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Check Your Head

Check Your Head

Guest Writer Series |

            If you’ve decided to make the jump from disposal razors to double edge safety razors, but you’ve been put off by the confusing terminology, you are not alone. OC, SB, CC, combs, bars, slants…what does it all mean? Fortunately, safety razor heads are not as complicated as their descriptions make them sound. Most of these terms and abbreviations refer to the style of a razor’s baseplate and how it presents the blade.


            When choosing a safety razor, the first thing to examine is its bar or comb. By far, the most popular form of safety razor head has a safety bar (SB). A safety bar is also referred to as a “guard bar” or “closed comb” (CC). When you look at the baseplate of the razor, you will see a solid metal bar that sits below and slightly in front of the blade. This bar offers the user protection from the razor blade. The safety bar limits how much of the blade can contact the shaver’s skin at any given time. Most daily shavers prefer a razor with a safety bar due to its smooth feel and ability to provide effortless results. The Edwin Jagger DE87 is a good example of a closed comb/safety bar razor. Safety bar razors are a great tool for beginners and experienced wet shavers alike.


            An option that is popular with more intermittent shavers is a razor with an open comb (OC). Instead of a safety bar below the blade, an open comb razor has a series of small teeth. These teeth allow for greater exposure to the surface area of the blade. Some shavers feel like a razor with a safety bar is so smooth, they can’t feel it cutting. This is typically not an issue with an open comb razor, which offers more blade feel while shaving. A particular advantage of an open comb is that it is less prone to clogging by either soap, whiskers, or a combination of both. Soap passes right through the teeth. Open comb razors, such as the RazoRock Old Type, are particularly useful when it comes to shaving over longer beard growth. Also, open comb razors leave a bit of soap on the face, which can be helpful if any areas need to be touched up.


            A less common type of safety razor, but one that is no stranger to experienced users, is the slant head. The geometry of a slant head is different from that of the typical safety razor. The base plate of a slant head razor is angled in a way that torques the blade. Because of this, the blade is not parallel to the razor’s guard bar (or open comb teeth). Like the blade of a guillotine, one side of the razor blade rides a little higher than the other side. This makes for more of a slicing type of cut, as opposed to the straight cut of a conventional safety razor head. Also, the added torque on the flexible double edge blade tends to make the blade feel more rigid, which many users like. Slant heads, such as the Merkur 39C, usually have safety bars, though a few companies make a slant head with an open comb.


            Read some razor reviews and try to find one or two that are most appropriate for your specific needs. No one knows your face better than you do. Being an informed customer will help narrow down the field before making a purchase. A bit of experimentation will ultimately reward you with the perfect for double edge safety razor and a lifetime of close, comfortable shaves.


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