Question: Best DE Razor For The Beginner?

I’m sometimes asked for a recommendation for the “best” DE  razor for the beginner.  Unfortunately, its not an easy answer.  How much do you want to spend? What kind of beard do you have? Do you want to experiment or buy once and be done with it?

The “conventional wisdom” usually takes the route of the Merkur Heavy Duty (AKA 34C or HD).  They’re reasonably well-built and enormously popular.  But I also quite like the Weishi razor: they’re much less expensive and its design is very “forgiving” of poor technique.  Unfortunately the quality control can be a little spotty.

Michael Ham (“Leisureguy”) also used to recommend the HD but has sinced advocated the Ikon open-comb or the Edwin Jagger DE8n series .

What do you think a good razor for the beginner would be?

Related post: What Is The Best DE Razor?

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  1. Batmang says

    Mark, I think you hit it on the head when you say that it depends on your beard and the amount of money one wants to spend. For those who want a mild razor I believe one can't go wrong with a vintage Gillette Tech, a three piece razor that is as forgiving as a double edge razor can be. It's always a "Your Mileage May Vary" proposition and it sometimes takes some experimentation to find a razor that one likes in particular.

  2. KiltedShaver says

    I recommend for modern razors the Merkur HD or the EJ89. If the person wants vintage, I recommend either a Gillette Superspeed or Adjustable (a "slim" or "fatboy".

  3. t4stywh34t says

    I like the way you phrase it as "razor for the beginner" and not a "beginner razor"…that terminology always bugs me because it assumes you start at the bottom and "graduate" to a better razor, when that's usually not the case.

    My vote is with the Tech. It's my go-to-razor, works well with an assortment of blades, and the price-point is excellent.

  4. milen74 says

    I would recommend Gillette Tech,Gilette Superspeed,Weishi TTO,Merkur 33C Classic,Merkur 23C Classic Long Handle,Merkur 34C HD.

  5. goran says

    Hello. I recommend Merkur 34C HD as a DE razor for the beginner. It was also my first DE razor, and is simple, easy to use, well-made, and not so expensive.
    I agree with the idea that vintage Gillette DE razors are fantastic products, they are smoother and also make closer shave easily and softly than modern Merkur products. But they are hard to get them, and some may feel anxious for cleaning or sterilizing.
    Although I sometimes feel the friction on my skin with Merkur 34C HD (I think it is because it is closed-comb: Merkur slant opened-comb model and vintage Gillette New Improved do not work like that), it means the safety and I recommend it.

  6. Robby Spratt says

    I think that the Tech is almost too forgiving for a beginner and might encourage them to develop sloppy technique. For someone with a light beard I think the Superspeed would be a better choice.
    I don't think the iKon razor is a good razor for a beginner because they are quite expensive, and don't seem to be consistently available from the companies website.
    The Merkur HD is a much better choice especially for those with heavy beards. It seems to be easy to handle, but gives enough feedback that it will encourage good technique. The same goes for the Edwin Jagger DE89.
    I also really like the vote for an open comb. My Muhle R41 is quite forgiving, but also capable of giving a great shave. I also find it easier to maintain the proper angle with an open-comb.

  7. Larry Usselman says

    Another vote for the Edwin Jagger DE89L. Great first razor and maybe the only razor one would ever need …assuming razor acquisition disorder (RAD) doesn't kick in!

  8. bsmyn0708 says

    You know, Mark. I regret ever getting the standard Merkur HD. While it's nice, I feel like I'm in behind the seat of a Corvette and my hands want to be behind the wheel of a Ferrari…if you know what I mean ; )

  9. ChristopherH says

    I am not an "experienced" shaver, so have no idea if this is sage. But I love my Merkur 42 … C I think. I also recently discovered the Schick Krona. For learning the hard way, I have a vintage 1918 ball end, open comb, Old type. I use it to practice without training wheels.

  10. Matt Schulte says

    I've got to cast my lot with the Weishi. It may not be the best razor around, but it is pretty good and darn cheap. It is a very inexpensive way for a newbie to give traditional shaving a try. I go a full year of daily abuse out of my Weishi before I broke it and traded up for a Merkur 38C. Heck I've even given the Weishi as a gift before!

    • Charles Cohen says

      The Weishi is very, very mild. Even a beginner can put a Feather blade into a Weishi and get a good shave, no razor burn, no cuts.

      Because the blade exposure is low, you must learn to control razor angle precisely — good practice for more-aggressive razors.

      And you can buy a Weishi _delivered_ for about $12 !!!

      There’s no “bling factor” — it’s aluminum, light, and cheap. But it gives a pretty good shave.

  11. jonrh says

    I'd recommend an adjustable. Being a beginner myself I love the Merkur Progress because it allowed me to tune the aggressiveness of the blade, allowing me to locate my preference on the mild-agressive scale.

  12. Judd says

    I bought a Parker 60# long handle. It came with 10 Shark blades even. Something like $22.
    I still have it but have upgraded to the Merkur 34C long (barber pole). Nice and heavy. I love it (I don't "love" the Parker. Difference between a Sears and Makita 3/4 inch drill or anyother high end tool vs and less expensive one. Don't get me wrong. The Parker does a good job and is now my travel razor.

  13. phoenix0_4 says

    For testing the traditional wetshave, it would be good, to have a cheap razor.
    In Germany, you can try the Wilkinson Classic, a really cheap DE razor, (about 5€ with 10 razor blades) mostly plastic. This razor can be very smooth, but there can be some sharp edges from the production process, which should be removed with a little rasp.
    It seems, that the Wilkinson does not always provide a close shave (with a razor blade with removed cutting edge under the "normal" blade, it can be closer), but for testing, it's really good!

  14. Al Olme says

    I started with a Merkur 34C [like so many others] but RAD quickly set in and now I have several DE's to try. I haven't gotten to all of them yet. IF I had it to do over, I'd start with a Gillette Slim handle adjustable. It's reasonably priced [a Fatboy would be good but it's too expensive] and you get the ability to experiment. That's the thing that was wrong with the HD, I had nothing to compare it with so I didn't know what to expect. As I feel my way along in the DE world, I'm thinking that which blade to use might be a better question.

  15. mister muleboy says

    When I got the wet-shaving bug last summer, the Merkur's were hard to come by. I finally found a place that could deliver me an HD quickly — but RAD had already set in (before I had one!). AND I also couldn't wait.

    So I ordered a Jagger DE89 with overnight delivery.

    The Jagger has the most amizing chrome that I've ever seen.

    I prefer the Jagger 89 to the HD. I've tried to stick to one blade for at least a month (so that I get some baseline info), but so far I am a goddamned nicked-up mess with that HD — although the shaves are a bit closer! ;-)

    My technique just sucks.

    I don't see how one could go wrong with either. But I know that my hands and eyes settled on the Jagger 89.

    Now I'm jonesing for a vintage Gillette Tech, a three piece razor that is as forgiving as a double edge razor can be

    off to EBay. . . .

  16. Anonymous says

    If you're in the UK, or don't mind paying the shipping fees, then I'd highly recommend visiting and purchasing one of the Lord razors. The LP.1822 model has a Merkur-style head and can be had for under £10. For me it was easier to find the correct shaving angle than a Tech and its long handle made it simpler to transition from a Mach3. Saying that, a mild and smooth superspeed is also a great choice for a beginner.

  17. Anonymous says

    I started with a superspeed and then I get a fatboy which I just passed down to my nephew, because I ordered and received my new Merkur Progress long handle from amazon uk. What a nice razor!


  18. Greg says

    I won't vote for a best beginner razor but I have to wonder if the latest fanfare for the Jagger DE89 isn't a case of the latest fad razor.

    I have both the EJ DE89L and the Muhle R89 but are you really saying someone will be better off with one of these than, say, a Merkur HD/ SuperSpeed / Tech?

    A new DE shaver needs to work on technique. The razor is an afterthought.

  19. Anonymous says

    Greg, why do think the Merkur is better than the EJ/Muhle? I've only tried the Merkur HD, so I'm interested in the comparison.

    BTW, what are you supposedly paying for as the price goes up? There are a lot of seemingly similar razors all with slightly different prices (23, 33, 38, etc.). I wasn't blown away with the finish of the HD; does the cost lie in the design of balance and how it handles?

  20. VicB says

    "Best" is a tough question to answer.

    …but for someone new to DE shaving, I personally believe an "adjustable" DE could be the wisest decision by many, then they can set it at a very modest and safe low setting as they go through their "hands on" learning curve.

    Of course one would have to make more "passes" due to the lesser agressive settings, but he also greatly reduces the chances of sacrificing blood in the early days. (especially if one did not take the time to read/view proper training before his first attempt(s).

  21. Spanky says

    Since adjust-ables have issues you can shim and thus have the best of both worlds with your slimmer, simple mild/medium non-adjustable; that you make more aggressive always or just sometimes when cutting longer growths. That’s If you don’t mind throwing in 2 shims to raise the blade; which are simply used blades with the shiny cutting edges sizzor-ed off. This allows a lighter touch and the point is it can be closer (range) so be careful. Especially on delicate areas with your cutting angle. While you can get closer (less passes) on your chin, now you may need to take care to purposely cut it shorter on your lower neck, for example.

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