Men who are just staring out with traditional wet shaving often wonder what is the best safety razor for beginners. It isn’t simply a matter of picking one product at random in a store and running with it. Many brands compete in the market, and as you might expect, some are definitely much better than others.
In my personal opinion, the Germans make simply the best safety razors around. But that’s just me. There are a number of excellent brands to choose from. In this article, I’m going to give you my personal pick for the very best safety razor for absolute beginners, and I’ll give you a couple of popular alternatives so that you can figure out which one you like best.
When buying your very first safety razor as a novice traditional shaver, it is important to keep in mind the following points:
1. Don’t buy the cheapest product you can find.
You get what you pay for, especially with a safety razor. The best ones last for decades because they are made with sturdy construction using high quality materials and exceptional craftsmanship. A quality safety razor will cost you somewhere between US$30 and US$45 – and if that sounds like a lot, remember that the cost of a Gillette Men’s Fusion Proglide Power razor with 6 replacement cartridges and a battery comes to at least TWICE that amount. You could get a safety razor and enough blades for an entire YEAR for that kind of money.
2. Decide whether you want easier blade replacement, or easier cleaning.
This means choosing betwee a 3-piece, a 2-piece, or a butterfly-opening mechanism. A butterfly mechanism is easy and safe for changing blades. A 2-piece razor is a compromise between easy blade replacement and easy cleaning. A 3-piece razor gives you complete freedom to clean the razor but makes blade replacement just a little bit more challenging.
3. Your first safety razor should have a closed comb.
Some – not many – safety razors on the market are sold with “teeth” that channel the hair of your beard toward the blade, which is much more exposed to the skin as a result. This is an open comb. Most razors on the market have a bottom plate with grooves, not teeth, that expose much less of the blade. This is a closed comb. You can see the difference in the main picture up top – closed-comb on the left, open-comb on the right. For your first razor, get a closed-comb variant, as this is gentler on your skin.
4. Decide whether you want a long- or short-handled razor.
This depends on the size of your hands. Most men will be fine with a short-handled razor. Some men with larger hands will need a longer handle. For most men, either a short- or regular-length razor will do just fine.
5.Make sure to get a razor with a textured handle.
When I first started out with safety razors, I bought a Muehle R106 black resin-handled safety razor (at a vastly inflated price, sadly). That is a great product and there is nothing wrong with it per se. But I always felt a little worried about slips and nicks that might be caused by the smooth handle. If you are a beginner, you will want to eliminate this problem entirely.
With these criteria in mind, let’s look at what I and many others consider to be the very best simple safety razor on the market:
There is no doubt or hesitation about this one – Merkur makes simply the best safety razors and blades on the market. They are a premium choice, for sure – quality of that kind does not come cheap – but they are absolutely worth every penny.
The model that you see in the picture above is the Merkur 34G short-handled gold-plated safety razor, but this is more of a gift item than a regular daily shaver. Buy one of those fancy goldbugs for your dad for his birthday or for Father’s Day. And stick to the Merkur 34C safety razor for yourself.
This razor is perfect for beginners because it balances out everything just about perfectly.
The short handle is adequate for most men, though if you have larger hands and thicker fingers, you might want to check out one of the alternatives below.
The two-piece mechanism is quick, easy, and safe to use. It allows for easy blade replacement while offering a close, high-quality shave. Pair this razor with a Merkur double-edged razor blade, and you’re all set.
The weight of the razor does all of the work for you. This razor weighs in at 77g (2.72oz). And remember, when you shave, you must not press down on your skin. A great safety razor is designed to be and feel heavy, solid, and well put together. Let it do its job, so that you can do yours – which is to look like a million bucks.
The grip is textured to ensure that you never lose control while shaving. The whole thing just feels like a quality product, and because it’s made by Merkur, it absolutely is.
There really isn’t a single downside or bad point with this razor. But there are some alternatives that are worth looking at.
This is what I use every time I shave. It’s my featured product, and with good reason. This is THE safety razor for pretty much every man who wants to shave like his grandpa did. It is slightly lighter than the Merkur razor given above, at 64g (2.25oz), and has a slightly longer handle at 80mm (3.14in).
The grooved closed-comb bottom plate allows for a neutrally aggressive shave, and as a result this is a great razor even for beginners to use. Because of the high-quality sturdy construction and design, this razor will last for years, if not decades, as any good safety razor should. And the separating bottom plate means that you can clean all of the components easily with some hot water, soap, and a sponge.
(I advise regularly cleaning your razor every time you swap out blades, by the way. If you allow hair and soap residue to build up, you are simply reducing the efficiency of your own daily shaves.)
The quality, solidity, and feel of this product put it right up there with the Merkur razor as the best safety razor for beginners.
Both of the previous razors listed are in the 60-80g range in terms of weight. If you want a really heavy, solid, serious piece of shaving equipment with a textured handle and a cool butterfly opening mechanism, then you’re looking for the:
Parker is another well-known brand in the world of high-quality safety razors, and with excellent reason. They are right up there with German brands like Merkur and Muehle in terms of quality, durability, and design. The Parker 66R safety razor is a serious product, designed to the highest specifications. The handle is 95mm (3.75in) long and the razor itself weighs in at nearly 100g (3.5oz).
The handle is highly contoured and textured to ensure complete confidence in your grip as you shave. The butterfly opening mechanism makes this a doddle to use – just twist the handle to open the blade chamber, remove the old blade, and drop in a fresh one.
The only thing I don’t like about this razor – and this is a very minor complaint – is that the weight can be difficult for a complete novice to handle easily. That doesn’t take long to overcome. Traditional wet shaving requires patience and persistence. Just be a bit more careful when using this razor. The extra weight makes this somewhat less forgiving of rookie mistakes.
Nonetheless, if you want a solid candidate for the best safety razor for beginners, this one is definitely a top-three contender.
Real Shaving for Real Men
You will feel the difference when you start using a proper traditional safety razor, as long as you buy something that is well made from a properly reputable brand. The companies that make really good safety razors are not fly-by-night operations. They have been in the business for decades and know how to produce high-quality equipment.
Get started with traditional wet shaving by getting yourself a proper safety razor today. Stop by in the near future to get some insights and tips on which blades you should buy as well. Just as not all safety razors are created equal, not all blades are equally high quality or good value.
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a really high quality safety razor, and start shaving the way your grandfather did, with the best safety razor for beginners.