Shaving is an essential part of personal grooming, and having the right tools can make a world of difference. While some prefer using safety razors (or even electric shavers), cartridge razors have become popular due to their wide availability, convenience, and ease of use. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your skin type and shaving needs.
In this article, I have compiled a list of the best cartridge razors available in the market based on factors such as performance, comfort, durability, and value for the money. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out with cartridge razors, this list will help you find a razor that delivers a smooth and comfortable shave.
- Why Trust Sharpologist
- The Best Cartridge Razors
- What Is A Cartridge Razor?
- Understanding Cartridge Razors
- Factors To Consider When Choosing A Cartridge Razor
Why Trust Sharpologist?
Shaving–particularly wet shaving or manual shaving–is Sharpologist’s Raison d’être. Unlike a lot of other “best” lists from large consumer or fashion websites that concentrate on sponsorships or just what is available on Amazon, Sharpologist specializes in getting the best, most enjoyable shave possible.
This list is based on the personal experience of Sharpologist‘s editor (me!), contributors, and readers who have actually purchased and used the products–plus over ten years of research from review sites and specialty discussion forums. Generally-speaking, shaving facial hair is the primary objective.
So what is the best cartridge razor? As you might imagine, it depends on some variables, with some variables being more important than others.
I think I can safely say that the number of blades in a cartridge and its lubrication strip scheme are not as important as the razor manufacturers make them out to be.
What does appear to be more important are the manufacturing of the blade edge(s) itself, how the blades are angled in the cartridge, and how the cartridge stays in contact with the skin (pivots).
I’ll discuss that in much more depth below. But with those broad guidelines in mind, here are the top picks for different circumstances. Bear in mind that these pics are mainly based on overall performance.
[Note: Amazon, APShaveCo, CVS, Geni.us, and Walgreens links are affiliate. However many of these razors can be readily found in “brick and mortar” stores.]
What Is The Best Cartridge Razor?
- Best Overall Cartridge Razor: Gillette Fusion ProGlide with Flexball Handle
- Best “One And Done” Cartridge Razor: Gillette Exfoliating Razor
- Best Cartridge Razor For Sensitive Skin: Gillette SkinGuard with Flexball handle
- Alternate: Schick Hydro Slim Head Sensitive Razor
- Best Value Cartridge Razor: Gillette Mach3
Now the details.
Best Overall Cartridge Razor
Gillette’s fourth-gen Fusion ProGlide razor with the Flexball handle feels both familiar and modern, offering a great shave at a reasonable price point. The Fusion Proglide cartridge is more comfortable and easier to use than the standard Fusion5 cartridge, providing a smoother shave with less tugging or pulling of your skin. The Flexball handle, in addition to the front-facing cartridge pivot, allows it to better respond and adapt to the contours of your face.
For those who take issue with the pricing or policies of a large corporation, consider these two alternatives:
The Schick Hydro 5 Sense with Shock Absorb Technology automatically adjusts the pressure you’re applying to your skin. This helps to prevent irritation and nicks, giving you a close shave that’s also comfortable. The cartridge’s 5 “ultra-glide” blades feature skin guards on each blade to help flatten the skin and protect you from irritation.
Best “One And Done” Cartridge Razor
The Gillette Exfoliating Razor by GilletteLabs uses the same five blade cartridge that the GilletteLabs Heated Razor uses: it is NOT a standard Fusion cartridge. The razor’s “FlexDisc” feature is similar to Gillette’s Flexball on other razors. I get a better-than-darn-fine-shave (“DFS”) with a single pass. I get excellent results whether I’m using it with a lathering product with a brush or a brushless cream or gel.
Best Cartridge Razor For Sensitive Skin
Gillette’s SkinGuard razor is specifically designed for men with sensitive skin and razor bumps. While the SkinGuard cartridge is compatible with Gillette Fusion handles, there are only two blades vs. the normal Fusion’s five. I recommend using a SkinGuard cartridge with a handle that has the FlexBall pivot.
Shaves quickly and easily reach DFS territory using Gillette SkinGuard, without a whole lot of focus or energy attached to the process, though glass-smooth shaves are more elusive.
An alternative to consider is the Schick Hydro Slim Head razor. This three-blade cartridge razor’s design includes skin guards adjacent to all three blade edges to flatten the skin for a shave less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
Best Value Cartridge Razor
If you’re looking for a “value” razor that still performs well consider the Gillette Mach3. This was the most popular cartridge razor for years and now its combination of good performance and lower cost still makes it a good all-around razor.
The patent for the original Mach3 design has expired so there are compatible cartridges from different manufacturers available.
An alternative to consider is the BIC Comfort 3.
Another alternative from a less traditional source is the Penny Shaver from APShaveCo. Although this is not a widely available product from a large corporation, the Penny Shaver is a single blade cartridge that uses Gillette Fusion handles. The cartridges cost from US $0.43 to $0.60/cart depending on quantity. Click/tap here for my review of the Penny Shaver.
Background: What Is A Cartridge Razor?
A cartridge razor is a shaving instrument that consists of a handle and a replaceable cartridge that contains multiple razor blades. The blades are pointed at different angles, and are designed to alternate between raising facial hair and cutting it. However, the added blades can lead to greater irritation when shaving.
Cartridge razors are a popular and convenient option for those who prefer a quick and easy shave. This type of razor offers a close and smooth shave, but it can be less precise than other options, such as safety razors.
Most modern cartridge razors allow the head to pivot, keeping the position of the blades consistent relative to the surface of the skin.
Many cartridges will also incorporate an aloe strip to supposedly reduce irritation, but anyone who has used a cartridge razor knows that they don’t last long at all.
Cartridge razors come in different designs and price levels, but they are generally made from lower quality steel to reduce costs. While they do not need to be replaced as often as safety razor blades, the price of replacement cartridges has risen and can add up to a significant cost over time.
Additionally, cartridge razors have more blades, which can cause irritation and redness, especially for those with sensitive skin. Proper technique, including using long, steady strokes with light pressure and avoiding going over the same area repeatedly, can help minimize these issues. Ultimately, the choice between a cartridge razor and other options will depend on an individual’s budget, time, and shaving habits.
How To Choose A Cartridge Razor
Choosing the perfect cartridge razor can be a daunting task, especially with the numerous options available in today’s market. Whether you’re new to wet shaving or a seasoned pro, this blog post will provide insight into the world of cartridge razors and help guide you towards making an informed decision.
We’ll explore various factors that affect your choice, such as skin sensitivity, handle ergonomics, blade count, and brand reputation.
- Consider your skin sensitivity and hair type when choosing a cartridge razor to prevent irritation and achieve a smooth shave.
- Look for cartridge razors with innovative lubrication schemes that reduce friction and offer skincare benefits, such as natural oils or anti-inflammatory ingredients.
- Read product reviews from multiple sources before purchasing to get an idea of the quality and effectiveness of the razor, taking note of recurring issues or flaws mentioned by several people.
- Choosing a reputable brand that offers replaceable blades and handles with good ergonomics can make all the difference in finding a comfortable shaving experience without breaking your budget.
Understanding Cartridge Razors
Cartridge razors are a popular choice among men for its convenience and ease of use, with various blade count options available, lubrication schemes for a smoother shave, and razor pivots that allow the razor to glide effortlessly over curves and contours.
Benefits Of Using Cartridge Razors
As a man who wet shaves, you’re likely exploring cartridge razors as an option for your personal grooming routine. The benefits of using cartridge razors include:
- Closer shave: Cartridge razors generally have more blades, providing a closer shave compared to safety razors.
- Versatility: These razors can be used for shaving not only facial hair but also the head, chest, and other areas.
- Ease of use: Cartridge razors are easier to handle and require less practice to achieve optimal results compared to safety razors.
- Speed: Due to their multiple blades and design, shaving with a cartridge razor is often faster than using a safety razor.
- Convenience: Cartridges are replaceable, making it easy to maintain sharpness and hygiene without having to sharpen or strop the razor blades.
- Portability: Their compact design makes them perfect for travel or on-the-go grooming.
- Less irritation (in some cases): For those not prone to sensitivity issues or ingrown hairs, the multiple blades can help reduce irritation by spreading pressure across several cutting edges.
While there are many benefits of cartridge razors, it’s important to note that safety razors may be a better option for people with sensitive skin as they have only one cutting edge and tend to cause less irritation overall. Nonetheless, by considering factors such as blade count, lubricating strips, and handle design when choosing a cartridge razor, you can find one that suits your specific needs for an effective wet shave experience.
Types Of Cartridge Razors
As a modern man who appreciates a good wet shave, it’s important to understand the various types of cartridge razors available in order to find the perfect one for your needs. Here is an overview of some different cartridge razor options:
- Standard Multi-Blade Razors: These are perhaps the most common type of cartridge razors, featuring multiple blades (usually 3-5) stacked closely together for a close shave. Examples include Gillette Fusion and Schick Hydro.
- Sensitive Skin Razors: Designed specifically for individuals with sensitive skin, these razors often have fewer blades and additional features like skin guards or lubricating strips to reduce irritation. Examples include Gillette SkinGuard and Schick Hydro Slim.
- Pivot(s): These razors allow you to adjust the blade angle for a customized shaving experience, which can be helpful if you have specific grooming needs or preferences. A notable example is the Gillette ProGlide Flexball.
- Eco-friendly Cartridge Razors: For environmentally conscious shavers, there are eco-friendly options made from sustainably sourced materials or designed with reduced plastic use in mind, such as Preserve Shave 5 and Bulldog Bamboo Razor.
Remember to consider factors like skin sensitivity, hair type, handle ergonomics, brand reputation, and price while choosing from these different types of cartridge razors!
As a man who wet shaves, one of the most important aspects to consider in a cartridge razor is the blade count. The number of blades on your razor can have a significant impact on your shaving experience.
However, it’s crucial to note that more isn’t always better. Cartridge razors with higher blade counts can sometimes cause skin irritation due to increased friction from the extra passes over your skin.
For example, Feather F-System offers three different blade options for their line of cartridge razors – depending on your preference and needs. It’s essential to find the right balance between achieving that close shave without sacrificing comfort or risking irritation during your daily grooming routine.
You may have noticed on most system razor cartridges there is a small band of rubber at the bottom of the cartridge, just before the first blade. There are usually small ridges or fins on it, running horizontally. This is called a skin pretensioner, and was originally featured on the Gillette Sensor cartridge. Its function is to ‘stretch’ the skin slightly before the first blade cuts the hair.
Cartridge Lubrication Scheme
As a wet shaver, you need to understand the cartridge lubrication scheme and its importance when choosing a razor. The lubricating strip is not necessarily an essential component of cartridge razors but can reduce friction between the blades and your skin, making for a smoother shave.
It contains moisturizing agents that create an invisible layer on your face, helping to soften and condition your skin before shaving.
For instance, some cartridges contain natural oils like jojoba or coconut oil known for their hydrating properties while others feature anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile to soothe sensitive skin after shaving.
You can find these useful features listed on the product packaging or online reviews.
The razor pivot is an essential aspect to consider when choosing a cartridge razor. It determines where the pressure applied on your face will be at its greatest, and can significantly affect your shaving experience.
A pivot that is located closer to the handle of the razor results in less pressure on the skin, making it more comfortable to use, while one located farther from the handle creates more pressure, which provides better closeness but may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Cartridge Razor
Consider your skin sensitivity and hair type when choosing a cartridge razor, as well as the handle ergonomics and brand reputation.
Skin Sensitivity And Hair Type
As someone who also deals with skin irritation and ingrown hairs, I know firsthand how important it is to consider your skin sensitivity and hair type when choosing a cartridge razor.
This can make all the difference in preventing razor burn and achieving a smooth shave. For example, if you have coarse or curly hair, an option with fewer blades may be better at preventing ingrown hairs.
It’s worth taking some time to figure out what works best for your unique needs before committing to one cartridge razor.
As a man who wet shaves, consider the handle ergonomics of your cartridge razor when choosing one. A comfortable grip ensures that you have better control over the razor during shaving and reduces the risk of slipping or nicking yourself.
Consider handles that are textured or rubberized to provide a firmer grip even when wet.
Brand reputations such as Harry’s Truman Razor, Schick Hydro 5 Sense Hydrate Kit, and other top-rated cartridge razors should not be dismissed either – they may offer unique handle designs specific to them.
Brand Reputation And Price
As someone who values a good shave, it’s essential to consider the reputation of the brand when choosing a cartridge razor. Historically, brands with quality control processes tend to produce reliable and long-lasting cartridge razors that offer an efficient and comfortable shaving experience.
It’s worth noting that purchasing disposable razors can be pricier in the long run than investing in high-quality safety razors or cartridge razors from reputable brands.
Shaving doesn’t have to break your wallet, so do some extensive research before making your final purchase decision based on cost alone.
Read Product Reviews
Read product reviews before purchasing to get an idea of the quality and effectiveness of the razor.
As a guy who enjoys a great wet shave, reading product reviews is one of the most crucial steps when choosing a cartridge razor. It’s always helpful to see what others have experienced with different models before making my final decision.
Many review sites like Amazon offer customer ratings and detailed feedback that can provide insights on blade sharpness, handle grip comfort, and even ingrown hair prevention.
It’s also important to remember that not all reviews are created equal. Some reviewers may be biased towards certain brands or models based on their personal preferences or experiences.
Make sure to read multiple reviews from different sources and take note of recurring issues or flaws mentioned by several people.
Look For Trial Offers
Before committing to a cartridge razor, it’s always wise to try it out beforehand. Look for trial offers from manufacturers or retailers that allow you to test the product without committing fully.
This way, you can get a feel for how the razor performs and whether it’s suitable for your skin type and hair texture. For example, some companies offer sample packs of blades with different blade counts that you can experiment with before purchasing a full pack.
Choosing the right cartridge razor is crucial for achieving a close shave while minimizing irritation and redness on your skin.
When it comes to choosing a cartridge razor, taking into consideration factors such as skin sensitivity and handle ergonomics can make all the difference. Look for reputable brands that offer replaceable blades and lubrication strips, and don’t be afraid to try out trial offers or read product reviews before making your final decision.
Remember, finding the right cartridge razor can give you a comfortable shave without irritating your skin.