How to choose a razor: the ultimate guide

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Shaving with a razor is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of hair. Traditional razors primarily include safety razors and disposable razors. The one you should pick depends on many factors. For someone who is looking to buy a new razor, choosing the right razor can be difficult. So how exactly can you choose the correct razor for you?

You can choose a razor based on the following factors:

  • Gender (Men vs Women razors)
  • Your skill and experience in shaving
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Part of the body you are shaving
  • Your budget

Choosing the right razor would make shaving a lot easier and less painful for you. Most people avoid shaving because they don’t know which tool would best suit them. Which is why in this article, we intend to explain the key factors that you should consider when buying a razor for you, so keep reading.

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Men Vs Women razors

There are specially designed razors for men and women. You might have noticed pink-colored disposable razors at your local store along with blue and grey ones. The pink razors are designed for women while the blue and grey ones are usually meant to be used by men.  The difference between men and women razors is not only limited to the color as both types of razors are different in terms of how they cut hair, therefore, this difference should be kept in mind when choosing the type of razor for yourself.

• Women razors:

Apart from the obvious pink color of women razor, you can find many distinct features in women razors that are absent in men razors. A razor that is specially designed for women is going to have the same type of blade used in men razors but the difference lies in the angle at which the blade is going to be fitted inside the razor. Women razors usually have blades fitted at a lesser angle since the hairs of women tend to be thinner and easier to cut. Less aggressive blade angle also makes women razors easier to use on legs and other hard to reach parts without worrying about getting cut. The handles of women razors also tend to be rounder which helps women in changing their grip on the razor as they shave. Most women razors come with a wider shaving head that allows women to shave larger areas such as legs and thighs quickly. Women-specific razors are usually disposable ones and they come with multiple blade arrangement.

• Men razors:

Men razors are generally blue and black and they are available as double-edged safety razors as well as disposable plastic razors. The reason why most safety razors are men only is that, the blade edge is aggressively sharp and they aren’t placed at an angle that makes them perfect for shaving tough facial hair of men. But disposable men razors are also quite different from women razors in terms of blade angle and shape. You will notice that almost all men razors have square shaving heads, making them ideal for shaping and shaving the beard. Not to mention the blade angle is also more aggressive in men razors which make it easier to remove tough facial hair. The width of men razors is also less than women razors, making them perfect for different areas of the face and neck. 

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Your skill and experience in shaving

Shaving is a skill that you master over time and you can’t expect to get a perfect shave on your very first try. The type of razor you pick should depend a lot on how skilled you are at shaving. If you are a complete newbie to the world of shaving the choice of the razor is going to be different for you compared to a seasoned shaver. If you are not satisfied with the type of shave you are getting or if you are getting a lot of cuts and nicks while shaving, then it might be because the razor you are using doesn’t match your skill level. You can pick the correct type of razor according to your shaving skills using the following guidelines:

• Ideal razor for beginners:

If you are new to shaving and you have never shaved using a razor before, then safety should be your number one concern when picking a razor. Remember that razors have sharp blades and it is very easy to cut yourself especially if you don’t know what you are doing. Even if you have used an electric razor before, using a razor is a different ball game and you will have to go for an easy to use and forgiving razor. That is where a cartridge razor comes in. Not only do these razors have flexible shaving heads that adjust according to your face, but they also come with built-in lubrication strips that make sure you produce as little friction as possible with your skin when shaving. Cartridge razors are built with ease of use and comfort in mind, with multiple blade setups that are fitted inside a razor head. All you have to do is move the cartridge razor across your skin and apply a little pressure and you will get rid of the hair. The razor head will glide across your skin, adjusting to the shape of the body part you are shaving, giving you an easy shave.

But ease of use is where the benefit of using cartridge razor ends as these razors are extremely expensive and buying a replacement cartridge is costly. A cartridge razor is also not going to provide you with a very close shave but you will be able to get done with shaving in no time and get on with your day.

• Ideal razor for experienced shavers:

If you are an experienced shaver who has been shaving for a while now and want a close shave then a safety razor is what you should pick. Safety razors have been around for more than a century and they are made up of the handle shaving head and a double-sided blade that fits inside the shaving head. These types of razors do not have flexible and free moving shaving heads but instead, they have a single blade that you have to shave with by keeping the blade at around a 30-degree angle with your face. As you can imagine, a safety razor is not easy to use as the shaving head is fixed and it is up to you to adjust the angle of the blade while shaving. It is, therefore, very easy to cut yourself when using a safety razor.  So unless you know how to handle a razor, you should avoid using it. In the hands of an experienced person however, a safety razor can provide a very close and smooth shave which is not possible from cartridge or disposable razor.

Shaving with a safety razor requires preparing your skin by lathering it using shaving cream to provide a slippery surface for the blade to along. Safety razors are especially popular in men because facial hair in men can be hard to remove using a multi-blade disposable or cartridge razor. Two-sided blades of safety razors are very sharp and can remove the toughest hair with ease. Safety razors are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from plastic safety razors to stainless steel ones. While a safety razor might cost a little more compared to a disposable or cartridge razor when you buy it the blades used in a safety razor cost only a few cents per blade. And a decent quality safety razor is going to last you for many years. So if you are looking for a baby smooth shave and have experience with shaving, then you should go for a safety razor.

Picking a razor according to your skin’s sensitivity

If your skin develops rashes and bumps easily or you have skin rashes quite often, then shaving can be quite difficult. If you don’t shave sensitive skin with care, skin irritation can occur which can be painful. So choosing a razor that matches your skin’s sensitivity level is very important, because when you shave, you are causing friction and for already sensitive skin, friction is never good. That is where the number of blades a razor has come in and you have to be careful in choosing a razor with the correct amount of blades to match your skin type.

• Normal skin:

If you have normal healthy skin and you don’t develop rashes, itchy spots or skin redness, then you can use a 2, 3 and even a 4 blade razor without worrying about causing burns and redness. Because normal skin is thicker and multiple blades passing over it don’t remove a significant layer of skin. Multiple blade razors shave by tugging and pulling the hair to get the closest shave possible. Each blade cuts and holds the hair upright for the next blade to cut it even shorter and after that the next blades cut it to the skin level. This tugging and pulling can be painful and a common complaint that users of multiple blade razors have is that using these razors causes razor burns. But if you have healthy skin and practice proper after shave care, you should be able to take care of the skin irritation. Even healthy skin can get irritated if you shave it with a multi-blade razor every day, so it is recommended that you should shave every other day if you are using a multi-blade razor.

• Sensitive skin:

Now if you happen to have a sensitive skin, shaving can be very tricky. Sensitive skin tends to react very strongly to shaving and therefore it is important to pick a razor that is not going to aggravate your skin problems. As we mentioned earlier, multi-blade razors provide a very close shave by tugging and pulling hair with each passing blade. However, this multi-blade action can be devastating if you have sensitive skin as each blade is going to cause additional friction against your skin. So if you are shaving with sensitive skin, fewer blades equal to less irritation and vice versa. While the lubricating strip of a multi-blade razor does help in reducing friction to some extent, it is still impossible to eliminate the friction caused by a multi-blade razor. To make things worse, multi-blade razors can also cause ingrown hair which can cause further skin irritation.

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Close-up of young man applying shaving cream

Dermatologists recommend using 2 or 3 blade razors when shaving with sensitive skin to minimize skin irritation. You can also go with a safety razor with only one blade if you have what it takes to handle one. The third option is to choose a multi-blade razor that is specifically designed for sensitive skin. These razors have soothing lubrication strips and they have especially designed shaving heads that minimize tugging and pulling as the blade passes over the skin. Razors designed for sensitive skin have guards located in the space between each blade which prevents excess drag and also prevents cutting hair below the skin surface.  

Picking a razor according to the body part you are shaving

You can’t just buy a single type of razor and use it on every single body part. Each body part has a different shape and hair density therefore you have to pick the razor according to the body part you want to shave. The type of razors you should choose for different body parts are as follows:

• Facial hair:

While razor manufacturers have been trying to convince men that multi-blade cartridge razor and disposable razors are the best choices for them, the recent popularity of double-edged safety razors is a proof that multiple blades can’t beat the quality of shave that a single sharp blade of a safety razor provides. The learning curve for a safety razor is a little steep and you have to prepare your face before shaving with a safety razor but the result it provides is far better than a multi-blade razor. For men who shave their face every day, a safety razor causes the least amount of skin irritation thanks to their single blade setup.

On the other hand, using a multi-blade razor on your face every day can lead to skin irritation and razor bumps. So when it comes to shaving facial hair, a safety razor takes the cake. The closely arranged blades of a cartridge razor collect thick facial hair and get clogged easily, making them difficult to use. On the other hand, safety razors don’t get clogged and hair can be rinsed away easily.

• Shaving leg hair:

Shaving the legs is never easy because you have to sit down and extend your arm to the maximum to shave your legs. Luckily leg hairs in women aren’t usually very tough but you still require a purpose-built razor for shaving legs. Since legs are not straight or even surfaces, you need a razor that is going to adjust according to curves and edges of your legs especially your knees. That is where cartridge razors with flexible blades and pivoting shaving heads come into play. Not only do cartridge razors provide excellent maneuverability for shaving hard to reach parts of the legs, but they also minimize the risk of cuts because you don’t have to manually adjust the angle of the shaving head when using these razors. You can also get specialized cartridge razors designed for leg shaving since they have a wider shaving head and rounder shape that allows you to shave your legs easily.

• Armpit hair

Armpit or underarms are one of the most sensitive areas to shave because of the concave shape of the underarm combined with sensitive skin of underarms. On top of that, even a small cut or ingrown hair in this area can cause a lot of discomforts. Therefore, it is best to use a cartridge razor with a pivoting shaving head to shave your underarms. There aren’t a lot of hairs in your underarm region so only a couple of passes with a sharp razor can do the trick.

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• Pubic hair:

Shaving your pubic hair is a stressful job but a lot of the stress can be taken away by selecting the correct type of razor. Now when it comes to shaving pubic hair you can either use a safety razor or a cartridge razor but avoid using a disposable razor on your pubic hair because the blades on these razors are not very sharp and you can get razor burns if you apply too much pressure when shaving pubic hair.

Your budget for shaving

Finally, the choice of the perfect razor depends on how much you are willing to spend on shaving. Now, both the safety razors and the disposable razors have a different initial cost and the ongoing cost of using both types of razors also vary greatly and here is how:

• The Cost of using disposable and cartridge razors:

Both cartridge and disposable razors have blades built into their shaving heads. This means when the blades get dull you have to throw away the entire razor in the case of completely disposable razors. For cartridge razors, you can keep the handle and only replace the cartridge containing blades. While the first time cost of buying a disposable razor or a cartridge razor doesn’t seem like a lot, when you begin to add up how often you will have to replace the cartridge and the disposable blade for a new one, your shaving budget can quickly reach hundreds of dollars per year.  A replacement cartridge can cost you anywhere between $5 to $10 per cartridge which is a lot considering the fact that you may have to buy a new cartridge after every 3 shaves if you have tough hair. A pack of 12 disposable razors, on the other hand, costs you around $7 which doesn’t seem a lot but you have to replace a disposable razor after each shave because their blades usually get dull after one use especially when shaving facial hair of men. The environmental cost of plastic made razors when they are thrown away onto the land is a lot because they are impossible to recycle and can pose as an environmental hazard.

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Man Shaving in Mirror

• Safety razors:

Safety razors have the upper hand when it comes to being budget-friendly. Most people consider safety razors expensive because a decent quality safety razor itself costs around $30 excluding the blades. But considering that a safety razor lasts for many years without going bad and a single edge double-edged blade costs less then 10 cents, a safety razor is a great investment. Some safety razors have been known to last for up to 15 years with proper care which says a lot about how cost-effective they are. And the best thing is, a double-edged blade used in safety razors can be used for up to 2 shaves before it starts showing signs of dullness. This puts the per shave cost of a safety razor to less than 5 cents per shave which is a lot less compared to the cartridge and disposable plastic razors.

When it comes to the environmental cost of using a safety razor you will be glad to know that you can recycle used blades of a safety razor by putting them inside a blade bank and dropping the blade bank off at your local recycling center to be recycled. 

Recommendations

Now that you know what type of razor best suits you with the help of the guidelines provided above, you are ready to go ahead and get a razor for yourself. Below are some razors we recommend based on quality and ease of use in each category.

• VIKINGS BLADE: The Chieftain Double Edge Safety Razor:

Vikings blade is a razor manufacturer that specializes in traditional high-quality safety razors. The chieftain is one of Viking Blade’s best selling and most premium razors made using high-quality materials. If you are looking for a safety razor then this razor is worth looking at. This razor has been around since 2015 and it has amassed positive reviews from thousands of customers on Amazon. The reason we recommend this safety razor is because it is beginner-friendly, which means even if you are not familiar with using a safety razor this razor is going to be quite forgiving on you while you get a hang of using it properly.

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The most prominent feature of this razor is probably the fact that it comes with a lifetime warranty in just $28.97. And if you buy this razor it is probably going to be the only razor you will ever need for the rest of your life.

• Gillette Sensor3:

Gillette is one of the top razor manufacturers in the world and Sensor3 is one of their best selling disposable razors. This razor consists of 3 flexible blades that move along with your skin to minimize the risk of cuts and razor burns. This razor has rubber on its handle to provide optimal grip and at the price of $1.12 per shave Gillette claims you can get up to 10 shaves from each razor before it gets dull.

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• Schick Hyrdo 5 sense:

This cartridge razor comes with 5 blades and as the name suggests it hydrates your skin due to the built-in hydration gel reservoirs that keep skin moist and lubricated as you shave. One feature that made us recommend this razor is its ability to absorb excess pressure in case you accidentally apply too much pressure with the razor. It comes with built-in shock absorbers that automatically adjust the amount of pressure required for perfect shaving. This razor provides complete customization with up to 5 color options in handles and you can also pick the type of lubrication gel you want in the razor when ordering it. If you have sensitive skin, then this razor is a great option for you since you will be getting plenty of hydration and lubrication along with auto pressure adjustment to keep your skin irritation-free.

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Conclusion

Not all razors are made equal and therefore you have to make sure that the razor you are about to buy or plan on buying meets your shaving requirements. While safety razors are the most cost-effective choice when it comes to long term shaving, they require a lot of time and attention when shaving which makes them difficult to use when you are on the go. At the same time disposable and cartridge razors are convenient to use but the ongoing cost and quality of shave they provide is something you have to be mindful about. But with the help of guidelines provided in this article, the decision of picking the ideal razor for yourself should be a lot easier.