Long ago a man looked down at his ratty, filthy, Duck Dynasty beard and declared that he would no longer live with things nesting in the hair that adorned his face. He said he would shear it away, so that his skin may breathe free air. Later, after he bled to death from self-inflicted wounds, another man declared that he too would cut the hipster growth, but he would be wise about it, he would use a safety razor so as to protect his delicate throat.
If you’ve never used one of these razors, then you are missing the secret that your grandfather knew: There is a perfect way to shave. Safety razors, also known as Double-Edged razors (DEs) are cheaper than disposables, easier on the environment, better for travel, harder to dull, more reliable, and will give you a closer shave than anything short of Sweeny Todd with his pearl-handled straight blades. Rather than paying for a 5-bladed monstrosity that blunts when you look at it or using your survival knife when camping, safety razors allow you to speed through your shave without fear of nicks, though they do take time to master. If you’re ready to go back to the future, it’s time for the 6 best safety razors.
Edwin Jagger DE89
Pro: Easy to use
Con: Smooth handle reduces grippability
Beginner’s Luck: The DE89 is meant for the person new to the safety razor world or those who might have shaky hands (hair of the dog for that hangover, mate). It is very forgiving of many bad strokes and the balance is superb. It is weighted at both ends like chef’s knife to keep the weight from causing accidents that leave you leaking your precious life juice all over the floor. The heads of the Jagger also fit any standard DE razor blade allowing you to use theirs or go with one of the aftermarket shavers that better suits your style and needs. The shorter handle makes reach and range limited, and can be awkward if you like to grip your razor as if it is the hammer of Thor. It is also smooth, lacking in any texture to help you. Keep your hands as dry as you can when you are using this.It comes apart for easy cleaning which will let you prevent rust for many years.
Merkur 180 Long Handled
Pro: Ideal for people with larger hands
Con: Interior parts can rust
Easy Transition: Merkur seems to be the go-to brand for safety razors these days. Every model they put out is a miracle of modern shaving, but for the money, the long handled 180 model stands out from the crowd. Not only is it one of the least expensive bodies, it also is light enough that those who are coming from disposable razors or cartridge razors will be able to acclimate since this will be slightly heavier, but not nearly as dense as some other Merkur models.
We suggest you load this with feather blades for a sharper cutting edge. For those new to the game, consider a sample pack so that you can find what works best for your shaving style.”. Users with larger hands will especially enjoy the 180 since they’ll be able to grip it more easily to prevent it from slipping from their fingers and perhaps slitting their throat. The chrome finish allows it to be used in the shower, but the interior might rust if left in a wet environment for too long. The long handle extends reach and works well for ladies or swimmers looking to smooth out more than their face. If you prefer something shorter, consider the Merkur 34C. If you’re looking for something heavier, the 38C Barber Pole is a great choice.
Pro: Excellent control
Con: Takes time to master
Beefcake: Girth can be just as important as length, which any lady will tell you. At 3.4 ounces, the Parker 99R is evidence that they aren’t lying. This uses a butterfly open style wherein you twist it to access the blade, which is simple enough that you can do it one handed. There are no parts to lose or pieces to slip down the drain. The body is heavy-duty “kneebreaker” grade brass covered in chrome and feels weighty in your hand. The added heft gives you more control but can also make the razor feel awkward until you bulk up enough to use it. The handle is long at 4 inches and fully textured so if you shave in the shower, it won’t go slip-sliding away with every stroke. You can get a long life out of this, but it requires more maintenance than some. You’ll want to invest in a stand or a carrying case and do a thorough wipedown after every use. The blade gap is tight and the grip makes it easy to get a close shave, though it isn’t forgiving of newbies or tremblers. If you yearn for a longer handle, the 96R or the 22R have you covered.
Con: Does not shave close
Adjustable: The Futur is a beautiful safety razor. It has a matte satin finish that makes it look good as well as improves the grip. The head shines as it does its work and you’ll be tempted to add a flourish with every stroke (don’t, for the love of god, don’t, it’s a razor you fool!) Not only is it lovely but the head is adjustable, which lets you change the angle of the blade inside the head so that it can suit rightys or lefties as well as those who prefer shaving up to down, work at a weird angle, or need variable heights. It’s 4+ inches long giving you a solid grip and is made in Germany, where a razor must be able to handle some of the biggest beards on the planet, and that is just the women. This is more than an effective DE razor, it’s a damn showpiece. Sadly, the adjustability means that you get a good shave at each setting with none of them offering anything spectacular. Great for big beards and woolly mammoths.
Bluebeards Revenge Scimitar
Pro: Extremely close shave
Con: Requires experience to use
Ultimate Alignment: Those not familiar with safety razors might have trouble understanding what the difference is between the cheaper ones and the more expensive models. They all use the same blades, right? Well, the name of the game is alignment. These razors live and die based on how it holds the blade and prevents it from slipping and slashing on your face. Even among the best in the business, the Scimitar stands out as having one of the steadiest heads in the game. It is made to the same exacting specifications as the lauded Muhle R89, but adds in its own special brand of flare with a laser etched top and smoother lines for a sleeker, more debonair look. It won’t ever let the blade get out of whack and carve you up. Sadly, the company didn’t put quite as much effort into the weight of the Scimitar, nor the length of the handle, which means this is definitely for experienced users only. Once you have mastered the art of DE razor-fu then you are ready for the Scimitar, grasshopper. After using basic products, you’ll be ready to appreciate the deadly closeness of the shave this can provide.The Scimitar is also branded as the Dreadnought, though when the name changes, the price increases.
Seki Edge Feather
Pro: Nearly zero razor burn or shaving discomfort
Con: Cannot cut thick beards
Completely Comfortable: First, take a look down at the price. Now look back up here. If no razor is worth that to you, then that is understandable, but know that when you pick up the Seki you are doing your face a favor. Our recommendation is that you try a cheaper Seki feather razor – perhaps one with cheap plastic handles which can be had for about $20 – then, when you see how amazing they can be, come back and give Seki your money. The only word to describe the experience is exquisite. Your skin will sing, you’re unlikely to walk away with any nicks or cuts unless you went after yourself like a bushwhacker with a machete, and the entire experience will take scant minutes. When equipped with feather blades you can barely feel this working. It runs along your face and the beard vanishes. Use it on your neck, use it on your legs, use it on your head, it can do it all. The one flaw is that this is intended as a daily razor. Go after a chin wig and the safe, smooth recessed blade won’t make a dent.