When it comes to finding the best razor for shaving your face (or other parts of your body, for that matter), there are a lot of options out there.
The good news is that despite all of the seemingly new and innovative features that come along (“now with 17 blades!”), the technology for razors hasn’t really changed all that much in the last hundred or so years.
In 1901, Mr. King C. Gillette (that name sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?) invented the double-edged safety razor, a razor with replaceable blades that quickly became more popular than the static straight razor, which only had a single fixed blade that needed to be sharpened to remain useful. This innovation eventually led to the replaceable cartridge razors (e.g., the Gillette Mach 3) that are ubiquitous today.
Despite the popularity of cartridge razors, the older safety razor and even older straight razor (the origins of which date back to 18th c. England) are currently experiencing a huge resurgence, and for good reason. They’re beautiful tools, which, when used correctly, result in a much closer, smoother shave with less irritation to your skin.
Not to mention, there is something about using these old-school razors that just feels so . . . damn . . . manly.
What is the Best Razor for Men?
In order to find the very best razors, we conducted hours of research online, consulted with industry experts, and even got some insight from our neighborhood barber (thanks, Brooklyn!) who expertly handles straight razors on a daily basis. We then compiled a list of the top choices and tested nearly 20 razors of all types to find the very best in each category. We shaved so many damn times with so many damn razors that we got cut, we got nicked, and we bled so you wouldn’t have to!
There are lots of options out there for razors, each with their own unique features, some of which are certainly better than others depending on your desired use. As such, we reviewed and ranked options for men’s razors in 4 different categories (plus, at the end, there’s a section for related recommendations with some niche razors and other shaving accessories and products):
The Razors We RAVE About
Let’s cut to the chase. We used the following criteria to rate each razor:
- Feel / Weight: When you’re shaving, you want your razor to feel comfortable in your hands so that you have better control. This is particularly important for safety and straight razors, which require a bit more careful attention when using them. Generally, a well-weighted razor will assist in your shaving so that you don’t need to press down so hard against your face.
- Durability / Longevity: Just as you would with any good tool, you’ll want to invest in a razor that gets the job done, but also holds up well over time. Quality craftsmanship and ease of cleaning come into play here.
- Appearance: Some razors are true tools of beauty. Displaying these good-looking objects will make your bathroom counter look like something actually worth showing off!
- Shave Experience: At one time or another, we’ve all had to shave with a low-quality or dull razor, and it’s certainly not an enjoyable experience. Instead of suffering through a harsh, irritating, painful routine, it’s worth finding the right razor so that your shave is clean, close, and smooth as butter.
- Value: Razors run the gamut from cheap, disposable razors to some high-end straight razors that cost well over $300. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean a better quality shave, but often enough it does. We’ve rated each razor so that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
If you’re going from regularly using a cartridge or disposable razor to trying out a safety razor for the first time, it may feel intimidating. However, it’s a lot more intuitive and easier than you might expect. If you’d like some instruction, check out this good video on YouTube from Executive Shaving.
It’s definitely worth getting some instruction and practicing with a straight razor prior to just diving into your face with one. There are some great tutorials on YouTube, like this one from the Art of Manliness.
We like the Parker SRX Professional Barber razor because, at just $25, you’re not investing a ton of money into something you may not like using. Also, as a “shavette,” it essentially combines a safety razor and straight razor by using disposable half blades, so you don’t have to worry about sharpening or honing out of the gate. It’s called a “Barber” razor because some state laws require barbers use this kind of straight razor (vs. a fixed blade) for sanitary reasons. The Feather SS is a higher end version of this with a fixed handle rather than a folding one.
A sharp razor is a safe razor, and there are a couple of different tools you should use to keep your straight razor sharp. A strop (usually leather) is used to maintain the sharpness of your blade between properly honing the blade, which should be done every couple of months or so. A honing stone (also known as a whetstone) is used to actually sharpen the blade. Here are tutorial videos for how to properly do stropping and honing.
Different manufacturers will say different things about the longevity of their blades and how often you should replace them. Ultimately, it’s really important that you feel this out for yourself depending on your frequency and type of use. As soon as your blade is causing you discomfort (tugging at your facial hair, causing skin irritation or redness, etc.) or beginning to rust or show any kind of deterioration, these are indications that it might be time to get a new blade going.
It’s not the best thing in the world to just toss loose blades into your trash. Thankfully, Feather has a great, inexpensive solution for this: a blade disposal case that holds plenty of your old blades before you can safely get rid of the case itself.
Of course we all know to use some kind of shaving cream or gel during our shave, but it’s surprising how many guys leave it at that when they could make their shave experience so much more enjoyable with a pre- and/or post-shave product of some kind. Including this extra step doesn’t add much time to your routine, and your face will be thanking you when it feels moisturized, rejuvenated, and without irritation or redness. See the ‘Related Products’ section below for our recommendations.
Best Safety Razor
Feather AS-D2 Double Edge ($175)
The safety razor is the preferred razor style of the staff here at Rave Reviews. Once you make the switch from a cartridge or disposable razor to a safety razor, it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back. With that in mind, it makes sense to invest in a really good one that will last a lifetime.
The Feather AS-D2 Double Edge safety razor is made by a Japanese company called Seki Edge. Seki is a town in the Gifu prefecture of Central Japan that has a long history of producing some of the highest quality blades in the world. So, it’s no surprise that after centuries of making incredible samurai swords, equally impressive razor blades would be manufactured here as well.
Most safety razors you see on the market feature a chrome finish, which looks nice and shiny but, over time, will begin to chip and fade away. The AS-D2 is made entirely of 316 marine-grade (or surgical) stainless steel, which is extremely resistant to rust and corrosion. It features a nice matte finish, which aesthetically sets it apart from the other safety razors out there.
An excellent value, this is a good option to consider for your first safety razor.
Merkur 34C Heavy Duty
Compact and very sturdy; a great option for your travel kit.
Vikings Blade The Vulcan
One of the most popular safety razors on the market. Not only is this a very good razor, but also it makes for a nice gift because of its tasteful packaging.
Baxter of California
Nice safety razor, but if you’re inclined to spend sixty-five bucks on this one, you’d be better off spending the extra money on the Feather AS-D2, which will last a lifetime.
Best Straight Razor
Parker SRX Heavy Duty
Straight razors are making a huge comeback. What has always been a mainstay for any serious barber, you’re finding more and more fellas using these as their everyday razor of choice. Why? Because you feel and look like a badass when you use one of these puppies! What better way to start your day?!
Not only that, but straight razors can truly provide you with the closest shave of any razor. But there is a lot to know before you go out and buy a straight razor. Of all the razor types we reviewed, this was not the most intuitive to use, and it’ll take some practice before you become proficient with one. (Please refer to our FAQs section for a good tutorial video on how to use a straight razor.)
With this in mind, we selected the Parker SRX Heavy Duty as our top choice — not necessarily because it’s truly the best straight razor out there, but because it’s certainly the one you should start out with. (For the best, we really like Portland Razor Co. or even some of the vintage options from Classic Shaving… They just don’t make ‘em like they used to!
Getting back to the Parker SRX: As a “shavette,” not only is it easier to learn how to use, but it also features disposable half blades so you don’t have to worry about knowing how to sharpen your razor out of the gate. Once you get the feel for this, and enjoy it, it’ll be time to take it to the next level and invest in a traditional straight razor that’ll be a tool you’ll cherish and enjoy using in ways that you never could with a Gillette Mach 3.
Feather SS Japanese Straight Razor
From the heavy-hitters who already won our top choice for best safety razor, this beaut is essentially a higher-end version of the Parker SRX but with a fixed blade.
Dovo “Col. Conk” Straight Razor
So you wanna get into the real thing, eh? From Solingen, Germany — a place famous for high-quality blades of all types — Dovo has been making razors for over 100 years, and this razor is an excellent option to cut your teeth on (er, or shave your face with!).
Portland Razor Co. Cascade Steel Straight Razor
Splurge a little extra to get a handmade razor from Portland, OR, and you can choose both the finish for the scales (see handle) and shape of the blade.
Best Cartridge Razor
Dorco Pace 6+
With the brilliant marketing of Dollar Shave Club and the ubiquitous ads you see for Harry’s, you might think that these subscription cartridge razors are the only options out there. While both of these options are solid — especially if you appreciate the convenience of one less thing you need to worry about shopping for — there are equally good options you can find on Amazon or even at your local drugstore.
Dorco, the maker of our winning selection for this category, actually makes the razors for Dollar Shave Club. So, if you can deal without the automatic delivery of replacement blades, you’ll save a few bucks by buying this excellent razor direct and stocking up on blades. Heck, the combo pack you can get on Amazon includes the handle and a whopping 10 replacement blades for just $21.
If you like the ease and familiarity of a cartridge razor, and you’re not quite ready to step up to a safety razor, then this is our pick. This razor lasts a pretty long time, gives you a decent shave, and even features an extra trimmer blade for hard-to-reach spots like under your nose. Take that, you pesky, awkward-looking mustache/nose hair that your partner likes to point out to you all the time, like when you’re out to dinner and can’t do anything about it!
Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide
A nice cartridge razor from the OG brand, but it’s got one less blade than the Dorco… Why go with 5 blades when you can get 6?!
Gillette Mach 3 Turbo
Okay, now we’re down to half the number of blades versus the Dorco. While we’d like to say this razor is half as good, the reality is this razor was a game changer when it came out 20 years ago, and some folks continue to prefer it over those with additional blades, seeing them as superfluous.
Best Disposable Razor
BIC Flex5 Hybrid
Unless you’re a tattoo artist or in some other kind of industry that requires you to use disposable razors for health safety requirements, it’s best to steer clear of these things because they are just so damn wasteful. With companies like Starbucks, Hyatt, and American Airlines eliminating their use of plastic straws, and even entire cities banning plastic straws and utensils, we can all work to do our part to avoid another Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Enough preaching! And, hey, you may very well have a good reason to be using a disposable razor. If so, there are some good ones out there that’ll certainly get the job done. We like the BIC Flex5 Hybrid because it has all of the bells and whistles that you’d find with a cartridge razor, like the Gillette Fusion5, but you just toss the whole thing when it’s time for a new one, rather than just the blade.
If you’re going to buy this type of razor, you want the one that will give you the highest number of uses before you have to dispose of it. The blade on the BIC Flex5 Hybrid actually stays sharper longer than some of the cartridge razors we tested, and the shave ain’t too shabby at all.
Schick Hydro 5
A disposable razor that works well for sensitive skin because of the unique gel reservoir for its lubrication strips.
BIC Twin Select
Just about the most bare-bones razor you can get: two blades, no frills, best for one-use purposes.
Make sure to check out these related Rave recommendations:
- Philips Norelco OneBlade Hybrid: This rechargeable electric shaver is like a clever combination of a razor and electric trimmer. Perfect for all of your manscaping needs!
- Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil: Just buy this stuff. No matter what kind of razor you use, this will make your shaving experience so much better. And, it smells sooooo good.
- JATAI Trio Shaving Set: This set includes a three-step skin care regimen: facial cleanser, shaving cream, and facial moisturizer. You’re bound to fall in love with at least one of these products, and then you can buy them individually for just $8!
- Headblade MOTO Starter Pack: A bald head is a classic look. Keep it looking clean with a razor designed specifically for this use. You’ll wonder why you’ve been fussing with razors designed for your face all of these years!
- Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream: Excellent shaving cream in a built-in bowl so that you can lather up some good stuff with that fancy shave brush of yours.
- Parker Deluxe Long Loft Badger Shaving Brush & Stand: Speaking of a fancy shave brush, make sure you get one made of real badger hair, like this one from Parker. It also comes with a stand that’ll hold your brush and your razor!