probably the most forgiving one. If you have sensitive skin prone to getting razor burns, SEKI Edge is a good option.
Parker 91R is another excellent safety razor for beginners. Made from brass and plated with chrome, this safety razors is not as high quality as the SEKI or Edwin Jagger. It is in the fine details that the lack of some quality shows.
Nevertheless, Parker 91R is a solid tool that will give you a great shave. The handle finish is knurled and provides a solid grip. The head of Parker 91R is similar to the heads of Edwin Jagger DE89 and Markur 34C. Upon close examination of the three razors, I couldn't see noticeable differences in the design of their heads.
Parker 91R is the cheapest option of the bunch. You can get it on West Coast Shaving for $27.70.
Feather Double Edge
In addition to the high end SEKI Edge, Feather also manufactures a cheaper, entry-level double edge safety razor. It is known as Feather Double Edge.
Feather Double Edge is different than any other razor on this list in two ways. First, it is the only one with a butterfly mechanism. You twist the handle to open the head and insert the blade.
The second difference is that Feather Double Edge is made of plastic. Its handle is ridged black plastic, which feels light and yet comfortable. The head features plastic solid bar and metal silo doors.
Feather Double Edge is light and easy to manipulate even if dexterity is not a skill you are known for. I've used this safety razor several times and have always gotten a nice shave. I find the gap between the blade and the bar small enough to protect my face from over-exposure to the blade.
The only downside of Feather Double Edge is that it may appear cheap. If you don't mind the looks and would rather save money, Feather Double Edge is a good option without compromising quality.
Here you have it: the five best safety razors for beginners. Now that you know how to pick the perfect tool for you, all that is left is to get one and shave like a real man.
Have a question? Drop it in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.