Personal grooming is one of the first things you can do to tell other people that you’re competent, confident, and successful. Taking a little time to get ready before you go to work, or off to that big event, is a great way to make sure you’re prepared and look the part.
Plus, grooming your facial hair is a good way to get a little self-care and me-time into the day.
But there are thousands of shaving options out there. Inevitably some of those products are gimmicks. While other products simply don’t live up to their reputations or aren’t designed for your skin and hair type.
If you want a high-quality shave, your best bet are razors. But even there you have hundreds if not thousands of choices. All that selection is spread across several different styles of razor, some of which are more effective than others.
In this guide, we’ll talk about each type of razor, its pros, and cons, and also provide a buying guide of some of the best options available right now. We’ll also briefly discuss electric shavers, though they won’t be included in our buying guide, just so you’re familiar with the full range of options.
|Gillette Fusion5 Men’s Razor Handle|
|Materials: Plastic, steel blades|
|Skill Required: Beginner|
|Comfortable in your hand, reasonably gentle on sensitive skin.|
|Harry’s Razors for Men (Bright Orange)|
|Materials: Plastic and Steel|
|Skill Required: Beginner|
|Easy to use, helps build good shaving habits like replacing blades on time.|
|MERKUR Futur Adjustable Double Edge Safety Razor|
|Type: Safety Razor|
|Skill Required: Intermediate|
|Easy to learn, sturdy design, Eco-friendly, relatively affordable.|
How Do Different Types of Razor Compare?
Most men develop a preference for a specific style of razor. But, especially if you took your cue from your dad or another man in your life, you may not have the right type of razor for your skin, facial hair, and lifestyle.
Before we get into the pros and cons of individual products, it’s worth talking about what each style of razor can do.
You may end up owning several razors to meet different needs, or you may stick to one tried and true blade and never buy another. But you should know what you’re getting into when you make that choice.
These are the most common razors out there. They’re splashed across magazines, advertised on TV, and there’s probably a couple sitting in your bathroom right now. Men groom their facial hair, and other body hair, with them. Women use them to shave their legs and other body hair.
Cartridge razors are convenient, easy to use, and very safe. But, they’re also incredibly expensive, and they may not be the best choice for your skin or hair.
Expensive? But they only cost $5-$10 for a pack. Plus, they’re even cheaper if you subscribe to a shaving supply service, right?
Well, yes. But that short-term cost isn’t reflective of the long-term costs of cartridge shaving. No, we’re not talking about the environmental cost (but we’ll get there in a moment) but the very real year-to-year impact on your wallet.
Cartridge razors cost the average user about $100 a year. Sure, subscription services lower the cost of the razors themselves, but you’ll usually end up spending just as much in promotional items and shaving accessories like branded shaving cream and lotions.
Disposables aren’t any cheaper. In fact, a true disposable razor is more expensive than a cartridge razor and is less environmentally friendly.
If going green is important to you, there isn’t much good news in cartridge razors. Even razor packs that prioritize metal construction in the handle usually have high plastic content in the razor head (everything surrounding the blades), and in the packaging.
Plus, all that metal in the handle and the razors isn’t recycled. While technically these metals could be recycled, few recycling plants are equipped to handle that kind of waste. This means that the metal in your razor is only used a couple of times, and then thrown out. Likely, the ultimate destination is a landfill.
But, cartridge razors aren’t all bad, and we’ve even included a couple on our list.
Convenience and Ease of Use
Well, for one thing, they’re incredibly convenient. Safety and straight razors must go into TSA checked luggage and may still be confiscated even there. You cannot carry a safety razor or a straight razor in your carry on. But you can carry electric shavers and cartridge razors in a carry-on.
They’re also about the safest manual shaving option. While they aren’t ideal if you have shaky hands (electric razors can be lifesavers in this situation), it’s downright difficult to nick your face or neck shaving with a 3-5 blade cartridge razor.
That’s why so many men receive one of these razors (or several) on their 18th birthday. They’re beginner-friendly flexible grooming tools.
Skin Health Outlook
But, we recommend moving on from cartridge razors if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Why? There are two main reasons.
The first is simple. Who actually throws out their blade cartridge when it starts to dull? Not when it’s dull. When it starts to dull.
Almost no one. But, a dulling blade is likely to tear your hair rather than cutting it and may irritate your skin in the process.
Cartridge razors are also prone to picking up hair and dead skin cells and holding on to them, along with all the oil and dirt on your face. The more you use the blade, the more you’re spreading those irritants, and the bacteria feeding on them, across your face.
Combine that with irritated skin and hair follicles, and you have a recipe for acne.
Also known as double edge razors, these are some of the most common choices among grooming enthusiasts. Safer than straight razors, and easier to use, while still offering an incredibly close shave.
The Cost – And Environmental Impact
These are also a more affordable option than disposables or cartridge razors. You only have to buy the handle once, maybe twice. The blades themselves are highly affordable and can be bought in packs large enough to last for years at a time.
While you will be spending money on shaving cream regularly, all the other costs associated with this style of shaving are 1-time, rare, or incidental.
Since the whole thing is made of metal, and you use that metal longer than you would a cartridge razor, it’s also a more environmentally friendly option.
If you’re just starting to improve your shaving kit from cartridge razors, this is what we’d recommend you upgrade to. If you’re looking for a closer shave than your current electric shaver, this is a good place to start.
You should expect to spend $100-150 the first year you shave with a safety razor. But, each year after that will only cost between $20-$50. Why? Well, the first year you’ll likely be investing in a good bit of new equipment. Here’s what a full safety razor kit looks like.
You can see that there are several items on this list you’ll only ever purchase once. While you may eventually decide to upgrade your kit, that’s entirely optional, and should be seen as an elective cost rather than a required one.
Why did we list equipment for an old-fashioned shaving cream set up? It would be cheaper without one, true. But, while you can get away with canned shaving cream or gel, we’ve found that taking the time to get an old-fashioned kit yields better results.
Plus, we can’t think of a better way to set the intention for the day on success than an old-fashioned personal grooming session.
Skin Health Outlook
This is another area where safety razors win out over cartridge razors. But not over straight razors.
Since you have fewer blades, and they are higher quality and easier to clean, safety razors trap less debris. That also means fewer bacteria, leading to an overall healthier shaving tool.
You are also less likely to need to go over your skin several times to get a clean shave. If you find yourself repeating the same section, it’s time to change your blades. That means less skin irritation, and less opportunity for acne to develop.
While you’re a little more likely to nick your skin, especially when you’re first starting, your skin will overall look and feel healthier with this option.
Of course, you do still need to clean and maintain your razor to receive the benefits of this shaving style.
These are your grandfather’s, or possibly your great-grandfather’s, razors. They’re also the style of razor featured in Broadway classic Sweeney Todd, but we do not advocate mimicking the demon barber of fleet street.
Straight razors are a good option if you have the money upfront and don’t want to spend a ton of money over time for a great shave.
But, fair warning: you will nick yourself at least once while you’re learning. Poor shaving technique with these razors can also lead to raw patches of skin that look like bad acne or a bad rash.
Cost and Environmental Impact
While you’ll likely spend more on this shaving option up-front than on any other shaving tool, it’s the most cost-friendly long- term. You’ll need essentially the same list of additional tools as with safety razors, plus one critical piece of equipment.
But that little leather sharpening strip shouldn’t cost too much.
The straight razor itself, however, will run up to several hundred dollars. The more you spend, the better the steel in the razor and the better and more decorative the handle is likely to be.
Since you’re using the same tool, likely for your whole life (seriously, people pass their straight razors down for generations), this represents an extremely green shaving option.
The blades last an exceptionally long time with just a reasonable level of care. If your other grooming tools, like your shaving cream bowl and brush, are a similar quality you’ll need minimal replacement over your lifetime. That’s an environmental bonus, and a plus for your wallet too.
Skin Health Outlook
Like all razors, your skin health depends on how clean your straight razor is. But, a sharp, air-dried, and occasionally sanitized straight razor is very skin-friendly.
If acne, rashes, and other bacterial irritations are a serious concern for your skin, this is a good shaving option.
But, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times now, you will nick your skin a couple of times while you learn proper shave technique. Depending on how steady your hands are, and how aggressive you are when you first start, those nicks can vary from needing a small piece of toilet paper to several days of raw, rashy-looking skin, all the way to a trip to get stitches.
While serious injuries are rare, you should be prepared for them just in case.
So, your skin will be healthier in terms of bacteria and acne, using a straight razor. But there is a small risk of scarring and other skin problems as a result of your early attempts with your straight razor.
Electric Shavers (in Brief)
We don’t have space to spend much time on razor’s primary alternative, electric shavers. It’s worth talking for a moment about this alternative.
Electric shavers, for a good model, cost upwards of $100 and will likely need to be replaced every few years. They provide probably the fastest shave you can get in the morning but don’t shave as closely or as cleanly as razors.
Rotary electric shavers are good for coarse hair but don’t provide a particularly close shave. Foil shavers get closer, but may not be able to handle longer hair or coarse hair types.
Whether you opt for an electric shaver set, a razor setup, or both is a matter of personal preference. If you value a close shave, razors may be a better bet. But, if your time is more valuable to you than a smooth cheek, an electric razor may be the way to go.
Top 5 Razors for Men Comparison Table
If you’re only here to see which products we recommend you spend your hard-earned money to own, look no further. This product comparison highlights the most important details of each razor, and we’ve provided a quick buying link for added convenience.
|Product Name||Type||Materials||Skill Required||Price|
|Gillette Fusion5 Men’s Razor Handle||Cartridge||Plastic and thin steel blades||Beginner||Check Price|
|Feather SS Japanese Straight Razor||Straight Razor||Steel||Expert||Check Price|
|MERKUR Futur Adjustable Double Edge Safety Razor||Safety Razor||Steel||Intermediate||Check Price|
|Harry’s Razors for Men||Cartridge||Plastic and Steel||Beginner||Check Price|
|DOVO Inox Straight Razor with Olive Wood Handle||Straight Razor||Steel and wood handle (hand variable)||Expert||Check Price|
5 Best Razors for Men: Detailed Reviews
Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5.0
Okay, to be fair, using the Gillette Fusion 5 will not be the best bargain razor on our list. That would be one of the straight razors since they have the lowest total lifetime cost. But, when you’re looking for a good razor quick and cheap, the fusion 5 fits the bill.
The fusion 5 is a comfortable, ergonomic razor. The cartridges are reasonably affordable. The 5 blade system, while more difficult to maintain, works well for sensitive skin (as long as you replace the cartridge often enough).
If you’re looking for a good quick pick razor, this is a reasonable option. It’s great for traveling, maneuverable enough for face and body shaving, and the cartridges stay sharp and effective for a good period of time.
|Handle: Plastic handle|
|Cartridge: Replaceable 5 blade cartridges, Cartridge should be replaced approximately 1x a week|
|Comfortable in your hand|
|Reasonably gentle on sensitive skin|
|Comes with several replacement cartridges|
|Expensive for your wallet|
|Plastic is not environmentally friendly|
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0
This is one of the more popular straight razors at the moment. While it’s rather plain, and the case will eventually wear out, this is a good option for men who want to try a straight razor, but don’t want to commit to a more expensive model right away.
The steel is solid. It strops well (strops straighten the blade rather than removing material) and holds an edge reasonably well.
But the case will only protect the blade, and everything else, for so long. The resin handle feels okay in your hands but isn’t as attractive as most straight razor handles. Depending on the size of your hand, the grip may feel comfortable or be slightly challenging.
We recommend this razor to men who want to try a straight razor, and who don’t mind the additional cost of upgrading in the future.
|Handle: Black resin handle|
|Materials: Japanese steel blade|
|Incredibly close shave|
|Affordable for new straight razor users|
|Squared off end makes this a beginner-friendly razor|
|Most men find it comfortable in their hand|
|Comes with a small plastic cap|
|Has a steep learning curve|
|Doesn’t fold, most men will upgrade away from this model|
|Does not come with a strop of other required accessories|
Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5.0
It would be hard to justify listing either a straight razor or a cartridge razor as our top pick. While both have advantages over the safety razor, they both also have serious downsides that outweigh the advantages, at least for us.
So, for top pick, we were looking for a clean, easy to use, and durable safety razor. While the MERKER Futur doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of other razors on our list, you can’t knock its performance.
Considering that this is a one-time purchase, the Futur is reasonably affordable. It delivers a clean shave, and the blades last about as long as we expect. That’s variable for everyone. Men with thicker or coarser hair will need to replace more often than men with thin, fine, or slow-growing hair.
While you probably want some shaving experience before switching to any safety razor, this one is easier than many. We found less of a learning curve thanks to the straight forward design and easy maneuverability.
|Comes with: The handle, blade locking mechanism, and a pack of blades, adjustable blade gap|
|Chrome: Polished chrome|
|Grip: Grip is entirely smooth|
|Easy to learn|
|The blade locking mechanism wears out for some users (after several years of use)|
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
This is another cartridge set and is available either as a buy as you go or a subscription offer. (our link is to a starter set, no subscription). The subscription version is available through their main website, although we recommend buying the razor first so you can see how you like it.
Harry’s razor is a little more simplistic in design than a Gillette or Schick razor. But, that’s not a bad thing.
When it comes to sheer functionality, we find this razor to be a good middle ground between all the different features of a cartridge razor. Not as moisturizing as some cartridge razors, not as flexible as the Gillette.
But, it goes have a higher standard for blade quality. When it comes to razors, the extras don’t really matter if your blades aren’t up to standard. Worse, extra moisture and other razor features often mask bad blades and dulling.
This set handles most hair types well and doesn’t add any gimmicks that might mask a dulling blade when it’s time for a replacement.
|Cartridge: 5 blade cartridge|
|Handle: Plastic handle (holds up for a couple of years)|
|Easy to use|
|Optionally available as a subscription service|
|Helps build good shaving habits like replacing blades on time|
|Not as sensitive skin-friendly without other moisturizing shave products|
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0
We wanted to include at least one higher quality straight razor on our list. Despite occasional quality control issues, this razor is one of the most popular with critics and is a favorite of men’s grooming blogs.
It’s easy to see why. The metal is of high quality. The razor itself is a reasonable size and maneuverable enough to closely shave almost any angle. While we went with the olive wood handle, the Inox straight razor comes in a variety of handle colors and types. Price does fluctuate slightly depending on your handle material.
While this is necessarily a straight razor we would recommend to a beginner (there’s a serious learning curve and you may want a cheaper try it out the product first), it’s a solid option for anyone who knows they enjoy shaving with a straight razor.
|Handle: Olive wood handle (other options available), 6.9 inches long|
|Materials: Stainless steel blade|
|Comes with: Comes with a case|
|Handle and blade well attached, fit well in your hand|
|Sharp, holds an edge well|
|Maneuverable and easy to use (for a straight razor)|
|Quality control does not always catch minor blade flaws that should be fixed before shaving|
We would rate this razor higher, except for the occasional QA problem.
- How Do Different Types of Razor Compare?
- Cartridge Razors
- Safety Razors
- Straight Razors
- Electric Shavers (in Brief)
- Top 5 Razors for Men Comparison Table
- 5 Best Razors for Men: Detailed Reviews