When deciding what safety razor you want to buy, there might be one particular choice you might not even know you have to make – open comb or closed comb? Despite what may look to you as a purely cosmetic choice, there’s actually a lot of thought that should go into whether or not you want to invest in an open comb razor.

In short, the ‘comb’ of a safety razor is the edge of the head itself; when you have a closed comb, the surface is smooth so that the razor glides across your face, but an open comb has the kind of ridged guides on the end you see on many electric razors.

Like some of the top trimmers for the electric-preferenced folks, open comb razors are great for thicker beards, since they were originally designed to help you deal with that longer growth that needs to be guided and controlled in order to properly shave. If that sounds like you, we’ve got a solid guide to which open comb razors you might want to try out. Read on!

Things You Never Knew About Shaving:

We figured since we are going to tell you about open comb razors, which is kind of an old school way of shaving, that we would throw some information at your first. Shaving actually has a pretty interesting history and most of the facts we intend to tell you about today are unknown by the majority of people. Get ready to have your mind blown!

Cavemen Were Metrosexuals:

Ok, so that’s not exactly true, but they did partake in grooming. There is evidence in the forms of cave painting and artifacts that indicate that cavemen used to groom their facial hair. Rumor has it that they used to use clam shells, flint knives and the odd shark tooth or two to get their faces baby smooth. Remember this the next you complain about shaving…at least you don’t have to use shark teeth!

London Calling:

The oldest barbershop that is still in existence is in London. Classic shave company, Truefitt and Hill have been kicking around London and shaving faces since 1805. They have shaved kings, princes, dukes and maybe even a duchess or two…You never know what some of those ladies are hiding.

Fire Starters:

Ancient Aztecs used to make their razors out of volcanic glass, which is pretty inventive of them. They had a rather creative form of aftershave too…they used molten lava as aftershave. Ouch! We can only imagine how soothing that felt on the skin after using razors made out of swords, sickles, arrow tips and of course the volcanic glass.

Crazy Cat People:

We completely understand loving your cat and mourning them once they go to the big litter box in the sky, but we have to draw the line at shaving off our eyebrows to show how sad we are. Apparently this was the known thing to do if you were around in ancient Egypt.

Politician Vows to Stop Shaving:

Apparently making public declarations about not being too fond of the current POTUS isn’t relegated to the Facebook generation. Word has it that Valentine Tapley vowed to never shave again after Honest Abe Lincoln was elected president. Tapley was clearly a man of his word because upon his death in 1910, his beard was over twelve and a half feet long.

Frequent Flier Miles:

Statistics show that the average man will shave somewhere around 20,000 times in their lifetimes. That means that you could shave off about 27 feet of hair throughout your life. If you multiply that by all the men on earth…holy hair batman.

Forbidden to Shave:

Soldiers from the late 19th century until about the middle of World War 1 were forbidden to shave the hair off of their upper lips. Finally, mustache hating, Lieutenant – General Sir Nevil Macready, changed this by way of an Army Order as soon as his butt hit the chair as boss. He promptly shaved his upper lip caterpillar and never looked back.

Baby Faced King Criticizes Facial Hair:

Young gun Macedonian king, Alexander the Great, was not a fan of facial hair. He may not have been quite old enough to even have whiskers during his reign, but he made sure that his soldiers were clean shaven. He didn’t want his army to allow the enemies to have the upper-hand of having something to grab onto, so he made being clean shaven a requirement.

Parker 26C – Black Handle Three Piece OPEN COMB Double Edge Safety Razor:

The Parker 26C is an oldie but a goodie – it’s got a nice, classic look, with the black, stippled handle that holds up no matter how wet your hands get. The open comb is nice and wide, and the ridges are fairly deep, so expect to feel it when you run it across your face like a dozen little fingers sorting your beard into rows for easy shaving. (But, you know, not in a creepy way like that just sounded.)

Another advantage to this razor is that it’s nice and heavy at more than 3 ounces – as I always say, the razor should be the one putting all the weight on your beard. A nice heavy and balanced safety razor like this is great for open combs as well, since it gives you that much more leverage to run the open comb through those aggressive beard hairs. All in all, it’s a really solid razor that will do you a lot of good in the long run.

Merkur “1904” Classic Safety Razor:

The Merkur 1904 has a lot of fans in the wet shaving world, and it’s easy to see why – it’s got a century-long history of being an amazing wet shaver (being a replica of an old-school German razor that’s literally from 1904) and it shaves like a dream. It’s a bit of a shorter blade than many other safety razors – it’s only about 3 inches long – but this just means you can leverage it against the palm of your hand so you can have greater control over your strokes.

The open comb in this one is much wider and segmented than many other razors of its type – instead of just having ridges that are raised against the metal, this actually has a ‘comb’ with gaps and everything. This kind of shaver is probably ideal for people with even thicker beards, since it really looks like it was meant to get down to business. Still, don’t worry about the teeth poking an eye out – they’re nicely rounded so it feels smooth on your face.

Muhle Open Comb Double Edge Safety Razor:

Muhle makes some pretty awesome razors as well, and this one has a lot of points for design and aesthetics. This thing looks gorgeous, from its super-rounded open comb teeth design to the unique texture on the stippled handle. This isn’t the same old Vice Grips-esque checkered pattern, but it’s got a cool set of wavy, textured ridges that is just as fun to look at as it is comfortable to hold.

As for the open-comb shaving, it’s got one of the better, smoother shaves I could expect out of such a fascinatingly beautiful shaver. While it doesn’t look like the kind of piece you want to take out of its box (it’s just too lovely), it performs time and again like any old standby razor you use every day. This makes it great as both decoration and a shaving tool. While it’s a little bit pricier than most ($46 as opposed to the approximately $30 you’ll get for others), you’ll want to invest in it anyway.

RazoRock Jaws Three Piece Open Comb Double Edge Razor:

If you want something a little more utilitarian, RazoRock has the “Jaws” three-piece razor, which is pretty simple and straightforward. It’s just got the simple stippled texture, rounded open toothed comb on the top (like the 1904), and is otherwise pretty unremarkable to look at. It definitely gets the job done, but it won’t be winning any beauty contests anytime soon.

Still, I will say it’s a fantastic deal for the price ($20), and it’s got a really nice feel to its shave. It pretty much shaves about as well as you’d expect one of the pricier razors to shave, but at 10-20 bucks less.

The Symmetry Open Comb DE Safety Razor:

Finally, if you want something a little quirkier with your open comb razor use, I suggest the “Symmetry.” This one’s just the branded razor of How to Grow a Moustache, but it definitely can hold its own with the big boys. The thing that stands out most about it is the HTGAM logo on the top of the head – it’s just a little engraved moustache on the head of the razor, which is kind of cute. (Just hold it horizontally above your lip in front of the mirror for maximum effect.) The chrome-plated razor looks pretty nice, the texturing on the handle makes for a good grip, and it’s wonderfully balanced, which is a plus.

Additional Resources about open vs. closed comb razors: