As someone with sensitive skin, do you regularly find yourself compromising the quality of your shave to spare your skin from irritation?
You’re one of many.
Whether you are a guy trying to look after your beard, or a woman who muddles her way through daily leg shaves, skin sensitivity is a hugely affecting condition. Earlier we have picked the 10 best razors and hair trimmers, but how do you choose the perfect one if your skin has its own special needs? In this article I am going to break down the issue by discussing the reams of research that has been done on different razor types, designs and brands and give detailed reviews of the best razor for sensitive skin, depending on who you are and what you are shaving.
The Different Kinds of Razors
To put it plainly, there are tons of different options if you are in the game of shaving for sensitive skin, and they are all worth considering. To provide a well rounded view of all of the best razors for sensitive skin, this article is going to give you the low-down on safety razors, electric razors, and cartridge razors (for both men and women).
A safety razor is probably what your grandfather shaved with, so listen up because, yano, grandparents know stuff. The most common type of safety razor is a Double Edge (DE), which consists of one (you guessed it) double edged razor blade that sits between a guard plate and a comb plate. Since the 1880’s this has been (and still is by many, many people) considered the best method of shaving there is. The safety razor has seen a massive revival in the past few years, almost entirely from a male dominated perspective. Can women use a safety razor too? Without a doubt. Safety razors are often considered to be much kinder on sensitive skin (why use 5 blades when you can use one?), although Gillette probably will not agree with us on this one. Fair warning: to get the best results they do require a specific technique, so expect a learning curve.
Electric razors are frequently opted for by people shaving sensitive skin, because the design of an electric razor means the blade will never come into direct contact with your skin. The blades (which can be clipper or rotary style) are protected by a foil guard, which is wonderful for preventing irritation. However, even with the best electric shaver for sensitive skin the world has to offer you will never be able to achieve a super close shave as you can with a manual.
Enter the cartridge razor. Cartridge razors are a good choice for a couple of reasons: convenience, cost, and closeness of the shave. They are available in virtually every supermarket or pharmacy, and have a low initial cost. The razors are designed so that the blades come into direct contact with your skin and can therefore cut the hair much lower than with an electric shaver. However, those with sensitive skin should take heed as cartridge shaves can be the most abrasive if you do not choose your weapon wisely.
The Need for Specifically Designed Razors for Sensitive Skin
Shaving is, by its own nature, an abrasive scenario for your skin. Using a razor to remove hair can easily cause irritation at the time of shaving, and razor burn, rashes, bumps and ingrown hairs thereafter. This is especially true for those who are prone to sensitive skin. Razor designs have evolved dramatically over the past 120 years or so (more on that later) in an effort to provide closer, cleaner and less harsh shaves. But how much of the evolution has actually been in favor of our skin, and how much of it is just a gimmick to keep one razor company ahead of another?
Does the Amount of Blades Matter?
Virtually everyone has got an opinion on this. The big brands will probably tell you the more blades the better, but the retro faction will tell you less is more. Go back 100 years ago, and the idea of multiple bladed razors was a joke. Gillette was the market leader back then, and they had the exclusive patent on DE disposables; but when that patent ran out, the market was suddenly flooded with competitors- which was around the time Gillette thought to bring out the 2 blade disposable for the first time. Then, as the other brand caught up, 2 became 3, 3 became 4, and nowadays 5 blade razors are backed by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign claiming they are the best razors for sensitive skin, and the only way to a super close shave.
The Hairy Details
To get a very close shave you need to cut the hair below the surface of the skin. This is the concept that multi-bladed razors work on: the first blade is blunt, so it pulls the hair up out from below the surface of the skin, and the second blade is sharp so it comes in from behind and slices the hair off. The more blades you have, the more times this process is repeated. The idea that multi bladed razors will save you having to go over the same area multiple times (and therefore sparing your skin further irritation) is also a strong argument from the designers of such products. However, the single blade users still uphold that one blade will always produce less adverse effects than multiple blades. Yes, there is a specific technique to it, and yes, you do need to get your angles right in order to get the best results- but those who take the time to perfect their shaving skills swear by these babies. In the end, I believe it comes down to personal preference. So, without further ado, let me reveal the top 7 best razors for sensitive skin.
Best Razor for Sensitive Skin Countdown
1. Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor (MK 23C)
With nearly 4,500 five star reviews on Amazon, it has to be said: the numbers don’t lie. While there are many, many fantastic safety razors on the market, the Merkur takes the win in the safety category for best shaver for sensitive skin- for a couple of reasons. First off, it doesn’t sport the massive price tag of a lot of its competitors. You will quickly make back the money you’ve been spending on disposables - and it’s much more environmentally friendly.
The Merkur is durable, lightweight and thanks to the long handle of this model it is extremely comfortable to hold whilst shaving. If you are doing daily shaves you will need to replace the blade every 1-2 weeks, but each blade only costs 15 cents or so.
The shave is really, really close- much smoother results than with my Gillette, and no razor burn in sight. One piece of advice, if you prize speed as a factor then this razor isn’t for you. With this razor you need to take your time, and master the art of controlling the blade, otherwise you will probably shred your skin.
2. Braun Series 7 790cc
If you are opting for an electric razor, Braun is hard to beat. Yes, admittedly it is more expensive than other models, and indeed the cheaper versions can also give you great results - but here’s why the Braun Series 7 takes my vote for best electric shaver for sensitive skin. I was skeptical when I first read the reviews that claimed the Braun could give as close a finish as with a blade, but I will hands down admit that this is the closest shave I have ever had with any electric razor (the manufacturer claims 0.05mm). It is probably the best men’s razor for sensitive skin you can get, actually. I love the fact that there are 5 different shaving modes, from intense to extra sensitive - so you can tailor your shave to however you’d like it. It feels much more comfortable to hold (I find other brands feel unsubstantial and ‘plasticy’ in comparison), and it produces the most comfortable dry shave of any other electric I’ve tried. It’s cordless, and when you put it on to charge it automatically activates a cleaning system, which is great because it minimises the amount of manual cleaning it needs.
3. Gillette Mach3 Sensitive
As I mentioned above already, using a cartridge razor on sensitive skin is the most abrasive way to shave, so I don’t recommend it. However, in terms of convenience and speed it is a good choice, so if you insist on using this method of shaving then the Mach3 is a solid option. The Mach3, obviously enough, has 3 blades- supporting Gillette’s theory: “for every stroke you take, it takes three. And fewer strokes means less irritation”. The blades are strong and sharp, so it feels as though the razor glides over your skin easily as opposed to pulling at the hairs. What Gillette calls an ‘open architecture system’ (well spaced blades, to you and I) means cleaning the razor is easy since hair and gunk doesn’t get stuck between the blades. It is indeed a close shave you will get, but if you are really sensitive like me then even the lubricating strip won’t be enough to stop getting at least a few razor bumps and burns…
4. Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive with Flip Trimmer
If you are the sort of person that likes to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to product innovation, then you are probably the 5 blade razor type. Like we talked about before, a cartridge razor is never going to be the best razor for sensitive skin, but at least combined with a trimmer you can do two jobs at once, and spare your skin the trauma of trying to shave all over when trimming will do. I love the 2in1 functionality of this razor, and the sharpness and durability of the blades make it a great option compared to a regular disposable. Maybe it’s the 5 blades, or maybe not, but I do find that this razor does not tend to yank and pull at my hairs the same way other cartridge razors do. Plus, the hydration elements work very well (the manufacturer claims 1 hour full hydration post shave, and 40% less friction that with the previous quattro model). The blades on the razor end are replaceable too, which means you don’t need to toss the whole thing when it goes dull- just replace the blades themselves.
5. Parker SR1 Stainless Steel Straight Edge Barber Razor
There are those who shave, and there are those who shave with a straight razor. Straight razors get a bad rep (thanks Sweeney Todd) but whether you are from a born and bred straight razor generation or if you’re a youngster who’s done your research, you’ll see that straight razors can be a legit option for the sensitive skinned among us. When I bought the Parker and started to use it regularly, I couldn’t believe that modern razor companies are actually able to get away with charging the prices they do. The much cheaper Parker, after a bit of practice, gave a better result. As with a safety razor (arguably even more so) there will be a learning curve (and shaving itself takes time and a learned technique), so be patient, do some research, and lather lather lather. Best practice is to take a really hot shower first, and use a few drops of tea tree oil on the blade to prevent razor bumps and burn (but only do this if you are confident you aren’t going to cut yourself though- tea tree and open wounds are not friends). Overall the Parker straight razor is super sturdy, durable (stainless steel), and functional- it’ll give you possibly the best shave for sensitive skin especially if you love your old time traditions.
6. Gillette Venus Embrace Sensitive
This 5 blade model from Gillette is well known to be one of the best sensitive skin razors around. It supports the ethos that the more blades you have the less pressure and therefore irritation each blades will cause (you can think of it the same way that a baby elephant stepping on your foot will hurt less than a baby elephant wearing a stiletto heel stepping on your foot would). The blades on the Venus Embrace are very close together and give a much less aggressive shave than other designs that are supposedly for sensitive skin. The protective guards also serve to smooth out the level of your skin before the blade hits it, which essentially means your skin takes less abrasion from the razor. Big plus is the hypoallergenic lubricating strips are infused with aloe vera, which gives a really luxurious finish after the shave and makes it a top contender for best women’s razor for sensitive skin.
7. Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle
So I had to bring in some outside consultation on this one, but it seemed like an important category to include so I was willing to do the research (I won’t disclose the extent of said research….). You might not have thought of it this way before, but a guy’s face and a girls bikini area have a lot in common (stay with me)- skin that is far more sensitive than elsewhere on the body, and hair that is much coarser. While plenty of girls swear by using a man’s razor for their down there area, claiming the blades are sharper and kinder on their skin; the consensus seems to be that specifically designed bikini razors are the way forward. This model from Schick has a small head that’s easy to maneuver, and on the other end there’s a trimmer. This is great because it eliminates the need to use a straight blade everywhere, the trimmer will do the rest. Throw in the fact that the trimmer is waterproof, easy to clean, and the razor is coated in special hypoallergenic serum, this is a solid winner for best sensitive skin razor for the bikini area.
Each of the razors reviewed are winners in their own right- your choice will depend on your individual needs and preferences. My personal winner has to be the Merkur safety razor. I’m of the school of thought that the classic design is indeed the best, and blade wise- less is more.
I’m also very conscious of the amount of plastic I throw away through normal disposable razor use, so a safety razor minimises this completely. It gives a close shave, which is a factor of high importance for me, plus it looks badass (that’s a legit reason). Overall, my vote is that this straight razor is the best shaving razor for sensitive skin.