Whether you shave your whole face daily, clean up your lines once a week or anything in between, a good razor is essential to your grooming routine. We shaved off our whole beard again and again (and again) over the course of a month testing 12 men’s razors, paying attention to how comfortable and easy it was to shave with each, and how close of a shave each provided. After a few nicks and weeks of not recognizing ourselves in the mirror, two razors (ahem) made the cut.
The Gillette SkinGuard stood out above all the other razors we tested, thanks to its extremely comfortable and easy shave. Its guarded razor made shaving a breeze, and we experienced zero tugging or irritation when using it. Along with its durability, ease of cleaning and additional precision blade, it was easily the best men’s razor we tried.
If you want the closest possible shave and don’t need extra features, the Bevel Safety Razor is the blade for you. Utilizing a single, double-edged blade, the Bevel gives a remarkably close shave. All the safety razors we tested were a step above the cartridge options in terms of closeness, but the Bevel’s comfortable handle pushed it past the other safety razors to claim a top spot.
Best overall men’s razor: Gillette SkinGuard ($9.97; amazon.com)
Out of all the razors we tested, the Gillette SkinGuard gave us the easiest, most comfortable shave by far, mainly due to its specialized blades. The razor has little bumpers in between the SkinGuard’s two blades to minimize skin irritation. While Gillette says this causes a shave that isn’t as close as its five-blade razors, we didn’t notice much of a difference between the SkinGuard and the other cartridge blades we tested. In fact, excluding the safety razors, we thought it gave one of the closest shaves of the group.
The SkinGuard also provided superior comfort. The protective blades made it really feel like the razor was gliding across our face — something we always heard about in shaving commercials but never experienced in real life. The bumpers, along with two lubricating strips, gave us a super-smooth shave. We never felt any irritation or experienced any bumps or ingrown hairs — even hours after we shaved.
But this comfort wasn’t limited to just the blades — the SkinGuard is also one of the most ergonomic razors we tested. Thanks to its rubberized handle and gentle curving shape, it fit perfectly in our hand and was easy to hold and maneuver around our face.
Besides its comfort, the SkinGuard also came out unscathed in our drop tests, and can shave solidly clean lines with its precision blade found on the reverse side of the cartridge. Speaking of cartridges, getting replacements is easy, but the price of the SkinGuard’s replacement blades was a bit higher than our pool’s $2 average, coming in at $2.83 per blade when you buy a pack of 12. If you’re worried about remembering to fill up on blades, you can set up a subscription with either Amazon or Gillette so you never run out.
Best men’s safety razor: Bevel Safety Razor ($42.36, originally $49.95; amazon.com)
The cartridge razors couldn’t provide as close a shave as any of our safety razors. The single, double-edged, stainless steel blades take a little more patience and skill to maneuver, but the result is a wildly close shave.
We tested three of these close-shaving razors, and the Bevel Safety Razor was easily the best of the group. It didn’t feel quite as close as the two Merkurs we tried, but it was much easier to handle and move across our face.
Having never used a safety razor before this story, our first shave was painstakingly slow, making sure the blade was as close to a 30-degree angle against our skin so we wouldn’t, you know, cut our jugular. We got a couple nicks that first time but soon found that shaving with these safety razors — and the Bevel especially — wasn’t too different from the multi-blade cartridges we’d grown accustomed to.
If you maintain a 30-degree angle and let the weight of the blade do its thing, shaving with a safety razor is a breeze. The Bevel has a long, straight handle that was quite comfortable to hold, which eased our nerves when running it across our face. The two other safety razors we tried had handles that were awkward to hold, so we had to constantly readjust our grip to get a comfortable shave.
When your blade gets dirty or worn out, the Bevel makes it super easy to clean or replace with a simple screwing mechanism. We preferred this over the Merkur Futur’s blade enclosement, which just pops off, because in our drop test the Futur’s blade would pop out from the handle and end up somewhere on the floor.
Replacement blades for the Bevel are the cheapest in our testing pool too, with a package of 20 going for $9.99, averaging out to $0.50 per blade (you can also subscribe to automatically get these through Amazon). As a bonus, safety razors as a whole are better for the environment than your standard razor, since there’s no plastic and you can recycle your used stainless steel blades.
How we tested
To find the best men’s razor, we ran 12 razors through all sorts of tests. We shaved with them, cleaned them, dunked them in water, dropped them and more. We broke up our tests into two categories: performance and durability. Here’s a breakdown of all the tests we ran.
- Closeness of shave: Using the same shaving cream each time, we shaved with each razor going with the grain of our facial hair. We noted how close the shave was, and felt how much hair, if any, was left on our face after shaving.
- Comfort of shave: We judged how easy it was to shave and how the blades felt on our face. Immediately after shaving we noted if we had any nicks or felt any irritation.
- Lasting comfort: We checked our face again several hours after shaving to see if any irritation, bumps or redness formed.
- Ergonomics: We held each razor and judged how it felt in our hand. We also dunked it in water and held it again to see if it was slippery.
- Precision: We noted if the razor had a specific precision blade, and cut lines in our facial hair to judge how precise the blade was.
- Extra features: We counted any extra features the razor had, such as lubricating strips, heating elements and more. We also judged how these features impacted the shaving experience.
- Ease to clean: We cleaned each blade after shaving and noted how difficult it was to clean, as well as how long it took.
- Drop test: We dropped each razor three times over our sink from face level. We noted any damage and if the blades popped off the handle.
- Ease of blade replacement: We researched the price of blade replacement and if you were able to sign up for an automatic subscription.
Other men’s razors we tested
Harry’s Winston Razor ($20; harrys.com)
The Harry’s Winston Razor gave us a close, comfortable shave. It was pretty easy to clean, had a nice precision blade and felt good in our hand, but it just couldn’t separate itself from the rest of the pack.
Harry’s Truman Razor ($9; harrys.com)
Similar to the Winston, this razor from Harry’s is very good but just didn’t outdo the SkinGuard. When we shaved with the Truman we got a close shave, though not as close as the Winston or some other cartridge blades like Schick.
Dollar Shave Club ($26; dollarshaveclub.com)
This razor was decently comfortable and provided a pretty close shave, just not as good as the SkinGuard. We did enjoy its precision blade, but we still wouldn’t recommend it over our winner.
Merkur 34C Heavy-Duty Safety Razor ($40.43; amazon.com)
This safety razor gave us one of the closest shaves, actually tying with the Bevel. However, its handle is very small and short, so it wasn’t comfortable to hold while shaving.
Schick Hydro 5 Sense ($10.43, originally $10.99; amazon.com)
This razor also performed well, but it was another that just didn’t stand out overall. It was one of the closer shaves we got from a cartridge razor, and was solidly comfortable. Its hefty handle was one of the most ergonomic too.
Gillette Planet KIND ($20; gillette.com)
Gillette’s new Planet KIND razor was a bit uncomfortable when we shaved with it. It didn’t glide across our face like the SkinGuard did, and it didn’t provide a remarkably close shave either. This razor and its blades are 100% recyclable through Terracycle, which is nice, but safety razor blades are also recyclable. So if you’re looking for an eco-friendly razor, we’d still recommend the Bevel Safety Razor.
Merkur Futur ($66.75; walmart.com)
The Merkur Futur gave us the closest shave of all the razors we tested, but it was too heavy to actually hold easily and maneuver around our face. Also, during our drop test, the top section of the compartment that holds the blade popped off, leaving the razor blade somewhere on our floor. We think the Bevel is the better option if you’re looking for a safety razor.
Gillette Mach3 ($6.78, originally $10.99; amazon.com)
The Mach3 is an incredibly light razor, but its super-thin build wasn’t the most ergonomic. It didn’t provide a very close shave, but it was quite easy to clean and comfortable to use.
Gillette Heated ($189.94, originally $199.99; amazon.com)
The Gillette Heated razor heats up its blades so you can theoretically get a closer, more comfortable shave. While this feature was cool, it didn’t result in an outstandingly different shave. This, plus the fact that it’s more than three times pricier than the next most expensive razor, knocked it out of the race.
Philips Norelco OneBlade ($34.95; amazon.com)
The Philips is an electric razor, and while it might be good to shave large amounts of hair if you’re shaving off your beard, we didn’t find it to be a great daily shaver. It didn’t give us a very close shave at all, most likely because we shaved with the grain of our facial hair with every razor, but the instructions of the OneBlade recommend shaving against the grain. Going with the grain, this razor really didn’t do much, and going against the grain gave a closer shave, but that’d be the case with any razor.
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