Everyone needs 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 which are surprisingly easy to use, plus a single blade means a close shave with a much lower chance of irritation, ingrown hairs and razor bumps. That additional control is also great if you have facial hair so you can keep your lines in shape.
They are one of the best ways to shave – second only to a straight razor – but unlike a straight razor they are very easy to use.
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 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 Double Edge 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?
Buying a 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. These high quality chrome plated pieces are guaranteed to give you a close shave without ingrown hairs.
Any piece about the safety razors can’t go long without mentioning Merkur. The manufacturer has a worldwide reputation lasting more than 100 years from its home in the renowned region of Solingen, Germany.
Most Merkur designs are very utilitarian like the 34c – which itself dates so far back to about the 1920s – but the Futur is something else. This high quality design was produced in the 1980s and remains one of Merkur’s most popular razors.
The space age look certainly stands out with a smooth grip – available in matte and mirrored finishes – and a generous long handle for larger hands. But the notch at the top fits snugly in the hand and so it’s not as slippery as you might think. Like many models here its is made of chrome plated nickel alloy, although it is also available in gold.
As for a closer shave, the Futur is one of a select few adjustable safety razors that let you change the level of aggression in the blade angle by twisting the handle. It has six settings, although these are on the more aggressive side so be careful if you have sensitive skin. Another issue is the size of its head and many users find they struggle to shave the upper lip around the nose.
The first and most significant is obviously its long handle of 4 inches. The handle is also slimmer with a diameter of just 9.6 mm / 0.38 in. That makes it much lighter at just 2.3oz.
The Merkur 23c is quite a mild closed comb razor, although you could certainly upgrade it with a Feather razor blade for a closer shave. 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 that comes with a longer handle. With a short angle it is quite easy to tell if you are shaving facial hair 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.
Read our full Merkur 23c review here.
It is difficult to establish when the Merkur 34C “Heavy Duty” was designed as different sources place it between 1918 and the early 1930s. Either way, this is an iconic design in chrome plated nickel alloy that has certainly competed with Gillette throughout the last century and through to today.
Don’t get too concerned about the heavy duty part – there’s only one Merkur 34c style but it is often featured with the extra name so a “heavy duty” is just the normal 34c. It does hoever have a gold variation instead of the standard chrome plated, which is called the Merkur 34G.
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 if you prefer a longer handle but makes the design lighter and gives you more maneuverability so it is easy to use.
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 before you shave.
Similar to Merkur, Edwin Jagger has a solid reputation in men’s grooming because of its sustained exceptional quality from Sheffield in the UK. Sheffield holds a historic reputation for blade production like Solingen, Germany, where Merkur is based.
However, their three piece DE89 double edge safety razor 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 DE89’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 with a single blade. The solid and weighty build means slightly less feedback but the closed comb head offers a close shave without risking irritation.
A further perk is the DE89 comes with a huge range of finish options besides the standard chrome plated with many different colours and handles to further personalize your shave.
From the exceptional packing to the high-quality service, this Feather double edge safety razor ensures that each moment you spend shaving is rewarding.
A Feather AS-D2 razor, also known as the Seki Edge, is a luxury high quality 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.
Made from surgical stainless steel, the Feather AS-D2 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.
One of the reasons for the high price tag – besides the expense of the stainless steel itself – is the production process that goes into machining the stainless steel. Most razors are simply molded in nickel alloy and then chrome plated.
While the price tag is not a joke by any means, its quality more than compensates. Moreover, the exceptional lifespan of this double edge safety razor makes it a great return on your investment. We conclude this Feather AS-D2 review with quality in every aspect.
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 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-edge razors. Coming in a whopping 4.3 ounces, this Parkerdouble edge 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 double edged 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.
The unique appearance of this double edge 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.
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 double edge 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 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.
Rockwell razors have exploded onto the wet shaving scene since their 2014 Kickstarter offering high quality 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 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.
Longer term the chances of failure with a Rockwell adjustable is the same as a non-adjustable: minimal. You can also get the stainless steel Rockwell 6s. And on top of all that Rockwell have their amazing lifetime warranty.
Safety Razor Vs Cartridge
Double-edged razors offer cleaner, sharper, and better performance than plastic disposable razors 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.
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 a multi-blade cartridge razor.
That’s because they use a system design of pulling the hair out of the skin and cutting it so that it snaps back under the skin, which feels smoother like you’ve had a very close shave but leaves a hair beneath the skin that can then become an ingrown hair. That is the leading cause of razor bumps, which are caused by ingrown hairs.
A single blade gives a close shave that cuts cleanly at the base of the hair and only subjects the skin to a minimum amount of aggression.
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 these blades 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 Right Safety Razor For You
While safety razors are the top choice for anyone looking to save money and the planet, picking the right one for you can seem challenging. 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 double edge 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.
This part of the head assembly also involves the style of comb. In general open comb razors are more aggressive than closed comb, but some people find they get a better shave when they don’t have a razor safety bar. Read more about open comb vs closed comb razors here.
Butterfly Safety Razors
Another popular type of razor is the butterfly safety razor which is only one-piece as the head has a butterfly opening which 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
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.
Some razors like the Supply single edge 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.
A slant razor is an unusual but effective version of the double edge 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 bar 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.
The vast majority of double edge safety razors are made from a material called Zamak, which then gets chrome plated, 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.
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.
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 of the best 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 stainless steel safety razor is well over $100.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Knowing all this, you can now go to the market and find the best double edge safety razor blades for you. 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.
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.
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.