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Cartridge-based disposable razors are great and all, but if you’ve never seriously considered a safety razor, it’s about time you gave it some thought. The best safety razors offer an excellent shave at an excellent value and are just an all-around better way to shave.
There’s a reason safety razors have remained virtually unchanged since they were invented by King C. Gillette in the early 1900s.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Why every guy should consider a safety razor
- How single- and double-blade safety razors work
- The best safety razors for sale right now
- The best safety razor blades money can buy
If you’re just looking for the best safety razors and are ready to make a purchase, scroll down to see our men’s grooming experts’ top picks.
Why You Should Consider A Safety Razor
The best safety razors offer a ton of pros relative to traditional multi-blade razors, disposable razors and even our favorite electric razors.
For one, they’re extremely durable. If you buy a decent quality safety razor and take good care of it, it’ll last decades. (Your writer purchased his $32 safety razor in 2013 and it’s still going strong.) In that regard, it’s more environmentally friendly than many plastic razors. Even though you do have to dispose of the blades, you’re not wasting a ton of plastic by throwing out the razor.
The blades will also last longer than those in multi-blade razors because they’re easier to care for and many safety razors are double-edged, so you get double the use out of one blade. That fact also makes safety razors far more economical than other razors. You buy one safety razor and a big pack of blades and unless you need to shave every day, you won’t have to restock for years. I bought a pack of 100 double-edged blades for $11 in 2013 and I haven’t run out yet. That same pack now sells for about $9. If you’re still buying a new pack of disposable razors every month, it’s okay to be jealous.
Shaving with a single blade can also be more comfortable because there’s less tugging on your beard hairs as the razor glides across your face. You may have to do multiple passes, but that’s a small price to pay for the additional comfort. Not to mention, there’s a good chance you end up with as close a shave, if not a closer shave, than other offerings because one really sharp blade used properly works just as well as multiple blades.
We also feel it’s important to note something ergonomic here. Safety razors tend to feel pretty heavy in your hand, so they just feel good to use. It’s a whole different experience than shaving with a flimsy disposable. The fact that safety razors tend to be a bit heavier also has a practical consequence: You really don’t have to press hard to get a good clean shave.
Lastly, in terms of required shaving skill, safety razors fall somewhere between modern razors from Gillette and Schick and old-school straight razors, so they’re a great starting point for those looking for a more advanced shave.
How Safety Razors Work And How To Use Them
The beauty of the safety razor is how simple it is to change out blades. The more complicated part is not cutting yourself while shaving, but as long as you take it slow on the first go, using a safety razor couldn’t be safer or easier.
For single-edge safety razors, there tends to be some kind of locking mechanism on the handle that secures the single blade in place. All you have to do is unlock the razor, replace the blade and relock it. When we get down to the product recommendations at the bottom, you’ll see our top pick for single-edge safety razors uses a fairly uncommon injector-style blade replacement system that’s even easier to use than most single-edge safety razors.
For many double-edge safety razors, there’s a top piece, a base and a handle. The blade goes in between the top and base and is typically secured from sliding around between those metal rods from the top that go through the blade. The top and base also create a slight bend in the blade to help you achieve a great shave angle. The handle then screws onto a screw from the top, fully securing the blade in place.
For butterfly safety razors, which are also double-edged, instead of separating the pieces to replace the blade, you simply turn a part of the handle to open the top. You replace the blade and turn the handle back to close the top.
When it comes to actually shaving with the safety razor, three things are paramount: Lack of pressure, the angle of shave and the motion of your arm.
You really don’t want to use much pressure at all. The blades will be extremely sharp and the safety razor will usually be heavy enough that just a little pressure is enough to get a good shave.
The trickiest parts are the angle of the shave and the motion of your arm. You’re aiming for a 30-45 degree angle, but you’ll generally be okay as long as you’re not shaving at too low an angle. In terms of the motion, it’s always up and down, with wrist motion only as needed and never moving your arm or the razor side to side. The risk of using your wrist is it affects the angle of the shave, which could result in a nasty cut or an uneven shave. If you find you’re using your wrist a lot, your strokes are probably too long, so don’t be afraid to lift the razor up, reset and take shorter strokes.
And that’s about it for the nuts and bolts. It might sound a bit complicated, but as long as you use decent shaving cream, don’t shave too fast and rinse your blade regularly, you’ll find shaving with a safety razor as easy as shaving with cartridge-based razors.
Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s take a look at some of the best safety razors and some of the best safety razor blades.
The Best Safety Razors
1. Supply Single Edge 2.0
BEST SINGLE-EDGE RAZOR
If you were trying to design a tool for shaving but couldn’t draw from previous designs, what might you come up with? It seems like this is what Supply had in mind when trying to invent a better shave. It only takes one look at the company’s modern, futuristic Single Edge 2.0 safety razor to know Supply delivered on that project. The safety razor features an uncommon injector-style blade replacement system, making changing blades easier and safer. The razor also includes three heads with different shave angles, sensitive, comfortable and ultra-close, so the angle of the blade reflects the kind of shave that you want.
But beyond the razor itself, what really distinguishes Supply from competitors is the company’s subscription model. If you subscribe, you will receive the Single Edge 2.0 razor and free replacement blades forever. Yeah, you read that right. The company emails you every three months to check if you need blades. If you need them, they send them, simple as that. Once you subscribe, the only thing you pay for is shipping, which at $3.95 is a bargain compared to even the best monthly shaving clubs, and you only have to take the blades when you want them. So if you’re able to stretch your blades or don’t shave that often, you don’t even have to worry about paying for shipping. And if you’re not keen on this option at all, you can still always purchase your own injector-style blades online.
Factor in the peace of mind that you’ll never have to worry about replacing your blades or your razor and you can understand why the company received two offers on CNBC’s Shark Tank and sealed the deal with investor Robert Herjavec.
2. Merkur MK-23C Long-Handled Double Edge Safety Razor
BEST TRADITIONAL SAFETY RAZOR
Ask any professional what the best safety razor brands are and they are definitely going to mention Merkur. The German brand simply produces high-quality, long-lasting safety razors at reasonable prices, and you know you can trust excellent German manufacturing.
Though you can’t go wrong with any of Merkur’s safety razors, our pick is one we’ve been using for years: the Merkur MK-23C Long-Handled Double Edge Safety Razor. It’s got a nice long 4-inch handle so you can position your hand wherever it feels most comfortable and at 2.4 ounces it’s heavy but not as heavy as Merkur’s other models making it a good transition razor for those switching from typical lighter cartridge-based plastic razors. Like most Merkur safety razors, the handle features knurling on the handle, you know, the crosshatch pattern that you see on dumbbells, for superior grip. The top part of the razor also features a scalloped bar to help line up hairs while still offering good skin protection. Like most double-edge safety razors, the top screws on and off for relatively easy blade replacement.
3. Vikings Blade The Crusader Adjustable Safety Razor
BEST BUTTERFLY SAFETY RAZOR
Vikings Blade is a bit newer to the safety razor retail game, but the company’s founders have been designing razors for decades. Once Vikings Blade started selling its own designs on Amazon, the brand quickly became one of the most popular and best-selling safety razors online. That’s why we recommend the Vikings Blade Crusader Adjustable Safety Razor for those seeking a butterfly safety razor. It’s our choice and Amazon’s Choice for good reason.
It weighs a hefty 3.8 ounces, so the razor does all the work when you’re shaving, and the handle is 4.6 ounces long, so you can grip the razor wherever you need to have the most control. The butterfly opening makes changing blades as easy as a twist of the handle, and the top of the razor features a scalloped bar on one side and a straight bar on the other side, which can be better for sensitive skin. It also features an aggression adjustment band, which adjusts the angle of the blade to achieve a more or less aggressive shave. It’s truly got all the bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, it’s not any more complicated than competing safety razors.
Vikings Blade also offers a heavier, more expensive version of this safety razor if you’re looking for more weight, and the razor also comes in a cool obsidian black and bronze special edition if you really want a razor that stands out. And if you don’t, the razor comes in a traditional frosted chrome finish too.
4. Mühle Traditional Chrome Open Comb Safety Razor
BEST OPEN COMB
If you’re looking for a really aggressive shave or are trying to shave off thicker, longer facial hair, you might be interested in an open comb razor, such as the Mühle Traditional Chrome Open Comb Safety Razor. Open combs, in contrast to closed combs like the straight bar or scalloped bar, are basically teeth that guide the hair and skin right into the blade. The increased exposure of the skin to the blade can result in a closer, smoother shave, but also more risk of cutting, so we only recommend an open comb safety razor for more experienced safety razor users. But truthfully, as long as you take your time and focus, use short strokes and are not an absolute novice, this can be a great option for any men looking to upgrade their shave game. The open comb is the real value add here, but the other specs are solid too: This safety razor is chrome plated and has a nice weight to it, which we attribute to the thick, knurled handle.
5. Merkur Mk34c Double Edge Razor with Heavy Duty Short Handle
BEST SHORT HANDLE
If you liked the simple appeal of the Merkur Futur MK 23C Safety Razor but would prefer a short handle, the Merkur MK 34C Safety Razor with Heavy Duty Short Handle should fit the bill for you. It offers all the same benefits as the Merkur 23C except instead of a long handle you get a heavier, shorter 3-inch handle and a heavier head, totaling about 2.7 ounces. While more weight is usually better, if you know what you’re doing the weight won’t make a big difference, and the length of the handle is more about personal preference than anything. In conclusion, this safety razor is just as good as its long-handled Merkur brother, so go for whichever one suits your personal comfort better.
6. Vikings Blade The Emperor ‘Meiji’ Adjustable Safety Razor
HEAVIEST SAFETY RAZOR
While our top butterfly razor, the Vikings Blade The Crusader Adjustable Safety Razor, is pretty hefty in its own right, its similarly styled cousin is built like a tank and weighs like one too. The Vikings Blade The Emperor ‘Meiji’ Adjustable Safety Razor clocks in at nearly 4.4 ounces, among the weightiest safety razors we found. We know these differences of an ounce or two might not seem like much, but the difference is extremely noticeable just by picking up the razors, let alone when actually putting blade to face. Beyond the sheer heaviness of this safety razor, you can count on the same features as the other Vikings Blade safety razor: a butterfly opening, strong brass construction, a scalloped and a straight bar on the head, the same awesome color scheme and the same aggression adjustment band. We’d recommend it just as much as we do The Crusader if you really want to feel some weight in your hand.
7. Bevel Safety Razor
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Tristan Walker knew men of color like him weren’t getting the razors they needed to deal with curly hair and the consequential problems of razor bumps, skin irritation and ingrown hairs. So Walker started his own company and made a razor that would: the Bevel Safety Razor. This razor shaves at skin level, which reduces tugging and bumps by removing hair at the skin’s surface and not beneath. The end result is a close but not too close shave and a lot less skin irritation and fewer ingrown hairs. Beyond design well suited for sensitive skin, the razor doesn’t skimp on its construction. It’s got a 4-inch textured brass handle with chrome-plating and a solid weight at 3.2 ounces. As a bonus, the razor ships with five Bevel blades, but it still takes other blades when those run out. Overall the Bevel Safety Razor is a quality razor, especially for those with sensitive skin.
8. Leaf Shave Twig Razor
ALSO CONSIDER SENSITIVE SKIN
While the Bevel Safety Razor relies on the angle of the blade to minimize skin irritation, the Leaf Shave Twig Safety Razor takes a different approach. Instead, it goes the single-edge route and uses among the smallest safety razor heads we’ve ever seen. The upshot of having a smaller blade is less blade exposure. That can make targeting difficult areas or tricky shave angles a lot easier to do without cutting yourself.
This razor was originally designed for people shaving their bodies, so if it’s gentle enough to shave sensitive armpit skin, we think it’ll be gentle enough for those with sensitive skin on their face too. The starter pack includes one Twig Razor, available in six different colors (peep that rose gold finish!) and five replacement blades too.
9. Merkur Slant Bar Safety Razor
BEST SLANT SAFETY RAZOR
We almost didn’t include a slant safety razor because they’re a little strange and we think too off-putting for people used to the cartridge-razor life. But slant safety razors, like the Merkur Slant Bar Safety Razor, are worth considering for their unique shaving head.
Rather than use a flat head, a slanted safety razor uses, you guessed it, a slanted head that holds the blade at a slanted angle. This angle makes the blade slice more like a guillotine, which, in theory, would make it more efficient. If the blade can slice more efficiently, by slicing more than cutting, then it would require less force and fewer passes to remove the same amount of hair.
But there’s undoubtedly a learning curve here, so even though the Merkur safety razor is a great slanted shaver, we would only recommend it for experienced shavers.
10. Weishi Chrome Long Handle Butterfly Safety Razor
If you made it all the way here, we suspect you might not be looking to drop $40 on a safety razor. Well, this Weishi Chrome Long Handle Butterfly Safety Razor works just like our top butterfly razor, only you can get it for well under half the price. And you are getting a bit less for this pick for sure. It’s made from copper with chrome plating, so it’s more prone to corrosion than something made entirely of stainless steel or brass. As long as you don’t leave the razor in water, you should be fine for a long time. This razor is also less heavy than other pricier razors because copper weighs less than brass and stainless steel. That all being said, the butterfly mechanism works and holds a razor blade just fine. The razor has straight bars under the blade so the shave isn’t super aggressive and a nice long non-slip handle for easy maneuvering. All in all, this is a solid razor for the value even if it’s made in China and might not last you a lifetime. We must add that you can find cheaper picks than this, but this is already pretty cheap and trust us, you don’t want to go much cheaper than this.
11. King C. Gillette Beard Care Kit
BEST SAFETY RAZOR KIT
If you’re having a hard time getting started with safety razor shaving, there’s no harm in turning to a great safety razor kit, like the King C. Gillette Beard Care Kit.
There’s something counterintuitive about including a safety razor and shave gel alongside beard wash, beard balm and beard oil. Nonetheless, a kit like this will give you everything you need to either shave a beard or take care of one. For this particular kit, nothing is amazing, but nothing is terrible here and that’s pretty much what you should expect from kits like this. The safety razor works well enough and it at least comes with five replacement blades, perfect to test the safety razor waters.
The Best Saftey Razor Blades
1. Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Razor Blades
BEST OVERALL RAZOR BLADES
Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Razor Blades are a fantastic blade for beginners or experienced safety razor users. Don’t let the low price fool you. They might not cost much, but they’re not cheap. They’re thick, durable, made of steel, platinum-coated (so no need to dry them off) and more than sharp enough to offer a smooth, satisfying shave. In this case, their low price merely makes them a great value. At their current price of about $9 for 100 blades, you can join the nine-cent shave club. Now that’s got a better ring to it than the dollar shave club, right?
2. Razor Blades Club Double Edge Razor Blade Sample Pack
BEST VARIETY PACK
It’s worth considering a variety pack of razor blades just because everyone’s skin is unique. This Double Edge Razor Blade Sample Pack from Razor Blades Club offers 15 different brands with two blades per brand, so you can do your own testing and ranking to find a blade that works for your skin. We stand by Astra razor blades as the best overall blade for most shavers, but this pack not only features Astra blades but also some of our other favorites and other well-known blade brands, such as Bic, Derby Extra, Dorco, Feather, Personna, Shark and Wilkinson Sword.
3. Feather Double Edge Safety Razor Blades (50 Count)
We’ve been using Astra blades for years because they’re a great all-around safety razor blade, but if you’re looking for something sharper, Feather Double Edge Safety Razor Blades are the way to go. Like Astra’s blades, these blades are made of steel and platinum-coated, but Feather’s blades are honed on the edges for increased sharpness. Japan’s been making finely honed steel for centuries, so you can trust these Japanese-made blades to deliver the sharp, close shave you’re looking for.
Read more: The Absolute Best Razors for Men Reviewed
4. Gillette 7 O’clock SharpEdge Safety Razor Blades
Not every face can handle Feather blades but you’re still going to want something pretty sharp for a clean cut. That where the Russian-made stainless steel Gillette 7 O’clock SharpEdge Safety Razor Blades can help. Sharper than Astra blades but not as sharp as Feather blades, these blades offer a medium or medium-high level of sharpness. The result is a pretty close shave with less risk to your skin than with Feather blades as well as a much better value for a long-lasting sharp but not too sharp blade.
5. Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades
For those seeking a less aggressive shave, Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades could be the blade you’ve been looking for. Because Derby Extra uses a chromium-ceramic-platinum-tungsten and polymer coating, the blade is less sharp and runs across your face comparatively smoothly. While that sounds like a bit of a downside, it actually means cuts are less likely and not as bad as those from sharper blades, which makes Derby Extra blades more forgiving and a great first buy for safety razor novices. So if you have thick or coarse hair, these probably aren’t the blades for you, but if you have more sensitive skin, these blades could be a great pick. After all, if barbershops use these blades (and we’ve been to some that do), then Derby Extra is definitely doing something right.
6. Dorco ST300 Platinum Extra Double Edge Razor Blades
If you want to buy once and literally never buy blades again, then you’re going to love the Dorco ST300 Platinum Extra Double Edge Razor Blades pack of 1,000. Yeah, for under $50, you can get practically a lifetime’s worth of blades. And these blades aren’t junk, either. They’re made from stainless steel with a platinum and PTFE coating, which reduces friction for a close but smooth and forgiving shave. (PTFE is the same thing as Teflon, just not produced by Chemours.) And hey, if you’re not ready for a lifelong commitment but want a less aggressive razor blade, there’s always the typical pack of 100 blades and it’s a bit cheaper than Derby Extra’s pack of 100.
7. Schick Injector Blades
BEST INJECTOR-STYLE BLADES
Schick actually invented injector-style blades in the 1900s, and the company still produces them today. If you like what Supply is doing but want to procure blades for yourself, Schick’s stainless steel blades will get the job done. The only downside with these is they are chromium-coated, which helps prevent rust but not as effectively as platinum. That means they’ll need to be replaced more often. But even so, the blades will become dull before they rust, so this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
8. Feather Styling Razor Disposal Case
BEST RAZOR DISPOSAL CARTRIDGE
One inconvenience of using a safety razor is having to dispose of the blades safely. The blades aren’t recyclable because companies don’t want to spend the resources for such a little return. Also, depending on where you live, it may actually be illegal to throw your razor blade directly in the trash and even if it isn’t, it’s unsafe for you and anyone who may handle your trash. That means you need some kind of container that you can put the blades in to safely dispose of them later. Many people turn to an Altoid tin because it fits blades easily and can be disposed of safely. But if you don’t have a tin like that around, Feather also makes a cheap disposal case for razors. When you’re finished with a blade, just pop it into the container and when the container is full, just throw it in the trash.
Safety Razor FAQs
Got Questions About Safety Razors? We've Got Answers
Using a safety razor couldn’t be easier! Seriously, after a couple times shaving with a great safety razor, you’ll be a pro and never want to use disposables again.
If you shave more often than a few times a year, a safety razor will be way more economical in the long run because the razor handle never needs to be replaced and the blades are hilariously cheaper. Even compared to the cartridge razors where you reuse the handle, because of the exorbitant cost of replacement heads, cartridge razors will quickly become more expensive than safety razors.
Disposables are the most expensive of all because everything gets thrown away every time.
You might hear both of them mentioned in contrast to cartridge razors, but straight razors are really their own beast. In essence, a straight razor is a single-edge folding knife, just one designed only for shaving. So unlike cartridge razors and even safety razors, there aren’t really any “parts” or things to put together. It’s a handle and a single-edge razor blade that folds into the handle. A safety razor basically delivers the same kind of sharpness and a similar shaving experience as a straight razor, only in a less risky package (hence the safety aspect).
Adjustable razors are those safety razors that have built-in mechanisms, frequently a twistable knob at the base of the handle, to adjust the razor’s head and expose more blade. The more blade that’s exposed, the more aggressive the shave and, in theory, the better the shave overall for the experienced shaver. The numbers indicate how aggressive the shave will be. Typically, one is the least aggressive shave, with the least amount of blade exposed, and six is the most aggressive, with the most amount of blade exposed.
It’s all about sharpness and precision. A safety razor simply allows for more precision and control of the blade and safety razor blades themselves are often much sharper than those in cartridges. Alternatively, better could also mean the ability to choose duller blades, which you can’t do with cartridge razors. The use of a single blade also makes rinsing 1,000 times easier, which means never dealing with a clogged three-blade again.
If you’re asking, you’ve probably never used a safety razor before. That being the case, go for a basic razor (e.g. not too expensive) with a closed comb. Open combs offer more aggressive shaves due to a more-exposed blade, so closed combs with either a basic safety bar or a safety bar with scalloping (the little divots in the bar) are more forgiving and are better for beginners.