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Best Razors for Women

By: Tara Tuckwiller on October 05, 2017

Men are from Mars; women are from Venus

In recent years, companies have done a lot to jazz up the manual razor -- adding built-in lotion dispensers, vibrating heads and even more blades. However, experts say that more blades don't always mean a better shave.

The five-bladed Gillette Venus Embrace (Est. $7) is the exception, making it the Best Reviewed women's razor year after year. Women who regularly nick and cut themselves while shaving say they're irritation-free after using the Venus Embrace. The "ribbon of moisture" that encircles the blades doesn't replace shaving cream; rather, it makes the blades glide more smoothly.

Beauty experts and users agree that the Gillette Venus Embrace is at the top of its class. The editors of Good Housekeeping, who bestowed the honor of "Best Refillable Razor" on the Embrace, say "it glides oh-so-smoothly while cleanly removing every hair." A tester at Byrdie.com agrees: "It got virtually every hair," earning a spot on Byrdie's list of the best drugstore razors. "My skin was noticeably smoother, and I didn't necessarily need to apply moisturizer after, as I often do."

Users praise the Embrace for leaving legs stubble-free, and without painful nicks or razor burn. Even those plagued with tales of nicks and cuts suffered at the hands of other razors experience a close, clean shave in one pass. TotalBeauty.com members award the Embrace their Readers' Choice prize.

The bulky plastic around the pivoting head can make shaving around the bikini line a little difficult, but the Embrace is otherwise easy to grip, use and maintain. Bonus: The blades seem to last longer than those of other Venus models.

A newer Venus model, the Gillette Venus Swirl (Est. $7), tries to solve the problem of shaving around sharp curves: It adds a "flex ball" on which the head pivots in all directions. TheSweethome.com's testers like it. They unanimously pick the Swirl as their favorite, after testing five body razors (the other razors aren't named).

"Our panel of six people all preferred the Venus Swirl to the other razors, based on handle comfort and design alone," the editors write. Because it's constantly pivoting on the flex ball, "there's a slight learning curve for holding the razor at the best angle to catch all your hairs. But once you get used to it, you'll find you need much less pressure to get a close shave than you would need with other razors."

Besides the flex ball, the Swirl also has a comb built into its five-bladed head, which lifts the hair before cutting. "After a couple days of not shaving, the areas we shaved with the Venus Swirl clearly had the least amount of stubble after not shaving," TheSweethome.com adds.

Owners like the Swirl, too: The Venus Embrace and Venus Swirl earn equally high marks from customers at Amazon.com and Walmart.com. However, Good Housekeeping testers still prefer the Embrace. The Swirl "irritated skin slightly more than some other products in our test," Good Housekeeping says, and its lubricating "'Moisture Glide serum' wore away quickly, causing the razor to become sticky." Note that the Venus heads and handles are interchangeable. If you like the Swirl handle, you can use it with Embrace heads, or vice versa.

High cost of ownership is a weak point for the Venus models. If you replace the cartridges every two weeks, expect spend about $104 per year on refills.

The Schick Hydro Silk (Est. $9) looks like the Venus Embrace's twin, with five blades (surrounded by lubricating strips) and a pivoting head. Several testers say the Hydro Silk delivers a particularly long-lasting shave. User reviews are nearly as glowing as the Venus Embrace's. However, several users find the Hydro Silk's moisturizing strips slimy and goopy, and several (who cheated on their usual Venus razor) say they nicked themselves with the Hydro Silk, which they never did with the Venus. Replacement heads cost about the same as the Venus's.

Disposable razors to take and toss

Although refillable razors get better reviews (less razor burn, better moisturizing strips, longer-lasting blades), disposable razors do have their place. Disposables are cheap and handy to toss into your gym bag, keep on hand for guests, or grab at a drugstore if you forgot your refillable razor on a trip.

Unfortunately, bare-bones, bargain-bin disposable razors (you know, the kind that come in a big bag of a dozen or so for $2) can slice and dice you. "Even the most skilled shaver recoils in the face of a disposable razor," says Britt Aboutaleb at Byrdie.com. "It's nearly impossible to use a dinky plastic handle with one or two dull blades and not cut yourself."

Instead, the Gillette Venus Embrace Disposable (Est. $19 for two packs of 3 razors) is a much, much better bet. Yes, it costs more than other disposables -- because it's the closest thing to a "real" razor. Good Housekeeping and Byrdie.com both name it the best women's disposable razor.

"The clear winner for disposables" at Good Housekeeping, the Embrace Disposable earns raves from testers. It looks a lot like the refillable Venus Embrace, with a thick, cushioned handle and five-blade pivoting head surrounded with a moisturizing ring. Testers say it shaves closely on the first swipe (no need to shave over and over the same spot), without irritating skin -- and it beat all 11 other disposables in the Good Housekeeping test with its blessedly nick-free shave.

The moisturizing ring makes the difference, Aboutaleb says. Amazon.com customers agree, awarding it 4.1 stars in more than 1,700 reviews.

The lone voice of dissent can be found at TheWirecutter.com. Tester Ganda Suthivarakom doesn't like the moisturizing ring, saying it leaves "weird goop melting off the head on a wet shower shelf (or in your toiletry bag)." But the main downside is the price. Even if you can make each razor last a full week, expect to spend about $150 a year on razors. Disposable razors also create more landfill waste than refillables.

For a cheaper disposable razor, try the Bic Soleil Bella (Est. $10 for 2 packs of 3 razors). It's Good Housekeeping's value pick, and TheWirecutter.com's favorite disposable women's razor, period.

"I'd pick it over the others even if it were the most expensive," Suthivarakom says. Like the Venus Embrace Disposable, the Bic Soleil Bella is a hefty disposable razor, with a thick, grippy handle, swiveling four-bladed head and two lubricating strips. It's non-goopy, Suthivarakom says -- "just enough lubrication to help the head glide without making skin too slick to get a close shave." Also, "the Bic Soleil Bella's cover slides on from the side instead of clipping on from the front, so it stayed put in a drop test while the others popped off."

Like the Venus Embrace Disposable, the Bic Soleil Bella makes Byrdie.com's list of the best drugstore razors. "It stayed sharp for eight uses!" Aboutaleb writes.

The Bella has four blades. The Bic Soleil Shine (Est. $7 for 2) is similar, but adds a fifth blade. TotalBeauty.com editors award it their 2017 Editors' Pick award: The Soleil Shine "offers an impossibly smooth shave, without leaving any nicks around the hard-to-navigate knee area," they say.

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