If a cut-throat razor is a little, well, cut-throat, and you want that heritage feel, then opt for a classic safety razor.
Originally invented in 1880 by Frederick and Otto Kampfe of Brooklyn, New York, the first safety razor using a disposable double-edge blade came along in 1901 thanks to King Camp Gillette and it has barely changed since.
Lee Kynaston of Grooming Guru says: “There’s a resurgence of interest in safety razors for a number of reasons. Firstly, they have an elegance and stylishness missing from modern razors.
“Secondly, they’re a sound investment – looked after properly they’ll last years (or a lifetime in some cases).
“Thirdly, a lot of eco-conscious men see them as a more sustainable alternative to all those plastic handles and plastic-surrounded blades (not to mention all the wasteful blister packaging they come in).”
“Yes, you still have to dispose of the metal blades but you’re not throwing all that plastic into landfill. They do take a bit of practice to use (you have to get the angle of the blade right when putting it against your skin) but for the reasons above they’re well worth checking out,” he adds.
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Hill & Drew HDRB40 double-edge butterfly razor and case: £9.99, Shaving Shack
Due to the simplicity of the design and hard-wearing materials used there’s not much to go wrong with a safety razor and it will last a long time, regardless of the price. It offers great value for money and the travel case and simple butterfly movement, to replace the razor, makes it easy to use and simple to take away with you. There’s even a nifty space for spare razor blades under the handle.
Dr Harris Three-Piece Safety Razor, £55, Mr Porter
Made in the UK, this is an elegant and attractive looking razor, but this has similar issues to the Muhle Hexagon. There’s not enough gap between the comb and blade for it to cut the facial hairs easily.
Primal One double-edge safety razor: £14.99, Primal One
This is a timeless looking safety razor with a simple screw head and ribbed handle. The chrome plated finish double-edge razor is simple to use and the knurling on the handle provides extra grip.
The Bluebeards Revenge cutlass double-edge safety razor: £34.99, The Bluebeards Revenge
Solid and sturdy, The Bluebeards Revenge cutlass safety razor comes in an attractive dark metallic finish and the smaller head allows for more visibility when cutting around facial hair. The laser etched logo on the top is a nice touch, too.
Bambaw bamboo and steel safety razor, long handle: £19.95, The Plastic Free Shop
This taps into the environmental qualities of using a safety razor. The Bambaw’s stylish double-edge safety bamboo razor has a 100 per cent natural, sustainably grown bamboo handle with stainless-steel safety guard and trimmings. The bamboo feels more tactile in the hand and makes the safety razor feel more contemporary in our anti-plastic age.
Muhle hexagon forest safety razor: £45.50, Muhle
The most colourful that we tested, the Muhle hexagon razor in metallic forest green is an elegant and compact design. The anodised hexagon-shaped aluminium handle is the work of renowned Berlin designer Mark Braun and it looks great, but the head hold the blades too flush with no gap to allow the hairs through and as such struggles to cut thick stubble hair.
Merkur long handled classic double-edge safety razor 23C: £35.95, The Modern Man
While this razor has a thinner and longer handle, it feels as strong as anything we’ve tested. The ends of the razor are both covered by the head and the delicate engine turning on the handle provides grip. This is perfect for those who struggle with shorter handles and want quality German engineering.
Barbarossa the ottoman double-edge razor in 24K gold: £60, Barbarossa Brothers
This wouldn’t look out of place in Donald Trump’s bathroom. It’s the blingiest you’ll find. Plated in 24K, it says it is one of the world’s heaviest safety razors and comes in a handsome gift box with extra blades. This is for the man who wants to get noticed in his bathroom.
Edwin Jagger de razor black DE86: £26, The Traditional Shaving Company
From the British home of steel, this has got the grooming moves like Jagger. The most 1930s looking, the shiny-black plastic handle and chrome top, decorated with the Edwin Jagger name and “Sheffield England” proudly at the bottom, is lightweight and cleans easily. The ends of the razor are also covered to stop you accidentally nicking yourself.
The Executive Shaving Company mild stainless steel handle safety razor: £40, The Executive Shaving Company
The head is the same one as used on the German made R89 Muhle which is one of the top selling safety razors in the world. The lathe turned, all stainless steel, non-slip, deeply knurled handle is made in Glasgow and makes this one of the most substantial razors tested.
The verdict: Safety razors
The simple action of a single razor blade, exposed on both sides, cutting facial hair is a timeless design and so doesn’t really need much extra added to it. If you’re on a bit of a budget, the Hill & Drew double-edge butterfly razor is our first choice, followed by the more environmentally friendly Bambaw bamboo and steel safety razor. But if you want to spend a bit more we’d suggest The Bluebeards Revenge “cutlass” for its dark finish and smaller head.
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