Tips on Finding the Best Safety Razor Blades
Once you’ve chosen your safety razor, the next step in setting up your wet shaving kit is to decide on which double edge razor blades to buy (if you haven’t yet chosen a razor, check out our post on the best safety razors). Just as your choice of razor matters for the quality of the shave, your choice of which razor blades to use is equally as important.
Generally speaking, you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent shave with a safety razor no matter what blades you use. At least in so far as it compares to the shave you’d get using a disposable or cartridge razor (safety razor vs cartridge). That being said, there are actually quite a few differences between the major safety razor blade brands on the market in terms of sharpness, aggressiveness, durability and, of course, the price.
For this reason, determining which the best safety razor blades depends on your own personal preferences and which factors are most important to you. Are you looking for the sharpest blades on the market, or if you’re just learning to wet shave, maybe you’d prefer something a bit less aggressive and more forgiving?
In terms of price, you can expect to pay anywhere from 2 or 3 cents up to around a dollar per blade, depending on the brand and where you purchase them. If you’re unsure about whether or not a specific blade is right for you, I’d recommend purchasing a smaller pack to begin with. However, you can usually save quite a bit per blade if you buy in bulk. In addition, although many of the more popular safety razor brands are available in brick and mortar stores, I would definitely recommend buying on Amazon instead, as you’ll usually pay quite a bit less per blade when buying them online.
Again, it is really quite hard to say which are the best safety razor blades. This is because other factors like the hardness of your water, the type of shaving soap or cream you use and which safety razor you’re using will all play a part in how each blade performs.
For some men, the sharper the blade the better, while others may find that the sharpest blades tend to increase the amount of skin irritation. The sensitivity of your skin and the coarseness of your beard hair also play an important role. Whereas a less aggressive blade may easily slice through one man’s beard, the next guy may find that same blade to be overly dull—grabbing and tugging at the hairs instead of slicing them off cleanly. Therefore, it may be necessary for you to try out a number of different brands before you determine which one works best for you.
As someone with over 15 years of wet shaving experience, I’ve tried virtually all razor blades I could get my hands on. As someone with quite thick, coarse beard hair and fairly sensitive skin, I generally find that the sharpest blades and a less aggressive razor (my personal favorite is the Edwin Jagger DE89lbl) give me the best shave, but of course, your mileage may vary. That being said, here are what I consider to be the 10 best safety razor blades on the market today.
Top 10 Best Safety Razor Blades
#1 Feather Hi-Stainless Platinum
The ultimate in sharpness and durability, Feather Hi-Stainless Platinum are mine and many others choice for the best safety razor blades on the market. Just one word of advice though, be careful with these things, as they’re sharp enough to do some serious damage if you’re not paying attention. I definitely wouldn’t recommend Feather blades to safety razor newbies, but if you’re an experienced wet shaver looking for the closest shave possible, it really doesn’t get any better than Feather. Just as the Feather blades are the top of the line, so is it’s Feather All Stainless Safety Razor.
#2 PolSilver Super Iridium
Probably the least well known brand on this list of the best safety razors, which I really think is a shame, as these things are great. I find them to be on par with the other top end brands, both in terms of sharpness and price. While they may cost upwards of 30 cents a blade, it is well worth it, as the babies slice through my thick beard like a hot knife through butter. Personally, I also think they are slightly more durable than Feather blades and almost (but not quite) as sharp. In fact, these are usually my go to blades, and the only reason I didn’t list them above Feather is that they can sometimes be hard to find and Feather has such a cult following in the shaving world that I felt they still deserved the top spot.
#3 KAI Stainless Steel
Japanese steel is known to be one of the highest quality steels in the world, along with German and English. Yet for some reason, when it comes to Japanese razors, Feather gets all the credit. In my opinion, the Japanese-made KAI blades are definitely right up there with Feather and the rest, making them more than deserving of a spot on any list of the best safety razor blades. In terms of sharpness, these things seem like they could cut through anything. Still, the reason I really like them is that they are also super durable. In fact, I think most Japanese razors last a bit longer than other types of steel.
#4 Astra Superior Platinum
Astra is probably one of the most divisive brands on this list, as most men either love them or hate them. Personally, I really love how sharp they are, but I do find them to be a bit aggressive, possibly even more so than Feather blades despite not being quite as sharp. This is probably the main complaint about Astra blades, as they do tend to cause a bit more irritation than many others. That being said, if you’re not one of those with overly sensitive skin, they’re definitely still worth a try as many men swear by them.
#5 Personna Blue/Red
Personna makes a number of different types of safety razor blades, all of which I really like. My favorites are the Personna Blue (they come in a blue box), but the Personna Reds are also a good choice. When searching online, you’ll probably come across two different types of Personna Blue blades—one type that is made in the USA and another that is made in Israel and sometimes sold as Crystal+. Personally, I haven’t really experienced any difference between the two, but if you’d prefer an American made blade, make sure you pay attention to which ones you’re buying. The reason I really like these blades is that they are not only super cheap (usually less than $0.15 per blade), but also one of the sharpest blades I’ve come across (although not quite as sharp as the Japanese brands).
Virtually only available online, Shark is another brand that has slowly been building up a bigger following in recent years. These blades are best for those looking for cheaper blades, who don’t mind having to throw them away more often. The biggest complaint about Shark blades is that they don’t last very long, but considering the price, this really isn’t a huge problem. The only other important thing to note is that many reviews have noted some slight inconsistencies, meaning some packages of blades may be far superior to others. Overall, they are probably one of the sharper blades you’ll find for this price.
#7 Wilkinson Sword Classic
Produced in Germany by Schick, I must say I was incredibly pleased the first time I used a Wilkinson Sword razor blade. While they’re definitely not sharp enough to give me a super close shave, they also produce virtually no irritation. They are on a similar price point with the Gillette blades, meaning they are very affordable. However, the quality of the German steel used in the Wilkinson Sword definitely sets them apart, as it makes the blades more durable. Still, the biggest selling point is Schick’s special synthetic polymer coating, which is meant to reduce friction and allow the blade to gently glide over the face—which is exactly what these blades do.
#8 Merkur Razor
As one of the biggest names in the straight razor world, you’d think that Merkur would know all about razor blades. Unfortunately, myself and many others find them to be nowhere near the top end of the range. Although they’re a bit sharper than Derby Extra, they still aren’t quite up to par for those with coarse beards, as they have a slightly rougher edge that tends to tug and pull. However, the biggest problem I have with Merkur blades is the price. These blades generally cost between 50-70 cents per blade, which is more expensive than even Feather blades, which are known to be some of the sharpest, best safety razor blades on the market. For that price, you’d expect them to last, but unfortunately, I also find Merkur blades to not be quite as durable as many others. That being said, they’re one of the easiest blades to find, being readily available in a wide variety of shops. So, if these are all you can find and you’re in a pinch, they’ll still provide a fairly good shave.
#9 Derby Extra
As one of the least expensive brands on the market, Derby has developed a huge following over the years, with many men swearing by Derby Extra blades. These are generally considered one of the less aggressive blades you’ll come across, which makes them great for those with sensitive skin. It also makes them a great jumping off point for beginners just getting into wet shaving, as they are a heck of a lot more forgiving than others. The only problem is that what some men consider less aggressive, others may term dull. For men, these blades are nearly sharp enough to cut my coarse beard, so if you also have thicker facial hair, you may want to try something a bit sharper.
#10 Gillette 7 O’Clock
I typically try to stay away from Gillette products, simply because I think the company also single handedly ruined shaving. However, I have to say that the Gillette 7 O’Clock blades are actually not that bad. In terms of sharpness, these blades really can’t compare to most others. They’re also not the most durable, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll get more than 3, maybe 4 shaves per blade. Nonetheless, they are still an excellent choice for beginners, as they are both inexpensive and incredibly forgiving.
The Final Word
Choosing the best safety razor blades is a bit like choosing a wife, you try out a few possibilities until you settle on the right one; or if you’re like some men, maybe you just settle for the first one you find. Sticking with the dating analogy, if I had to give you one piece of advice on choosing razor blades, it is to play the field; try out as many razors as you can before you finally decide on which one you want to settle down with.
For this reason, if you’re new to safety razors or simply want to try out a number of different brands, Amazon has a number of sample packs that include a variety of different blades—giving you the opportunity to use each brand in turn to see how they work for you. If you really want to get a good comparison, try shaving each half of your face with a different blade to see how the two stack up. If you do this over a period of a week or two, you’ll quickly be able to determine which blades give you the closest shave, less irritation, etc.