What is a safety razor is a question any youngster just learning to shave could easily ask. With so many types of shaving gadgets including electric shavers this not a strange question by any chance. For those who do not know, the safety razor is a metal shaving device with a handle and a cutting head which has a slot for the double edge safety blade to fit into.
The handle is long enough to be held comfortably in the hand while shaving. The stainless steel safety razor is perhaps the most common type around as stainless steel is the material widely used to manufacture traditional safety razors. Wet shaving is the norm with safety razors and so the metal is often oxidized so that the razor does not degrade in wet conditions. Some de safety razors also have a brass frame that has nickel plating to prevent rusting and corrosion. The basic design of the safety razor has remained the same since the 1900s. However, there are a couple of big feature differences that we are going to outline here.
Design Feature 1: Butterfly design
Otherwise known as the Twist-to-open razors (TTO).
This is a one piece safety razor and has no removable parts and is one of the most popular designs ever in traditional safety razors. When the knob, placed in the handle is turned, the head opens out like a butterfly’s wings. The razor head is opened to place a new razor blade in its slot. Once you have placed the blade you can twist the handle in the opposite direction to close. It is because of the movement of the head on the razor that it is also called butterfly razor and referred to a silo razor too. Since the head opening and closing mechanism allows you to quickly replace the used blade with a new one this is among the most convenient razors to use. However, due care has to be taken to clean out the soap or shaving cream and dry out the razor so that the dried deposits do not hamper the opening and closing mechanism.
This is without a doubt, our favorite design feature due to the convenience and ease of cleaning and changing out old blades for new. We love them.
Design Feature 2: The Two Piece Safety Razor
This safety razor has a cutting head with two halves. The bottom half of the head is fixed to the handle. The top plate has a long screw that grooves right into the handle. The top half of the two piece razor unscrews so that you can remove the complete top to insert the safety razor. The mechanism works better when the razor is held upside down with the handle on top. Once you turn the release knob the lower half will fall into your palm along with the old blade. Turn it over, replace the double edged blade and screw back the top plate.
In this razor you have to pay careful attention to clean out the shaving soap and cream that could have lodged in the space where the screw of the top plate is inserted into the handle. If you don’t clean it thoroughly the threads could wear out and cause the screw to become unsteady and can cause a change in the alignment which might not provide the best shaving results.
Design Feature 3: The 3 Piece Razor
The basic design of the three piece safety razor is the same as the two piece razor, only that this razor has three separate parts.
It has two halves of the cutting head, the bottom and top, while the third part is the handle. To fix the safety razor for shaving all you need to do is place the safety blade inside the head and fix the handle. Since the parts are designed to screw into each other there is no confusion at all while getting the razor ready for a shave.
Out of the three types of safety shaving razors, some of us here believe that the three piece razor is the easiest to clean since the whole head comes off and without the blade can easily be rinsed. Some of us here at S3 believe the butterfly is slightly easier to clean but all of them are good options.
How to use a safety razor depends on how well you understand the features. Besides the basic design mentioned safety razors have blade gaps, which is the space between the blade and the cutting edge of the head. The size of the gap will determine how many hair follicles enter it in order to be cut.
Most razors have a fixed blade gap; however, there are also safety razor models that allow you to adjust the gap. This is useful for beginners who start with mild hair follicles and then go on to thicker hair follicles. Safety razors with fixed blade gaps are simple to use as they do not have any complicated parts to fix.
Adjustable gap razors have a selector dial which is twisted to get the desired blade gap. You can adjust the gap to give you a mild shave or a more aggressive one. Naturally for an aggressive shave the blade gap is wider. Safety razors have another feature called the comb which is basically the teeth through which the hair follicles move before being cut and which prevent clogging. The design variations are called closed comb, open comb and slant.
As you see, there are some outstanding choices in terms of design options with no bad choices. All of them do the job, give a great shave and are pretty low maintenance to clean. We are split here between the Butterfly design and the 3 piece design and like many things in wet shaving, its a matter of personal preference.