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Best Safety Razors

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 8 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 158 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best safety razors

    Last Updated December 2018

    Safety razors were patented in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1904 that King Gillette designed the double-edge safety razor and these tools became a foundation of the personal grooming world. There are far more manufacturers now than a century ago, and safety razors have shifted to become a specialty item. These well-crafted tools make cartridge razors look like child’s play and provide a close shave that’s hard to beat.

    If you’re new to safety razors or you’re looking to add to your collection, you’ve come to the right place.

    We’ve researched the world of men’s shaving and grooming to bring you this shopping guide with the information you need for the closest shave possible.

    In the world of shaving and grooming, a “baby butt smooth” (BBS) shave is always the goal. It might take some practice, but with the right safety razor, you can have a BBS shave every time.

    Types of safety razors

    • Single-edge razors: These safety razors have a single-sided blade and look similar to cartridge razors. They’ve fallen out of favor except for a small revival led by a contingent of people who want an authentic shaving experience. Rather than using the head design to get as close a shave as double-edge razors do, the angle and stiffness of the single blade enhances the shaving experience. Some models use the same blades as double-edge razors, while others require a single-edge blade. Single-edge razors have a fixed or pivoting head (similar to a cartridge razor). Neither option is superior; it’s more a matter of personal preference.

    • One-piece double-edge/butterfly/twist-to-open razors: One-piece double-edge razors are known by several names, including butterfly and twist-to-open (TTO) razors. The handle, head (base plate), and head cap are made as a single piece. These models feature a twist-bottom handle that exposes the blade by opening the head from the center. This design emphasizes ease of changing the blade over ease of cleaning. You can’t separate the piece, so shaving cream and whiskers can clog the hinges or hide beneath the blade.  And because these razors have moving parts, they could experience mechanical problems over time.

    • Two-piece double-edge razors: Based on Gillette’s original design, these razors are traditional but not necessarily the most popular. The head and handle are a single piece that attaches to the head cap. There are no moving parts, so you won’t run into any mechanical problems. Changing the blade is fairly straightforward because all you have to do is remove the head to access the blade. Those who prefer a two-piece razor claim that a single head and handle piece provides better leverage than a three-piece razor. Where you might see a difference between a two- and three-piece razors is in the ease of cleaning. You can’t remove the head where the razor rests, so you might not be able to clean it as thoroughly as you’d like.

    • Three-piece double-edge razors: Three-piece double edge razors are by far the most popular choice on the market. The head, head cap, and handle are separate pieces that can be taken apart for cleaning. Though there are more pieces to keep track of, some people like the option of having access to all the cracks and crevices when cleaning. However, there’s no difference in shave quality between two- and three-piece double-edge razors.

    • Adjustable double-edge razors: Adjustable safety razors aren’t common and are best reserved for experienced shavers. These models have an adjustable head cap that either increases or decrease the bar gap (the space between the head cap and the head). A bigger bar gap provides an aggressive shave, increasing your chances of getting nicked or cut. For those who truly love a close shave, an adjustable razor lets you customize the shaving experience.
    CAUTION

    The term “safety” razor can be misleading. Safety razors are much safer than straight razors, which they replaced, but they’re not less likely to nick the skin as cartridge or disposable razors.

    Safety razor features to consider

    Handle

    • Length: The handle length affects your dexterity while shaving. People with small to average-size hands probably don’t need to worry too much about handle length. On the other hand (literally), if you have large hands, safety razors also come in long-handled versions. You don’t want to palm the handle, but your fingers should be able to grip it comfortably.

    • Weight: Heavier handles with even weight distribution provide leverage and better control over the head. You might have to try a few models before you find one that feels good to you.

    • Contour and texture: The contour and texture of the handle don’t affect the quality of your shave, but they can help your grip and, let's face it, they give your razor some personality. You shouldn’t base your decision on contour or texture, but if you want something that looks masculine and classy, there are some unique designs out there.
       

    Finish

    Today, most safety razors are made of aluminum or stainless steel. They have a chrome, nickel, or gold finish, too. If you want something out of the ordinary, you can also find handles made of acrylic or animal horn. The finish doesn’t affect the shave, but it certainly impacts care, durability, and price.

    As you might imagine, chrome- and nickel-plated razors are the least expensive and are easy to clean. You might only have to polish them occasionally to maintain the sheen. Gold isn’t as durable as chrome or nickel, but it definitely adds class to any bathroom. Animal horn could require special care and doesn’t usually last as long as metal.

    Head/safety bar design

    • Straight: Most safety razors have straight heads. Everyone from beginners to advanced users will be able to get a high-quality shave no matter their face shape or size. These heads are the least aggressive option.

    • Slant: Slant heads expose more of the blade. These cut in a chopping rather than gliding motion. Their aggressive shave might take some time to get used to.

    • Open comb: The comb is the portion of the head that gently pulls the skin down before the blade cuts the whiskers. Open combs have spaces between each tine, allowing shaving cream to move through. In general, these provide a more aggressive shave than closed combs.

    • Closed comb (closed scallop comb): Closed comb razors have scallops with no open gaps like on an open comb. These also pull the skin taut for a closer shave, but because the shaving cream and whiskers don’t pass through the comb, the shave is less aggressive.
    EXPERT TIP

    Different head designs can affect the aggressiveness of the shave. However, you’ll get a better idea of aggressiveness by taking into account both head design and blade exposure.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Due to the sharpness of the blade, safety razors give an incredibly close shave. The more exposed the blade, the closer and more aggressive the shave.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Safety razor prices

    Inexpensive: There are several two-piece and three-piece safety razors for under $10. However, you’ll be compromising quality and possibly your shave.

    Mid-range: Reliable models of all types – single-edge, one-piece, two-piece, three-piece, and adjustable – can be found in the $25 to $40 range. Models with impressive durability and storage cases or stands cost from $40 to $65.

    Expensive: Gold, silver, and animal horn safety razors for the shaving connoisseur cost $100 to $200 and more. These models often have designs that help precisely load the blades for a closer shave.

    Tips

    • A safety razor can save you  money. A quality safety razor costs more than a cartridge razor to buy, but you’ll save a significant amount of money over the lifetime of the razor because replacement blades are far less expensive than replacement cartridges. Double-edge blades typically cost $0.10 each, while a replacement cartridge might cost as much as $2 to $2.50.

    • Check the direction of hair growth. Take note of your hair growth to make sure you shave progressively, starting with the grain, then across the grain (optional), and then against the grain.

    • Use hot water to soften your whiskers. To get the best shave possible, stand in a hot shower for several minutes before starting your shaving routine. The hot water opens the pores and softens the whiskers. Rigid whiskers are prone to tugging as the razor moves over the skin.
    Once you develop good technique, a safety razor is easier on sensitive skin. The blade only passes over the skin once versus a cartridge head with four or five blades each passing over the skin. Less exposure to a blade equals less skin irritation.

    FAQ

    Q. Will the type of shaving cream I use affect my shave?

    A. Shaving cream definitely makes a difference in the quality of your shave. High-quality shaving cream (we’re not talking about cheap cream in a can) holds heat and moisture close to the skin so that the pores remain open and the whiskers stay soft. These creams and soaps also moisturize and create a slick surface for the razor to glide over.

    Q. Can safety razors be used on other areas of the body besides the face?

    A. A safety razor is a precision tool and isn’t recommended for shaving other areas of the body such as the chest or head.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alvina
      Alvina
      Photographer
    • Amos
      Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Branson
      Branson
      Videographer
    • Ciera
      Ciera
      Production Assistant
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer
    • Steph
      Steph
      Web Producer

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