For those who aren’t familiar with safety razors, at a distance they might all look the same. Chances are you’ve seen them in old black-and-white photos and movies, where their uniform shape doesn’t really do much to dispel this idea. From a distance, safety razors all seem to have the same basic design – a cylindrical metal handle connected to a flared, round-headed top that houses the blade. But, like many things in life, looks can be deceiving.
There are actually several types of safety razor, which can be differentiated by number of pieces, opening mechanism, blade edge count, and blade adjustability (among other things). With so many different types of safety razor, it can be a little daunting picking the one that’s right for you. In this article, we’re going to go over some of the most common types.
One Edge, Two Edge
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of safety razor – single and double edge. The edge refers to the sharp part of the blade that cuts facial hair. Here at The Wet Shaving Club, we focus on double edge razors and believe that they have several advantages over their single edge counterparts (more on that in a moment). However, since single edge razors still have a presence in the modern wet shaving, it’s worth taking a look at them.
Single, Not Ready To Mingle
Single edge razors are not as popular or well known as double edge ones. They do have their die-hard adherents who swear by them, believing them to give a closer shave than their double-edged brethren. This is entirely subjective and open to interpretation, but there are some hard facts that will ensure that this type of safety razor stays in the realm of true believers and shaving hobbyists.
Firstly, there are a variety of styles of single edge blades. Double edge blades have a uniform shape, regardless of the brand. Surely more choice is a good thing, right? When it comes to blade shape, not really. GEM-style, FHS single edge, injector blades (which require an external mechanical feeding unit to load into your razor), barber blades – which one is right for you? Shopping around for the blade that suits you isn’t really any option, because each kind of blade requires its own special handle to house it. On top of that, each of the of single edge types of safety razor has its own peculiarities when it comes to shaving angle. Double edge razors, however, share an optimal shaving position.
Then there’s the cost. Because of their niche appeal, prices for single edge razor handles often cost over $100 (and can be way more than that depending on the supplier). Even if you find a handle that’s affordable, the cost-per-blade is generally higher than the double-edged variety. With what basically amounts to proprietary blades and high costs, single edge razors don’t provide a lot of the benefits that come with abandoning cartridges.
Double, Double – Less Toil And Trouble
Admittedly, we’re biased when it comes to double edge blades. This is the type of safety razor that we sell, after all. But, in this case, we think our bias is justified. Compared to single edge razors, there’s only one style of blade, which makes shopping around for the perfect blade brand that much simpler (and cheaper). Also, as we mentioned, the per-blade cost is the lowest. They’re also consistently easy to load new blades into. So what types of safety razors are there for those looking to dabble with the double edge?
The Butterfly/Twist-to-Open Safety Razor
This type of safety razor opens mechanically. The user twists the knob on the lower portion of the handle, which opens two flaps at the head of the razor. The blade is placed inside, and then the handle is twisted to close the head. The butterfly mechanism holds that blade in place and contours it to the correct angle. The biggest advantage of the butterfly safety razor is that is stays in one piece when you change blades. Other types of safety razor need to be disassembled. However, like with anything mechanical, there’s more that can go wrong. It has numerous delicate moving parts, all of which has the potential to break or fail. However, the convenience might be worth it for some.
The Two-Piece Safety Razor
As the name suggests, this type of safety razor only has two pieces. The top portion of the head of the razor is threaded and unscrews from the handle and base plate. A two-piece safety razor is opened by twisting the knob at the bottle of the handle. This loosens the upper portion of the head, which is then detached. The upper head piece has three posts which the shaver places a fresh blade onto. Then, the two pieces are reattached and the bottom of the handle is twisted to secure the razor. This design is incredibly sturdy and durable. The Merkur 34C, which we sell, is a two-piece safety razor.
The Three-Piece Safety Razor
Similarly structured to its two-piece counterpart, the three-piece safety razor’s base plate isn’t permanently attached to the handle. To open this type of safety razor, the user holds the top and bottom of the razor head and unscrews the handle. Once the components are separated, a blade is slotted on the posts of the upper headpiece, the base plate is placed on those posts as well, and then the handle is screwed onto the threaded middle post. Like the two-piece safety razor, this version is incredibly sturdy. There is an extra piece to watch out for, but some shavers might favor the lack of moving parts. Like with everything in life, it all comes down to preference. Our introductory safety razor is a three-piece.
The Adjustable Safety Razor
The last type of safety razor that we’re going to discuss is the adjustable safety razor. Adjustable safety razors come in two and three piece varieties, but the function they all share is the ability to customize the aggressiveness of your shave. These razors have a knob at the base of the handle that raises and lowers the height of the top portion of the head. The higher the top, the more the blade is exposed, the more aggressive the shave. This type of safety razor is probably better for the more experienced wet shaver, but the added control will certainly have appeal for all skill levels.
The beauty of double-edge safety razors is that although the basic form and functionality are similar, you can find one with the features that suit your preferred shaving style. Head on over to our store and find the one that’s right for you!