Whether you are shaving for the first time or looking for a change from your current razor, it is important to choose the right razor for your needs – and, perhaps more importantly, your budget.
There is a lot of debate surrounding the topic of expensive razors, with some people convinced that they are worth it, while others feel that they are nothing more than a waste of money.
After shaving for years, I can tell you that the quality of the razor is only one (but rather small) aspect that determines the quality of your shave.
If I gave you a $759 Boker Damast straight razor, does that mean you’ll have the best shave of your life?
Of course not!
What about the $5 Harry’s Razor Starter Set?
Probably not going to be a great shave either, as we reviewed here.
The truth is many factors play into getting a great shave, and the razor is only one of them.
So, are expensive razors worth it?
Not in the least. So, don’t spend much money on a new razor; you’ll just be disappointed with the results.
Too Many Razors to Choose From
Unlike men from a hundred years ago when the selection of your razor was limited to only a few brands, today’s man has many choices regarding razors. So while we outline all the different types of razors here in full detail, here’s a very quick summary:
|Shaving Tool||Blades||Initial Cost||Long Term Costs|
|Safety Razor||Test many brands||$ – $$$||$|
|Electric Razor||Proprietary||$$ – $$$$||$$|
|Straight Razor||Fixed||$ – $$$$||$|
|Shavette||Test many brands||$ – $$||$|
These have a slightly higher initial upfront cost (about $50 for a razor), but the blades are very cheap, and the learning curve is not too bad (about a week). The biggest downside is that the aggression of the shave can vary from one razor to the next, making it difficult to find the “perfect” razor.
In addition, there is no correlation between the price and quality of the shave. Instead, paying more here often means that it is made from better materials (e.g., brass vs. stainless steel) – so you can expect it to last longer, but it does not necessarily equate to a better shave.
You can, however, test many different blades to find the perfect ones for your skin and hair type. Check out brands like Merkur, Edwin Jagger, Parker, Rockwell, and Muhle.
Safe and effective, you can find these in any store, and they provide reliably close results. However, the catch with cartridge razors is that you are locked into buying the cartridges from the same company that makes the razor – which gives them a monopoly on your business. This results in a higher long-term cost of ownership because cartridges are not cheap (e.g., Gillette Fusion blades cost $3 a blade – while the razor only costs $10).
Additionally, you cannot test other razor blade brands, so there’s no way to know whether you are using the best blade for your shave.
While Gillette reigns supreme in this category, other brands like Schick, Wilkinson Sword, and Dorco are worth checking out. Don’t forget Dollar Shave Club, which is a subscription service that delivers blades to your door for a fraction of the cost of Gillette.
A variation on the cartridge razor, disposable razors work similarly, but they are not meant to last. In other words, you use them until they get dull, and then you simply throw them away.
These are often found in hotels and at the gym since they are so cheap and easy to replace, but they certainly will not give you the best shave of your life. Aside from out-of-pocket costs, disposable razors are also bad for the environment. BIC, Gillette, and Schick all offer disposable razors.
As we discussed in our comparison of foil and rotary shavers, electric razors can range between $23 and $300. The initial upfront cost is higher, but you will never have to replace the blades, so your long-term costs are much lower.
Price and performance are positively correlated here, as the RPM of the cutting blades and build quality tend to be significantly better on the more expensive models. While electric razors are synonymous with Braun, other brands like Panasonic, Remington, and Philips Norelco are worth checking out.
These are much more of a niche product used by a small group of men and barbers. Quality tends to correlate with price, but it is important to note that straight razors require a good deal of skill, practice, and patience to master. Very few brands make straight razors nowadays, but you can find them from brands like Boker, Dovo, and Thiers Issard.
Whatever shaving tool you ultimately go with, the quality of the blade and aggressiveness of the shave are the two biggest factors that will determine the quality of your shave.
If your budget allows, we recommend trying a few different brands before making your decision, as everyone’s skin and facial hair type are different – meaning that what works well for one person may not work for someone else.
Supporting Shave Accessories
Aside from the razor you choose, it is important to consider the other products you use in conjunction with your razor to get the closest, most comfortable shave. Here are a few of the most important shave accessories to consider:
Shaving Cream or Soap
The shave cream or soap you use can greatly impact your shave’s quality and comfort. Like razors, some shaving creams may work better on certain hair and skin types, so it helps to test a few different ones before settling on the one you like.
A quality shaving brush can help you apply your shaving cream evenly, as well as exfoliate and prepare your skin for the shave. This preps the skin and hair, so even a poorly made or cheap razor should be able to get the job done. Based on quality, shaving brushes can range from $5 to hundreds of dollars. However, you must be quite experienced to realize the benefits of a more expensive shaving brush. We recommend starting with something cheap and gradually working your way up to a better-quality brush as you become more comfortable with your shaving routine.
Applied to the skin to help soothe razor burn and irritation, aftershave helps to repair damaged skin or moisturize dry skin. There are many different types of aftershave on the market, ranging from balms and gels to lotions and creams, so you can find one that is perfect for your skin type.
This oil is applied to the skin before shaving, which can help reduce irritation from a dull razor or sensitive skin.
Be Mindful of Shaving Communities
While we love them to death, the advice within shaving communities can be easily misinterpreted.
Because they are most often populated by very experienced wet shavers (i.e., those who have been shaving for years and know exactly what they like) and have perfected their shaving technique – to the point where any razor will work well for them.
The best way to learn what works for you is by trying a bunch of different razors, blades, creams, soaps, and aftershaves until you find the perfect combination.
Write down what works and doesn’t work for you, and take this with you whenever you try something new.
This will ensure that you are always moving towards the perfect shave for you – rather than just following the advice of others.
After all, once you have narrowed down the perfect set of products, you can always depend on them for years to come.