When it comes to shaving, it can feel like you have exhausted every single option and read every single guide online to figure out what razor will work with sensitive skin.
In order to help our fellow men out, we wanted to round up the very best razors for sensitive skin (which is the Gillette Mach 3 for cartridge razors, the Merkur 37C Slant Bar for safety razors, and the Braun Series 9 electric razor) that provide the most comfortable shave ever.
While we will go to great lengths to talk about the best razors for sensitive skin, we also want to cover why your current razor is failing you, if you should invest in an electric razor (after all they are extraordinarily convenient), along with a few key secret shaving tips that men rely on for a supremely comfortable shave.
Why Your Current Razor Is Failing You
When it comes to the options that exist for men to shave their face, head, groin, or anywhere else on their body, the choices are nearly limitless.
Not to mention, with low cost offerings like those provided by subscription services like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club, you can easily get pulled in several different directions when trying to decide on a new shaving tool.
While some razors are better than others for sensitive skin, it’s important to understand what makes a good razor great.
Irritation while shaving can come from many different places, from the proper shave prep, the shaving cream being used, and of course the razor you have in your hand.
While many men (including myself) like to stretch a razor to its very last leg before replacing the blade, it’s imperative that we get out of this habit.
Trying to shave with a dull blade can make your shave get progressively worse.
The reason for this is that the blade no longer performs a clean slicing motion, instead, it’s going to start pulling your hair in a much more aggressive manner.
To compound the problem, many men often rely on their trusty cartridge razor that has up to 6 blades.
While this seems great when you take the razor out of the package and the blades are sharp, as the razors begin to dull, you then have 6 dull blades doing a subpar job after a few weeks.
Moral of the story here gentleman – change your blades out regularly.
If you want less irritated skin after your morning shave, spending a few extra bucks on new blades…
But that’s not the whole picture:
For men who shave with a duller razor blade, they are (consciously or not) going to press down more firmly on their skin in order to compensate for the dull blades.
When you are shaving with a cartridge razor, you need to apply very little pressure when making the appropriate passes.
Now if you are using a safety razor, you will want to allow the weight of the razor handle to do the work for you – you shouldn’t apply any additional pressure when shaving with this specific razor tool.
Are Electric Razors Good For Sensitive Skin?
From the onset, when hearing other men talk about their electric razors it’s always a coin flip – they either love them or loathe them…
…there is absolutely no in-between.
But here’s the secret guys:
If you have extremely sensitive skin, you CAN consider an electric razor…with a catch.
Generally, from our experience we found foil based electric razors tend to perform much better for men with sensitive skin than their rotary counterpart.
One of the core reasons will do with the cutting motion of each device.
Rotary razor heads cut in a circular manner (think weed whacker ↻) whereas foil heads cut in a back-and-forth motion (like an oscillating fan ⇄).
While foils tend to have a cleaner cut on the hair follicle than a rotary razor head, there are a few things you must take into account before buying one of these razors:
- While they do make for a closer shave on your cheeks and neck, they often have a hard time around the contours of your face (i.e. nose, chin).
- Quality foil razors often have a much higher price point than a rotary electric razor
- Replacement heads also cost slightly more (but are changed less frequently than rotary heads: 18 months vs. 12 months)
Price points and cutting motions aside, the most important aspect you need to pay attention to when selecting an electric razor is its ability to perform a ‘wet’ shave.
What does this mean?
Simply that you can use the electric razor in tandem with your favorite shaving cream.
Not only will this often allow for a closer shave, but the addition of a cream can help reduce any irritation that men with sensitive skin often occur when shaving ‘dry’.
Just be sure to pick up a shave cream that has an unscented profile. When it comes to ingredients less is more for men with sensitive skin.
Single Blade For Sensitive Skin? Or Should You Go With Multiple Blades?
As you can see in our product roundup, we have both multi-blade and single blade razors.
Single blade razors include both the old school straight razor and the classic double edge safety razor.
While straight razors have their place in history and likely and your local barbershop, they aren’t really a tool we recommend for men who shave daily simply given the time required and the steep learning curve (requires self-sharpening and honing of the blade with a strop).
However, what we do want to focus this this article is the double edge safety razor (we’ll get to the cartridge razor in just a minute).
What was once a standard issue for men in the military during WWI, the safety razor has seen quite the resurgence in the past decade for several reasons – and sensitive skin being one of them.
Relying on just a single razor blade on either side of the head, safety razors offer unparalleled control over the shaving process – for better or worse.
While there is some learning curve with these shave tools (albeit a much smaller one when compared to the straight razor), the DE safety razor allows you to be in control on how often the razor blade touches your skin.
Given that it’s just a single blade, men with sensitive skin love this shave system as they can control the amount of times the blade touches their skin.
Wet shaving aficionados will highly suggest that you pass the blade on your face for three passes in order to get a ‘baby butt smooth’ shave:
- With the grain (WTG)
- Across the grain (XTG)
- Against the grain (ATG)
As a man with sensitive skin, you can easily stop with just the first WTG or second XTG pass and call it a day.
Therefore, the blade will only come in contact with your skin either one or two times (making for the most comfortable shave possible without causing unnecessary irritation).
There is a catch though when using a safety razor:
Technique is key.
Therefore, it’s important that you understand the steps necessary to achieve a close and comfortable shave without chopping or incidental nicks on your face (after all we did say there was a learning curve involved).
While we won’t discuss it too much here as it goes outside the scope of this article, there are some really excellent tutorials that you can find online (especially YouTube) on how to use a double edge safety razor.
Now when it comes to the cartridge razor, it’s a whole other beast.
As we eluded to earlier, when you pass a cartridge razor on your face, you are effectively scraping 5 or 6 razors across your skin.
While many manufacturers will claim that the additional blades provide additional comfort, there is no denying that you still have a razor blade passing over your skin multiple times.
So, what should you do when you have sensitive skin?
If you have tried many of the newer cartridge razors on the market that offer 5 or 6 blades and find yourself still just simply not getting a comfortable shave, then we would recommend that you go back a generation or two.
Probably one of the most popular cartridge razors ever released was the Gillette Mach 3.
With only 3 blades in the head, it was a remarkable breakthrough for its day (1998 – source).
Fun fact: Over $750 million dollars was spend on research and development for the Mach 3!
While its nearly 10 years old, blades for the Mach 3 are still being sold today.
If you head to any local grocery store or online retailer, you are able to find them in abundance.
But, why should someone like you with sensitive skin care?
Well, as we were eluding to earlier, the fewer blades touching your skin, will often equate to a much more comfortable shave for you (not to mention you will save a buck or two on your cartridge razor refills).
In the day and age of subscription shave services, the Mach 3 remains a solid choice for men of any age with sensitive skin that want a comfortable shave.
Best Safety Razor For Sensitive Skin
As we recently broke out all the popular safety razors on the market in this post, when it comes to sensitive skin, we must evaluate things a bit differently.
One of the biggest factors when deciding on a safety razor for sensitive skin is the aggressiveness of the head.
Depending on the blade exposure of the head can have a marginal impact on the overall comfort on your shave and ultimately your skin.
If you have never used a safety razor before, we normally recommend a Merkur 23C for most men.
But here’s the deal:
You don’t have skin like most men, therefore you need a safety razor that has been designed from the ground up for your sensitive skin.
While the Merkur 23C makes a fine choice for men who are coming from a cartridge razor background and are looking for a tool that is very familiar with what they have been working with, instead what we would recommend for men with overly sensitive skin is the Merkur 37C.
Simply known as the Merkur Slant Bar by most wet shave enthusiasts, the Merkur 37C, is the perfect safety razor for men with sensitive skin, here’s why:
First and foremost, the handle on this particular razor is very close in length to those found on most cartridge razors (3.3”). This makes it very familiar feeling when you go to do your morning shave.
What’s more though is its weight.
Weighing in at a hefty 2.7oz (or 77g for the international folks reading this), this razor strikes the perfect balance when it comes to weight vs. function.
While we mentioned briefly before, when using a safety razor, it’s important to let the weight of the razor itself do the work for you.
Therefore, whether you have thick and coarse whiskers or those that tend to be a bit thinner, a newly loaded razor blade on the end of the Merkur 37C will cut through the hair follicles like butter.
So, why does this matter?
A clean cut on the whiskers means that it takes less passes to achieve the same results.
Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, this means you aren’t scraping a razor blade over your face multiple times, ultimately increasing the comfort of your shave.
But it gets better:
The slant head on this particular razor is extremely unorthodoxed when compared to nearly all other safety razors.
Instead of cutting a hair straight on, the Merkur 37C cuts the follicle that is more akin to a scythe (diagonal motion).
Therefore when making a cut, the 37C won’t accidentally pull out your hair should you be using a razor blade that is a few days old.
Where Can You Purchase The Merkur 37C?
While we wish safety razors were a bit more widely distributed in brick-and-mortar shops, the reality is that they aren’t.
Therefore, your next best bet would be to visit online retailers like Amazon or West Coast Shaving as they have a surprisingly in-depth array of shaving products that are ready to serve novices to experts.
Best DE Razor Blades For Sensitive Skin
So get this:
We would like nothing better than to recommend one razor blade brand to you and call it a day.
But unfortunately this would not only be a disservice to you, but it would also destroy our credibility as well.
Here’s the dead truth when it comes to razor blades and sensitive skin:
It differs for every single man – even if you are using the Merkur 37C.
While some men swear by their Feather blades and others by their Shark or Gillette Silver Blues, the simple fact remains:
Every man’s skin and hair is different.
Therefore, recommending one single blade to you may work for 3 out every 10 men, but the other 7 are left in the cold.
In order to determine the best DE razor blade for your sensitive skin, we would strongly suggest that you invest in a sampler pack.
Often found at online retailers like Amazon, you can usually pick up a sampler pack for less than 20 bucks.
Seriously, if you decided to invest in a safety razor and just plan on testing out the couple of blades they give you when you purchase the razor – don’t.
You will be happy you decided to invest the couple extra bucks to try out a sampler pack to find the absolute best razor blade that works for YOUR skin.
Best Cartridge Razor For Sensitive Skin
With so many options out there that exist in the market, it can be a bit tricky to say the least in order to decide on a cartridge razor that works beautifully with your sensitive skin.
While it would seem like it would be best to recommend one of these advanced cartridge-based systems, we instead would recommend that you go with the Mach 3.
The Mach 3 is considered one of the best cartridge razors in existence.
It’s 3 blades not only achieve an insanely close shave, but also shouldn’t irritate your skin when you go to make the pass.
From the countless reviews you can read at online retailers to forums like The Shave Den and Badger & Blade, the Mach 3 is held in the highest regard when it comes to cartridge razors.
Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, it’s worth investing in this tried and true razor system in order to get a close shave that won’t leave you in pain long after you make the last pass with the razor blade.
Best Electric Razor For Sensitive Skin
When it comes to finding the best electric razors for sensitive skin, the Braun Series 9 (specifically the 9095cc) is unequivocally the best option out there for you.
Not only will this foil head provide a much closer shave that is akin to either a cartridge or safety razor, but it can also perform in a wet environment as well.
This will help to ensure that your follicles remain soft throughout the duration of your shave when a thick and rich lather of shave cream is applied beforehand.
But it gets better…
While shaving in a wet environment is key for any electric razor to work wonders on a man with sensitive skin, the best part about the Braun Series 9 is that it also houses a self-cleaning system.
Therefore, if you suffer from post shave irritation the cleaning system for this razor will ensure that its free of remnants from the previous days shave.
Lastly, given the portable nature of electric razors, a single charge of this device should last you for 50 minutes – enough to likely last for an entire vacation!
Best Razor For Sensitive Neck
Now, we are only writing this section because so many men seem to come to us with this question…
…not to mention that if there is any place that causes discomfort when you shave, it’s going to be your neck.
So, check this out:
How did you learn to shave?
Your old man?
Some random blog on the internet?
Well, forget all of that.
Seriously, it’s bad advice, and here’s why:
You should never follow anyone’s advice on how to shave your neck. When you go to shave your face, whether it’s a cartridge or safety razor, the first pass should ALWAYS go with the grain.
This means that if your hair grows in from a left-to-right direction, then you MUST shave it from left-to-right.
If you are following your old man, chances are that your hair grows in differently – after all, its uniquely YOU!
So, before you shave again tomorrow morning, take a couple extra minutes to examine how your facial hair grows in.
You will be surprised (we sure were), that it just doesn’t simply grow in a generic downward direction.
Instead, you will find that once side of your neck might be left-to-right, the other side may be north-to-south and that your chin simply points downwards.
Use this moment to essentially map your face and decide the plan of action you should take when making the passes with your razor blade.
You ALWAYS want to make the first pass with the razor blade WITH the grain (i.e. the same direction your hair grows) in order to have the BEST results.
We recently wrote an article on how to shave with the grain that is worth reading before you shave with your new razor.
Shaving Tips For Sensitive Skin
Skin Prep Must Never Be Skipped
While sometimes you may be running late to work, you must never overlook the effectiveness of a pre-shave shower.
Showering before shaving works wonders to not only release the sebum oil from your sebaceous glands, but also will help to soften the hairs on your face (or any surface that you plan on shaving).
Softer and more swollen hairs by way of a shower will ultimately make for easier work with your razor blade.
This will help to reduce any hair pulling or tearing when making the passes.
Now, if you are in a bind, we would at the very least recommend the hot towel method.
Much like taking a pre-shave shower, the hot towel method is simple:
Just take a towel, soak it in hot water for several seconds, squeeze out excess water, and then wrap it around your face.
After a few minutes this will achieve very similar results of a shower in about half the time.
The end result will be a much more comfortable shave.
Pre-Shave Oil For Sensitive Skin
Pre-shave oil (or simply known as shaving oil), is a great solution that you should incorporate into your daily regimen.
After you hop out of the shower, and before you apply any shaving cream, shaving oil acts as a lubricated base that allows any razor blade to glide along effortlessly on the surface of your skin.
So, if you have incredibly sensitive skin, this can be a huge increase in comfort to your daily shave.
But that’s not all.
When looking at the pre-shave oils that are available on the marketplace, you will find that they come in either one of two buckets:
Synthetic or natural.
We here at Tools of Men are big believers in natural products.
The reason being is that they often deliver better results and work for more men than their synthetic counterparts.
When considering any quality shaving oil, you will find that they mostly rely on natural oils like castor or jojoba oils.
These oils not only provide a richer lubricated base, but also add additional nutrients to your skin during the shave process.
This can help to reduce post-shave dryness, but most importantly, increase post-shave comfort.
If you were never invested in a pre-shave oil up to this point, it’s definitely worth trying at least once.
Beyond the razor, a pre-shave oil can really move the ‘meter’ so to speak on shave comfort for those men out there that have incredibly sensitive skin.
We like to recommend this one for men with sensitive skin.
Pick A Proper Shave Cream
Shave creams can make even the best razors for sensitive skin go from drab to incredible.
If you are still relying on a canned cream that you picked up from the drug store this past weekend, it’s time to reconsider.
A quality shave cream should achieve the following goals:
- Retain heat and moisture against the surface of your skin.
- Provide a lubricated base for the razor to work with.
- Deliver an additional layer of moisture for your skin.
So, if you are still relying on your trusty canned shaving cream, it’s time for a change, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Instead of a canned cream that is usually loaded with harsh ingredients and alcohols that will dry out your skin and make for irritable skin post-shave, you will want to go with one of the following:
- Traditional Cream: This is often creams like Proraso, Crab Tree & Eveylyn, or the highly touted Taylor of Old Bond Street. These creams rely on shave brushes to whip up a thick and rich lather that provides an incredible base for a smooth and comfortable shave.
- Latherless Cream: Newer brands like Cremo, Jack Black, and Kiehl’s offer shave creams that provide a thin lubricated base. This not only makes it easier to see the areas of you shaved, but also competes toe-to-toe with the more traditional counterparts when it comes to performance.
At the end of the day, a simple dollar or two extra of investment can completely change your shave comfort and really make your razor blade sing.
Lastly, since you are dealing with sensitive skin, its best to go with a shave cream that is absent of any scents as some men may develop a rash when using heavily scented creams.
Unscented Aftershave Balms Are Bliss
Aftershave balms are like a splash of hydration and moisture for your skin – especially after you just dragged up to 7 blades across the surface of your skin.
Here’s the catch though:
So many men, for one reason or another, tend to gravitate for aftershave splashes and lotions.
While they may seem harmless from the onset, these splashes and lotions are often chalked full of ingredients that you should be avoiding – especially if you have sensitive skin.
One of the leading ingredients in splashes and lotions is denatured alcohol.
While this ingredient is incredible effective at being an antiseptic agent, it unfortunately both burns and dries out your skin when it is applied post-shave.
A quality aftershave should NEVER burn.
In fact, a quality aftershave balm should nourish your skin and feel like a splash of relief.
Aftershave balms, like those we outline here, will contain rich oils and other humectants that help to restore your skins natural moisture barrier.
Not only will this subside any irritation for a sensitive skin type, but will also ensure that your cheeks don’t look overly ashy after you are done shaving.
Key Takeaways When Selecting The Best Razor For Sensitive Skin
So, there you have it, the best cartridge, safety, and electric razors that will work wonders on your naturally sensitive skin.
But as important as the razor selection is, it’s absolutely imperative that you follow a proper skin care regimen both pre and post shave.
Even the sharpest and best performing blades won’t realize their full potential unless they work in tandem with quality products (i.e. shaving oils, shave creams, and aftershave balms).