Open Comb vs Closed Comb Double Edge Safety razors
Safety razors come in all shapes and sizes. There is much debate about the difference between an open comb razor vs closed comb razor.
Aggressiveness, thickness of beard, how frequently one might shave, and even earlier vs later designs are all common explanations on why one razor is better than the other.
The Double Edge Safety razor design
We will focus on a traditional 3 piece safety razor that has the blade exposed on both sides of the razor.
The three pieces can be described as a handle and the head which includes (top and bottom plates). The razor blades sandwich between the top and bottom plates when you assemble the razor.
The comb is nothing more than the design of the bottom plate providing exposure to razor blade.
Open Comb Razor
The comb refers to the edge of the bottom plate. Open comb designs have teeth that expose the razor blade. Open comb teeth are not sharp, they just channel the beard or hair to the razor blade.
These are the most common reasons why people prefer using an Open comb razor
More aggressive or closer shaves
Longer, thicker, or faster growing beards
Closed Comb Razor also known as Straight Bar razor or Safety Bar razor
Similar to the open comb razor the closed comb razor also refers to the edge of the bottom plate. Instead of a teeth like comb design it is a flat edge that typically has grooves in it.
This bottom bar or comb is considered the safety part of the razor and provides exposure to the blade. The bar portion is what rests upon your skin when shaving and protecting you from the blade.
These are the most common reasons why people prefer using a Closed comb razor
Provides less aggressive shaves
Use for daily shaves rather than thicker growth
Keeps skin stretched across bar and provides a safer shave
There are more options available in the market
I don’t agree with the aggressive comments between open vs closed. The aggressiveness comes from the distance between your skin and the blade. For Open combs this is determined by the thickness of the teeth and for the closed combs it’s determined by the gap between the blade and bottom plate.
Its possible to have a more or less aggressive shave from either one of these razors. It will depend on the brand and other factors not just the open vs closed comb.
Our current Sir Hare safety razor collection is the closed comb design and what I use almost 90% so you can call a closed comb my daily shaver. I also own a vintage Gillette ball end open comb razor, which I shave with every now and then.
If you are just getting started with safety razors I would suggest the closed comb design until you are ready for your second or third razor to start building your collection.