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Best Razor

By: Tara Tuckwiller on March 02, 2018

Editor's Note:
For a classic, clean and close shave, the Merkur 34C remains a favorite among experts and users. If a cartridge razor is more your style, Gillette Fusion razors rank best, but we also found some cheaper alternatives worth considering.

Merkur 34C Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Number of blades -- 1 Lubricating strip -- No

Best razor for men

For a true baby-bottom-smooth shave, experts say you simply can't beat an old-fashioned safety razor like the Merkur 34C. You'll need to shave more slowly and carefully than with a modern cartridge razor, but you'll be rewarded with that old-school, clean close shave. You'll save money, too: Good razor blades cost just 33 cents each, and the handle can last practically forever.

Buy for $40.43
Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide FlexBall
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Number of blades -- 5 Lubricating strip -- Yes

Best cartridge razor

It's not just a gimmick, users say: The Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide FlexBall really does shave closer, with less irritation, than other cartridge razors. Its swiveling ball-hinged handle helps you follow facial contours to shave closely with no nicks, and Gillette loads up the replaceable cartridges with goodies like five blades, a lubricating strip and built-in trimming blade.

Buy for $12.97
Dorco Pace 6+ Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Number of blades -- 6 Lubricating strip --Yes

Best value razor

To save money, users say you should skip the drugstore and buy razors online: The Dorco Pace 6+ looks and shaves a lot like the top-rated Gillette cartridge razor, but Dorco's cartridges cost less. The Pace 6+ has six blades, a lubricating strip, tilting head and single-blade trimmer on the back, just like pricier cartridge razors.

Buy for $20.99
Gillette Mach3 Sensitive Disposable
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Number of blades -- 3 Lubricating strip -- Yes

Best disposable razor

Ultra-cheap disposable razors can wreak nicks and razor burn if you're not ultra-careful, but users say the Gillette Mach3 Sensitive Disposable delivers a much smoother, less nerve-wracking shave than its competitors. Unlike bare-bones disposables, it boasts a contoured handle, pivoting head, lubricating strip and three spring-mounted blades. If you're traveling and need to pick up a cheap razor, this is the one to get, users say.

Buy for $12.97

Do you need six blades -- or just one?

If you learned to shave before 1970, you almost certainly started with an old-school safety razor. One handle, one metal blade. Simple. Then came the razor wars. Bic, Schick, Gillette and the rest began one-upping each other. More (and more and more) blades, pivoting heads, throwaway handles, lubricating strips, vibrating razors, foldaway trimmers -- even a razor with a built-in shaving cream dispenser.

Men's razors fall into three main types (for electric shavers and women's shavers, including electric and manual options, see our separate reports):

Types of Razors

Safety Razors

These are the old-fashioned type. You buy the sturdy handle (usually metal), and replace only the thin metal razor blade. Until around 1970, this was the only kind of home-use razor you could buy (unless you shaved with a straight "cutthroat" razor, like a barber with a leather strop, but most men didn't take it that far). You can still get an excellent safety razor for $40 or less, and good replacement blades for about 33 cents each. Expect each blade to last for about five shaves, according to shaving expert Mark Herro at Sharpologist. Over 10 years of daily shaving, that works out to $280, or less than 8 cents per shave.

Cartridge Razors

Most men use cartridge razors nowadays. You buy the handle (usually plastic), and when the blades get dull, you replace the whole razor head (aka cartridge). Fanned out in the plastic cartridge are at least two, and up to six metal blades -- one (or five) to lift the whisker, and one to actually cut it -- plus a lubricating strip or two. You'll pay about $7 to $11 for the handle, and $2 to $4 each for the cartridges at the drugstore. Internet shaving clubs sell them for less. Expect each cartridge to last for about 14 shaves, Herro says. Over 10 years, you're looking at $800, or 22 cents per daily shave (assuming the plastic handle doesn't break).

Disposable Razors

A disposable razor is similar to a cartridge razor, but you throw the whole razor away when the blades dull. You can buy single-blade disposables for as little as 25 cents each, but our Best Reviewed disposable razor costs around $7 for a three-pack. Disposables dull after about four shaves, Herro says, so that works out to around 58 cents per shave -- or more than $2,100 over 10 years. That means that if you're traveling and forget your razor (or can't pack your safety razor in your carry-on), disposables can bail you out, but their cost is hard to justify for regular use; $2,100 can get you 10 years' worth of disposable razors, or a week in Aruba -- your call. Cheaper disposables, as noted, are available, but users say the cheapest disposables can leave your face a nicked-up, razor-bumpy mess.

Safety razors versus cartridge razors

Both types of razors have their pros and cons. Devotees say only a safety razor gets their faces truly BBS ("baby-butt smooth") -- an acronym you'll see a lot on websites for shaving enthusiasts. Some dermatologists say it's less irritating to your skin than a multi-blade cartridge razor. It's cheaper in the long run, too. However, you'll have to shave more slowly and carefully than with a cartridge razor, or you'll wind up with the BAS ("blood-and-stubble") look instead. Also, safety razors are banned from carry-on bags on airplanes, due to their exposed blades.

It's hard -- though not impossible -- to slice yourself to ribbons with a cartridge razor, since the cartridge holds the blades at the proper angle. And some users say a multi-blade razor with lube strips gives them a closer, more comfortable shave than a safety razor. On the downside, you'll spend triple the amount on shaving, and you might not get as close a shave as with a safety razor. Multi-blade razors can irritate the skin, too.

Finding The Best Razors
Our Sources
"The Best Manual Razor for Most Faces"
"What Is the Best Safety Razor? An Update"
"What Is the Best Gillette Fusion ProGlide Alternative?"

So, then, does your granddad's trusty old safety razor really shave closer than a modern six-blade cartridge model? Is it possible to get a decent shave with a $2 disposable? What about Internet "shave clubs" that ship razors to your door once a month -- are those a good deal? We lathered up and took a clean, close look at the reviews to find out.

We started the process by sifting through professional reviews (head-to-head shaving tests, as well as recommendations from dermatologists, celebrity groomers and others). Wirecutter hosts the most comprehensive comparative test, but we also found good feedback from sites like Consumer Reports, Sharpologist and Your Best Digs. Turning to user feedback, while reviews at many retailer sites aren't always helpful (many simply draw their feedback from manufacturer sites), those posting at Amazon aren't shy about letting other guys know which winning razors are worth their cash -- and which are hack jobs that they should just pitch straight into the bathroom trash.

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Razors buying guide

What every best Razors has:

  • A substantial, grippy handle.
  • A close, comfortable shave.
  • An affordable price.

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