What is the adjustment scale for a safety razor?
Adjustable safety razors are identified by a range of numbers printed on a dial or around the the handle. The range can vary for each style and/or brand (e.g., some razors show 1-9, 1-8, 1-6, 1-5, or another range), so there is not a standard millimeter increase for each click across all razors. By turning the knob or handle, the user can raise and lower the cutting head to create a larger or smaller blade gap. When a safety razor set at 1, it will have the smallest blade gap, so that less of the double edged blade is exposed. Those with sensitive skin or lighter hair may prefer this lower setting so that they can have a less aggressive shave. When the dial is turned to a larger number in the range, the head of the razor will raise to create a larger gap, which exposes more of the blade. Men with thicker beards or coarser hair tend to prefer this setting because it is a more aggressive shave.
Some popular adjustable safety razors include the Mergress and vintage Gillette models. When using an adjustable razor for the first time, start at 1 and gradually increase the blade exposure to find the intensity that works for your skin type and beard density. Beginners to traditional shaving may spend more time tinkering with the adjustment dial than learning the appropriate pressure and cutting angle, so we recommend becoming proficient with fixed-head models before turning to adjustable safety razors. Learn more in the article, Your First Razor.