Updated: December 27, 2016
Types of Safety Razors
Although over a hundred years have past since the introduction of the safety razor, and over that time its design has not changed all that much. Manufacturers still, for the most part, use either the one piece, two piece, or three piece design with their razors. Below is a quick run down on the benefits and drawbacks to each design.
THE THREE PIECE DESIGN
The three piece design is arguably one of the most identifiable when it comes to the three types of razors outlined in this article. Today most major manufactures of DE Razor have at least one if not many razors with this design – the Edwin Jagger 89lbl and the Merkur “1904” Classic are just two examples of many. The three parts of this design include the top part of the cutting head, the base of the cutting head, and of course the handle itself, which for the most part screws into the top two pieces.
When changing the blade on a three piece razor it is probably best to flip it upside down, hold the sides of the head, and then change the blade. If there is a drawback to this design it would have to be the slightly higher risk of cutting yourself – at least until you are used to holding the two piece of the head, along with the blade, while reaching for you handle. Otherwise, there are no moving parts and cleaning is fairly straightforward.
THE TWO PIECE DESIGN
The two piece razor design, like the Merkur 37C, is yet another fairly common approach to the safety razor. Like the three piece design, the head is its own piece, which the base of the head is attached to the handle itself. To remove the head you twist the handle and unscrew it. Like the two piece design it is probably best to change the blade with the razor being held upside down, allowing the head of the razor to fall into you open palm. This design makes it somewhat easier and safer to change your blade. One negative aspect of this razor is that cleaning it isn’t so straight forward, having to pay attention to areas under the head and in the handle. Over tightening of the razor could also lead to issues down the road.
ONE PIECE DESIGN (Twist to Open)
The one piece design razor , like the Parker 99r (check it out on Amazon) or the RazoRock TTO (in picture) is referred to in different ways – silo, twist to open (TTO), and butterfly. As the name suggests, these razors don’t have any removable parts to them. The do however have moving parts. When you twist the handle on one of these razors, the two doors open, revealing a bay where you place your blade. This system makes your blade change fairly simple, it’s quick, and you are less likely to cut yourself – using one hand for the blade and the other holding the razor. One obvious negative to these razors is the moving parts, making them vulnerable to wear, water deposits, and over / or misuse. Thorough cleaning is needed if you are to maintain its working order for many years.
Types of Razor Heads
The way the razor is constructed is one thing to consider when looking at different types of double edge razors, the other element to take a look at is the types of razor heads. The open comb, straight bar, slant, and adjustable head, each offer the user a different experience.
The Open Comb Head
The open comb head, like the Fatip Grande pictured above, has teeth on the edge of the head that results in a more aggressive shave. I don’t use mine much, but I would break it out if I have a few days growth. You may prefer this if you have a thicker beard, or tend to not shave on a daily basis.
The Straight Bar Head
The straight bar head, like the standard Merkur head pictured above on the Merkur 43c is probably the most common of all head types. It has a safety bar the runs the length of the blade preventing the user from using too much pressure. Most of my razors have the straight bar design, and is probably a good place to start for new users.
The Slant Head
The slant head, like the Merkur 37c above, has a design that angles the head of the razor and as a result the blade, which means that it slices the hair at an angle. Think of it like a guillotine. Some people feel that this is an unnecessary feature but I would disagree. My 37c is one of my favourite razors, I usually pull it out when I have two or three days growth. For more on slant razor check out What is a Slant Razor?
The Adjustable Head
Finally the adjustable head, like the Merkur Progress above, allows the user to control the aggressiveness of the blade with the turn of a knob. Turning the knob increases or decreases the gap between the blade and safety bar. The adjustable market is super small and dominated by Merkur along with the Progress they also offer the Futur and Vision. For more on adjustable razors check out adjustable safety razors. The adjustable head is probably not the best first razor, but it may be your last.
Your best bet when choosing a safety razor would be to use each of the designs. Of course that is not reasonable for most of us. So hopefully the information above along with some individual reviews will help you make a decision.
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