Cartridge-based disposable razors are great and all, but if you’ve never 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 than with cartridge-based razors. 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
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 $7. 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 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 a 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.
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 Futur MK 23C Long-Handled Traditional Double Edge Safety Razor
BEST DOUBLE-EDGE 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 Futur 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 2.9 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. 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.
5. Astra Platinum Double Edge Safety Razor Blades (100 Count)
BEST DOUBLE-EDGE 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 $7 for 100 blades, you can join the 7-cent shave club. Now that’s got a better ring to it than the dollar shave club, right?
6. 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.
7. 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.