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Which Method of Shaving Is Right for You?

Here are the four main means of getting rid of your facial fuzz — find out which one is best for you.

directly above shot of shaving brush and razor on marble floor
Adrian Seliga / EyeEmGetty Images

Perhaps you graduated into shaving by learning a single method — I’m guessing the cartridge razor shave — and have stuck with it ever since. Or perhaps you got fed up with it fast and have stuck with a beard or some degree of facial hair, only now you’re curious to shave it all off again.

There is more than one option for shaving. And while all four core methods deliver a close, safe shave — especially since innovation has perfected each method — there are some nuances that make a big difference to some shavers. Let’s say you’re prone to ingrown hairs or you have especially thick, curly or coarse hair. There’s one type of razor I would never recommend to you, and three that I would (one with hesitation, unless you’re at the barbershop or born in 1723).

Anyway, here are those four main means of getting rid of your facial fuzz. Find out which one is best for you — we’d guess you may even stock up on more than one type.

Cartridge Razors

The short of it

Honestly, while cartridge razors are probably the most commonly used blade at this point — and the most unisex and full-body one, too — they don’t offer that many benefits over the next method, safety razors, besides their ease of use.

Benefits

Easy to use, often with a flexible head that navigates the contours of the face. Often regarded as the least accident-prone razor, which can be debated.

Who it’s best for

Beginners, fast shavers, pragmatic shavers (those who don’t care about the slowed-down, art of it all), gym shavers, travel shavers, body shavers.

How blade count impacts the shave

It is often believed that having more blades is better for a shave. In actuality, it can simply mean more irritation or razor drag. The 5-blade cartridge purports to have reinvented the wheel, whereas many 3-blade cartridges and single-blade safety razors offer a perfectly close, healthy shave.

Hygiene Rules

Replace blades after 6-8 shaves, or after 2-3 weeks, whichever comes first. Store them upright in a cool, dry place after shaving, then with a razor guard after they dry off.

Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club 4 Blade All-Terrain
dollarshaveclub.com
$8.00
Amazon
Bic Comfort 3 Hybrid
amazon.com
$11.99
$9.97 (17% off)

Safety Razors

The short of it

Safety razors pretty much kick cartridge booty when it comes to quality of shave, fewer irritations/ingrowns, and cost. They’re not that hard to navigate — kind of like learning how to drive manual rather than automatic (wherein cartridges are automatic).

Benefits

Extremely close, single-blade shave, with a durable razor body (which can last decades, if it’s of the right quality and if you care for it properly). Among enthusiasts and traditionalists, safety razors are the agreed-upon superior blade, for their low cost per blade, low waste, and their ability to shave closely with fewer nicks, cuts and ingrowns.

Who it’s best for

Guys with thick facial hair, ingrown- and irritation-prone snake, people who prefer a slow and ceremonious shave.

Double edge vs. single edge

The biggest difference between these two types of safety razors is, foremost, the number of razor edges you use (no shock there); the double edge exposes both sides of the razor for double the sharpness in a single shave. As such, it often has a rounded head that helps dictate the proper shaving angle, as you rest the head against your skin. The single edge will often have a weightier base that helps guide its strokes. There are lots of innovations in this space that help make the process easier; mostly it’s important to read up on what your prospective safety razor requires. (As an example, two of our favorite brands listed below, Supply, has an innovative design for its single-edge razor, which makes it as easy as first-time cartridge shaving, with lots of customizability within the device itself.)

Hygiene rules

They’re cheap enough that you can usually afford to toss the blades after each use; this way, storage isn’t of main concern, either. But you can reuse blades 1-2 times if you shave frequently enough, and store the rinsed razor upright in a cool, dry place. Don’t use anything older or duller than a couple shaves (or a week or two after use), otherwise, you’ll negate the blade’s best benefit of a close, healthy shave.

Supply
Supply Single Edge 2.0
supply.co
$75.00

Amazon
Bevel Safety Razor
amazon.com
$49.95
$44.12 (12% off)

Straight Razors

The short of it

The original and the 'cut-throat,' a straight razor offers as close a shave as a safety razor, with a steeper learning curve.

Benefits

A close shave, a high-quality blade, and a shaving method that allows for various ways of handling — the device lets you find the way to shave most comfortably.

Who it’s best for

Barbers, true shave aficionados, George Washington.

How the blade’s point impacts the shave

The outermost tip of straight razor blades will come in different "shapes," from square to rounded (Dutch), to sharply angled (spike), to one that’s rounded with a finger-friendly divet for easy opening (Barber). If you’re new to it, stick with Dutch. It’ll prevent very easy accidents, whereas those sharp-corned ones (Square and Spike, namely) are less forgiving. Yes, the Spike in particular is deft at trimming under the nose, but then again, so is a straight razor or an electric razor. We vote for going Dutch.

Hygiene rules

You already know about leaving blades exposed in cool, dry places between shaves. But the rules behind a straight razor are largely centered on upkeep. This tool is an investment or should be one. If you want to play in the shaving big leagues, then be sure to invest in a high-quality device that you’re willing to keep sharpened, stropped, and oiled.

The Art of Shaving
The Art of Shaving Straight Razor
theartofshaving.com
$195.00

Amazon
Boker King Cutter Straight Razor 5/8
fendrihan.com
$189.95

Electric Razors

The short of it

They give you the least close shave, but electric shavers also give you the least problems.

Benefits

You could probably shave your entire face blindfolded and not get a single nick or cut. Electric shavers work fast, they hold long charges, and can even be brought into the shower (to be fair, so can the other shavers on this list, though we wouldn’t recommend it for any of them).

Who it’s best for

Sensitive shavers, frequent shavers, guys with weighted facial hair (who partially shave), neckline shaves, body shaves.

Foil vs. rotary

The two types of electric shaving heads are both effective at their job, but they cater to different kinds of shavers. Foil heads — they’re long and straight — are best for fine-haired and frequent shavers (as it’s slightly harder to get the hairs inside their tiny holes for the chopping. Rotary heads — rounded, usually in a triangular or quadrant layout — are better for guys with thicker hair, and who may not shave as frequently, and whose hair runs in all different directions. The rotary tends to be the better "blind shave" of the two; it tackles pretty much everything without you needing to pay much attention.

Hygiene rules

Lots of rinsing — even with the shaver turned on and the head removed. Flush out those hairs, let the device dry completely between uses, and oil it up periodically to keep it working efficiently.

Amazon
Andis Cordless Profoil Shaver
amazon.com
$84.99
Amazon
Philips Norelco S8950/91 Shaver
amazon.com
$139.95

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