Understanding Safety Razor Terminology
Let’s talk about the differences in safety razors.
- Different razor heads
- What to expect from different heads
At its most basic, a safety razor consists of a handle and head. The most common are two-piece and three-piece safety razors. A three-piece razor includes a handle, base plate, and top cap while a two-piece razor has the base-type plate attached to the handle and the top cap with a post that screws tight to the handle. Both types of razors are used the same way. The biggest difference in safety razors resides in the head design and geometry.
Safety Razor Heads:
- Closed Comb (Safety bar) – In a closed comb safety razor, the base plate has a straight bar that provides a layer between your face and the razor blade. (Sometimes it is called a safety bar.) This is a great head for beginners as it lessens the exposure to the blade as you hone your technique.
- Open Comb – The open comb head has openings in the base plate, like teeth in a comb that expose more of the blade to the skin and hair. These are often considered more aggressive because of the amount of exposure.
- Slant – This is called a slant razor because the design of the head is bending the razor blade so the blade is torqued. The idea is that a blade coming at an angle cuts more efficiently. (Not to be morbid, but a guillotine comes to mind.)
- Adjustable – Adjustable safety razors change the blade gap to lessen or heighten the aggression. Typically a large blade gap = more aggressive. Again more blade comes in contact with the skin thereby increasing the “danger zone” for both hair removal AND irritation.
- Single Edge – As opposed to a DE (double edge) blade with TWO cutting sides, a single edge safety razor has only one side with a cutting edge. There are two different types of single edge blades. Injector blades are usually short (similar to DE) blades with one sharp side that are inserted into the razor. Artist Club style blades are longer than a typical DE blade. Single edge blades can be more aggressive, because they are thicker and have less bend to them. The artist club blades also cover more territory per pass and so are often deemed more efficient.
How Does the Head Affect Your Shave?:
In general, all safety razors are used the same way but the blade exposure, blade gap, weight, and head geometry can all impact your shave.
- Closed comb heads are generally mild in aggression, still capable of a great shave but less likely to cause irritation.
- Open comb heads are often the next step in aggression and can efficiently mow down whiskers. They can cause more irritation because of the application of more blade to the skin, but they are a great choice of every-other-day or heavy growth shavers.
- Slant heads take a bit more technique, but once mastered they are extremely efficient at quickly cutting down your facial hair growth with fewer passes.
- Adjustable heads are great when you want choice when you shave. Perhaps even within your shave, you can change the gap to dial in on the hair growth patterns and surface area you are covering.
- Single Edge safety razors are very similar to their double edge counterpart (except that you only have one cutting edge to deal with). If you use Artist Club style blades, with their wider width, you might discover it is more efficient as it covers more area per pass.
Safety Razor Terminology:
- Efficiency: how quickly & well you are able to cut the hair without additional passes.
- Aggression: how much blade touches your face or how you experience the blade touching your face.
- Blade Angle: head geometry that bends the blade at different angles to work with a shaver’s technique.
- Blade gap: distance between the guard (base plate) and blade. Usually a larger gap allows more of the blade to be exposed and makes for more aggression.
- Balance: how the razor is weighted to allow the head to do the work and not create too much pressure.
- Chatter: the vibration of the blade as you shave. Different heads tighten the blade down differently to reduce this outcome.
Understanding the safety razor and how it works best for you is just your first step in your wet shaving adventure. Once you’ve discovered how well it works, you will swept up into this culture of great shaves, amazing scents, smooth skin, and, of course, phenomenal results. Drop us a comment below and tell us which is your favorite safety razor and why.