safety razor

Best Safety Razor 2020: Expert Safety Razor Reviews

Everyone need a good razor and yet many people miss out discovering the best safety razor for a better, cheaper and more sustainable shave. These are the ultimate eco-friendly razors.

Later on we’ll also go through the best adjustable safety razors as well as other razor variations.

Our Top Picks

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  • Ajustable settings
  • Quality brand
  • Modern look
  • Long handle
  • Good grip
  • Great for ladies
  • Small and nimble
  • Average aggression
  • Average aggression
  • Smooth performance

How We Tested

We’re a team of wet shaving enthusiasts who all contributed our favourite safety razors. Realizing that we couldn’t agree on even a consistent top ten best safety razors we all started sampling each others’ recommendations.

However, we then considered our own biases. We were experienced wet shavers with quite coarse facial hair. In reality we needed to find the best safety razor for beginners and for thin facial hair or sensitive skin. But then we also needed to find the safety razors for veteran experts well above our standards.

How many safety razors could tick all those boxes of suiting varied levels of experience and desired aggression? We expanded our research by considering large volumes of other people’s feedback – from wet shaving friends to online forums – we scoured to come up with this list. By the end it became a matter not just of validating out picks but enforcing the discipline not to complicate things by introducing new razor discoveries!

Now though we are happy with our top picks, at least on the understanding that everyone will still have different preferences. Thus we feel we have provided enough information for you to choose what’s best for you.

The Best Safety Razor

Unfortunately, the plastic disposable razor has become commonplace as an everyday “essential”. These are packaged up for men and women to buy at a premium for a mediocre shave before being thrown into landfill.

In fact studies show that 10% of the 260 million tons of plastic the world produces each year ends up in the ocean.

So when looking for the best eco friendly razors you have to ask what’s the best beginner safety razor?

Finding the best safety razor may cost more in the short-term – but you gain a companion for life.

Safety razors are eco friendly razors because they are a simple tool that uses a universal standard of plastic-free double-edge razor blades that cost a fraction of their 5-five blade cartridge counterparts.

These safety razors are the perfect eco-friendly razors to help save the planet as well as your wallet.

Once you have chosen your top choice of the eco friendly razors, consider a shaving brush and shaving soap to complete your safety razor set.

Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor

Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor

Any piece about the best safety razor can’t go long without mentioning Merkur. The manufacturer has a unique reputation amongst its competition, having manufactured and designed for over 30 years.

Their entire production process is nothing short of art. The result of such a unique and special production method is gorgeous razor blades that provides exceptional service.

The Futur adjustable safety razor is just one of the many they offer to clients. However, when it comes to the best safety razors, there aren’t razors much better than it. That certainly makes it one of the best eco friendly razors.

Moreover, its exceptional features are put together in a fantastic chrome body that is bound to catch eyes. With the Futur, you shave in style. Read our full Merkur Futur review of the best adjustable safety razor here.

Pros
  • Fantastic look: you can choose between gold-plated chrome, satin, and a simple chrome finish, all of which prove to be stylish options to suit many bathrooms.
  • Long handle: The Futur ensures that you have a great grip at all times, with its long handle making for easy control and maneuvering. This also makes it a great safety razor for women.
  • Good weight: It’s heavy, but not enough to be distractingly so. Its weight is enough to help you get the shave you desire.
  • Adjustable settings: the adjustable feature allows you to customize the way you use the razor, ensuring a comfortable shave for all kinds of people.
  • Superior make and design: developed in Germany, this razor supports the reputation that German-made men grooming items are exceptional.
Cons
  • It has a bulky head that doesn’t move around well with the nose and lips area. You’ll have to stretch them out to make use of it.
  • With no texture on the handle the Merkur Futur safety razor can be a bit slippery when wet
  • Some users have complained that while generally well engineered the central screw is made from a weaker metal prone to breaking.

Merkur 23c Long Handled Safety Razor

Otherwise known as the Merkur 180, the Merkur 23c is Merkur’s most popular razor and stands out with a number of rare features.

The first and most significant is obviously its long handle of 4 inches. The handle is also slimmer with a handle diameter of just 9.6 mm / 0.38 in. That makes it much lighter at just 2.3oz.

The Merkur 23c is also very easy and comfortable to hold because of its long length, narrow size and textured knurling along the full length of the handle.

The Merkur 23c is quite a mild razor, although you could certainly upgrade it with a Feather razor blade. Alternatively there’s the Merkur 25c that features the same design but with a more aggressive open comb base plate. One thing to watch is that reduction in feedback.

With a short angle it is quite easy to tell if you are shaving efficiently or causing razor burn but this vibration in the handle is softened with more length. Nevetherless the light weight means less cushioning of this feedback than you would normally expect.

The extra reach of the Merkur 23c is just one reason we’ve named it our best razor for women.

Read our full Merkur 23c review here.

Pros
  • Long, slim and lightweight handle
  • Excellent grip
  • Short and even longer version available
Cons
  • Very mild – consider using a Feather razor blade or upgrade to Merkur 25c for coarser hair

Merkur 34c Heavy Duty

It is difficult to establish when the Merkur 34C was designed as different sources place it between 1918 and the early 1930s. Either way, this is an iconic design that has certainly competed with Gillette throughout the last century and through to today.

The 34c is one of the shortest safety razors measuring less than 4 inches total and the handle length itself is about 3 inches. That can be a little frustrating but makes the design lighter and gives you more maneuverability.

It is a two-piece design as the base plate is attached to the handle and so you tighten it by turning the knob at the bottom of the handle.

In terms of performance the Merkur 34C HD is quite a mild razor, although you can always upgrade it with the best safety razor blades like Feather for a more aggressive shave.

The closed comb design means the Merkur 34C has a safety bar that prevents the blade from having too much contact with the skin.

Read our full Merkur 34c review here.

Pros
  • Small and nimble
  • Average aggression
Cons
  • Short handle

Merkur Traditional Double Edge Safety Razor

Merkur Traditional Double Edge Safety Razor

A personal favourite, a Merkur 47C traditional safety razor of this style was given to Artisan Shaving’s founder when he was just 15 years old and he continues to use it every day. That proves it’s credentials as an eco-friendly razor for life. It could easily be the best beginner safety razor.

The design is quite heavy which is satisfying for some users who like to gently use the weight of the razor to shave rather than applying pressure to the face. This feels both engineered and powerful as well as delicate and gentle.

One of the big perks of the Merkur 47C traditional safety razor is its length. Many double edge razors are much shorter to save on material and postage costs as well as to give a more utilitarian feel. This makes it a good eco-friendly razor for women.

This is something much more luxurious that feels like you picked it up yourself from a high-end shaving supplier as part of a safety razor set – and they are indeed stocked at such St James’ establishments as Truefitt & Hill and Taylor of Old Bond Street.

Today though if this Merkur razor review has persuaded you then you can have one shipped quickly and cheaply to your door courtesy of Amazon for your safety razor set.

Pros
  • Long textured handle for extra grip and control.
  • Heavy weight to let the razor do the shaving rather than your arm.
  • Wide base so you can stand it upright.
Cons
  • The heavy weight isn’t for everyone
  • The Merkur traditional safety razor isn’t a particularly aggressive shave making it better for beginners

The Edwin Jagger DE89 Safety Razor

The Edwin Jagger DE89Lbl Double Edge Safety Razor

Similar to Merkur, Edwin Jagger has a solid reputation in men’s grooming because of its sustained exceptional quality. Manufactured in England, Edwin Jagger’s reputation extends to the best safety razors for various uses and skin types.

However, their Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razors holds precedence over the rest making it a top choice among eco friendly razors. See how we compared it to the Merkur 34c here.

The reason for the Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razor’s success as a safety razor is the fact that it’s unbeatable when it comes to sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is far more prone to experiencing cuts, nicks, and injuries while shaving. It too could be the best beginner safety razor thanks to its smooth and comfortable shave.

The Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razor is nice and mild. That’s not to say that its not as effective as other safety razors, but its precision allows you to shave hair quickly and efficiently, without having to experience injuries. It offers exceptional balance and is a razor you will not hesitate to use.

Read our full Edwin Jagger DE89 review here.

Pros
  • Great body balance: the weight all along the double-edged razor is exceptionally balanced and construed. You will not feel it imposing on your hand in any way. The fantastic body balance will instead make it quite easy to maneuver.
  • Fantastic for sensitive skin: the precision shaving offered by DE89Lbl ensures that you won’t have to go through the same spot again. Your skin will not be subject to repeated interaction with the blade as you only need one pass.
  • Durable: there’s no need to worry about this razor’s life. It’s going to stick with you for a long time and be reliable too.
Cons
  • Not very aggressive – maybe the best safety razor for beginners
  • We’ve received reports of the bolt wearing out over time or breaking when dropped
  • The main design doesn’t have much knurling (texture) on the handle while some styles don’t include any. It may be slippery when wet (leading to drops and potential breakage)

The Feather AS-D2 Safety Razor

Feather AS-DZ Safety Razor

From the exceptional packing to the high-quality service, this Feather safety razor ensures that each moment you spend using it is rewarding.

A Feather safety razor is a luxury product with a price tag that might make you balk when you first look at it. However, once you use it, it will prove to be well worth the price you paid for it.

As for this Feather AS-D2 review, we would say it is perhaps the best beginner safety razor but the price means you might want to try a cheaper safety razor first to make sure traditional shaving is right for you.

Made from surgical stainless steel, the Feather AS-D2 quality double-edged safety razor provides exceptional performance while being durable. It’s designed to ensure a comfortable shave, and it is going to give you unbelievable performance for a long time to come as part of a great safety razor set.

While the price tag is not a joke by any means, its quality more than compensates. Moreover, the exceptional lifespan of this safety razor makes it a great return on your investment. We conclude this Feather AS-D2 review with quality in every aspect.

See our full Feather AS-D2 review here.

Pros
  •  Superior performance: The Feather blades are renowned worldwide for their surgical precision and exceptional shave.
  • Durable: with medical grade stainless steel being used to develop this beautiful safety razor, you are assured a long and durable life. This razor is going to stick with you through thick and thin.
  • Easy to learn: while the specific angle for this razor makes it hard to adjust at the start, the shave you get is consistent and regular. You will not have to worry about testing out this double-edged razor. There is no learning curve to it, and beginners can find it quite easy to use from the very start.
Cons
  • Although this may be a pro for some, the handle is considered by many reviewers to be too compact at 4 inches long. However, that depends a lot on personal preference.
  • Some experienced shavers find the Feather AS-D2 rather mild. That said Feather safety razor blades are very aggressive so try combining the two.

The Parker 98R Ultra Safety Razor

The Parker 98R Ultra Safety Razor

While the previous Feather razor has been called out for its relatively shorter handle, this one gives the opposite. The Parker 98R Ultra is recognized in the market for its very long handle, helping you reach any area of your face without a problem.

It’s not just the handle that’s big. The whole razor is considered to be the heavyweight of double-edged razors. Coming in a whopping 4.3 ounces, this Parker safety razor is larger and heavier than most of the best safety razors on the market. However, there’s more to this razor than its heaviness.

The Parker safety razor combines a beautiful design with meticulous production. Its beautiful brass construction and thrilling finish give it a great look.

However, should you go for such a heavy razor? Many people do prefer heavier razors since they do the job without requiring as much effort from the person using them and so this is down to personal preference rather than this Parker safety razor review.

However, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with and what gives you the best shave. Hence, if you like a heavier razor, there’s no need to second guess it.

Pros
  • Durability: it’s going to stick with you for a long time to come.
  • Quality construction: the brass construction is fantastic. It’s a great, sturdy make that looks beautiful with a shiny yet simple finish.
  • Easy grip: the long handle factors to provide an easy grip.
  • Easy to dismantle: and therefore easy to clean.
Cons
  • While it is big, heavy, and durable, the Parker 98R Ultra does not offer the same quality of finish as many of its competitors.

The Muhle R41 Open Tooth Safety Razor

The Muhle R41 Open Tooth Safety Razor

The unique appearance of this safety razor and its performance have given it a special nickname: It’s known as “the Beast” in the market, and its reputation always precedes itself.

The Muhle R41 is a special case, and it’s simply because of the brute that it is. It is one of the most aggressive razors around, with blades that can hurt quite badly.

You need significant experience to use it properly. Its long teeth have earned it the Open Tooth name, and the shave it gives is exceptional if you’re careful.

The Muhle R41 is not the best beginner safety razor. Moreover, it is not recommended for people with sensitive skin either. A single irregular movement could lead to a very bad cut, one that is going to bleed for a long time. Read how to stop bleeding from shaving cuts here.

So, if you’re not sure about your skills with a safety razor, try to keep yourself away from the “Beast”. Its teeth are reason enough to stay wary of it. However, if you’re skilled, then the Muhle R41 is going to give you a shave you’ll adore.

Pros
  • Ergonomic design: the exceptional design meets many users’ demands and is all about giving people the best possible shave, with the perfect handle length. 
  • Close shave: the teeth of the cutting head allow for a very close shave that gives a lot of control to the user of the razor.
  • Three designs: there are multiple designs to choose from. You don’t have to limit yourself when it comes to the look.
  • Weighs good: while it looks massive, the Muhle R41 does not weigh as much as you would expect. It’s fairly light for its size and easy to handle.
Cons
  • This goes without saying, but the Muhle R41 should not be used by anyone who is not good with a razor. It is bound to hurt any beginner and could cause serious cuts and nicks if used without prior training. Moreover, it also troubles sensitive skin with its sharp blades.

Best Adjustable Safety Razor: From Merkur To Vikings Blade

The best adjustable safety razor lets you increase and decrease blade exposure for a softer or more aggressive shave. This works by incresaing or decresaing the amount of blade that protrudes beyond the head – the blade gap – and a natural by-product is a very slight change in the angle of the blade.

That is pretty incredible technology for what is otherwise a relatively simple design of safety razors which goes back over 100 years.

Nevertheless with more engineering and moving parts like this it is important to find the best adjustable safety razor that is going to stand the test of time when faced with water and shaving soap.

For instance, how much an adjustable safety razor costs can vary from under $20 for a Chinese model (or slightly more for the branded versions from the same factory that we shan’t name) up to well over $50 for more premium brands.

A Modern Fad?

However, adjustable safety razors have been around a long time. The Gillette 195 Adjustable Safety Razor “Fatboy” was made for three and a half years between 1958 and 1962 and also featured a butterfly safety razor head. The original retail list price was $1.95 and this is where the 195 comes from in its official name.

Other classic razor brands like Merkur and Parker have led pioneering designs in adjustable razors from Solingen and Sheffield respectively – both global epicentres of high quality blade production. Then there are newcomers like Rockwell razors that bring a fresh take on this niche of safety razors.

Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor

Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor

The Merkur Futur came top in our best safety razor review but its adjustable settings means it also wins best adjustable safety razor.

This space age design from the 1980s is smooth and rounded, which can make it slippery when wet. The blades are adjusted by twisting the handle for 6 settings. One more than the Merkur Progress. So at the highest setting, it is more aggressive.

That said, the Merkur Futur is a great safety razor for beginners. Whether you’re experienced or not, always start slow and on the softest setting before working your way up. On an an aggressive setting you probably don’t need to bother shaving against the grain so perhaps stick to just two passes. Unfortunately the settings do lean more towards aggressive than gentle.

The head is quite bulky at 90 grams which can make getting under the nose and other intricate areas a bit tricky. The Merkur Futur also doesn’t use any of the easy blade loading mechanisms of other brands. Instead the top of the head pops off which can be fiddly and potentially dangerous if you’re not careful. There is also concern about the strength of the central screw as it seems to be a cheaper pot metal.

Read our full Merkur Futur review here.

Merkur Progress

Merkur Progress

The Merkur Progress essentially resembles a classic safety razor like Merkur’s popular 34C, which is hardly surprising as it started life in the 1950s like Gilette’s Fat Boy. However, the progress features a small dial on the bottom with five settings.

Like the Merkur 34C the handle is very short and it doesn’t offer much in the way of grip. It’s also easy to see why many people don’t like the big beige plastic dial on the bottom compared to the Futur’s integrated design. That said it is a far more traditional safety razor, offers very reliable service and is slightly cheaper than the Futur too.

If you can’t make up your mind between the two Merkur adjustable safety razors then we’ve compiled a detailed Merkur Progress vs Futur comparison here.

Parker Variant

Parker Variant

Of course there’s more to the best adjustable safety razor than Merkur. Parker introduce the Parker Variant in 2016 as an excellent solution to many of the problems presented by the Merkur Futur and progress.

The dial is integrated beautifully into the long, textured handle. Three very simple things that result in a greatly improved adjustable safety razor.

The Variant has 5 numbered settings, 1-5 with 5 being the closest shaving option. Additionally there are half settings so in reality there are 10 settings to choose from.  It also has a reassuringly hefty weight at 110 grams.

Rockwell 6C Adjustable Safety Razor

Rockwell 6C Adjustable Safety Razor

Rockwell razors have exploded onto the wet shaving scene since their 2014 Kickstarter offering high quality adjustable safety razors with a lifetime warranty.

A thoroughly modern brand, Rockwell razors shares many of the same values as Artisan Shaving – quality safety razors that save money and save the planet.

Their adjustable safety razors use different base plates in order to change aggressiveness. Each side of the base plate represents a different setting and you are supplied with 3 plates, giving you 6 settings overall. That’s the same as the Merkur Futur but Rockwell are geared more towards softer settings making them a great beginners safety razor, besides the cheaper price.

The use of base plates to adjust the safety razor settings has a few pros and cons. For one thing it is frustrating to have to change the whole head between settings, so most people will find their ideal setting and rarely use the other two blades.

Taking the head apart is always risky, especially with soapy hands mid-shave. Any time you take the blade out requires concentration with any safety razor, so having to work out different plate settings with the other hand seems daunting. Plus you can lose base plates, especially when travelling.

However, the use of base plates does mean that there are no moving parts in this adjustable safety razor besides the screw common to all safety razors. That leaves far less to go wrong as even with these premium brands there is always going to a small defect rate which, although frequently sorted with an apology from customer service, is needless hassle.

Longer term the chances of failure with a Rockwell adjustable is the same as a non-adjustable: minimal. And on top of all that Rockwell have their amazing lifetime warranty.

Vikings Blade

Vikings Blade offer two adjustable safety razors – the Crusader and the Emperor.

Vikings Blade encounters a lot of criticism for manufacturing its razors in Asia. They insist that not long after they enlisted the help of Chinese razor manufacturer Bailie with manufacturing their Chieftain butterfly razor the factory started producing almost identical designs that white-labellers slapped their logos on and sold as a direct rival to the Chieftain.

Vikings Blade insist that their own manufacturing is closely monitored to high standards and their handling of this negative PR is testament to their concern and quality control.

Years later this popular razor brand is now producing some fierce-looking adjustable safety razors like the Crusader and Emperor.

Vikings Blade Emperor

The Meiji Edition of the Vikings Blade Emperor razor is aptly named after Emperor Meiji who ruled Japan from 1867 until 1912 and brought Japan out of its feudal past and into the modern industrial age.

It clearly feels like razor built to last a lifetime. It is precise yet rugged. The calibration of the adjustment knob is exact and moves with a firm smoothness. It is a shorter handled razor than the original Vikings Blade Emperor razor and yet weighs a mighty 134 grams/4.72 ounces.

The Emperor also features a rare feature of bending the safety razor blade to achieve a sharper cutting angle.

The overall length is 95 mm (3.71 inches) making it about the same length as a vintage Gillette Super Speed razor, often hailed as the ideal length. Plus the grip is fantastic with a finer texture applied on top of the bigger grooves in the handle.

Vikings Blade Crusader

The Crusader is much longer and sleeker than the Emperor but remains beautifully balanced and impeccably built. At 109 grams it is almost a third lighter and longer at 117mm. However it shares the same smooth adjustment settings. Keep in mind that as it is rose gold plated this is designed to weather and fade with age.

One major perk is two comb settings so one side is more aggressive than the other – a bit like the Rockwell 6C. That means you have a huge variety of settings given the two sides and the dial on the handle so you can quickly learn your favourites for areas like a sensitive neck or a stubborn chin. And that’s before you play around with different safety razor blades.

Best Single Edge Razor

A single edge razor is a kind of safety razor but rather than using standard double edge razor blades it uses a single edge blade.

These have a bit more variation than standard double edge razor blades but usually mean injector razor blades. These have been around for decades and are also used in a lot of disposable blade straight razors – known as shavettes.

Single edge razors tend to be quite rare and made by smaller firms but there are some notable market leaders of the best single edge razor.

Single Edge Razor Vs Double Edge

Single edge razor blades tend to be thicker and so offer a more robust shave with less flexibility in the blade. The downside is they are quite thin with a very sharp edge and so you don’t really want to handle them. That’s why they usually come in a handy injector that loads them into your razor without you having to touch them.

OneBlade Genesis

If you really want to indulge, the OneBlade razor is a modern razor developed by a team of engineers on a quest to bring real innovation to the shaving industry with an award-winning single blade razor. This has all the benefits of shaving with a safety razor but is stylishly upgraded for the future.

The flagship OneBlade Genesis razor features an all stainless steel design, is individually numbered, hand polished and is available in precious metal finishes including 24 Karat Gold and 18 Karat Rose Gold.

OneBlade is the product of a American financial publisher called Porter Stansberry who enjoyed a straight razor shave from a barber in Italy so much he wanted to replicate the experience in a more convenient razor.

Supply Single Edge Razor

The Supply razor is a Kickstarter sensation that uses a special injection-moulding process usually reserved for pecision-engineered medical and aerospace technologies.

The Supply single blade razor is also adjustable and uses three settings of Sensitive, Comfortable, and Ultra Close depending on which base plate you use.

The Supply razor comes in two price points based on whether you go for alloy or stainless steel. The alloy version is not much more expensive than a lot of alloy safety razors like the Merkur Futur.

Best Butterfly Safety Razor Reviews: Quality Vs Tat

The best butterfly safety razor is a daunting challenge with both cheap Chinese knockoffs and genuine quality brands offering alarmingly similar designs.

It’s important to find the best butterfly razor because of the number of moving parts that can go wrong. A butterfly safety razor has a head that opens in two when the handle is turned. These are also called Twist to Open razors – often abbreviated to TTO.

This makes blade replacement easier as you simply slide on a new safety razor blade rather than having to disassemble the head, plate and handle like a normal safety razor.

Butterfly razors are a bit of a curiosity as they seem to be the go-to design of many cheap Chinese safety razor manufacturers. In turn that means a lot of grooming brands like Van Der Hagen offer them, although it’s difficult to say whether a standardized design means the same manufacturers used. But that doesn’t mean they are a modern fad.

Back in the 1950s the first adjustable safety razor was the Gillette 195 – known as the “Fatboy” – which also featured a butterfly head in addition to its variable settings. Uncannily, it too was a cheap safety razor at just $1.95, hence its name. Gillette’s butterfly razors go even further back than that beginning in the 1930s.

There’s no doubt butterfly razors are popular. In fact many people assume “butterfly razor” to just mean safety razor, probably because of the double edged razor blades. That’s probably why people look for a mysterious Merkur butterfly razor when Merkur don’t actually produce any Twist to Open razors.

So how reliable are they and what is the best butterfly safety razor?

Parker 99R Butterfly Razor

Parker are an established safety razor brand that tend to be more budget friendly. However they have proven themselves to be an excellent quality brand with such innovations as the Parker Variant adjustable safety razor that is one of the best in its class. Parker offer quite a range of butterfly safety razors, the most popular of which is the Parker 99 butterfly safety razor.

This is an all-metal 3.4oz construction with a long 4 inch handle that generally seems far more like a traditional safety razor. Price-wise it lies between imported brands and the major razor makers like Merkur and we think the quality matches that.

The 99R is manufactured in India but assembled by hand. One of the biggest concerns about butterfly safety razors is the looseness of the mechanism. You don’t want the blade to have any movement as can be found in some cheaper models. With the Parker 99 are the clamp is shut firmly and holds the blade tight.

Feather are normally a premium brand. They make the sharpest Feather safety razor blades and popular quality safety razors like the Feather AS-D2 that cost between $100-$200. Not so with the Feather Popular.

This butterfly razor costs the same amount as a Chinese white label and has a long plastic handle. It’s not the great shave we’ve come to expect with Feather but it’s not bad.

The light weight of the plastic handle means you’re inclined to use more force than necessary as we all know the best safety razors need nothing more than the weight of the razor to glide across the skin. The plastic handle is also a bit of a let down given that the joy of safety razors is that they are all metal which is plastic-free, heavier and will last longer.

It seems ironic that you can own a Feather razor for so cheap, but who’s complaining?

Vikings Blade The Chieftain

Vikings Blade are a controversial razor brand. That is partly a sign of their success as a popular provider.

However their razors are made in China and very much resemble cheap Chinese butterfly razors. These Chinese manufacturers thrive on third parties taking advantage of their OEM service (Original Equipment Manufacturer), which means brands slap on their logo to a mass produced product and sell it as their own.

One of these manufacturers is called Bailie and produces a butterfly razor almost identical to the Vikings Blade Chieftain. Bailie was originally tasked with helping produce the Vikings Blade Chieftain but it was not an OEM design, although Bailie did offer similar designs to white labellers and Viking’s blade claim that the Bailie BD179 was a ripoff of their early designs.

We’re keen to learn if the Van Der Hagen butterfly safety razor faces a similar confusion. This also appears to be the design of the Microtouch One.

After this misunderstanding, it is clear how much thought and care Vikings Blade put into their brand and as such it is no suprise that the Vikings Blade Chieftain is one of the best butterfly razors.

They’ve been keen to capitalise on the superiority of their product – it’s heavier, better made and they say guaranteed to last unlike a cheap razor. This handles like a premium safety razor with excellent engineering and a sharp shave.

Weishi Nostalgic Long Handle Butterfly Open Double Edge Safety Razor

We’ve been acting as though a Chinese-made safety razor is the worst thing in the world and bound to disappoint. But that would be an unfair conclusion.

Many of these butterfly razors are of a good quality for the price which is exactly why they are trusted by brands around the world with their label. These razors probably won’t last forever – but they do come at a very good price. In fact, we would rather promote razors direct from the factory label rather than OEM white-labellers as you’re more likely to get the original price, plus there’s less of a sense you’re being misled this way.

Weishi is just like that. They make no claims to the contrary about who they are and let their products speak for themselves. The Weishi Nostalgic features a generous long handle with an excellent grip. It’s lightweight at just 74 grams which doesn’t fit with many wet shavers’ preferences but could be seen as a perk. Again Weishi seems a possible supplier for brands like Van der Hagen and Microtouch One.

While the Weishi Nostalgic’s long term durability is questionable, you’re sure to have a good shave for under $20 and you can upgrade this with your choice of premium safety razor blades.

What’s The Best Safety Razor to Buy?

The very first thing to ask yourself when you’re out looking for a razor is which kind of razor you should buy. The two most common options are plastic cartridge razors and the safety razor.

The former has been the more popular option for the past few decades. Plastic cartridge razors have all but replaced safety razors, which are often called double-edged razors as well.

The reason for the cartridge razor blade’s popularity is due to the supposed flexibility and degree of performance it offers. Gillette, with their plastic cartridge razors, dominate the global market and suggest it’s the best a man can get.

In fact, almost all men and women use these razors. It’s just the most popular option, fuelled by smart marketing and branding.

Double-edged razor blades have made safety razors feel like a thing of the past. However, safety razors are now increasing in popularity for a low-cost, better quality shave with eco-friendly razors.

Moreover, there is a fair amount of attention being given to the advantages a safety razor blade holds against the plastic cartridge option. Almost all experts favour the former.

Safety Razor Vs Cartridge

Double-edged razors offer cleaner, sharper, and better performance than plastic cartridges do. Where Gillette often says that multiple blades are better than one, science says otherwise.

Having a plastic cartridge with multiple blades means that you are limiting their effectiveness. It’s harder to get the most out of them due to the limited area, and their performance is affected due to this.

Safety Razor Vs Cartridge: Best Razor For Sensitive Skin

Furthermore, a greater number of blades mean increased irritation. No matter how much plastic cartridge razor manufacturers boast about smooth shaving experience, you are going to experience more irritation with one. Moreover, the shaving angles and the quality that a safety razor provides are superior to that of a plastic cartridge type.

Safety Razor Vs Cartridge: Cost

Why do razors blades cost so much? They don’t need to. While big razor brands are always reinventing the wheel with more blades and different heads, the classic double edge razor blade is an open-source design that hasn’t changed in decades. You can buy them very cheaply – 100 for about $10 – which means the upfront cost of the safety razor works out as a great investment in the long run.

That’s before we get onto the environmental cost. Cartridge razors produce loads of unnecessary plastic waste.

It is also easier to clean a safety razor due to the simple design and single double edge razor blade. On the other hand, removing hair from a multi-blade plastic cartridge razor is always frustrating.

Hence, a reassessment of the benefits that double-edge razors offer shows that it’s far superior to the plastic cartridge models. However, to get the best from them, you need to choose the best one.

How to Choose the Best Safety Razor For You

While safety razors are the top choice for anyone looking to save money and the planet, picking the best safety razor is tricky. While the overall safety razor design is well-established and difficult to get wrong, here are some key variables that set them apart.

Safety Razor Designs

The safety razor has been around for well over a century, and in that time it has developed quite a few variations.

Traditional Two-Piece And Three-Piece

The most common are the simple two and three-piece assemblies. These consist of a top plate and base plate of the head and the handle. These assemble with a screw on the top plate that goes through the base plate – sandwiching a blade between them – and screws into the handle.

Two pins within the razor head help keep the blade firmly in place by locking into the holes either end of the razor blade. In three-piece razors the assembly is tightened by twisting the handle against the head.

In two-piece razors like the Merkur 34c the base plate is attached to the handle and a knob at the bottom of the handle is used to secure the assembly. Some people prefer this method of fastening as it is less likely to damage the screw by over-tightening. On the other hand, some two-piece razors let you change base plates with other models to get a different level of aggression – like the Rockwell 6C or the Feather AS-D2.

Butterfly Safety Razors

Another popular type of razor is the butterfly safety razor which is only one-piece as the head opens up by twisting a knob on the handle.

Generally these are favoured by cheaper imported razor models like the Van der Hagen and Microtouch One safety razors. That said there are still some good quality butterfly safety razors available if you know what to look for and they can make loading a razor blade easier.

Adjustable Safety Razors

Another consideration is adjustable safety razors like the Merkur Futur and Progress. These use a mechanism to adjust the amount of blade exposed so you can have a milder or more aggressive shave.

These are popular for shavers who experience different levels of sensitivity in their skin or have other areas to shave with different aggression needs – like legs or the head. See our best adjustable safety razors here.

Injector Razors

Some razors like the Supply razor use an injector system that dates back to the early 20th Century. These don’t use the standard double-edge razor blades but are still an open source classic which means injector blades are quite easy to find.

Slant Razors

A slant razor is an unusual but effective version of the safety razor. While most of the design is the same, the head twists the blade to make it tighter and angled. That means that as you shave the blade hits the hair at an angle with more of a slicing motion. A perfect example is the Merkur 37c which is a slant razor variant of the 34c.

Many people think this means slant razors are more aggressive but actually this isn’t that true. Instead the shave feels very efficient and you may well use less pressure overall.

More about slant razors here.

Material

The vast majority of safety razors are made from a material called Zamak while a select few are made from stainless steel.

Often known as “pot metal” because as a widely-used material historically it was made by throwing scraps of various metals into a single crucible, Zamak is an alloy based on nickel, aluminium and copper. In fact the name is an acronym of those materials in German – Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper).

Safety razors made from Zamak are then electroplated, usually in Chrome. This presents two issues, although both are relatively minor.

One is that Zamak is quite a soft metal. Historically there wasn’t much quality control that went into it and so it is often associated with poor quality goods. While this is not the case with most safety razors – especially from names like Merkur and Edwin Jagger – it remains that it does create a weakness.

For instance, the central screw on a safety razor is crucial but safety razors are prone to being dropped. Plenty of safety razors meet their ends this way.

The next issue is of Chrome plating. Although relatively rare, over time lots of plated finishes do chip and wear away. That can create an uneven surface and tarnish the finish of the razor. Most Zamak razors can avoid this if they are cared for properly.

Stainless steel safety razors like the Feather AS-D2, Rockwell 6S and Supply razor avoid this issue but come with a much higher price tag.

Materials also offer a choice of colour. Most safety razors just come in a standard chrome, but some like the Merkur 34g and Merkur Futur are available in gold. A lot of brands like Edwin Jagger allow more variety in handles too.

Price

For many, this aspect is the most important of all. Double-edged razors are generally more expensive than plastic disposable razors.

Finding the right one means judging the price as well. You do not want to spend too much on a safety razor, but being stingy might mean compromising on quality. You can easily get an imported safety razor for under $10 but most popular options for the best safety razor are more around $20 – $40.

That said there is a premium market as well. The Merkur Futur is twice the price of most Merkur razors but still comes in under $100 while the Feather AS-D2 is well over $100.

Location

There’s not too much that can go wrong with a safety razor. If you bought the cheapest Chinese import the chances are you will still get a decent shave for a fair amount of time.

However the best safety razors come from regions that hold a prestigious history of blade manufacture.

Those are Solingen in Germany, home of Merkur, Sheffield in the United Kingdom, Edwin Jagger’s origin, and Seki in Japan where Feather are based.

Safety Razor Handles

One big and divisive feature of safety razor blades is the length of the handles. This can vary significantly and is largely down to personal preference.

You need to look for the handle length that fits in your hand the best. It should neither be too long or too short. If you’re searching for the best shaving experience imagine, the handle length needs to be just right.

In general the classic handle length is about three inches as found on the Merkur 34c. This is lightweight and manouverable. However, many complain of the lack of grip from such a small handle.

Merkur’s most popular razor is actually the Merkur 23c which features a generous long and slim handle.

You also need to consider grip. Knurling is an industrial process used to produce a textured surface on metal and many safety razors use a criss-cross design indentation to provide friction when shaving with soapy hands. This varies between designs. The Edwin Jagger DE89 features just lines along the handle for grip while the Merkur 23c features knurling pretty much all over its handle.

The Merkur Futur doesn’t have any texture at all but does feature an indentation as part of its shaped handle which provides a comfortable grip.

Weight

Like handle-length the weight of a safety razor is very subjective. Most shavers seem to favour a heavy razor and this stands in stark contract to very lightweight plastic cartridge razors.

That said there are also plenty of lightweight options available. The Merkur 33c weighs just 56g/1.98 oz compared to the Merkur Futur’s 128 g.

You do not want the weight of your blade to hamper your shaving experience. Test out as many razors as possible to find one that feels just right inside your hand. Weight matters and you have to pick a weight that feels just for you.

Conclusion

Knowing all this, you can now go to the market and select the best safety razor blade available. There are numerous options, each with its own specific use and positives.

You need to check their features based on the six points discussed above, and find something that gives you a great balance between all six.

Out of the five listed above, the choice for a beginner would either be Merkur Futur or the Feather. The Edwin Jagger is perfect for those with sensitive skin, while the Muhle R41 is strictly for the experienced and well-trained.

All five of these safety razors have their particular use, and they give an exceptional performance to users in their domains. Hence, when choosing between them, try to ascertain what you need from your new safety razor. Make the choice that best attunes to your requirements.

These five best safety razors make for the top choices that the market has to offer. They combine great designs with careful engineering, leading to smooth results.

Safety razor blades outrank plastic cartridge razors in almost every single department, and these safety razors can show you exactly why.

Rather than being limited to what your plastic cartridge razor offers you, you can explore your own needs with a safety razor. You can go for any length, size, and cutting power.

You can go through various options with different characteristics and pick one that meets your needs specifically. Hence, for a true shaving experience, there’s nothing better than a safety razor.

FAQ

What is the best brand of safety razor?

Merkur of Solingen is generally recognised as the best brand of safety razor. However other popular choices are Edwin Jagger and Feather. Then there are more modern brands like Supply and OneBlade who have introduced more modern egineering to the contest.

Is shaving with a safety razor better?

While personal preferences will always differ, we genuinely believe shaving with a safety razor is better. One single blade seems to outperform multi-blade cartridges at a fraction of the cost and with less irritation.

What is the best safety razor for a beginner?

The best safety razor for a beginner is difficult to judge but our top choice would probably be a Merkur 23c or 34c. A Rockwell 6c is also a popular choice.

Who makes the best double edge razor?

We’ve debated and marginally agreed that the Merkur Futur is the best double edge razor and it’s made by Merkur of Solingen.

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