The Best Razors

For the foreseeable future, I will be shaving my face with a Merkur Safety Razor and double-sided Feather razor blades. This type of razor takes some practice, but once you get it down, no setup can match the price, durability, comfort and overall simplicity of a solid double-edge (DE) safety razor like the Merkur.

WAIT: December 12, 2014
This summer, we began the process of fully re-evaluating this guide and its assumptions from the ground up. Based on feedback, our own analysis, and many, many hours of research and testing razors of all kinds on a variety of faces, we've concluded that while double-edge safety razors are very good at providing a close shave, cartridge razors are better for most people who don't have a lot of time to dedicate to just one task in the mornings. More specifically, we will be recommending the Gillette Mach 3 Sensitive as our new top pick for most people because it shaves every bit as well as the latest top-of-the-line razors (if not better, for some people's faces and hair type), yet has far cheaper replacement cartridges. However, if you are looking for a safety razor recommendation and are willing to make the time commitment to shave the old-fashioned way, the picks mentioned in this guide are still good. We will be replacing this guide with our newly revised cartridge pick in the near future and breaking Safety Razors into its own guide once that happens.
Expand Most Recent Updates
May 1, 2014: Added a link to the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide Manual Razor with Flexball Technology along with early reviews of it to the competition section. Those who've used it so far aren't terribly impressed with the $11.50 handle.
November 27, 2013: Added testing results for Dollar Shave Club razors, which we found to be a terrible shaving experience that is not outweighed by the convenience or cost savings.
November 18, 2013: Updated with results from testing Harry's Truman Shaving Set.

(If you’re a woman and/or a cartridge loyalist, I have picks for you, too.)

To make my picks, I spoke with experts who have been through every razor fad and tried every setup, including beard-trimmers. I then personally tested widely available non-disposable razors on the market. I asked several women test out “women’s” razors and cartridge men’s razors on their legs, bikini lines, and underarms, then got their takes.

To commenters: this is a product category with an fervent community of debaters. I’ve surveyed every corner of the shaving community and used the collective intelligence to inform my picks, so if you want to comment on this review with personal knowledge or anecdotes, please finish reading the whole thing, then fire away. I’ll be looking at feedback and will verify anything that looks like it could be superior than the things I’ve chosen.

Prepping your face

Understand that many factors contribute to the quality of a shave, especially preparation. For example, try to shave post-shower. Warm water and steam opens up facial pores relaxing the hair, and a layer of water helps the razor skim or hydroplane across the surface rather than drag against the skin and cause razor bumps. Take time getting the shaving cream set into the skin, and after applying, let it settle in. If you’re like me and have a Mark Spitz/Freddie Mercury-level mustache, a bit of hair conditioner or skin lotion before the shaving cream can make the shave smoother. Your hair type matters, too. African-American men or anyone with curly hair can have issues with multi-blade cartridge systems, which tend to cause bumps and ingrown hairs because the blades aren’t sharp enough, or they catch on thick hair.

The Merkur Safety Razor has a chrome finish and a knurled handle, which makes it easy to grip even when your hands are wet.
 Here’s why Merkur makes the best razor: Like most in their lineup, the Merkur Safety Razor has a chrome finish and a knurled handle, which makes it easy to grip even when your hands are wet. For a $35 investment, the Merkur’s steel construction and lack of moving parts mean it’ll survive drops in the sink, high heat and corrosion from water. Unlike disposable blades, or even high-end cartridge razors, the Merkur has more weight overall, especially in the head. Rather than pushing the blade into the skin for a close shave, which will give you irritation, the weight of the Merkur sits with just the right pressure against the skin. The principle advantage of a safety razor that uses one double-edged blade (as opposed to the heads with multiple blades in cartridge razors like the Mach3) is that it allows for multiple passes on the same area of skin without causing irritation—I’ll explain how that’s different for a cartridge later. The edges on the Merkur’s head position the blade so that it glides over the skin without unnecessary pressure.


Also Great

Besides the comfort benefits, using a razor that’ll outlive its owner is much kinder to the environment than a plastic- and rubber-heavy cartridge model. That didn’t factor heavily into my assessment, but it’s a nice side effect.

I talked to Corey Greenberg, a veteran product reviewer (Stereophile, for one). Anyone who has researched this topic has probably seen his appearance on NBC’s Today Show to explain the best way to shave. He is the man behind ShaveBlog, a site that covered (he hasn’t updated it in years) all things shaving. He’s been deep into the shaving forums and tried out every shaving brush, shaving cream, razor blade manufacturer, etc. Here’s his setup and his explanation for each item:

1) Merkur HD Safety Razor (“It’s durable. You can huck it against a wall and it won’t go off spec.”  This is a different model from our pick: our Safety Razor’s handle is slim while the HD’s is thicker with more metal. It also costs about $15 more than the regular Safety Razor.)

2) Personna razor blades (“I get my blades on eBay, Personna from Israel. Next to Gillette, they’re the biggest blade manufacturer. The ones made in Israel are money in the bank. Buy a box of 100 for $15, and you’re set for life. They don’t rust, they don’t go bad. I get about a week of shaving per blade.” Like all blades designed for DE handles like the Merkur, these blades are sharp on both sides. You can shave one side of your face with one side of the razor, then rotate and shave the rest with the other side.)

3) Williams Mug Shaving Soap (“I’ve tried them all, and this is what I use. Potassium-based, smells great, kinda lemony, lathers as well as anything out there, and shaves better than the high-end soaps. It’s on the bottom shelf at the drugstore.”)

4) Vulfix Shaving Brush or an Omega synthetic. (“[If you don’t want to just use your hands,] get a cheap shaving brush. Synthetic works as well as the best badger brush out there, it just doesn’t look as boss and doesn’t feel as luxurious. But in terms of doing its job, that is, raising whiskers, it works. If you spend more than $10 on a brush, it’s because you want badger in your life, or your life is luxurious and you can’t have anything cheap.”

5) No aftershave. (“A splash of cold water, and maybe some witch hazel. It closes pores and works as an antiseptic if you’ve nicked yourself.”)

Also Great
These are the safety razors you want to use with the Merkur, says Cory Greenberg from Shaveblog.

A double-edge (DE) safety razor like Merkur makes is a simple, cheap and extremely comfortable way to shave. With a single, large and rigid blade, a DE razor will glide cleanly over skin and seldom cause any ingrown hairs, razor burn or skin irritation. DE blades are also, compared to cartridges, incredibly cheap. With a $35 handle and a bulk pack of blades, you can shave for years on less than $60. The one major drawback is that this type of blade takes patience and a bit of learning to get good at. If you can apply yourself to mastering the angling and stroke patterns required for a DE razor, it’s the best way to shave for anyone who can take the time to give himself a proper shave.

A double-edge safety razor will glide cleanly over skin and seldom cause any ingrown hairs, razor burn or skin irritation.
Greenberg’s not the only one who attests to the Merkur’s exceptional quality. There are many major, famous publications that have rated old-style manual razors — probably because, as I said, it’s such a subjective field — but Merkur models are unequivocally tops. No matter the write-up, know that nearly all Merkurs have the same head construction and weight, with the differences mostly in the handle design.

(Merkur has a few different models in their lineup. Most men will do well with the standard Safety Razor we suggest. If you can spend an extra $15, the HD has more heft, which is nice for home shaving, but it’s a bit heavier when traveling. If you have big hands, the Long Handle model is another option. I use our pick, the Safety Razor, and it’s served me well for years.)

Shaving 101 said of the Merkur 1904, “Inspired by the original design of the first Gillette safety razor produced in 1904, this modern safety razor is an example of precision German engineering with a classic antique appeal…The Merkur 1904 Classic is a regular in my shaving rotation because the razor is not only visually appealing, but it is very well balanced and comfortable to use.” On the shaving forum Badger & Blade, Merkur models were often recommended by “100% of reviewers.

So do you need this setup when you can just go to the Walgreens around the corner? I asked Greenberg if he ever uses anything from a drug store. “Those razors tore up my face and are the reason I changed the way I shave,” he said. “In those cartridges, it’s not a blade, it’s a piece of tin foil. If you disassemble them, it’s shocking that you use these to shave yourself. The blade has to be rigid to shave well.”

For the blades, shavers argue over which are the best, but if you stick to reputed brands, you’ll be set. As mentioned, Corey likes the Israeli Personna blades, and I’ve used Feather to great effect. Either one will be fantastic when used correctly in a Merkur handle.

If he finds himself without his Merkur, Greenberg will get a pack of single-blade Bic For Sensitive Skin. He said, It’s the simplest possible disposable razor. One blade, single edge. You get three really good shaves. In a pinch, those are great. It’s the only razor sold at a drug store that I’d use.”

As someone who never checks bags on flights, save surfboards and snowboards, I usually take an electric razor to avoid the ire of the TSA. An electric razor won’t give you as close of a shave as a razor blade, but it’s tool for the fastest shave possible, by far. There’s no prep necessary, though a warm shower will get a closer shave, and cleanup is minimal. There’s no need for running water or creams, either. As our own Bryan Gardiner explains, “In the end, a good electric razor is will save you time, banish creams and foams from your daily routine, and reduce nicks and cuts.”  If this sounds appealing, we like Braun’s Series 7 790cc shaver, which comes with its own cleaning system that charges and ensures an extended life for the razor. $200 is a bit to spend on a razor, but as a daily-use item, it’s worth the cash. When I’m at home, though, the clean shave that comes from a DE razor works day-to-day.

For traveling with the double-edge blades, Greenberg says, “I have never had TSA give me trouble. If the blades come up on x-ray, I show the guy the blades, shows him how I shave with it, and never once had them confiscated.” If you’re skeptical, see below for some TSA-friendly cartridge options.

For all the benefits of the Merkur, or any single-blade razor, understand that if you’re transitioning from a Mach3 or Gillette Fusion, for example, you’ll go through a learning period of what a friend who works at the Art of Shaving said is about two to three weeks. This means figuring out how to properly angle the razor head, how to stretch the skin taught, and how to properly prep and finish so that the hairs respond to the blade. Even after mastering the technique, a full, proper shave can take up to 10 or 15 minutes.

Cartridge razors

Also Great
Men’s Health named the Gillette Fusion ProGlide their favorite razor in 2011
*At the time of publishing, the price was $9.
If that’s not an option and you regularly wake up with moments to spare before getting out the door, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide is the best cartridge razor.

Cartridge razors are the most ubiquitous shaving tools on the market because they’re convenient and simple to use. You get a plastic handle with a spring clamp head that fits with a specific brand of cartridge. Each cartridge will last you about a week depending on how much you’re shaving. The major advantage these razors have over an old-style double-edge safety razor like the Merkur is a quicker shave — the cartridges have surface area surrounding the blades, so there’s no need for slow, deliberate strokes to avoid nicks.

The downside is that because the blades are small and not rigid, they won’t be as sharp as a DE blade. Especially for men with thick facial hair, this causes skin irritation and ingrown hairs. Cartridges are expensive, too, many times more so than the equivalent of double-edge blades. You’ve seen the cases of cartridges locked behind lucite at the drug store for this reason.

All that said, if your skin isn’t especially sensitive, you shave in a bit of a rush, and can afford the cost of cartridges, get the Fusion ProGlide.

Unlike the Mach3 or the standard Gillette Fusion, the ProGlide’s five blades move independently of eachother, which lets the edges contour to skin. The blades are also coated with a treatment that allows the five blades to slide across the skin without snagging on hair, or causing razor burn.

When I tested it, the blades consistently trimmed every hair in its path. I didn’t need to make multiple passes on the same patch of skin, which saved time in the morning. The most impressive feat, though, was how it handled the neck beard. I, against all warnings, shave against the grain (as in, holding the razor upside-down and going up on my neck) to get the hair as short as possible. The ProGlide is the first cartridge razor I’ve used that never left my neck red or itchy afterwards. As for control, the Fusion ProGlide has a more substantial handle than other models, which makes it easier to control and keep in line.

Critics and users like it, too. Men’s Health named the Gillette Fusion ProGlide their favorite razor in 2011. Hans, the Shaving Detective, said, “First of all, I am impressed by the smooth sensation while I am shaving. There is no significant drag on my skin, and the blades glides easily across all parts of my face.” Of the 50-plus reviews on Amazon, the ProGlide gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.

There’s a smattering of competition in the cartridge market, mostly names you’ve probably heard before.

I tested the manual ProGlide alongside the ProGlide Power model, the latter of which uses a AAA battery to vibrate the handle and razor head. I’m not a fan of the vibration sensation, and didn’t find it to accomplish a closer shave than its manual counterpart. Still, El Hub of Makeup & Beauty Blog said, “I could tell it was working well right off the bat. No tugging at my skin at all, incredibly close after one pass, and handles the contours of my skin better than ANY blade I’ve ever used before.” I’d rather avoid having electronics that close to water. I also tried the regular Gillette Fusion razor, but around difficult sections like the chin and jawline, the Fusion required a few more passes to clear area than with the ProGlide. For my intense moustache, the Fusion also left the skin red and angry after multiple swipes.

The biggest name in cartridge razors is Gillette’s other ubiquitous multi-blade razor, the Mach3. It’s basically the same as the Fusion (minus two blades), just without a few features. It has no “blade stabilizer: to keep the blades at a fixed width from each other, it doesn’t have the “Low Cutting Force Blades” to stop resistance…you get the idea. In terms of what’s noticeably different between the Mach3 and the ProGlide, the Mach3 rougher on the skin, especially on the neck, where I ended up with hot red skin, even when shaving horizontally, not against the grain. The handle is much lighter than either Fusion model, which makes it harder to keep steady through a stroke.

The Fusion and Mach3’s advantage over the ProGlide is price. A four-pack of regular Fusion blades costs about $3 more than a four-pack of Mach3 blades, and the same pack of ProGlide costs $5 more than the regular Fusion according to Consumer Reports (subscription required). At the Art of Shaving, for example, an eight-pack of Mach3 blades costs $23, while an eight-pack of of ProGlide blades costs $34. It’s no small amount, but as someone with sensitive skin and patches of thick Eastern European hair, I think the added comfort is worth the cash. The way the blades move independently benefits the use around the chin and neck, no matter what your hair is like. All of these razors will cut hair, but if you try to go cheap, you sacrifice comfort and skin irritation, which doesn’t depend much on the hair type you have.

Across the board, these razors, especially the ProGlide, are much better than their predecessors. Peter Martin edits the grooming section of Esquire, and he explained to me how a few years back, the multi-blade models from Schick and Gillette were redesigned to have the blades closer together. “We spoke to a few scientists about it. [The redesign] makes it so skin doesn’t raise to catch between blades. It’s actually not just marketing stuff, it actually holds the skin down.”

Martin has a full-on beard at the moment, but if he were to lose his facial hair, he says he’d use up the Mach3 cartridges he has lying around. “I always was a Mach3 guy, and those would be fine for me now. We [at Esquire] get enough nice shaving creams, too, which is good because I’m too lazy to rub anything into a lather.”

For those of you with beards, Martin recommends Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide Styler. The Styler comes with a battery-operated handle with a ¾″ wide clipper head. Included are three different snap-on heads, each of which leaves hair a different length. If you keep your beard a specific length, this is the tool. “It’s $20 and it’s fantastic,” he said. “Once you determine the edge of your beard, the line you make is so much smoother on the skin.” I’ll still take a DE razor when I can.

Gillette introduced a new handle this spring with a ball pivot designed to “remain in constant contact with the face.” In general reviewers who’ve tested the $11.50 Fusion ProGlide Manual Razor with Flexball Technology have responded with a collective shrug. Fast Company didn’t buy into it being all that different from any other manual razor, saying, “[I]t felt… totally fine. Like a razor.” Gizmodo was unimpressed: “Shaving with the demo version wasn’t a bad experience, but it didn’t make me want to shave more often. It definitely didn’t make me want to spend more money.” Wired said that “the new razor’s fluidity and flexibility does seem to come in handy when you’re transitioning from your jowls to under your jawbone or shaving along the cheekbone–prime areas to end up dotted with little squares of toilet paper,” but admitted admitted there was nothing really “revolutionary” about it. We think you can safely save the extra cash and go with our cheaper Gillette alternative pick.

Harry’s $15 Truman Shaving Set, while certainly nicer to look at and hold in your hand than a drugstore cartridge razor, doesn’t shave any better, closer or more comfortably than a $10 Gillette Fusion. Harry’s razor has more style, but if it’s substance you’re after, look elsewhere.

Shaving with the Harry’s combo is uncannily reminiscent of shaving with a Gillette Fusion—the same oddly disconnected sense of feeling numbly removed from the fact that blades are cutting whiskers along the surface of your skin, the same lack of sensory feedback loop to gauge your progress and let you know whether you need to go over an area again or if you’re done. And most of all, the same slight burning sensation afterward that I never, ever feel after shaving with my single-edge safety razor. If I can say anything positive about the Harry’s shave, it’s that I was able to get through several day’s worth of shaves without the ingrown hairs, shave bumps and bloody nicks I always get from the Fusion. But blood or no blood, a McShave is still a McShave. My face still looked and felt stubbly after shaving with the Truman.

We see the appeal of the Dollar Shave Club in theory, but in practice, it offers a terrible shaving experience that far outweighs any convenience or cost savings you might get over going to the store to buy Fusions every once in a while.

At first glance, the math looks good. $3/month gets you the basic two-blade “Humble Twin” cartridge, which resembles the old Gillette Sensor Excel. $6/month upgrades you to the four-blade “4X” cartridge. For $9/month, you get the six-blade “Executive” cartridge. Ironically, the cheapest “Humble Twin” is the least-bad shaver of the trio. It shaved my whiskers closer and gave me less skin irritation than the four and six-blade models, which provided a mediocre shave that left my face feeling raw afterward. I’d rank them both well below Gillette’s five-blade Fusion. But even “least bad” doesn’t mean good. Ultimately, the “Humble Twin” fell short of the mark set by the Gillette it most closely resembles, the 20-year-old Sensor Excel. We highly recommend passing on this one.

Women’s razors

Also Great
Good Housekeeping named the Embrace as their overall top pick for refillable razors
 If I shaved my legs, I’d get a Gillette Venus Embrace handle and use Gillette Mach3 cartridges. I asked several women test the Gillette Venus Embrace, Gillette Venus & Olay, Gillette Fusion, men’s Fusion ProGlide, and men’s Mach3 side-by-side, and the Embrace was the overall favorite. One tester, who has a professional background in beauty and shaving specifically, swears by using Mach3 blades. (In response to this review, we’ve heard the same thing from women readers). She says, “It runs more smoothly than women-specific models and ends up being cheaper overall.”

It’s tricky to use the Mach3 handle to shave legs—the grip for the men’s blades is designed to be held so it stands vertically, with the cartridge up. To reach their legs, women hold the razor with the index finger on the handle, behind the cartridge face. Fortunately, the Mach3 cartridges fit in the Venus Embrace handle. In our testing, the ProGlide’s extra features didn’t come through when shaving legs, and the negligible difference in quality doesn’t justify the extra cost for ProGlide heads.

The Embrace, unlike the men’s models, has a grip specifically designed to be held with a forefinger guiding the head. The Embrace has copious rubber on its handle to ensure a controlled grip with the forefinger, and the head pivots freely to hug the curvature of the leg and thigh. Testers said that the head moved freely enough to avoid nicks, even during a hasty shave.

I compared the esteem for the Embrace with other publications. The best and most comprehensive women’s razor blade review comes, unsurprisingly, from Good Housekeeping. They named the Embrace as their overall top pick for refillable razors. The results: “This razor received the highest scores for overall performance and ease of use, and was the best at providing a close shave. Even with the highest number of blades in its category, the Embrace earned a near perfect score for not nicking or irritating testers’ skin and testers found it was good at maneuvering around even the most tricky of spots like knees and ankles.” We imagine the Embrace would only perform better if outfitted with a Mach3 cartridge.

The drawback to the Embrace, like the ProGlide, is price. Consumer Reports (subscription required) did a comparison test of women’s razors. They found that the Embrace performed as effectively as the competition. They made the point that because the Embrace can cost up to $1.50 more per cartridge than competitors and up to $3.50 more than a drugstore generic model like the CVS Women’s 6 Blade, users should start cheap and work up. CR said, too, that testers chose mostly on personal preference. With an item like this that accumulates cost through daily use, it’s worth seeing if your skin can handle a cheap generic model. If the price isn’t that big of a factor, the Embrace is a no-fail pick. If you outfit it with Mach3 heads, it makes for an even better shave.

The Venus with Olay is designed to be used without shaving cream, but our testing found that the “moisture bars” above and below the five blades end up as gooey messes and don’t provide enough lubrication to prevent razor burn. With the extra volume from the bars, the head covers more space than on the Embrace, which made it difficult to get around ankles and knees.

For a go-to body razor, get the Venus Embrace and use Mach3 blades.

Straight razors

If you’ve graduated from a disposable straight razor, we like the Dovo 5/8.

This is expert territory. These are the reason setups like the Merkur are called “safety razors.” If you can handle them, straight razors have distinct advantages. They’re the tool that’ll give you the closest shave possible because the razor’s angling is entirely adjustable; if you get the blade very parallel to your skin, you’ll get a close cut. Assuming you invest in a quality straight razor, it’ll be the last one you ever have to buy. Wirecutter’s resident shaven head Seamus Bellamy uses a Dovo straight razor, specifically a Dovo 5/8 Extra Hollow Ground “singing” razor.

He also said, “My one complaint about the blade is that it’s made from carbon steel—not ideal as it’s a device intended to get wet, but it holds a remarkable edge and is easy to strop. I’ve been dying to get my hands (and head) on a blade made by Hart Steel: An American company that build their blades to order. Their blades have a Rockwell hardness of 63.”

The disadvantages besides the potential hemmorhage are long shave times—think 20 minutes-plus for the full-face treatment. Straight razors, unlike safety blades, have no chance of getting past TSA personnel.

If you’re still with me and eager to try one out, start with a “disposable” straight razor. These models take razor blade cartridges, whch makes them much cheaper than a serious straight blade. I’d buy the Dovo Shavette for its compatibility with a wide range of razor blades and its weighted handle.

If you’re going to invest in a full-on Dovo, Seamus suggests the Prima Rindleder strop. He says, “I’ve had for close to six years. Simple, easy to use and effective.”

I’m going to keep using my Merkur double-edge razor with, my personal favorite, Proraso shaving cream.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $31.
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  1. The Merkur Safety Razor on Amazon
  2. Corey Greenberg, ShaveBlog
    Corey Greenberg, interview.
  3. Peter Martin, Esquire Magazine
    Peter Martin, interview.
  4. Good Housekeeping, Gillette Venus Embrace Refillable Razors, Good Housekeeping, June, 2011
    "This razor received the highest scores for overall performance and ease of use, and was the best at providing a close shave. Even with the highest number of blades in its category, the Embrace earned a near perfect score for not nicking or irritating testers’ skin and testers found it was good at maneuvering around even the most tricky of spots like knees and ankles. It also was the best at removing hair in a single pass — our testers didn’t have to shave an area repeatedly with this razor."
  5. Mike Sandoval, Merkur 1904 Classic Safety Razor, Shaving 101, October 7, 2010
    "This safety razor is a traditional three-piece design, meaning the cutting head unscrews from the handle for blade replacement. This design works well for the longevity of the razor because there are no mechanical parts that are prone to wearing out, and it also makes the razor very easy to clean and maintain."
  6. User Review, Merkur 33c Classic Double Edge Razor, Badger & Blade
    "This razor was and is my first DE razor. It gave me a nick-free, irritation-free first shave. It neatly slices the hairs of a well hydrated face and with proper angle it is very forgiving. The blade replacement is not the same as that on a HD since this is a 3-piece. The head is rather large compared to the body but it does not affect the balance a whole lot. You can usually find this razor for 30 dollars online, and is a great price for a tool that can last a lifetime."
  7. "I took the blade, clicked the power button (the whole razor gently vibrates), and started my shave. I could tell it was working well right off the bat. No tugging at my skin at all, incredibly close after one pass, and handles the contours of my skin better than ANY blade I’ve ever used before."

Originally published: May 25, 2013

  • Madeleine Ball

    Any time you perform a product review and find yourself reporting on “Foo” and “Women’s Foo” you should reconsider renaming the categories “Men’s Foo” and “Women’s Foo”. In this case I think you should simply call the category “Men’s Razors”. Reading this product review as a woman was a bit alienating, and I’m guessing you’d like the site to appeal to females in the audience as well.

    • Joel Johnson

      That’s a fair point, but the Merkur (our main pick) is fine for both sexes. I think it’s mostly a labeling problem (now fixed) with our cartridge razor, which used to say “Best Men’s Cartridge Razor” and “Best Women’s Razor,” but now reads “Best Women’s Cartridge Razor.” Make sense?

    • GemmaSeymour

      Maybe you should try some of the suggestions in the article before you jump to any assumptions about the usefulness of it to women. It’s a not-so-secret secret about razors that the ones marketed to men are far superior to the ones marketed to women. No pastel-coloured razor will ever enter my house. What do you think women used to shave our legs before the pink cartridge razor came along?

  • Adam Kayce

    +1 for the Merkur – I’ve had one for the past two years and love it. I’d suggest the Merkur blades, though, over the Feathers – I find the Feathers wear out considerably faster, and the price difference is negligible (to me, at least).

    • darumax

      I agree with your opinion regarding the Merkur blades. They last me a long time.

      Will have to try the Personna blades. They are about 5 times cheaper on Amazon.

  • Deathalo

    I have and use the Merkur LHC (long handle classic), love it. I bought a variety pack of blades to really decide which work best for my skin, and halfway through it seems the chrome Lord blades are by far the best, at least for me.

  • danblondell

    My Fusion ProGlide razors last for about a season each. Use the razor every other day instead of every day. The blades become malleable after use — the extra day gives them time to harden again, which extends the life of the blades. Shake off excess water and store the razor in a dry place, like your bedroom. If you do this, the blades should last for months.

    I switched about a year ago from a safety razor to the Fusion ProGlide. I had totally written off multiblade razors, but this one is really spectacular.

    • WallyMC

      You’re not a metallurgist, are you?

      • danblondell

        That’s the explanation I heard. Do you have a more accurate one? I don’t stand by the reasons why it works, but keeping the razor in a dry place, shaking it off thoroughly, and shaving every other day definitely extends the life of the blade.

        Please explain, if you can.

  • sincarne

    Feathers are amazing blades, but they’re not for every face type. I’d advise new wet shavers to track down an assortment pack. Most online specialty shops will sell you an assortment of blades in five-packs. I found Astras best for my face. To get my face as smooth with Feathers, I usually got a nick or two on my chin or around my lips.

    • Casey Strouse

      I got great results on all parts of my face except for near my adam’s apple. I was getting tiny blood spots and irritation there.

      • erma652

        my Aunty Amelia got a new blue Land Rover LR4
        only from working part time off a home computer… helpful hints C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • apl.d.appered

    If you’re a man with curly hair on your head, odds are you’ll get constant razor burn with a DE. I spent years experimenting with different blades, handles, soaps, badger brushes, etc. before just settling on an every-other-day schedule with a two-blade Gillette cartridge.

    You get razor burn because you’re shaving /too/ close. If your razor burn is an everyday thing, just own up to the fact that you can’t have baby cheeks every day of the week and switch to a basic two-blade cartridge. The upside is not having red bumps and ingrown hairs all over your moneymaker.

    I do miss the heft of my Merkur, though. Can’t lie about that.

  • R.J. C

    Link for the Prima Rindleder Strop is no good but a simple google search finds them. Also for beginner Straight razor shaving I’d highly recommend a 3″ Wide strop. And any Dovo Straight is fantastic, I own the blackstar 5/8 and a renaissance 6/8. I do prefer the 5/8 as it is a little smaller and easier to handle.

  • zack

    a question – I’ve never used anything but electric razors. If I wanted to try a manual/blade, how do I get started?

    • R.J. C

      id recommend a fusion or a mach 3 before slicing and dicing your face with a DE razor like the merkur

  • Erik Beach

    A few years back I wanted to try switching to a safety razor but I thought the Merkur was overpriced for 3 pieces of metal, so I tried a Lord safety razor for ~$13 on Amazon. It’s never given me any problems and I really like it.

  • blkdoggy421

    I’ve used the Mach3 for a while with great results. I also shave every other day, the razor lasts me about 2 1/2 months. I’m curious now with the ProGlide, I’ll give it a try when I am out of Mach3 .

  • Aaron L. M. Goodwin

    I’ve been using the merkur razor mentioned in this article as well as feather razor blades for years; and let me tell you it’s worth it.

  • msbook

    I’d also like to see your review of .

    Unlike the author, my skin is soft, and with scant beard, years (I’m 60+) have taught me that the cartridge shavers do quite a good job for me, even, sometimes, well into months of use. But perfection is a goal, and I’d consider the Merkurs; and electrics have long since been discarded for their spotty performance, mostly due to how they rip my neck apart. For young men, it may be exciting to learn a life skill, but I’m not sure the benefit of the Merkur will accrue to the time I spend mastering its blade.

    • SickSix

      You’ll get it after a few shaves. It’s pretty easy, you just have to change some of the basics and practice a few times. Also, youtube is your friend.

  • bsag

    You don’t have to stick to ‘Women’s Razors’ if you are female. I’m a woman and use the Merkur 23C (a slightly longer handled razor, similar to the 33C) to shave my legs. It works wonderfully, and I get a closer, more comfortable shave than I ever have with one of those dreadful cartridge ‘Women’s Razors’. I use a brush (a synthetic Body Shop shaving brush) and Geo. F. Trumper’s Rose shaving soap and the whole process is delightful.

    I agree with Madeleine’s comment about the naming of categories, but I would simply drop the ‘Women’s’ part: let each of us decide what features and functions work best for us, without labelling anything in a gender-specific way.

    • SickSix

      You’re missing out on using a badger brush! It works for faces, legs, and other parts that may require a lather and blade, such as underarms.

      • bsag

        I haven’t tried a badger brush (partly because I’m vegetarian!), but the Body Shop brush is surprisingly good and produces an excellent lather.

        • SickSix

          Do you mean vegan? I still highly recommend it over synthetic and hog bristle, since it’s soft and will last quite a while. Dare I say ‘devine’ when I describe the feeling of a properly wet and lathered badger brush.

          ^ this is the exact one I picked up – it’s silver tip, well worth the money compared to the more expensive options out there.

  • Terry Clark

    I know you said that you tried every shave lube but I am curious if you tried, shave secret? I have used it with ice cold water and avoided razor bumps.

  • SurfSwitch

    I can’t believe the Dorco razors aren’t mentioned here for a cartrdidge razor. They’re the best bargain around. Every bit as good as my old Fusion Proglide (that is a great cartridge razor), but at half the cost. My fiance’ uses them as well. You guys really need to check them out.

    • wahinewahine

      Never heard of them. Which stores carry them?

      • John Gooch

        I want to know this, too.

        • notovny

          I think they’re only (or at least, primarily) online. Shipping generally isn’t free for the quantities I purchase, but I’ve never had a budget shipment take more than five days to arrive.

    • Ankur Sethi

      Yes I want to know how they compare. I have been using the for a few months and I am feeling like they are dulling faster than the Gillette’s, but I am not sure.

    • ThunderBear

      I actually bought these razors after seeing this comment. I really like them especially for the price. I wouldn’t say they’re better than the Mach 3, but they’re much cheaper so I’ve been happily using them.

  • AnnoyedObserver

    Very nice razor. The only thing I would say is, would it hurt if they just printed a on the box it comes in that to pull it apart you have to unscrew the handle from the head? I have never used one and no it didn’t take long to figure out, but would be nice.

  • hairysolomon

    Has anyone heard of yet? It caught my eye b/c of its recyclable shipping materials. If the razors are good quality, it can’t miss.

  • Jess Godfrey

    I’m ready to switch over to safety razor shaving. Do you have any recommendations for a good starter’s guide to the proper angles/strokes etc.?

    • Alexander George

      Hey, Jess–
      Head to YouTube, link below. Basically don’t go against the grain (go perpendicular), and try to use as few strokes as possible. That said, the great thing about the Merkur is that unlike cartridge razors, multiple strokes won’t irritate your skin. Experiment with angles to get close, but whatever you do, don’t use any pressure on the skin, just a light hand.…0.0…


  • Casey Strouse

    I use a Gillette I grabbed from eBay for like $20. It was manufactured in the 1940s, still looks great, and shaves like a boss. I use Derby blades because the higher-end ones irritated my skin (especially Feather). I highly recommend that you go with a cheap soap after trying the more expensive ones. My best results have come from Colonel Conk and the generic you can get from Walmart. As for these guys saying that it takes time to learn I didn’t find that to be true. I was up and shaving comfortably with good results in 2-3 shaves. The trick I found was to shave in straight strokes and to not apply any pressure; let the weight of the razor handle do the work for you.

  • Carl Thuringer

    The link in the article to the “Vulfix Shaving brush” actually links to a cheap Escali ‘100%’ badger brush.

    Well, I just got this brush and it’s very scratchy, lost a lot of hairs, and didn’t lather well. Doesn’t feel ‘luxurious’ at all.

    But seriously, please if you have the word ‘Vulfix’ and link it to amazon, let’s have it link to a real vulfix brush, like the following:

  • michael

    perhaps they’re mostly just marketing, but I really like the cartridge razors from Harry’s. With slightly cheaper refills than Gillette, they’re 5-blade cartridges and nice, heavy handles that give a nice sensitive shave.

  • mayhap

    Link is dead for the Prima Rindleder strop

    • tony kaye

      Thank you!

  • Dave Gallo

    I use the Dorco 6 blades, shave equal to if not better than the fusion at a MUCH lower price (Dorco is the company that supplies dollar shave club) In reference to the above, most 2 blade disposables are crap, but Dorco offers 2, 4,5, and 6 blade models

  • William Ashman

    For a close shave, forget the old shaving cream. A good liquid face soap applied to wet skin gives a great glide, costs less and is better for the environment.

  • oknahs

    Come on man. The best inventions of the 21st Century was the Fusion 5 blade razor.
    You get a fantastic shave, the blades last a month, and you never get a nick. If you use you great grand dads razor you are going to have bandages all over your face.
    Its a truly LOL recommendation.

    • Vera Comment

      have you ever tried wet shaving? nothing compares to slathering your face in warm shaving soap (not that crap from a can) on a cold morning. if you’re nicking yourself with a DE razor, you’re doing it too fast, or applying too much pressure. go watch youtube videos for proper technique (and watch the one about making proper lather too – that’s where a lot of people get it wrong.. too much water, not slippery enough, too little, it gets sticky!)

      a proper DE shave takes a lot of practice, but after about 30 shaves, you’ll gain that muscle memory and never look back.

      also look into investing in a shaving scuttle (warms the lather) – you can get them at ceramics shops. this is the best one I’ve used

      • oknahs

        You are kidding. One thing most men hate is shaving. I can not believe people actually take shaving on as a new hobby. Wow. Some people have nothing else in their life. Its so SAD

        • Vera Comment

          you have to do it. why not enjoy it?

        • John Gooch

          I hate shaving, too. I’m usually in a hurry to get ready for work in the morning, and the time overhead of shaving is very frustrating. If I’m running the slightest bit late, shaving is the 1st thing that I skip to save time.

          That might explain why I occasionally have cuts even with though I shave in the shower with a mach3 razor and blades.

      • Carl Thuringer

        Don’t feed the trolls. :|

      • Auto Motive

        1. Fusion 5 blade titanium blade shaver
        2. Apply hair conditioner over face
        3. Apply a good shaving gel
        4. Use hot water shave down rinse shave up
        5. Rinse blade with hot water gently dry on towel blow excess off
        6. Shaving up and down does not make your hair thicker its a myth
        7. The titanium blade does cost $2 each at Sams or Costco but last a month.
        8. Never irritation or cuts and the other side of the blade is single for under the nose and side burns.
        In a way its a wet shave since the conditioner sets up the shaving gel for a great lather and the blade never pulls.
        9. Use a good face conditioner and it never burns since the shave is so smooth.
        best to all

  • Brian

    I used to read Corey until I saw he was taking kickbacks from companies to recommend their products. I think it was stereo equipment. Anyway, how can I believe any of his shaving recommendations when he has that history? More power to you if you believe him.

  • GemmaSeymour

    For me, it’s a Feather plastic DE razor, Feather blades, Proraso green (the original formula either tube or bowl, but I prefer the tube), Proraso pre/post-shave cream, an Omega Professional boar bristle brush, and original Listerine for aftershave (trust me, it’s the perfect thing).

    I just replaced my $100+ Merkur Vision with the $15-20 Feather plastic razor, and the Feather is way better. My $100+ Dovo silvertip badger brush hardly gets used at all, except travelling, because it dries faster than the Omega bristle brush, but doesn’t work any better. I will also use Dovo/Merkur blades, but since trying the Feathers, I like them even better.

    • Carl Thuringer

      This comment is so great! Thank you!

    • Ian Smith

      Damn gurl, you must have quite a thick beard.

  • Brett Harris

    I shave my head and haven’t been very satisfied with anything I’ve tried. Do you recommend the merkur for that or would it be too difficult without being able to look in a mirror?

    • tony kaye

      Did you read the bottom portion?

      “Wirecutter’s resident shaven head Seamus Bellamy uses a Dovo straight razor, specifically a Dovo 5/8 Extra Hollow Ground “singing” razor.”

      As noted, this is expert territory. I’ll ping our resident specialist and see what he has to say.

      • Brett Harris

        Thanks, I don’t think I would go for a straight razor

    • tony kaye

      OK this is the response I just got from our resident head shaving expert, Seamus Bellamy:

      “I use a Merkur for shaving my head when I’m on the road as my Dovo doesn’t do well with the TSA.

      As for not using a mirror, it’s not a matter of the razor, in my opinion. Being able to shave, mirror-free comes down to familiarity with your skull and feeling your way through it. It takes practice, but it can be done.”

      Hope that helps!

      • Brett Harris

        Great! Just what I needed to know. Thanks!

        • tony kaye

          No prob! Happy to help!

  • Guest

    I use a safety razor for my face, but I actually like the Dollar Shave Club “Humble Twin” razor for shaving my head. I know some people have no issues using a DE on their noggin, but I just can’t pull it off cleanly or efficiently.

  • Robbie Helzer

    Having tried it all my two go to razors are a 1961 Gillette Slim Adjustable, and an Edwin Jaeger DE89 with a heavier iKon bulldog handle. I use Astra SP’s that if you watch Amazon you can get 100 for $12. My favorite shaving brush is a Semogue owners club Boar brush that was about $35. The best lather for cheap is an Arko shave stick that will run $2-$3, it does smell like lemon pez, but the scent doesn’t stay around. I will never go back to buying anything over a 2 blade cartridge and that’s only for traveling.

  • Alex Stockdale

    I like my Merkur 180, but it has been relegated to my gym bag since I bought my Edwin Jagger razor, It has a shorter handle, but a better feel. Blades are a personal thing, but Gillette 7:00 work well for me. Proraso soap and a boar brush are integral to the ritual.

  • Ravi Victoria

    Hi gemma, found ur comment ” taking a synthetic over a cut natural brush” interesting. how can you tell if the hair on a brush has been cut or the natural hair end has been retained?

  • Paul Withers

    Any suggestions for the best shaver to shave my head?

    • tony kaye

      Here’s what our expert Seamus had to say about which razor he prefers using on his head:

      “I use a Merkur for shaving my head when I’m on the road as my Dovo doesn’t do well with the TSA.

      As for not using a mirror, it’s not a matter of the razor, in my opinion. Being able to shave, mirror-free comes down to familiarity with your skull and feeling your way through it. It takes practice, but it can be done.”

      • Ben

        While I own a merkur, I prefer not to use my merkur for my head as I tend to nick myself much too easily. It’s great on my face though.

        I prefer to first trim my hair with my Whal Professional Balding Clippers (I don’t even bother to go further than this in the winter when I’m wearing lots of hats, it gives me a close cut that looks like I shaved my head 2-3 days prior).

        Then comes the razor, I tend to just use a mach-3. However, I have the problem that I get maybe 2 shaves out of a cartridge before I need to replace it because the blades feel dull. So sometimes I just use cheaper disposables that I can use a couple times and replace. It’s much easier to use a multi-blade razor when getting the back of my head.

        I’m still looking for a better solution. I may have to try out the Gillete Fusion Pro-glide and see how long the cartridges last or just buy a new styptic pen and build up my skills with the safety razor.

        • tony kaye

          We highly recommend the Fusion Pro Glide as a secondary option and/or for our cartridge users. Let me know how they work out for you if you go this route!

  • Rifkizzle

    I agree that double edged safety razors are the best. But I will give one piece of advice to anyone looking: get a handle that has the ability to adjust the blade angle. It makes WORLDS of difference. What used to take 3 passes with the Merkur I can now do in a single pass. My personal choice? Get a vintage Gilette fatboy razor off of ebay. You can find clean ones for $50, half the price of the comparable Merkur with adjustable blade angles.

    Also, I agree with another commenter that Feather blades are great but not for everybody. I personally use Shark blades as those ones are slightly more comfortable on my skin. However I will say this, Feathers will last you 2 shaves or more, I usually throw my Sharks out after a single shave.

  • Kelsoh

    No mention of the Schick Hydro 5 blade? I recently received Schick Hydro and Gillette Fusion samples in the mail. Testing them both, I found the Schick Hydro was smoother compared to the Fusion. While I haven’t tried the Gilette Pro-Glide version, the Schick Hydro deserves consideration.

  • Zachary Reiss-Davis

    Are you considering a review set of the best electric razors? Because it’s a messy product category, and I think one this site could add a lot of value.

  • David Rice

    I look at recommendations on this website to find products that work better, work faster, and or last longer. The Fusion Proglide cartridge lasts at least a month of daily shaves. Each shave takes only five minutes and is perfect. I have never suffered an ingrown hair or other mishap. I’m looking for a close, smoooth, fast shave, not a sensory experience. Why would I switch to an old technology that takes longer?

    • tony kaye

      That’s precisely why we included to Fusion Proglide. The Merkur isn’t for everyone.

      • David Rice

        Why would you rate the Merkur higher? If your site was called The Art of Shaving, that would make sense. But it’s not.

        • tony kaye

          Pinging our expert on this.

        • Chris K

          Because it’s cheaper and you get a better experience by using DE razors. You get higher quality shaving soaps without all the harmful added chemicals in aerosol shave cream. I just bought a 100 pack of Personna blades and I change my blade twice a month. That’s roughly 4 years worth of blades for less than a 4 pack of Gillete cartridges. I still have the handle for my ProGlide Fusion Power, because I like the cartridge around the corners of my mouth and shaping the nooks on my chin (I have a short beard). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my ProGlide, but in the end it’s just too expensive to replace those cartridges every month when my wife also uses them. Her using them is why I still have my handle with a blade on it. Otherwise, I’d suck it up and just use my DE razor.

          Also this site’s reviews are based on bang for buck. Everything won’t be for everyone, but they offer alternatives if you just can’t wake up 5 minutes earlier to whip up your own lather or shave the night before.

    • tony kaye

      Hi David. I just received a response from our editor regarding this. Like many of our guides, the response is long and detailed. Here you go!

      “I can’t tell you why you might start kicking it old school with razors, but I can tell you why I did.

      My father never took the time to teach me how to shave. So I had to find my own way. When I hit fourteen years old and the peach fuzz on my cheeks started getting too wispy to bear, I landed my first and only electric: a Philips Tracer. It was fine for the bit of weaksauce scruff I had to manage–at first. As I got older, my whiskers became more coarse. It got to the point where the Tracer literally couldn’t cut it. I switched to a Gillette Sensor: the height of mid-nineties shaving technology. It worked well, providing me, as the Proglide does for you, with a close, fast shave. But its disposable blades, especially for a 17 year old kid who had to buy his own shaving kit, were an expensive habit.

      During university, I couldn’t afford to replace my blades regularly, and at the time, I had a fiancee who liked me clean shaven. I messed around with Bic disposables. They made hamburger of my face. I took drug store brand replacement blades designed for my razor for a spin as well. Same result. In the end, bought a cheap plastic and stainless steel Gillette safety razor for six bucks. A pack of five replacement blades for it used to run three bucks, and they’d last me close to two months. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and it took more time to shave, but it proved to be a cheap and effective solution. When I could afford it, I bought a more durable handle and then, a few years later, graduated to a straight razor.

      The decision to rely on these older technologies have over the past few decades saved me thousands of dollars on razor blades (especially since I now also shave my head,) work exceptionally well, and in the morning while I’m grooming, afford me time to wake up properly and reflect on the day to come. I dig the ritual of it all, but I’m much more keen on the fact my shaves cost me pennies per day, rather than dollars.

      But it’s not for everyone. It takes time to shave with a straight razor. It takes a bit of technique to get the hang of a safety razor. If you’ve discovered a way of shaving that works for you, why would you change? I say stick with what works if it makes you happy.”

      Hope this helps!

      • David Rice

        I appreciate your considered and lengthy answer to my question. However, I have to stick by my critique. The percentage of men whose whiskers are so coarse as to destroy the Gillette blades is, in my estimation, less than 10. So to rate your chosen system the Best is to ignore what’s best for most people. Maybe you could call your system Best Razor for Mutant Beards!

  • mark_reh

    You can strop the cartridge blades by simply pushing the razor backwards against your arm a few times. I can get about 100 shaves out of a Shick quattro cartridge this way.

    You can sharpen DE safety razor blades by rubbing them on the inside of a drinking glass- press the blade into the curvature of the glass and slide it back and forth a few times.

  • echomrg

    As a long time user of the Power version of the Gillette Mach3 i can attest to the durability of the electronics. The one i own has been used for the last 7 or 8 years and never had any problem.

  • Mihir Joshi

    Surprised that Edwin Jagger’s DE89 was not only not the favorite, but not even considered. The DE89 is long considered to have a superior head (more aggressive blade positioning, but still more comfortable to work with) and you need only compare reviews on Amazon, Badger & Blade, etc. to see just how well-receieved the DE89 has been.

    Hope to see it in future reviews.

  • Tess

    This seemed a lot more anecdotal to me than the best reviews on this site. I was surprised that a panel of different testers weren’t convened, for one thing. While the writer seemed to have really researched the topic, it seems like different people with different shaving needs should all have evaluated some different razors to see if there was a consensus.

    For another, the women’s section didn’t exactly give me the sense that it had been researched comprehensively. Is there really basically only one reasonable solution for women’s shaving, period? Should any of these other kinds of razors be considered, or do they only make sense for men? Even better would be comparing shaving with other kinds of hair removal (home and professional), because for women, shaving is only one of many options.

    I hope in the future this page will get a serious overhaul to tackle this subject in a more comprehensive way.

    • tony kaye

      Thanks for the feedback! Noted and passed along!

  • frank.castro.primoy

    I own 2 Merkurs, but about 2 years ago I switched to Edwin Jagger, and I don’t miss the Merkurs.

  • Frank Rustyak

    What razor works best is a very subjective thing – what works for one person might not be so great for someone else.
    For instance, I’m apparently in the minority about the Fusion ProGlide. I really wanted to like this razor. But time and time again it just isn’t living up to it’s supposed reputation. I regularly shave with my dependable DE razor, but I often have a difficult time with the hairs on my lower part of my neck. Taking a disposable razor with me on a family trip, I found the disposable cleared the neck whiskers with no irritation, and the rest of my face was baby-butt smooth. Thinking I could do even better than a ‘lowly’ disposable, I tried the ProGlide.
    Boy, was this razor a disappointment. The head is simply too gargantuan to have any kind precise, nimble control needed to get a close shave – especially on the chin and above the lips. The only place I could shave with any closeness was around the cheekbones. And the trimmer blade wasn’t even that effective for tight spaces, either.
    Believe it or not, the best shave I’ve regularly gotten is with the cheap two-blade blue disposable razors with the pivoting head. It was far superior to the Fusion, and a little better than I get with the trusty DE razor (mainly on the neck).

  • Leisureguy

    Some stunningly bad advice. The Merkur head has long since be superseded. Edwin Jagger and Mühle dropped Merkur heads in favor of a new design of their own, and that head is noticeably better than the Merkur head. (In shaving, there’s a lot of YMMV, so the Merkur head is undoubtedly better for some few, but most who have tried both find the EJ/Mühle head better). And Parker razors offer a better head on the Parker 26C open comb, which is $30. Apollo Razor is $29 from Amazon and has a knockoff of the EJ head.

    And recommending Feather blades??? That is uninformed advice. Feather blades work well for some, but they are horrible for others—a characteristic of EVERY brand of blade. The reason blade sampler packs are commonly available is that each shaver must discover for himself which brand(s) work best (and in which razor: a blade that’s great in one razor may not be so good in another). See this post for a detailed discussion of DE blades and how to approach them.

  • Robert Lieber

    If anyone reads this, I have been using the Gillette 7 o’clock platinum from Amazon. They seem to glide over my skin better than other double edge (DE) blades. Also, not sure about the brands of handles mentioned today but there are options which allow you to change the angle and spacing of the blade, so if you are shaving more than a day or two’s growth, then the blade adjustment will allow you to do so with less irritation. Mine has a numbered system 1-6. As a man that keeps a beard this makes it easer to contour around the thicker parts. Hope that helps!

  • ianschopa

    Fully disagree on the Merkur. My first one lasted about 2 years – then the threaded part broke off. They did replace it, but the second one lasted maybe 1 year before breaking off at the same point. Neither one had been dropped or mishandled (Although for $30 such a simple implement should be able to take some abuse). They both broke when tightened, and I wasn’t using much force with either – they’re holding exposed surgical blades where you tighten them after all ;)

    • tony kaye

      Is it possible you bought non-Merkur identical ones? Just a thought. This holds a 4.6 rating on Amazon and has only 5 1-star reviews and a few of the 1-star reviews mentioned receiving non-Merkur models (steel flaking, different shapes, etc).

      • ianschopa

        No the first was from amazon then the 2nd was directly from merkur as a replacement. I’m now using a Parker which seems to be holding up better although the shave is worse (the clearance on the blade is different and seemingly harsher).

  • Gangleri

    Oh well, I might as well chip in too. I do agree with the general conclusion that DE, classic, shaving wins out over cartridges, by a long stretch. For economical, ecological and performance reasons.

    Sure if you are in a damn hurry, keep an electric razor ready to get yourself presentable. I know I do.

    However, when you have 10-15 minutes to spare, that’s another story. My turning point was when standing in the checkout line holding a box of Gillette cartridges, 5 blades, bla, bla and presumably 24k gold plated looking at the price tag. I also noted that the sturdy packaging, anti-theft devices, nice printing and the posters everywhere was much more valuable than the product itself, and that’s what I actually wanted to buy. Decision made, no more of this lunacy.

    Studied the shaving sites while using my electric razor every day and landed on this:

    Two kinds of DE razors, closed and open comb. Closed is less risky and forgiving while open more aggressive and efficient. I went for closed to learn the art, it was the right choice since it does take some practice to make it through in one piece / slice :-)

    Mûhle handle, model R 89, much nicer finish than Merkur and at least as good. Costing marginally more. Why not? Let it shine.

    Edwin Jagger “Best Badger” – mid range brush. No regrets some 4 years later.

    Got a sample pack with some 10 kinds of blades, 5 each – recommended! Try to find what works for you. Personna was níce, but short lived on me and not as smooth as others. Feather – great blade, nothing is better, but pricey. Gilette Yellow, quite good. Landed with Astra blades, up with the best for longevity, smooth and modest price. Got me a 100 pack on Amazon for less than half of that 12 pack of Gilettes mentioned and these will last me a long time yet to come. Never bought more than the samples and the 100 pack and I have stock for several years to come.

    Soap, can’t find the Williams kind here, but Proraso (green) is about 2€ when passing by Italy now and then, I get a few to get me by a year or so. Great stuff and better than the expensive kinds. For travel Palmolive small stick works fine.

    The most important conclusion is that it IS indeed better to shave with a DE. After vacation with a few weeks worth of beard I just put a new blade in and it’s gone in no time. That’s not how it went down with the cartridges… That it costs less and don’t generate a bunch of wast are nice bonuses…

  • Dan S.

    I prefer the Muhle R41 open comb razor to the Merkur. I get a much closer shave with the Muhle.

  • Aaron Lariviere

    I like the idea of nudging people towards safety razors, but the recommendations given here seem to miss the first true rule of wet-shaving, which is that no face is alike and no one’s shaving needs will be best met the exact same way as another shaver’s.

    A few points worth noting, for anyone looking to explore the world of wet-shaving: Merkur makes decent razors, though they’re a bit expensive and by no means exceptional. For the kind of money you’d spend on a Merkur you’d almost always do better buying a vintage Gillette on ebay; if the prospect of shaving with a used handle grosses you out, Feather makes a fabulous “travel” razor (we’re talking about the handle, not the blades) that sells for around $10 and gives just as good a shave as anything Merkur makes. Another factor that is important is the angle of a given razor and the type of comb (or “teeth”): some handles are known for giving a gentle shave (closed tooth) while others are much more aggressive (open tooth). There are even adjustable handles which change the angle of the blade in order to adjust the intensity; again, no one can tell you what will work best for you until you try it for yourself. My favorite razor happens to be an open-tooth gillette from the 1930s; it’s aggressive, but perfectly manageable.

    For blades, I prefer the Russian-made Astras (for my face); they’re quite sharp compared to some, but I don’t find them to lead to excessive bleeding pores. Feather makes the sharpest blades hands down, but many folks (myself included) tend to cut ourselves far more with these blades. Merkur blades are some of the worst blades on the market, yet they sell for the highest prices. Meanwhile some brands can be found at the dollar store, such as the USA made Personnas, which are adequate but nothing special (still worth a buck). Derby is typically the first brand recommended to new wetshavers because they give a good shave, last a reasonable amount of time and are not overly aggressive.You should be able to find them on Amazon or ebay.

    Brushes and creams/soaps/etc… opens up a whole ‘nother wormhole, and that’s a conversation for another day. For new shavers looking to dabble, check out the wares at “shaveabuck”, where you can get a starter handle for $6 and a plethora of decent (but-not-usually-great) goodies for cheap. (I’m a huge fan of the Arko shave cream that they sell.)

  • ThunderBear

    I’m glad to see the wait on this guide. A few years ago, I got all hyped up over reviews for safety razors and I bought this one. What I found was that it was simply less convenient than what I was already using (the Mach 3). I can absolutely see the value for some people in using safety razors along with a shave brush, but for me, my needs are much simpler because I have pretty straight thick facial hair and I don’t have too much of it. It was easier for me to just shave in the shower (I even do it against the grain, and for me it works), so I returned the razor. I would have no problem recommending people try it out, if they’ve already used cartridge razors and it doesn’t work for them, but for most people it’s less convenient.

  • jmgrace

    I couldn’t disagree more with the retraction against double sided razors. For me, the reasons multi blade razors are the worst is because they cut hairs too deep and cause razor bumps. I can’t help to fear that Wirecutter/SweetHome is coming under pressure of ad revenue of a huge company like Gillette (particularly with such a thin explanation.) If you don’t like a DLR, a good shave creme and a cheap plastic handle single bladed razor is still better for me than a Mach 5.

    • tony kaye

      We don’t let any company influence our decisions. Just want to get that straight. I think our owner would rather let the ad rev go & keep our credibility.

      • jmgrace

        Good to know Tony. It just seem like a very convincing explanation. I’m sure it will make more sense when this article is reposted.

  • Michael

    The Merkur is not constructed of steel, it is made of an alloy called ZAMAK. This is not a material known for durability. It is a step up from pot metal. The razor shaves fine but most likely will not last like an old Gillette from the 50’s or 60’s. Those were made of nickel plated brass.

  • Richard Dotti

    I, for one, have to say that this was a miss. The best razor is definitely NOT the Merkur or the Mach product. However Gillette does make the best razor that they have hidden in their disposable line. It used to be the Flagship model but needed to make something to compete with the other space age razor manufacturers.

    The SENSOR® 3 SMOOTH DISPOSABLE RAZOR is not only the best but is priced reasonably, razors last and are simple to use.

    Here is why without getting into the details. And YES, I have tried them all.

    This Sensor 3 does not have the pivot point of the new razors (that is why God gave us wrists) it simply just has the picot needed to keep you from cutting yourself when crossing the jaw line. I belive the Mach (just the name is funny) was put on the market for those who need their razor to look like sports cars.

    I am 45, I have been shaving for nearly 20 years so I can say I am an expert…

    This razor is so nice and sharp that I don’t even need to use shaving cream or a gel anymore and I never ever get in-grown hairs. Out of a hot shower and I am good.

    I hope this helps.