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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.