The best safety razors blend quality, timelessness, elegance, and value, while also protecting your skin from cuts. Read on to see our top picks for safety razors and things to consider before buying one.
If you’re tired of ingrown hairs, skin irritation, and constantly cutting yourself while shaving, it might be time to switch to a safety razor. But with all the options available today, picking out the best one can be a mammoth task.
To help, we put together a team of beginner shavers, beard aficionados, and a barber to search and test the best safety razors on the market. Here were their favorites:
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Merkur 34C Safety Razor
- Best for Curly Hair: Bevel Double-Edge Safety Razor
- Best Long-Handle Safety Razor: Merkur 38C Safety Razor
- Best Affordable Safety Razor: Edwin Jagger Double-Edged Safety Razor
- Best Heavy-Duty: Vikings Blade the Emperor ‘MEIJI’ Adjustable Safety Razor
- Best for Changing Blades: Parker 96R Butterfly Safety Razor
- Best Adjustable: Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor
Why You Need a Safety Razor
Safety razors have been around since the early 1900s and are making a big comeback. Just skimming through the prices may want to make you stick with your cartridge razor.
But, there are significant reasons why safety razors are becoming increasingly popular.
Safety razors are so named for a reason. These razors come with a safety bar sitting between the edge of the blade and the skin. This design means you need less proficiency to achieve a professional shave without injury.
These razors also are less irritating on sensitive skin and reduce the chances of ingrown hairs significantly. Safety razors use a single, sharp blade, reducing the contact time with your skin.
Also, safety razors are cheaper in the long run. Replacement blades cost between ten and thirty cents. This looks like a bargain compared to the $5-$10 per month you’d spend on traditional cartridges.
Hopefully, you’re already sold on safety razors and ready to take the leap!
Best Safety Razor Roundup
We searched high and low on the most popular shopping platforms to find the best-rated safety razors. Then, we put our able team to the task of testing dozens of products to narrow down the choices to the best seven safety razors.
Be sure to check out the “Things to Consider” section at the tail end of this review. We detail how to choose a safety razor. We used the same criteria when picking out which products to make the test.
Without further ado, below are the seven best safety razors that we consider worth of gracing your bathroom shelves.
Best Overall: Merkur 34C Safety Razor
- Attractive polished chrome finish
- Easy to replace blades
- Lightweight design offers optimal maneuverability
- Perfect for beginners
- The handle may be too short for some people
- Less aggressive shave for coarse or curly hair
The Merkur 34C is the unanimous winner in this review, with 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon to confirm our decision. Its polished chrome finish gives it an attractive look.
This lightweight razor comes with a knurled grip, so it doesn’t slip out of your hand while shaving. Its short handle, measuring 3.4 inches, offers excellent maneuverability.
The mobility is handy for beginners using their first safety razor. Its butterfly design makes loading a new razor a breeze. Simply unscrew the bottom to open up the top, slip out the old blade, and drop the new one in.
With a less aggressive shave, the Merkur 34C closed-comb head also offers maximum protection for novice wet-shavers. Its two-piece design means you get your choice of compatible blades.
This is perfect for testing out the ideal blade for your beard type and skin. As far as conservative safety razors go, the Merkur 34C is a safe bet, even for more experienced shavers who are out of practice.
Best for Curly Hair: Bevel Double-Edge Safety Razor
- Exceptional razor for curly and coarse beards
- Extra-long handle for people with large hands
- Durable brass construction
- It may be difficult for beginners to use
- Lacks knurled grip on the handle
People of color may have a more challenging time finding a razor designed for curly hair. Tristan Walker, the company’s owner, designed this blade specifically for the African-American market; he was inspired after finding it difficult to find an ideal safety razor.
This razor also works exceptionally for coarse hair, irritable skin, and ingrown hairs. If you fit this description, you’ll hardly find a better option. Bevel Double-Edge sports a long, 4-inch handle for people with large hands.
Also, the weighted handle lets the blade do most of the work, resulting in a relatively close shave.
The razor’s brass construction means you can expect to use it for many years to come. As a bonus, you get five Bevel blades with your purchase.
You can also use other brand blades with this razor. The main complaint from the team is this razor takes some getting used to.
Its smooth handle doesn’t offer the confident grip a beginner needs. Overall, Bevel Double-Edge Safety Razor provides exceptional performance for people with irritable skin and prone to ingrown hairs.
Best Long-Handle Safety Razor: Merkur 38C Safety Razor
- Long handle for people with large hands
- Mildly aggressive shave for people with sensitive skin
- An ideal choice for novice shavers
- Head construction could be better
If you loved the Merkur 34C but are worried about the short 3-inch handle, the 38C is a perfect alternative. We couldn’t tell the difference in shave quality between the two models.
Our larger-handed testers did, however, have a much easier time using the Merkur 38C. The 38C sports a long 3.79-inch handle.
Another excellent example of German precision, this Merkur, sports a chrome-plated zinc alloy head and brass handle. The handle weighs more than the 34C, requiring even less pressure to shave.
The closed-comb design offers a mildly aggressive shave, perfect for sensitive skin. We highly recommend this Merkur 38C Safety Razor as an entry-level razor and an alternative to the 34C.
On the downside, the team didn’t care much for the zinc alloy head. This isn’t heir-loom material, but the chrome plating does help immensely with longevity. The price is also a little steep, but still an exceptional razor for beginners and people with sensitive skin.
Best Affordable Safety Razor: Edwin Jagger Double-Edged Safety Razor
- Great for beginners
- Good grip
- The handle may be too short for some people
Edwin Jagger is a British safety razor manufacturer and a trusted brand. This safety razor is another perfect choice for beginners with its mildly aggressive shave.
The razor carries most of its weight on the head, allowing for an efficient shave with minimal pressure. The short handle also offers excellent maneuverability.
The striped patterns on the handle give you a good grip, even with wet hands. We couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this option and the Merkur 34C.
We were happy enough with this Edwin Jagger to recommend it as a cheaper option to the 34C Merker. This Edwin Jagger is a solid choice as far as closed-head razors go, particularly for the price.
Best Heavy-Duty Safety Razor: Vikings Blade the Emperor ‘MEIJI’ Adjustable Safety Razor
- Adjustable aggressive setting
- Heavy-duty brass construction
- Visually appealing product
- Not suitable for beginners
- It doesn’t include blades
If the Vikings used safety razors, we do not doubt that this MEIJI Adjustable Safety Razor would be their top pick. This is an imposing safety razor, down to its looks and feel.
This razor weighs 4.4 ounces which you’ll feel immediately when you pick it up. Vikings Blade the Emperor MEIJI sports solid brass construction, so you know it will last long.
We are particularly impressed by how the weight is balanced out, given the short handle. Although bulky, the razor glides smoothly and is surprisingly agile.
This is an adjustable safety razor, allowing you to set the aggressiveness you want. The adjustment settings are painted on, making it easy to get the perfect shave.
You get the best of both worlds with this razor.
One side features a closed comb if you prefer less blade exposure on your skin. The other features an open comb for a more aggressive shave.
A glaring downside is this product doesn’t come with blades. It’s great that you have the freedom to choose which blade you use. Still, we’d have expected blades at this price range.
We recommend this option for more experienced shavers looking for optimum flexibility. If you’re ready to graduate from the Merkur 38C or 34C, this Viking seems like a sensible upgrade.
While overall a great product, the learning curve is high for newbies. It’s all too easy to nick yourself if you haven’t mastered your technique.
Best for Changing Blades: Parker 96R Butterfly Safety Razor
- The perfect option for ingrown, curly, or coarse hair
- Easily change blade with butterfly design
- Long, knurled handle for comfortable grip
- Too aggressive for beginners
For the most part, changing blades isn’t too tricky. The top screws off to replace the blade. This process is even more straightforward with a butterfly razor. Simply twist the bottom of the handle to open and close the head.
This Parker’s butterfly design is undoubtedly a selling point. Aside from easy blade replacement, this razor works exceptionally for coarse hair. You get above-average aggressiveness, perfect for chopping through curly or coarse hair.
Its heavy brass frame lets the razor do most of the work for you. The knurling on the 4-inch handle makes for a steady and comfortable grip.
We highly recommend this for seasoned shavers with curly or coarse hair.
This razor also works well for people with ingrown hairs. However, beginners may find it too aggressive. Overall this is an excellent product at a very reasonable price. It even comes with blades to get you started.
Best Adjustable Safety Razor: Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor
- Six aggressiveness settings
- Beautiful design and finish
- Long handle for people with large hands
- Too aggressive for beginners even on the lowest setting
Merkur makes another appearance on our list, and it is no wonder. This brand has earned international acclaim and is one of the best in the business.
We’ve already reviewed an adjustable razor, the Vikings Blade the Emperor ‘MEIJI’ Adjustable Safety Razor. But, going by this feature alone, we think the Merkur Futur is a better option and a great alternative to the Viking.
This model has some of the broadest range of adjustments we have seen. You can choose from one to six, with one being the mildest. The adjustment sits just below the head, on the top part of the handle.
You get a long handle with this model, which people with large hands will appreciate. On the downside, the handle is smooth. A complaint from our team and other users is the handle can be slippery when wet.
Still, this is an excellent product for seasoned shavers and people with large or coarse beards. We don’t recommend it for beginners, since even the lowest setting is still quite aggressive.
Things to Consider When Buying a Safety Razor
At first glance, safety razors may all look the same, save for a few aesthetic differences. There are more differences than meet the eye.
Some of these differences are subtle, and others not-so-subtle once you know what to look for. Here’s what to consider when buying a safety razor.
Safety razors come in several head designs. Each design affects how the razor performs, so it’s worth paying close attention to.
Also called straight bar design, most safety razors today feature this style. These razors feature a straight safety bar, exposing a smaller portion of the blade than other head designs.
Closed comb safety razors are the “safest” of the bunch and are most suitable for beginner wet-shavers. These razors also feature a reduced blade gap, further decreasing the chances of accidental nicks and cuts.
This type of razor is also known for being less aggressive than other designs. Aggression in this context refers to how quickly and how many strokes it takes to cut through hair.
Closed comb razors are also perfect for daily shaving or 5 o’clock shadow (two or three-day-old beard). However, this head style’s minimal aggression is also its Achilles heel.
It doesn’t work quite as well for longer beards. Also, you might soon graduate to a more aggressive blade once you get the hang of wet shaving.
The slant razor head is slightly angled with a guillotine-style blade. This design cuts the hair at an angle, leading to an efficient and more aggressive shave.
Slant-style safety razors are perfect for shaving awkward spots such as the neck and the chin’s under-girdle. These razors also put minimal pressure on the face and are ideal for particularly sensitive skin.
On the other hand, slant safety razors require some experience with wet shaving to use effectively.
Open comb razors feature comb-like teeth on the base plate. This design exposes more of the blade, leading to a more aggressive shave. Also, this type of razor features a larger blade gap compared to the closed comb variety.
The comb’s teeth help to lift the hair away from the face for a more efficient shave. Open comb safety razors work incredibly well for longer beards and weekly shaving.
You may notice more skin irritation and accidental cuts and nicks if you use this as a daily shaver. This is especially true if you haven’t mastered your technique.
Single-Edge (SE) & Double-Edge (DE)
Most of today’s razors come in a double-edge design. As the name suggests, you can shave with both sides of the blade. This design comes with a standard blade, giving you the chance to experiment with different blade manufacturers regardless of your razor’s make.
Single-edge razors allow you to shave only using one side. This design is relatively harder to find but is significantly more aggressive than the DE design.
Generally speaking, SE designs also offer a closer shave, primarily due to their thicker blade design. On the downside, single-razor designs tend to be pricier than their DE counterparts.
Also, single-razors are vastly different, making it harder to find blades. You’ll probably have to stick with blades designed for your specific make of a single-blade razor.
These safety razors allow you to adjust the razor’s aggressiveness. The adjustable razor will enable you to tweak the space between the safety bar and razor, giving you more or less aggressiveness.
With some models, you twist the handle or a knob to adjust the blade gap. In others, you replace the head to achieve the desired aggression.
These types of safety razors are especially useful when shaving different parts of your face. However, you’ll need some experience with wet shaving before you can learn what works.
The razor’s weight also affects the shaving experience. As a general rule, heavier safety razors mean you don’t have to apply as much pressure while shaving.
The deadweight and gravity help put much of the labor on the razor rather than your hands. Heavier razors are also more comfortable to handle, especially for beginners.
On the other hand, lighter razors are more agile. Experienced wet-shavers prefer the maneuverability of lighter razors. Safety razors hold most of their weight on the head or handle.
For the most part, handle length is more for comfort. Standard safety razor handle lengths vary between three and four inches. People with larger hands may prefer longer handles for a more comfortable shaving experience.
Generally, safety razors have a shorter handle than your typical cartridge razor. This fact may be worth taking into account when you’re buying your first razor.
If you’re unsure, 3.5 inches gives you the best of both worlds. You may want to go with closer to four inches if you have particularly large hands. A helpful tip, hold the razor with the pads of your fingers and thumb.
Most complaints about the standard safety razor handle length, which is about three to 3-1/4 inches, come from mishandling the razor. Gripping a shaving razor is quite different from handling a saw or screwdriver.
Number of Pieces
Safety razors come in three different designs based on the number of pieces. The designs include two-piece, three-piece, and butterfly. The number of pieces has little or no bearing on the shaving aggression.
Two-piece Razors – Two-piece razors come apart in two places. These razors come with a screw-bottom to release the head from the handle. Despite its design, this razor has multiple parts, meaning more chances of something breaking as the razor ages. Also, you can’t swap the handle for a different one.
Three-piece Razors – Have two separate pieces on the razor’s head. The razor’s handle screws into the top piece. This design allows you to change handles if you’re not happy with your current one. Also, the razor breaks down into more pieces, making it easier to pack while traveling.
Butterfly – It comes in a single piece and is a classic design. This option is the easiest to change blades. Unscrewing the base of the handle opens up the head to easily swap razors.
Don’t worry too much about getting the perfect safety razor if you are buying one for the first time. You will likely change the brand, style, and design multiple times through your shaving life.
If you want to make the conservative choice, you can’t go wrong with the Merkur 34C & 38C.
The Ewin Jagger is also an inexpensive first razor to introduce you to this new world. You can go for the more expensive and more aggressive models once you’re confident with your technique.