What the best razor has

  • A substantial, grippy handle. You definitely don't want a razor sliding sideways on your face, or dropping onto your feet in the shower. All of our top-rated razors have thick, textured handles for a secure grip.
  • A close, comfortable shave. We found razors -- both cheap and midpriced -- that earn high marks for shaving effectively, without irritation.
  • An affordable price. Luxury razors (yes, $100-plus razors are out there) didn't fare any better in reviews than ordinary razors, so there's no need to pay more. However, the cost of disposable razors and cartridges can add up in the long run.

Know before you go

Do you crave a true BBS (baby-butt smooth) shave? Experts -- and a growing number of users -- say an old-fashioned safety razor is the best way to get it.

How do you shave now? Multi-blade razors you buy at the drugstore have protective plastic around the blades, tilting heads and lubricating strips. These allow you to shave pretty quickly, with long, sweeping strokes. Classic safety razors are different: You have to control the angle of the blade, take your time and use short, careful, light strokes to avoid cutting yourself. If you switch, you'll need to change your shaving technique.

How hurried are your mornings? With a good cartridge razor, you can swipe the razor over your face pretty quickly without cutting yourself. With a safety razor, you'll need to take your time and be more careful.

Do you forget to buy cartridges? Internet shave clubs will ship cartridges to your door once a month, so you'll never have to shave with a dull blade. Reviews say some (including Dollar Shave Club) offer razors that are just as good as the big drugstore brands.

Do you have sensitive skin? Some dermatologists say multi-blade razors can remove too much surface skin, causing irritation. They recommend old-fashioned safety razors for men prone to breakouts and razor bumps. On the other hand, some users say they find modern multi-blade razors, with their built-in lubricating strips, more soothing. If you've suffered razor burn or other skin problems with one type of razor, consider trying the other type to see if it helps.

Think about your environmental impact. Disposable razors create the most landfill waste. Refillable cartridge razors create less, and safety razors the least.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

Blades. No matter what kind of razor you use, you've got to buy blades (unless you master the cutthroat straight razor ... and then you'll still need to buy shaving cream). Blades can get really expensive, so choose wisely:

Safety razors: $255 over 10 years

Safety razors are the cheapest in the long run. Shave every day for 10 years, and you'll spend about $255 total ($30 for the handle, and 33 cents for a new blade every five days).

Cartridge razors: $800 over 10 years

Here's where the old "give away the razor, soak 'em on the blades" tactic rears its clean-shaven head. You'll pay only $9 for our Best Reviewed cartridge razor -- but then another $3 for a new cartridge every two weeks or so. Internet shaving clubs and resellers (like Dorco and Dollar Shave Club) cost less, and reviews say their razors are just as good as the big drugstore brands.

Disposable razors: $2,400 over 10 years

Disposable razors can be a cheap fix when you're traveling -- but don't make them a habit, if you're worried about cost. Disposables dull after about four shaves, shaving expert Mark Herro says at Sharpologist.com. If so, our Best Reviewed disposable razor would cost more than $2,400 over 10 years. However, some users say they get a good two weeks out of a Gillette Mach3 Sensitive Disposable (Est. $11 for 3), which would bring the 10-year cost down to about $700.