Open vs Closed Comb Razor: What’s the Difference?
Safety razors aren’t complicated contraptions. They’re composed of three very simple parts. The handle is easy to identify. It’s the long part that you hold. The two plates are a different story. The top plate will look like half a cylinder on every safety razor. The bottom plate, or the comb, is the only variation you’ll see in safety razor designs.
At first, it doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference. You hold your safety razor at a 45 degree angle, get a perfect shave, and go off to start your day.
A safety razor will give you a better shave than a cartridge razor, no matter what the bottom plate looks like. Both designs are great, but there’s a subtle difference that may choose you to gravitate more towards a closed comb or an open comb design.
What’s an Open Comb Razor?
Open comb razors have a bottom plate that looks more like a hair comb. It has a bunch of tiny little teeth. These teeth are blunted at the end. They won’t cut you, and they don’t do any of the actual shaving. They work exactly like a hair comb.
As you shave, the teeth from the open comb gather your beard hair and feed it directly to the razor, preventing strays from escaping and potentially reducing the amount of passes you need to get a clean, close shave. The teeth provide a better opening to the blade, allowing hair to both enter and exit. This prevents the razor from getting clogged up with trimmings and lather.
Men who let their beard grow out between shaves prefer open comb designs because they make it easy to shave without trimming first. An open comb razor can handle a beard that’s a little on the longer side.
The design of the comb means that a little more of the blade is exposed. This gets the shave as close as possible. For people who are very comfortable using safety razors or straight razors, this is a benefit. If you’re a little less experienced, the exposed blade may feel a bit intimidating until you get your footing.
What’s a Closed Comb Razor?
A closed comb razor doesn’t have those little open teeth that an open comb razor has. The bottom plate is straight across, obscuring most of the blade. This reverses some of the pros and cons of an open comb razor.
A closed comb razor will get clogged up with hair and lather more often, and it won’t do well with longer beards. But that doesn’t mean that a closed comb razor is the wrong choice for you.
The design of a closed comb razor helps to keep the skin taut, allowing for a smooth glide that safely and effectively captures beard hair. It also provides a little more protection between the blade and the skin, reducing the risk of irritation. People with sensitive skin who prefer to be clean shaven typically prefer closed comb razors because they gently remove short hair.
Beginners love closed comb razors for the same reason. They feel more comfortable shaving with a razor that’s designed to minimize contact between the blade and the skin. It’s easier to work out the proper angle for holding the razor when the blade isn’t peeking out at you.
Which is Better?
There is no wrong answer here. You may get a closest shave with an open comb razor, but that shave comes with an increased risk of irritation. A closed comb razor will give you a very close shave (although not as close as an open comb), but with a minimized potential for irritation.
You need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Your experience with non-cartridge razors, your skin sensitivity, and the frequency at which you shave will play a role in determining which razor is a better fit for you.
If you keep yourself constantly clean shaven, you don’t necessarily need an open comb razor. There’s not much for the combs to direct. Since your hair is short, the razor is going to be closer to your skin. You’ll appreciate the little bit of extra protection that a closed comb razor provides.
If you let your face grow long from time to time, you’re probably not going to like a closed comb razor. It’s going to clog up on you, and you’ll need to make multiple passes to get a clean shave. An open comb razor will do a far better job.
If you don’t have any experience at all with safety razors or straight razors, you should probably start with a closed comb. You can move to an open comb razor once you’re confident in your ability to shave with a safety razor. If you don’t mind being patient and you’re not intimidated by the blade, start with whichever razor appeals more to you. Just watch a few tutorials and don’t rush yourself.
The best razor is a razor you’re comfortable using. Your face and your beard are different from everyone else’s faces and beards. Reviews and opinions from others definitely help, but only if their needs and preferences are similar to yours.
One thing is true no matter what kind of razor you use. You need to adequately protect your skin and use a suitable shaving cream when you’re working with a safety razor. Even with a closed comb razor, the experience isn’t as foolproof as it is with a cartridge razor.
LTHR has everything you need for a smooth safety razor shaving experience.
Our moisturizing shaving cream and our hot lather machine are designed to protect your skin, soften your beard hair for easier removal, and give you the ultimate self care experience. Hot lather feels nice, and when you feel nice, your shaving experience is more enjoyable. It’s a no brainer.