When you have sensitive skin, shaving can be a dreadful experience. Oftentimes, irritation can be the result of poor performance from the razor that you are using.
Below we’ll share with you a few razors that should help alleviate post-shave irritation.
Do You Really Need A New Razor?
Shaving irritation can be caused by several factors, which include the following: inadequate facial hair prep, poor technique, overapplication of pressure, dull blades, improper grain mapping (particularly on the neck area), or simply an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the shaving cream.
Before paying for a new razor, consider doing a reassessment of your shaving routine to ensure everything else is being done correctly. We wrote a helpful guide outlining all the steps to a close and comfortable shave here.
5 Quick Questions to Consider Before Buying a Razor
When buying a razor, specifically for a sensitive area, consider the following:
1. Does the number of blades matter?
Modern cartridge razors depend on the hysteresis phenomenon, also known as lift-and-cut, to get close results. While increasing the number of blades may provide smoother results, it may also result in irritated skin. If you like using a cartridge razor, select one with fewer than four blades.
Safety razors depend on only a single blade. Safety razors are much tougher to master and require a steady hand for close yet comfortable results.
2. How do you plan on using the razor?
Depending on how you use the razor will determine which types you should consider. If for facial hair use only, electric shavers, cartridge, disposable, and safety razors can be used. Should you plan on shaving other areas of your body such as your chest, arms, legs, or pubic region, then a cartridge or disposable razor should only be considered.
3. How often are you changing your razor blades?
Dull blades cause skin irritation. You should be rotating the blades regularly, about once every ten shaves for a cartridge razor and once every five shaves for a safety razor.
4. Do you travel frequently or like to shave at the gym?
Cartridge and disposable razors are travel-friendly. Safety razors are best for home use only. Safety razor blades are prohibited from carry-on luggage and must be stored in your checked baggage (although you can bring the handle in your carry-on).
5. Are you a thrifty shopper?
Over a year, a modern cartridge razor will cost you approximately $125 in blade refills. Safety razor blades will cost you roughly $15 per year.
If you prefer a cartridge razor’s convenience but want to keep your grooming expenses low, consider purchasing a previous generation razor such as the Gillette Mach3. The expected annual cost the Mach3 is approximately $70.
Best Razors for Sensitive Skin
Here are the best razors for sensitive skin currently available:
1. Best Overall: Gillette SkinGuard Cartridge Razor
Designed for men with sensitive skin or susceptible to razor bumps, the Gillette SkinGuard provides a pleasant, irritation-free shaving experience.
Unlike other cartridge razors that hold up to six razor blades, the Gillette SkinGuard relies on only two cutting blades. Set above and below the proprietary SkinGuard insert, the two blades won’t experience the hysteresis phenomenon (lift-and-cut). Therefore, you can expect the Gillette SkinGuard to leave some stubble behind.
Should you be susceptible to razor bumps, you will find that this remaining stubble will be significantly less likely to become ingrown.
As is the case with most Gillette razors, the SkinGuard refills are expensive. You can expect to pay approximately $3 per cartridge refill.
While the Gillette SkinGuard does have a pivoting head, it lacks the FlexBall technology found in the Fusion line, so it cannot tilt side-to-side. The limited motion may slightly reduce the maneuverability of the razor when it comes to head shaving or body grooming.
Despite the high long-term costs, the Gillette SkinGuard is one of the few cartridge razors that genuinely delivers on its promise of an irritation-free shave.
Related: Gillette SkinGuard Review
- Specifically designed for men with sensitive skin.
- The design also reduces razor bumps from occurring.
- The sharp blades provide irritation-free results.
- High long-term costs.
What You Need To Know
2. Best Safety Razor (Beginner-Friendly): Merkur 34C Safety Razor
The Merkur 34C is a well-rounded and entry-level safety razor. The razor head on the Merkur 34C offers a very mild shaving experience which should lessen post-shave skin irritation.
The moderate blade gap and closed-comb design help reduce pressure and flatten out your skin with each pass.
With a universal blade setting, razor blades from brands such as Feather, Derby, Wilkinson Sword, Gillette, and more are compatible with the 34C. The universal setting allows you to find a blade that compliments your facial hair and skin to improve overall performance.
Like all safety razors, the Merkur 34C lacks a pivoting head. Therefore, this razor is best if you intend only to shave your facial hair. We don’t recommend shaving other areas of your body with this razor.
Made in Germany, the Merkur 34C offers expert craftsmanship, as demonstrated by the handle’s knurled etching. Should you have large hands, consider the Merkur 38C instead. The Merkur 38C provides a similar shaving experience as the Merkur 34C but has a 0.75″ longer handle (4″ in total length). A complete comparison between the Merkur 34C and 38C is available here.
- The affordable price point makes it accessible to all.
- Mild aggressiveness provides comfortable results.
- Designed and manufactured in Germany.
- Intended for facial hair use only.
- Despite the beginner-friendly design, there is a learning curve.
What You Need To Know
3. Best Safety Razor (Experienced Users): Merkur 37C Slant Bar Safety Razor
If you are comfortable using a safety razor and want to take the shave experience even further, then the Merkur 37C should be at the top of your consideration list. Unlike virtually all razors that cut the hair straight on, the slant bar on the Merkur 37C cuts hair at an angle.
The unique cutting motion, akin to a scythe, lessens the pulling on the hair follicle root. The Merkur 37C has a mild blade gap and cuts the hair just a touch more aggressively when compared to the Merkur 34C.
Given the unorthodox cutting angle, we think that the Merkur 37C is best for those already comfortable with a safety razor and know how to get a nick-free shave.
The Merkur 37C also has a long-handle alternative; the Merkur 39C. Featuring an identical head, the Merkur 39C is for those with large hands or who prefer a heavier razor.
To note, we have previously awarded the Merkur 37C the best safety razor for sensitive skin in our safety razor buying guide.
Related: Merkur 37C Review
- The unique cutting head was designed specifically for sensitive skin.
- The razor can be used with, across, and against the grain.
- Requires some previous experience before first use.
What You Need To Know
4. Affordable: Gillette Mach3 Cartridge Razor
Introduced in 1998, the Gillette Mach3 is a proven, affordable, and comfortable three-blade cartridge razor.
But why should you consider the Gillette Mach3?
By relying on fewer blades, the hysteresis phenomenon, also known as lift-and-cut, is less pronounced when compared to most modern cartridge razors. The reduced number of blades provides a less aggressive shaving experience.
As great as the Gillette Mach3 performs, it does lack some features, with the most notable being the absence of a precision trimmer. While not a deal-breaker for most, if you like to clean the sideburns or mustache with a precision trimmer, post-shave cleanup will take just a slight bit of effort with the Gillette Mach3.
You can expect the Mach3 to cost you approximately $50 per year. This is significantly cheaper when compared to other current-generation razors that cost roughly $125 per year.
Related: Gillette Mach3 Review
- Three blades allow for close and comfortable results.
- Lower long-term costs when compared to modern cartridge razor systems.
- Widely available.
- No precision trimmer makes cleanup a bit tougher.
- Unable to tilt side-to-side.
- Relatively light when compared to other razor systems.
What You Need To Know
5. Best Modern (and Affordable): Schick Hydro Skin Comfort Cartridge Razor
Like the Gillette SkinGuard, the Schick Hydro Skin Comfort is a cartridge razor specifically designed for men with sensitive skin.
To achieve close and comfortable results, the Schick Hydro Skin Comfort relies on three razor blades that have been paired with skin guards behind the blades to reduce blade pressure when shaving.
What sets Schick razors apart from many others is the lubricating strip. With seven gel pools, the Skin Comfort has been loaded with aloe and pro-vitamin B5 to help provide instant relief while shaving.
Unlike the Schick Hydro Stubble Eraser we recently reviewed, the Skin Comfort lacks a flip-top precision trimmer. Therefore, detailing is tougher with this cartridge razor.
Ultimately, the Schick Hydro Skin Comfort is a modern yet affordable cartridge razor.
- Skin guards help to lessen pressure and increase comfort.
- Gel pools contain ingredients to alleviate irritation while shaving.
- Refills are a bit cheaper compared to Gillette.
- The lack of a precision trimmer is a surprising oversight.
What You Need To Know
6. Best Hybrid: OneBlade Core Razor
Blurring the lines between safety razors and cartridge razors, the OneBlade Core offers the best of both worlds.
Like a safety razor, the OneBlade Core relies on a single cutting edge. This makes the shave less aggressive and suitable for men with sensitive skin or susceptible to razor bumps.
However, unlike virtually all safety razors, the OneBlade Core has a pivoting head like a cartridge razor. This makes it much easier to learn as it provides a very familiar shaving experience.
As great as the OneBlade Core’s features may be, there are some notable compromises for this razor:
First, there is no lubricating strip. Therefore, reliance on well-made shaving cream is required to get the job comfortably done.
Additionally, while the OneBlade Core may rely on a single blade, it does not have a universal blade setting like most safety razors. Very few blades can work with this razor, with the most notable being the Feather FHS-10 Single Edge Razor Blades.
While we found the Feather razor blades to perform well in our in-depth review of the OneBlade Core, the limited selection of razor blades is a notable drawback to this razor.
Lastly, single-edge razor blades are not travel-friendly. Therefore, you will need to store this in your checked baggage if traveling via air.
- Unique and beginner-friendly design.
- Low long-term costs.
- Compatible with few razor blades.
- No lubricating strip.
- Not travel-friendly.
What You Need To Know
7. Best Electric: Braun Series 9 Electric Shaver
When considering an electric shaver for sensitive skin, the most crucial consideration is shaving efficiency. Shave efficiency is a measurement of how quickly the razor blades on the electric shaver cuts through hair. An electric shaver with a higher shave efficiency will require fewer passes and will be less likely to pull or tug on the hair.
At 40,000 cross-cutting actions per minute, Braun Series 9 razors deliver smooth and consistent results with each pass.
Additionally, Braun Series 9 electric shavers are wet and dry compatible. Therefore, when paired with sensitive skin-focused shaving cream, the results can be even more measurably comfortable.
To help prevent the spread of bacteria, the Braun Series 9 comes with an alcohol-based cleaning system that will remove all dirt and grime between each use.
The Braun Series 9 electric shavers are expensive. Typically priced above $300, this electric shaver is an investment. However, when looked at for several years, you will find that the long-term costs of the electric shaver aren’t nearly as high compared to other manual razor systems.
If you are considering the Braun Series 7, 5, or 3 electric shavers instead, while well-made, be aware that they don’t rely on the same robust motor as the Series 9.
- Best-in-class shave efficiency.
- Wet shaving compatible delivers more comfortable results.
- An alcohol-based cleaning system removes bacteria and lubricates the blades.
- High initial price.
What You Need To Know
Here are a few other razors we reviewed that you may want to consider:
Philips Norelco Oneblade – Not to be confused with OneBlade Core (reviewed above), the Philips Norelco Oneblade is a hybrid razor and electric shaver. Able to cut just a fraction above the skin’s surface, it provides non-irritable results. The MicroTouch Solo is a nearly identical replica also worth considering.
MicroTouch Tough Blade – Slim and cheap, the MicroTouch Tough Blade is a three-blade cartridge razor. The razor provides non-irritating results. Unfortunately, it’s not environmentally friendly as cartridge refills are not sold separately.
Edwin Jagger DE89 – A suitable alternative to the Merkur 34C (reviewed above), the DE89 is a classic safety razor. The DE89 provides a mild shave that will leave just a bit of stubble after a single pass. Consider this razor if you are also susceptible to razor bumps.
Dollar Shave Club (DSC) – A subscription shave service is a great way to get fresh and sharp blades delivered regularly. Only consider DSC if your skin sensitivity is relatively low as their razors are good but not great.
A Razor is Only One Part of the Shaving Routine
A comfortable shave doesn’t end with a new razor; consider the following:
Pre-shave oil provides lubrication to allow the razor to glide effortlessly on the skin. In some instances, pre-shave oil may help to alleviate irritation. Learn more about what a pre-shave oil is in this guide.
A rich and thick shaving cream lather will provide cushion and lubrication. These properties help increase the comfort of the shave no matter the razor you are using. Given that you have sensitive skin consider a fragrance-free shaving cream.
Not all aftershaves sting upon application. An aftershave balm nourishes the skin and provides post-shave relief. Learn more about the different types of aftershave in this guide.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.