Most men that are new to shaving with a double-edged (DE) razor start with a fixed blade. Think of it like a lawn mower that you can't adjust. The height of the blade is set, so you get the same cut every time. Fixed blades are perfect for beginners to double-edge shaving -- there's nothing to overthink -- simply load the blade and get to work. However, there has been a recent surge in adjustable safety razors due to their high quality and variability in blade aggression.
Once you become more experienced with double-edged shaving, you may want to check out adjustable safety razors.
Adjusting the height of your blade is a real game changer when it comes to shaving your face. If you're a beginner, a more mild shave is going to be more comfortable. You'll have less irritation and likely fewer nicks or bumps. An adjustable safety razor also works really well if you don't shave often. On a higher setting, you'll be able to get your smooth face back using only three or so passes -- even if you've been living like a mountain man for a week. Plus, you are going to be able to do so without the irritation you'd have from a more aggressive shave.
Men with heavier beard growth (be it thicker or coarser) tend to prefer adjustable safety razors over their fixed counterparts, as they provide a more aggressive shave than your average safety razor. You might find that a lower setting makes it easier to shave fine hair or you might just enjoy a really close shave. Whatever the case, it's always nice to have options.
Going to an adjustable safety razor from a cartridge or fixed safety razor is going to take some getting used to. First, remember that the way you install your blades is going to be a little different. Adjustable safety razors have dials that let you adjust how much of the blade is exposed. This exposure will determine the aggressiveness of your shave. Additionally, the way you tighten the mechanism is going to be a bit different. Some have a range of 1 to 5, others 1 to 9, and yet others use letters.
Whereas with a fixed double-edged safety razor you tighten things up from the bottom or base of the razor stem, you will need to hold your adjustable safety razor by the top when you tighten it and you will need to check that your blade exposure is even. Moreover, depending on how your adjustable safety razor is made, you might find that the dial doesn't align perfectly. Don’t worry, your razor is not defective, it’s just a quirk and something you will usually only see when you try to use the lowest setting, but many guys do find it annoying. Don't be scared though, all of this is super easy after a few shaves to do.
Finally, keep in mind that adjustable safety razors are a little longer and a bit heavier than their fixed blade counterparts. Take the Merkur Futur Adjustable for example, it is 4.5 inches long and weighs around 4.25 ounces. In contrast, the Merkur Classic 33 is only 3.25 inches long and weighs just 2 ounces.
If you are new to adjustable safety razors and especially if you are new to double-edged shaving in general, there are a few steps you should take. Mostly, you will want to start on the highest setting and adjust the blade over time as you develop more comfort with using your adjustable safety razor.
Keep in mind that there is more technique to using an adjustable safety razor than selecting the right height for your hair density or skin type. You will also need to look at the angle at which you are shaving and the pressure you are applying to the razor. Then, there are the different physical characteristics of an adjustable safety razor to consider. As mentioned above, they are heavier and longer. As such, the shave is going to be different than using a regular fixed blade double-edged razor.
Adjustable safety razors have some wonderful benefits and the people who like them tend to adore them. But, that doesn't mean that they are right for everyone or that any adjustable safety razor will do. Feel free to c