Introduction
1250 words 6 minutes
Shaving soap and brush

There are so many types of razors. How do you know which is best for you? This guide will help you ask the right questions so you can come to the right conclusion as to which razor is best for you.

Razor options

Razor types

There are many different razor types. We’ll give a high-level overview of them here. We have a great article explaining the different types of razors and the pros and cons of each type.

disposable razor
Disposable razor

Cheap, nasty, convenient.

cartridge razor and blades
Cartirdge razor

The most commonly used system, with disposable, multi-blade heads.

double-edge (DE) safety razor and blades
Double-edge (DE) safety razor

Single-blade shaving that's really close and gentler on your skin.

straight cutthroat razor
Straight-edge (SE) razor

aka cutthroat razor. A fine tool that takes some skill.

electric shaver
Electric shaver

A convenient shave you can do in the car.

Considerations

Things to consider

Ergonomics

A good razor should feel nice in the hand. It should be balanced and responsive to your moves. It’s handle should feel safe and grippy, even when covered in water and shaving cream.

A good razor should feel heavy but balanced. Remember, when shaving, the weight of the razor should be doing the work, not you.

Shaving results

How important is the overall result? Do you want a baby-bottom smooth (BBS) shave every day? Or will a damn-fine shave (DFS) suffice? A BBS will have you leaning towards a DE safety razor whereas a DFS can be gotten very easily with a cartridge or disposable razor.

If you don’t care so much about closeness, an electric shaver may be a convenient option.

Shaving experience

How important is the shaving experience? Do you want an olde worlde charme to you daily shave or do you just want to hack the tops off the hairs and be out the door?

Shaving enthusiasts love the experience of using a DE safety razor whereas those who couldn’t give a rat’s may be delighted with the swipe-n-go convenience of a cartridge, disposable or electric shaver.

Quality

If you don’t care about quality (or the environment) you can’t go past a disposable razor. Low-end cartridge razors also fit this bill. That’s not to say you can’t pick up a cheap and nasty DE safety razor or electric shaver.

But if you are looking for a piece of equipment that they can shave your face for your funeral before passing down to your grandkids, it has to be a DE safety razor.

There are high-quality cartridge razors out there but none of them will have the longevity of the safety razor. You can also grab very good quality electric shavers but you just know they’re going to die sooner rather than later. Usually the battery is the first thing to go and you’ll be tethered to the wall to shave.

Price and TCO

No-cost shaving
No-cost shaving

It's your call.

How deep is your pocket? Disposable razors seem cheap, but the long-term costs add up quickly. The initial outlay for a razor is just the beginning. The Total Cost of Ownership is the real consideration.

A lot of cartridge razors are sold using the Loss Leader pricing strategy; the razor company hopes to make more money long-term by selling expensive blade replacements. You may recognize this strategy from the $30 printer at the supermarket that takes $70 ink cartridges.

DE safety razors are quite cheap long term.

Electric shavers and SE razors have very low ongoing costs. Electric shaver blades do need to be replaced occasionally so the clear winner in price and TCO is the SE razor.

There are many different studies and many different ways to calculate the cost of one shaving system vs another. One thing is quite clear in all of them: DE safety razors are far cheaper than cartridge and disposable razors. Generally the figures show the annual cost of cartridge razors to be about four times higher than DE safety razors. Disposable razors are even more! Of course, your mileage may vary.

When considering razor prices, split it into two parts: upfront cost and ongoing costs. Tweet this!

When considering razor prices, split it into two parts: upfront cost and ongoing costs. Also, work out how much it will cost you over a year, five years or even ten years based on your usage.

Skin type

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin can be irritated from disposable, cartridge and electrric shavers. DE safety razors can help reduce these problems.

Disposable razors are terrible on the skin. Avoid these if you have sensitive skin or a tough beard.

Cartridge razors generally have multiple blades which can remove the upper layers of the skin causing irritation and razor burn. The blades may feel smooth as they glide over the skin but the irritation shows up after the damage has been done.

Electric shavers can be irritable on the skin too. There are some models that are made for sensitive skin, and a good pre-shave routine can help, but it’s probably worth avoiding them if you are prone to rashes, burns or irritation. There is a period of adjustment for the skin when starting electric shaving so make sure you give it a good few months before evaluating this system.

Sensitive skin is best served by a DE safety razor. Coupled with a good pre and post-shave routine, you can minimize the damage and irritation to your skin from shaving.

Environment

If you care about the environment – and why wouldn’t you? – then you can’t go past SE razors. But not all of us are willing to put an unguarded blade to our throats each morning.

Electric razors have little ongoing waste hitting the landfill but they may have a higher environmental hit during manufacturing. The environmental cost of charging is negligible but a battery operated model could be considered bad for the environment. Energy spent heating shaving water is also saved when using na electric shaver.

Americans toss approximately 2 billion disposable razors into landfill each year. Tweet this!

Cartridge razors and disposable razors are very wasteful for the amount of plastics they contribute to landfill. Americans toss approximately 2 billion disposable razors into landfill each year.

Some DE safety razor blades can be recycled. Check with your local municipality as to whether your recycling is machine or hand-sorted so you don’t endanger workers picking through your trash. Even when sent to landfill, DE safety razor blades take up significantly less space than disposable and cartridge razors.

There are no wasted blades consuming landfill for SE razors … the clear winner.

While we’re talking about the environment and shaving, don’t shave in the shower. This is probably the biggest use of energy you can easily cut down on while shaving.

Current shaving habits

How you currently shave, and your attitude towards change, should be taken into consideration. If you are content with your current system and don’t care much to change, then there is little reason to. If you are happy with the quick in-n-out experience of cartridge razor shaving then it is unlikely to change to a system that requires a little more patience.

New vs antique

If you are heading down the DE or SE route, you can pick up an antique razor for a fraction of the cost. Some of these are still in usable condition but there’s no guarantee when grabbing one of these from eBay or at a yard sale. Finding a gem is thrilling for the enthusiasts.

There’s also the risk of infection when using someone else’s razor. Even with a new blade and a good clean, you may not have ridden the tool of all communicable diseases. Access to an autoclave and hospital-grade disinfectants may be necessary.

Recommendations

Disposable razor

Cartridge razor

Safety razor

Electric shaver

Straight “cutthroat razor”