Getting the best shave comes down to having the best tools for the job. You’ll want to use a good shaving cream, of course, but the most important thing is to choose the right men's razor. A cartridge razor with disposable blades is the method most men learn first (and stick to), and replacement blades are available pretty much anywhere. An electric razor might be best for someone who wants to be as quick and efficient as possible. There are also safety razors, which have been around for more than 100 years and have recently surged in popularity because many feel they provide a better shave — plus, they’re more eco-friendly and economical. And there are straight razors, which are typically the domain of professionals, but may also appeal to passionate shavers because of the unique control they offer. The fact that countless different brands make different models of the same type of razor can make choosing the right one even more overwhelming.
To help folks find the best razors on the market, we asked 14 men’s-grooming experts — including ten barbers — about their favorites and combed through our archives to find other worthy options recommended to us before. The resulting selection of razors (below) features a style for pretty much everyone, including cartridge, electric, and safety razors, along with hybrid styles, and razors to use on sensitive skin. No matter which style of razor you choose, Tony DeAngelis, a co-owner of Blue&Black barbershop in Carroll Gardens, says there are two other important factors for getting a good shave: heat and stretching the skin. As he explains, “heat, whether from running the shower or the sink, allows hair to come off easier, which means less irritation. And stretching the skin while you shave means fewer chances of nicks and scratches, because you’re creating a tighter, smoother surface for the blade to move across.”
Even though cartridge single blade razor for men may be the most ubiquitous (and what most men learn how to shave with), 12 of the 14 experts we spoke with say that a safety razor is actually the best kind to use. The main thing it boils down to is the fact that with a safety razor, you’re shaving with only one blade — many of our experts told us that more blades do not necessarily mean a better shave, and that using multi-blade cartridges can increase the likelihood of ingrown hairs and razor burn. “The safety razor is the absolute way to go,” says Chad Beightol, the owner of New York City–based men’s-grooming store Consigliere. “You’re working with a single blade that is sharp, instead of relying on a multi-blade cartridge that is trying to trap the hair between the blades.” Paul Langevin of barbershop Mildred New York adds, “The single blade minimizes irritation.” Another plus is that safety razor blades (the best of which you can find here) are far less expensive to replace than disposable cartridges, and they don’t generate any plastic waste. The experts do admit that, at first, using a safety razor won’t be quite as effortless as shaving with a Gilette or Shick (and if you’d rather stick to those cartridge razors, there are some on this list, too). But they say most people are quick converts once they get the hang of it. We’ve written about safety razors before, and German razor manufacturer Merkur was the brand that came most recommended. The Merkur 34C remains our experts’ top pick, with many saying it’s an especially good choice for beginners because the short handle makes it easy to maneuver.
Bevel is a newer safety-razor company that both barber Julien Howard and Beightol recommend. You can purchase the twin blade razor for men and blades on their own, but they also have subscription options for scheduled blade replacement, along with a full line of shaving products. The Bevel razor also has a bit of a sleeker, more contemporary look than the others on this list, and a slightly longer and narrower handle that might be more comfortable for some.