If you’re already familiar with the term “safety razor,” it’s guaranteed that the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear it is a gleaming double-edged razor. But did you know there’s more out there? In this single edge vs double edge razor review, I explore the unique benefits and drawbacks of the single edge safety razor and compare it to its more well-known sibling.
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What Is A Single Edge Razor?
In practice, the term is almost only used to refer to metal safety razors that take disposable single edge blades. Some single edge razors can also take a double edge blade that’s been broken in half.
Using a single edge razor is a lot like using a regular cartridge razor, especially when it comes to the cutting angle. There is some variation between the different designs out there when it comes to the blades you can use and how to place them into the razor head, but for the most part, it’s pretty easy.
The first safety razors ever released were single edge razors, with a few patents popping up in the late 19th century (with one patent nicknamed “the pig scraper” – possibly the worst name for a grooming product I’ve ever come across). Quite a few different razor companies released their own takes on a single edge razor.
For a short while, they co-existed in the market along with the first double edge safety razors created by Gilette. Eventually, double edge razors beat out their single-edged counterparts so soundly that most people don’t even know single edge safety razors exist, and the word “safety razor” is pretty much synonymous with double edge razor.
Recently, with the wet shaving resurgence, a few brands (primarily start-ups) have released their upscale takes on single edge safety razors, including Supply which was raised funding on the show Shark Tank.
These razors are normally quite expensive, but brands put a lot of thought into engineering them and making something special, with features like more flexible heads, premium materials, and uniquely easy ways of replacing blades.
You can also still find vintage single edge razors, especially at specialty stores or on eBay.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Single Edge Razors?
Single edge blades are special, but they’re also pretty niche within an already niche product category, so allow me to examine their benefits and drawbacks more closely.
- Single edge design can be great for shaving hard-to-reach areas or crevices where there’s a risk of nicking yourself, especially when shaving intimate areas (okay, yeah, I’m talking about the butt).
- Opening and loading the blades into the razor is a little less intimidating since there are three non-cutting, safe-to-grip sides. Most modern single edge razors are also designed specifically with injectors or back-loading heads, which also make the blade change process a little safer.
- Using a single edge razor is very similar to using a mainstream manual razor, so most men will be able to pick it up and use it right away.
- The newer releases, in particular, have a very compelling modern aesthetic – they look damn cool.
- Though expensive, these razors are a very long-lasting product, and the single edge blades are usually relatively affordable to replace when compared to replacing cartridges.
- They generate less waste than cartridge razors, making them an eco-friendly option.
- Single edge razors are much harder to find online or in stores.
- The single-edge razors available on the market are usually more expensive than other razors.
- Finding replacements blades can be a little difficult depending on the kind of blades that your razor can take.
- You’ll need to rinse them often as you shave since there is only one blade edge.
What Is A Double Edged Razor?
A double edge razor is the quintessential safety razor. It has a metal body and a head that can hold a double edge razor. Each edge of the blade is slightly exposed, so both sides can be used for shaving. Since it’s a safety razor, there is also a guard that protects the skin from getting cut during the shaving process
The first safety razors were released by Gillette, not too long after the first single edge razors were released. They took over the shaving world during World War I when kits were issued to the soldiers out on the front. This lead to the massive spread of shaving razors, and made shaving at home much more accessible to men all over the world.
It was only with the release of the first plastic cartridge and disposable razors in the 70s that double edge razors fell out of favor.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Double Edged Razors?
Double edge razors are the OGs, and there are some good reasons why they’ve been having a comeback.
- Double edge razors offer incredible savings in the long term, thanks to durable, affordable razors and stupidly cheap replacement blades.
- They have a neat retro aesthetic.
- They don’t require as much rinsing since you can flip the razor over once one side of the blade gets too clogged with hair.
- They produce minimal waste and are fairly eco-friendly.
- There’s a very small learning curve when first figuring out how to use a double edge razor.
- You do have to be a little careful when replacing the blades, to avoid cutting yourself.
- They’re nearly impossible to use on hard-to-reach body parts.
Single Edge vs Double Edge Razors: Final Verdict
When it comes to single edge vs double edge razors, single edge razors definitely have their place in the razor market, but I don’t think they’ll outperform double edge razors anytime soon.
Both safety razors can provide an excellent shave, and both will encourage you to replace the blades often. I’ve previously compared safety razors vs cartridge razors, and while that article focused on double edge razors, a lot of the same benefits apply to single edge ones.
But when trying to choose between single edge vs double edge razors, I think it makes the most sense to start with a double edge. The learning curve for using a double edge razor is minimal, and they’re simply more accessible both when it comes to price and availability.
That said, single edge razors do manage to problem-solve certain unique issues that some men could have with double edge razors. They’re easier to use over creased body parts like the underarms or the gluteal cleft where using a double edge razor without cutting yourself can be difficult.
For men with mobility issues or poor hand dexterity, the ease of changing single edge blades can suddenly make wet shaving much more accessible. So if you’re still deciding between single edge vs double edge razor, this may be a reason to pick single edge.