Does the Right Razor Make a Difference? I Tested 5
08.21.17

If you’ve never tried to calculate how many hours of your life you’ve spent shaving various surface areas of your body, I don’t recommend it. It’s bleak. I started shaving my armpits and legs in sixth grade. Thirteen years and countless guillotined hairs later, it occurred to me that, for the amount of time I’ve devoted to hair removal, I’ve made very little progress when it comes to equipment. Barring the occasional color change-up depending on what Duane Reade has in stock, I still use the exact same model of Venus razor.

There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s always gotten the job done, but it struck me as odd that pretty much every aspect of my self-care routine has drastically changed since middle school except this one thing. If your skin products are supposed to evolve in sophistication as you grow into adulthood, why not your shaving products?

Thus, my quest for the very best adult razor commenced. After some extensive polling (amongst friends, colleagues, internet forums, etc.), I narrowed my search to five razors that seemed to be the crème de la crème of self-shearing. I tried all of them and ranked them based on three factors: shaving experience (how easy is it to use and how smoothly do the blades glide?), aesthetic appeal (IS IT PRETTY?) and hair removal effectiveness (how long before I get my signature five o’clock shadow?). I decided to evaluate the first two criteria in the shower and wait a few days to evaluate the third so I could compare hair growth.


1. Gillette Venus

I started with my tried-and-true Venus. After lathering up with my signature luxury shaving cream cocktail (soap and water), I took the razor and carefully shaved one smooth swipe from the top of my ankle to the base of my knee. Given that I’ve used this razor my whole post-pubescent life, I was familiar with what the shaving experience would entail, and it’s honestly nothing to write home about. It’s actually always kind of irritated my skin a little (-1 for shaving experience). As for appearance, I would say I’m a fan of the color but not of the plastic (0 for aesthetic appeal).

2. Gillette Fusion ProGlide

My friend Maria has always sung the praises of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, which was recommended by her dermatologist. She says it’s the only razor she’s ever used on her bikini line that hasn’t irritated her skin or given her razor burn. According to the razor’s inline description, it features a “FlexBall” technology that helps it respond to contours. I was excited to try this one, but unfortunately the shaving experience was the same as the Venus’s: kind of irritating (-1 for shaving experience). Appearance-wise, it’s clearly marketed toward men, which I don’t necessarily mind and appreciate in the sense that it kind of looks like an Inspector Gadget weapon, but overall it’s not particularly chic (0 for aesthetic appeal).

3. Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor

I searched “razor” on Amazon and skimmed the results to find the one with the most positive reviews. The Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor has 3,486 customer reviews with an average of 4.4 stars. I’ve never used a safety razor before, so I had to watch a YouTube tutorial about how to properly unscrew the base of the handle and sandwich the disposable blade between it and the protective-guard top on the other end. The shaving experience was excellent — super smooth, easy to hold (I barely had to exert pressure) and no irritation whatsoever (+3 for shaving experience). Despite finding the monochrome appearance boring, I loved the luxurious, heavy feel. It almost looks like something you might find in an exceptionally cool concept store in Berlin, so I gave it a point for that (+1 for aesthetic appeal).

4. Oui Shave Carrie Razor

I tried another safety razor from a shaving start-up called Oui Shave after reading numerous rave reviews about their products online, and it delivered the same exceptional quality of experience as the Edwin Jagger (+3 for shaving experience). I was so obsessed with my brief foray into single-blade safety razors, I started researching them online and quickly became fascinated with all the information I had no idea was out there.

I learned that multi-blade razors (like the Venus and Fusion ProGlide) use a combination of blunt and sharp blades. The blunt blade hooks the hair follicle, pulling it up slightly so that the second blade can make the cut. As more and more blades are added, they are essentially repeating the same functions of the primary and secondary blade, thus increasing the possibility of razor burn (when the razor cuts through too many layers of skin) and razor bumps (when the razor cuts the tip of the hair too sharply and it pierces through the follicular wall). In comparison, a single-blade safety razors like the Edwin Jagger or the Oui Shave Carrie cut off the hair bluntly in one pass.

The razor I used from Oui Shave is absolutely stunning – plated in 14K gold, it made me feel like King Midas just picking it up (+3 for aesthetic appeal). It also costs $85. Given that it delivered the exact same results experience-wise as the Edwin Jagger, I would wholeheartedly endorse the latter as a cost-effective equivalent. That being said, having read up on Oui Shave’s inspiring backstory and founder (check out this interview – she’s so cool), I would sincerely recommend considering their products as gifts, or if you’re keen on treating yourself in support of female entrepreneurs.

5. Panasonic Ladies Electric Shaver

Last but not least, I threw an electric razor into the mix. I decided on the Panasonic Ladies Electric Shaver because it seemed to be the most favorably-reviewed on the internet. I was annoyed that I had to charge it for at least 12 hours before using it, but it ended up being so much fun to use I quickly forgot my initial aggravation. It almost felt like a little massage buzzing up my leg, and I barely had to exert myself because the batteries were doing all the work (+3 for shaving experience). Even though I enjoyed the hot pink color, I wasn’t a fan of the overall appearance because it was big and clunky and would be difficult to pack (-1 for aesthetic appeal).


Now, the moment you and my hairy ankles have all been waiting for: Which razor produced the longest-lasting shave? I used a pen to mark my leg with the first initial of each razor (V for Venus, etc.) so I could accurately compare the subsequent growth of each “swipe lane.” Interestingly, even though I got a major kick out of the shaving experience, the Panasonic was the least effective in terms of actually removing hair (-3 for hair removal effectiveness). The “swipe lane” growth for the Venus and Fusion ProGlide razors was basically the same – effective but nothing special (+1 for hair removal effectiveness). The safety razors’ “swipe lanes” grew back at the same rate as the Venus and Fusion ProGlide’s, but I noticed that they left my skin significantly less irritated (+1 for hair removal effectiveness and +1 bonus point for treating my sensitive skin like a queen).

Here’s the final point tally:

Gillette Venus: 1

Gillette Fusion ProGlide: 1

Edwin Jagger safety razor: 6

Oui Shave safety razor: 8

Panasonic Electric Shaver: -1

And the winner is…the Oui Shave, with the caveat that the Edwin Jagger provides the exact same shaving experience at a much lower cost, which probably outweighs the King Midas euphoria. Shall we call it a tie?

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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  • K

    I think this may be the most useful article I’ve EVER READ!! Goodbye Venus hello safety razors…

    • Harling Ross

      music 2 my ears. is there anything else that needs testing???? i am a willing guinea pig.

      • K

        Hmm inevitably having a mind blank. Sleep masks? They always either let in the light or destroy my hair overnight.

        However the article I have wanted to read for a long time (not sure if MR the right venue) is a devastating takedown of the scented sanitary product. Not sure if you guys are suffering in the US but it’s a plague sweeping the UK. See the following: http://bit.ly/2fZsTxV

        • Kat

          100% agree they are awful. I use a Mooncup usually (would definitely recommend!) but had to get some pads recently after an operation and they smelt AWFUL! So sickly and perfumed. Why?!?!

          • K

            I do keep meaning to try the Mooncup, but for some reason I am nervous about it.

            Yes! They also don’t say clearly on the packaging that they are scented so it’s hard to avoid them.

          • Cristina

            Yep, my friend uses a Diva Cup and swears by it, but I just can’t make that kind of commitment lol

          • Kat

            It took me a long time to get around to trying it, but I was so happy I did.
            For the first timers out there, I’d suggest trying it with pantyliners the first time for your own peace of mind, but you’ll figure out the correct placement quickly.
            Also it’s definitely worth trimming the stem!
            It’s easy to put in and take out, if you already use tampons it’s not that much of a stretch.
            Plus it’s much more comfortable, doesn’t leave you dry like tampons do, no nappy-like feeling like with pads.
            I tend to enthuse about them a lot in ladies toilets when I’m drunk….!

      • Michelle

        epilator ! Does anyone use them except for me??

        • Beasliee

          I do, but only below the knee as it hurts too much anywhere else. It gives be terrible ingrowing hairs but my hair grows back so soft and fine that I am keeping it up. I might be deluding myself that it’s a good idea to continue…

          • Cristina

            I used one briefly. I shave my arms (I have forever, it’s not even a thing anymore, it’s just normal lol) and one day I slipped and got my elbow skin caught in the thing. GOD BLESS. I literally though that was how I was going to die. Right there. On my bathroom floor with an epilady hanging from my elbow. Never used it again. Lol.

          • Beasliee

            Lordy that is horrifying! Makes my toes do that tingly thing just thinking about it!!

      • Natalie

        you should do a hair oil one!! id be very interested to see what products work best on taming curly hair as a fellow spiral locked sista myself

      • Cristina

        I second a foray into feminine hygiene! Tampons? Diva Cups? Cloth pads?! ORGANIC? (the latter seems to be a miracle but didn’t work for me at all). Reeeallllly would love and article by someone who hasn’t ventured into the cup world and is a working woman! I need to know if I’m gonna have to tote a mop with me into the bathroom, that’s all I’m saying lol

  • eye4style

    Unrelated/related but laser hair removal is the most worthwhile beauty investment I’ve ever made, particularly considering how expensive razors/refill blades are – it’s insane! I now keep a razor around strictly for random stray hairs.

    • Harling Ross

      i lasered my bikini line and it was life-changing

      • Hayley

        Agreed. One of the best decisions I made.

    • Anna in Hamburg

      Ah! so jealous. I need to make that leap.

      • Same argh still too broke/scared to do it…

  • Natalia Soto

    the human race has done nothing to deserve the true goodness that is this article. we don’t deserve a hero like u, harling.

    • Harling Ross

      mom????

  • streats

    I switched to a safety razor about a year ago because I hate throwing plastic razors into landfill and they are also so expensive! I bought mine (a Merkur long handle – one of the best rated for women especially) from the Art of Shaving for $60 (I decided to splurge instead of getting the possibly-sketchy-but-possibly-totally-OK one from Walgreens) and it came with one blade which I didn’t have to change for nearly a year. Dry your razor property after each use and it lasts longer (apparently). You can also apparently sharpen them on some old denim. Replacement blades are super cheap (I bought a pack of 10 for £2; that’s probably me sorted for the next decade) and it’s all 100% metal and therefore recyclable and not destroying our oceans! And yeah the shaving experience is so much better. I use a slush shampoo bar instead of shaving foam, as it lathers beautifully (and since I use it anyway, it’s one less item to buy). I actually love shaving now – it’s become a ritual whereas before it was a chore that I only did once or twice a year on the brief occasion the sun came out in Ireland.

  • Helen

    I didn’t know I needed this information but now that I have it my life is different. BRB off to buy a safety razor

  • i need to update my razor PRONTO. Do you think the safety razors would make enough of a difference on a bikini line? That’s where the real trouble starts.

    • Cristina

      I’m not gonna lie. I love my safety razor. But, while it’s not tough to navigate the bikini area, I am having a tough time not getting minor razor burn. Probably user error though, so I’m not giving up!

  • Elizabeth

    I use the “best” razor from Dollar Shave Club (I think it’s called the presidential or something?). It’s REALLY good and stays sharper a lot longer than other razors!

    • starryhye

      Same here! I like the sturdy handle and feel like it gives me a better shave than the plastic disposable drugstore razors.

  • Jessica

    With the safety razors, did you have to also buy all the creams and brush and things to go with it, or could you use it with normal shave gel?

    • Harling Ross

      you can def use with normal shave gel

      • annanymous

        I’ve used a safety razor for about 9 months now. I change out my razor every few uses (my barber’s recommendation). I also use a shave cream (not the soap) from Ursa Major. I’ve never tried the soap with the brush, mostly b/c it seemed like a hassle.

    • Julia Park

      i just use the my safety razor with castile soap and it works perfectly

  • Viviana Del Manzano

    Something I think this review was missing was: how long do the razors last? I change out my Venus razor every 5-8 shaves so I wonder if a safety razor could endure longer than that.

    • belle

      It can endure far, far longer, and replacement blades are way more economical.

  • Kassie

    I slap and dash shave daily. Do you have to slow down and be more cautious with the safety razor?

    • Inaat

      Exactly what i was wondering, especially thinking of the bikini line

    • Cristina

      I would say yes, but it’s not as inconvenient as you think or as long as you think. I was sitting down and taking my time while I got the hang of it, but now I can stand and shave just like I used too. The hardest part to adjust too is that you want to do it in short strokes. Lots of short strokes, not one loooonnng stroke that shaves your whole leg!

  • stephmel

    But rly, wanna know the BEST shave secret ever? Use cheap conditioner instead of shaving cream or soap—you will thank me.

    • Elizabeth

      I have so many bottles of Tresemme bought on 2-for-1 sales stashed under my sink for this exact purpose

    • Jeanie

      I use conditioner too! The bottle almost lasts me too long

  • Simone Robert
  • Merillionaire

    I’m just going to leave this here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ilh1ewceco 🙂

  • Basil

    15 year old me would have loved this article. I set out to be an expert on razors, and tried all the best ones advertised on tv. This obsession led to something I still regret to this day, and an odd birthday party. The thing I regret is saying to my best friend, in the tuck shop line, in front of everyone, “isn’t it time you started shaving your legs?” I still feel the same, and guilt that this may have led to eyebrow over plucking on her part in the late 90s (her eyebrows never recovered).
    For the weird party – I recall spending a large part of my 15th birthday party giving out advice on razors.

    Now I just buy the cheapest multipack (o just shave my armpits, everywhere else is waxed), but maybe they deserve the attention of a safety razor?

    • this is the funniest story!

  • So interesting, I’ve never really thought much about razors…. the only extent was to use men’s razors because they’re mad for soft skin of the face but the rough texture of their facial hair

    https://thedianaedition.com

  • Chelsea LaBelle

    i can get on board with oui shave’s s&tc theme – in fact, i embrace it – but where the hell is Miranda

    • belle

      I think Miranda either 1. Got laser, because she’s successful and busy and can’t be bothered to shave, or 2. Doesn’t do hair removal, because she’s successful and busy and can’t be bothered to shave.

      • Chelsea LaBelle

        definitely the latter, really astute observation

      • Cristina

        I think the bush incident in the SATC movie in Mexico proves the latter haha!!

  • sin_plomo

    argh i wish i’d read this a week ago when i was staring at razors for 20mins in SuperDrug. I went Venus but have been so disappointed with the results. I’ve definitely got EJ on my list now

  • Mareike Borkowski

    Okay, just ordered myself an Edwin Jagger. Been using a Venus for ages (a Wilkinson Lady Protector before that) and I’ve always suffered irritation and ingrown hairs. So lets see how the safety razor will fare. It does sound promising. And it also looks like it’s less waste than all those platic razors. Thanks for the rec Harling! 🙂

    PS: I’ve never noticed before how weird it is that I’m sticking to my choice of razor although it’s not really working for me. Why did I do this??? At least it looks like I’m not the only one.

  • Winsant surat

    good info for ladies…. every skin is different so one must look out for the best for herself…

  • Bee

    I’ve been using Harry’s razors for years now. They’re so good and so much more economical than razors traditionally marketed to women, unfortunately.

    • belle

      I thought the Harry’s razors were pretty terrible. The blades are too close together so they get clogged really easily, and the handle gets super slippery when wet.

      • Bee

        I do agree with you on the clogging issue—that’s definitely a downside!

  • Cristina

    I LOVE my safety razor. I’m mad it took me so long to switch over. If anyone is on the fence: it’s not as hard as Youtube makes it seem, you don’t really have to use special soap. A pack of 100 blades is like $15 and will last you basically for life.

  • Lily Angell

    The benefit of the safety razor extends far beyond our leg hairs!! They are not plastic, yippie. I hate plastic. Made from metal not only do they look bad ass, their longevity supersedes any plastic razor. Also, while they are more money up front, over time they are more economical. So less plastic razors entering landfills, less monies leaving your wallet…win, win, win. Lets think about our planet, even when choosing our hair removal methods. Great article!

  • Jay

    Had a similar experience – bought that fancy pants Panasonic close curves thing and well… felt nice but didn’t do the job??? Sitting in a business meeting relating that there is still hair on your legs while sporting your best pencil skirt ain’t fun… so: spend a lot of money on a fancy razor that doesn’t deliver. Bah… not speaking about bikini trimming cause it doesn’t do the trick at all.

    So might try those safety things (and they do look cute and love the retro idea…) but does anyone have tricks for a smooth bikini shave=! Cause thats my most problem area…

  • I got the Oui razor in December and I actually shave on a somewhat regular basis now. It feels super glamorous, yet totally low-maintenance and sustainable (aka how I pretend to be).

    I went through a phase of using men’s razors because I’m convinced that they’re better and cost less money, but they only lasted for a few shaves and new blades were pricey. A total racket. But, for $80 I love the idea that I’ll only ever have to refill the single blades and I’ll have this razor FOREVER.

    BONUS POINTS: I used to get dozens of ingrown hairs on the backs of my calves leading to dark scars, but with this razor and semi-frequent shea butter, those babies are dead now. I’ve gotten 5 ingrown hairs since I started using it.

  • Jessie Roselyn

    I just purchased a Oui razor and I am over the moon excited to start using it. I splurged on the carrie but got 10% off and will actually save money over the year! It’s not too steep as it comes with 4 replacement blades and the shaving oil.