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There are unique advantages with razors using an open comb design. Like other kinds of DE razors, the open comb uses classic Gillette type double-edge blades. Some of the reviewed designs are classics or slightly modernized. Open comb razors are known for their aggressive ability to cut through thick beards, which plastic cartridge razors can’t do alone without scissors. The open comb design helps prevent cuts and scratches, while aggressively ploughing through a fully grown beard, provided you handle it with patience and skill. It’s not hard to quickly learn how to handle this kind of beast like a pro.
The old fashioned open comb razor, can save you on waste and pollution, which is problematic with modern plastic cartridge razors. Electric shavers are also a problem, because they often end up as wasted environmental hazards, occupying real estate used as a landfill. With DE razors, Only a very small amount of shrapnel, i.e., the classic “Gillette” type DE blade is replaced, and that can easily be recycled for melting down into new blades. DE razors are environmentally friendly, due to no wastage. So rest assured that by switching to open comb razors, you can help the environment.
Some open combs can make your face feel bald, others leave you with stubble. Most require you to hold your skin taut, to minimize stubble. Some are mild, aggressive, very aggressive, and anything in between. Mild razors are good for beginners or veterans that use them as first pass razors, then use another razor for finishing. They are good for an intended stubble look. Aggressive razors are for thick hairs and smoothing off, if you’re skilled. The type of razor you choose and the blade you put in, together with your skill and choice of lubricant, will determine your results.
Merkur 1904 Classic Safety Razor
It began in 1904 as a men’s razor, but has since made a comeback as a unisex retro razor. This razor has been adopted by some women as a leg razor, because of the suitability of the body design in comparison to most other DE razors. The vintage aesthetics are also another reason why this razor has unexpectedly found female fans. Though these aesthetics are metallic, the weight of the razor shouldn’t be a problem. It is easy to take apart and clean. You can even take it traveling. The quality could keep this razor going for decades to come.
The open comb design protects you, while letting you take advantage of the aggressive mowing ability to carve through greater hair growth than you could with a cartridge razor. With such power, you have less repetitions. It features a double safety edge and gives you smooth moving strokes. The short handle can be a slippery hazard, and strokes should be without pressure. The 1904 can do a fairly close shave, without bleeding, if handled right. It can even mow down a full beard. It is more versatile with angles, you wouldn’t expect that from an open comb, unlike cartridge razors.
Another early 1900s vintage design, which is modernized with a more durable alloy body. There is a legal disclaimer from the manufacturer, warning that the product materials might be different from those mentioned on their website. You can take the body apart into three pieces, to make routine cleaning a breeze. The handle is four inches long, and designed for a wet hand grip. Though some buyers have found imperfections in the smoothness of the metal head of their razors, this shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re willing to pay over three times the price for superficial quality.
The design of this razor has a special advantage, where it holds your skin taut for an incredibly close, yet safer shave. This is a unique advantage over all the other competitors reviewed, and even plastic cartridge razors. It even does a good job with thick stubble, sensitive skin, and going against the grain. This all depends on your choice of blade and shaving lubricant. The 26C sits somewhere between mild and aggressive, compared with other open comb razors. The makers have intended the 26C to be used by those with open comb shaving experience ranging from newbies to veterans.
This razor is available with two choices of bodies: a plated chrome shiny-mirrored body, or a high quality resin in black or white. It weighs noticeably less than many similar razors. The type of blades used and choice of shaving lubricant, are essential determining factors for a clean shave, without blood. Foam has been added to the teeth of the Mühle R41, to prevent clogging of the razor by those with courser hair. The R41 is a very aggressive beast, it demands your full attentive respect, else you might get some nasty bites. Its’ a veteran’s beast, not for beginners.
The R41 can take down several days of hair in just a single swipe, give another stroke for smoothness. You won’t feel it glide smoothly over your skin, rather you’ll feel it dragging its’ blade along. Stroke angles are more liberal, but the right angle depends on the bush and terrain. The teeth foam help prevent hair clogging, and also causes longer stubble. Some experienced customers have claimed a very close shave, but you must avoid pressure. You need to hold your skin taut when shaving with this razor. If you don’t like that, you might prefer a Parker 26C.
The 24C is just like his big brother, the 26C. They weigh the same, cost the same, have three pieces, and brass handles, which have functionally similar good grip and comfort. Parker also provides the same legal disclaimer for the two. They are both designed for newbies and veterans. It seems both brothers are manufactured in a manner of mass production to keep prices low, so a few people have experienced superficial complaints about the metal head castings ranging from smoothness to slight burrs, which only needed smoothing off. They look like different variations of the same family.
These Parker brothers rank somewhere between mild and aggressive. The 24C quietly slides over your skin, and for some people a good shave can be achieved with single strokes. Just like big bro, the 24C can do an impressively smooth shave. The Parker family of razors have a reputation for being easier to use, compared with a lot of other brands that require a lot of patience to avoid bloodshed. The 24C is capable of shaving the philtrum properly, which is something not all open comb razors can do, and it’s likely big brother can do the same.
Merkur 15C Safety Razor
The 15C only has 3 inches of handle, which might be desirable for some. If you think the handle is too short, maybe it might help to know it’s a thin, lightweight, hollow handle with good grip. But if you need a longer handle, you can just change it, that’s one of the advantages with all DE three-piece razors. The flatter head design makes it so much easier to do a clean shave on your moustache, because it more easily reaches the nose edge. The 15C could last several years without corrosion, even with regular use, provided you take care.
This DE razor is great for beginners, because it’s mild and good at resisting bloodshed. But for veterans, it means it’s a challenge to get very smooth skin, without risking blood loss caused by the temptation to apply pressure. But it can mow down three weeks of beard, without clogging the razor. For this reason it has been complimented as a good first stroke razor, that should be complimented with a secondary razor for repeated strokes. Some people did have skin irritation, when repeated strokes were used. If slight stubble is not for you, then try a more aggressive razor.
Open comb razors can do closer shaves than both cartridges and closed combs, depending on the circumstances. You can apply weight with plastic cartridge razors, but with DE razors you can easily make yourself bleed by doing that. DE blades are much cheaper than plastic cartridge razors, depending on the brand of blade purchased. Closed combs can be a nuisance to constantly clean out, almost as annoying as plastic cartridge razors. Your hair will determine whether your desired shave, can best be achieved by an open comb with a blade that is really sharp or mild.
Various metals are used for the razor bodies like stainless steel, brass and chrome. Plating is common, but pure, solid bodies exist. The metal composition is often very different when comparing the head and the handle. Because all these razors are classics or modernized retro designs, do not expect deep ergonomic designs, but do expect classic, vintage-quality aesthetics.
Good grip on the handles is so important. This is why a lot of DE users have been switching handles between razors. Some handles are inappropriate for human diversity. Others have outright poor designs, which can cause loss of control. Losing grip of your handle, could cause you to shed blood or you could break the metal razor body, with strong impact on a hard floor. Do not underestimate the importance of good razor handles.