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You’re browsing over the internet for hours, visiting all blogs and forums. Wet shaving Gurus, talking about their favorite razors and their techniques.
And you? What do you get out of this? You’re getting more and more confused.
At least that’s how I felt when I first starting out in the safety razor search.
A safety razor is a personal choice. Yes, there are some objectively great safety razors but every person’s face is different. And sometimes, it’s not even about your face. You might have gigantic hands and a short handle wouldn’t be a choice. That already limits things for you.
As with most things that you try out for the first time, safety razors are not an exception. There is a chance that you won’t get the right safety razor for your needs right away. You might spend a considerable amount of time and money before finding THE ONE. But once you find it, you’ll cherish it forever and it will follow you wherever you’ll go.
And yes, we’re still talking about safety razors. Want to find out how to choose the right one?
The Holy Grail of Wet Shaving
Wet shaving enthusiasts drink wine to their safety razor’s name. And who can blame them? A safety razor is the alpha and omega of wet shaving. Without it, it’s like going to a battle with a sling.
If you’re like me, once you find a great razor, you’ll stick to it for many many shaves, no matter what. This is when you do find it.
What happens until then?
I got bad news for you. You might feel as if the right safety razor is more difficult to get than the Holy Grail. Everyone’s heard about it but noone managed to find it.
OK that was an exaggeration, but it proves a point.
Choosing the right safety razor, it’s like a Spartan finding the ideal blade. And just like a good Spartan, you trust only one blade!
There are couple of things to consider if you want to understand what to look for and how to choose the right safety razor.
Let’s get to the details, shall we?
Edge of safety razor
First thing that you’ll have to decide is the type of edge that the safety razor has. That said, there are two types:
Single Edge Safety Razors
This is a bit uncommon safety razor, that works with disposable blades. As the name suggests, these safety razors have one edge. In particular, only one side of the razorhead has the blade exposed.
Single edge (SE) safety razors are hard to find nowadays. The best way to get a good SE safety razor is in vintage markets. Why? Well, most manufacturers stopped producing them after a certain point. Main reason was that most producers transitioned from the production of single edge safety to cartridge razors.
Traditionally, a SE safety razor uses a different blade than a Double Edge (DE). The blade is much thicker and the shave is far more aggressive. From my experience (with my Grandpa’s SE razor), shaving with a SE razor gives you the closest shave you can get. Only shaving with a straight razor can give you a similarly close shave. This is also why you need to be equally careful while shaving with it.
Most single edge razors that are available now, use the blade of a DE and have one side exposed. So in the end, you’re better off with a DE instead.
Double Edge Safety Razors
You can guess from the name that the particular razor has two, usually identical, shaving sides. Compared to single edge razor, the razor head of a DE razor gives you the flexibility of using both sides. In theory, this means that you rinse half the times compared to a single edge, and shaving takes less time. Again, that’s in theory.
As indicated, the double edge safety razor is not as sharp as the single edge. Yet, it most certainly is safer and faster to shave with.
If you’re looking for a DE sharper than SE, your only choice is a DE sword.
Many safety razor brands to choose from
There are many different brands out there that you can choose from. Some of the safety razors manufacturers exist for over than 100 years.
Among a few well known producers are two companies from Germany. One is Dovo Solingen, that produces the Merkur safety razors. The other German producer is Muehle, and has exceptional razors.
Edwin Jagger, Parker and last but not least, Feather have brilliant safety razors. You can’t go wrong in quality if you choose any of them.
Price does matter
Depending on your budget and your needs, you should expect paying from $20 up to even $300.
If you’re a new wet shaver, don’t get carried away and get the most expensive safety razor just because you’ve read it’s the best.
Better start with a moderately priced razor. See how it feels, shave a few months with it and upgrade at a later stage. This way, you won’t lose a lot of money if wet shaving with a safety razor is not your thing in the end.
When you search for a safety razor, you’ll need to choose between an adjustable and one with a stable razorhead. That’s a tough one.
The advantage of the adjustable safety razor is that you can set the aggressiveness of the razor according to the shave you’d like to have. This has to do with the angle of the razor blade and the exposure from the razorhead gap.
Speaking of the razor gap, this is another thing that you should consider when choosing the right safety razor.
While you replace the razor blade, pay attention how the razorhead locks the blade. The gaps need to be symmetrical across the length of the blade. On top of that, the exact same gap needs to be in both sides of the double edge safety razor. In case you don’t get the same gap, there’s a chance that the razor is not balanced well. This may result in shaving cuts and an unpleasant shaving experience.
As for the razor blade, it needs to lock tightly in the razorhead. This means that there should be no blade movement while you shave with it. If you experience any move or sound from the blade while you shave, this is a sign that something’s going on with the razor. So, keep that in mind when/if you test any of them before you go buy it.
Safety razor’s handle
To me, it’s important to feel the safety razor comfortable when holding it. The handle’s length and weight, play a crucial role to a pleasant shaving experience.
If you want to take this one step further, you could also look into the material of the handle.
Let’s get the details right:
Length and Weight (of your razor)
You’ll soon find out that safety razors are a lot different to each other. This also applies to razors from the same manufacturer.
An important feature to pay attention is the length of the handle. There are both short and long handles and it’s up to you to decide which one is best for you. For a person that has big hands, a small handle wouldn’t be the ideal one. But again, it’s a matter of how everyone feels the razor’s handle in their hands.
Personally, I tend to prefer the ones with short handle for two reasons. They feel easier to balance in my hands and on top of that, they feel right in my normal sized hands. I guess, guys with small hands would be better off with a short handle safety razor as well.
Now, there’s also the weight factor that you should consider when choosing a safety razor.
When you shave with a safety razor, the idea is to let the weight of the razor do the shaving. That said, you don’t have to apply extra pressure on the razor towards your face.
If the razor feels too light while you shave, it might be a problem for you. You might mistakenly believe that you have to apply more pressure towards your face. This however, increases the chances of razor cuts.
Similarly, if the safety razor feels heavy, it’s again an issue. In such case, the razor might give you the feeling that you can’t balance it well in your hands. This again, could make you believe that you need to apply more pressure to off-balance it. And guess what? Yes, that’s right! You’ll cut yourself because of that.
What about the material of the handle?
There a few different options among manufacturers. The most common handle is metal in chrome or silver color. The metal handles usually have a rough surface to offer the wet shaver a better grip.
Another common handle is metal again, but with a rubber cover surrounding it. This could give you a better grip of the razor in case you feel that metal ones could slip off your hands.
More expensive safety razors boast handles made out of high quality wood or an animal’s horn. It gives the safety razor a great appearance and the sense of a premium product. This type of safety razors are a perfect gift for a wet shaving enthusiast.
If you’re thinking of giving someone (or to yourself) a present, think about engraving the person’s name. That would be a cool gift!
What kind of maintenance does your safety razor need?
I wouldn’t say maintenance is among the most important criteria to choose the right safety razor. That said, most of safety razors are more or less the same. When you finish shaving, be sure to rinse the razor and dry it out well.
Other things to keep an eye out is keeping the area clean, where the razor blade locks. Lastly, be gentle with the mechanism that secures the blade.
Most of the safety razors from respectable brands are well built and sturdy. They will last many years if not forever and you really need to give it a try if you want to break them. Unless this is what you aim for, your safety razor will serve you just fine for decades to come.
How to choose the right safety razor blades?
This doesn’t depend so much on the safety razor itself but more like what kind of razor blades you want to get.
The razor blades, depending on the brand and product, have different sharpness and thickness. If you’re just starting out, better have a look at less sharp blades. Then gradually upgrade to sharper ones as you become more comfortable with your safety razor.
A few brands that you can choose from are Astra, Feather and Derby. Other ones that could sound more familiar to you is BIC and Wilkinson. Remember that trial and error is recommended to find out which one is actually THE ONE.
So, what did we learn today?
Hopefully the above gives you an idea on how to choose the right safety razor and get started in the exciting world of wet shaving.
If you’re just starting out, there’s a high chance that you won’t get the right safety razor from your first purchase.
Or shaving brush.
Or after shave.
Don’t get discouraged though. This is something normal and it’s expected to happen, if not to all, to most wet shavers.
Even if you did your homework, there might be something that doesn’t feel quite right. But this is again part of the great experience. First, you’ll find out what you like in a safety razor. Soon after, you’ll get another one, try out different blades, techniques and wet shaving set up.
Finally, you’ll have the best safety razor for you. Also known as… the holy grail.
How did you choose the right safety razor?
Image Courtesy: flickr.com/fordsbasement