The Best Men’s Razors (for Any Face) for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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For an unfussy face-shaving experience, cartridge razors—in which replacement heads preloaded with spaced-just-so blades affix to a reusable handle—are hard to beat. After nine total testers spent more than two months shaving with 11 different cartridge razors, we concluded that the Gillette Mach3 offers the best combination of a close shave, an affordable price, and a comfortable grip. Marketed for men but appropriate for anyone who wants to shave their face, it will leave a smooth look regardless of skin and hair type. Biodegradable Razor

The Best Men’s Razors (for Any Face) for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

This classic razor’s three widely spaced blades provide the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. Its handle is comfortable and well designed, and replacement blades are relatively affordable.

This razor’s five closely packed blades meant smoother shaves for some of our testers, and it has a trimming blade for fine edges. But it clogs easily, and the replacement heads cost twice as much as our pick’s.

This review covers easy-to-use and widely available cartridge razors. We also considered the cost of refills—an ongoing expense.

We had nine testers with different face shapes, hair textures, and skin types try 11 models and rate their shaving results.

This classic razor’s three widely spaced blades provide the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. Its handle is comfortable and well designed, and replacement blades are relatively affordable.

Gillette’s Mach3 cartridge razor system was first introduced more than 20 years ago, and though the company has made some changes to the design, the basics—three stainless steel blades on a pivoting head, mated to a sturdy, cylindrical handle—continue to make it all most people will ever need to remove their whiskers. The Mach3 feels comfortable and solid to grip, and the three-blade cartridges clear whiskers and foam efficiently. And at about $2 or less per refill, the Mach3 provides a superior shave to subscription razors for about the same price.

This razor’s five closely packed blades meant smoother shaves for some of our testers, and it has a trimming blade for fine edges. But it clogs easily, and the replacement heads cost twice as much as our pick’s.

If you want a closer shave and don’t mind spending up to $4 per cartridge, Gillette’s Fusion5 is a potentially worthy upgrade. Six of our testers thought it was one of the best razors they tried, thanks to its five blades and how close it shaves, plus a trimming edge on the other side of the cartridge. But the blades are closely spaced and don’t rinse out as well.

To determine what most people look for in a cartridge razor meant for faces, we scoured online shaving forums, read studies that looked at what makes certain blade and razor technologies work, and searched for specific info about shaving habits.

Dan Koeppel is fanatical about shaving and razors, both professionally and personally. He wrote Wirecutter’s original shaving guide, which appeared in 2015, and he’s covered the shaving industry since the late 1980s. He’s tried and loved shaving with everything from straight razors and old-school double edges to disposables and electric razors.

Justin Redman has been a regular shaver since the sixth grade. He’s personally used cartridge razors from Gillette, Schick, and Harry’s, as well as countless generic-brand disposables over the years.

There are lots of ways to get rid of facial hair, and if you’re happy with your current method, stick with it. Here we focus on cartridge-based razor systems containing between three and six blades. This encompasses the vast majority of razor and blade choices you’ll encounter, including most of Gillette’s offerings; the razors sold by shave subscription plans like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s; as well as the house brands sold at most chain stores.

We made this choice because we believe that most folks want to shave quickly, efficiently, and with the lowest possibility of nicks and cuts. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t other wonderful ways to shave.

As mentioned above, most cartridge razors have between three and six blades. But how many blades do you need? In a study funded and conducted by Gillette and published in the British Journal of Dermatology (PDF), Gillette discussed the process it calls the “hysteresis effect.” The term, borrowed from physics, means the action of multiple blades against your skin and hair; the first blade pulls the hair, and subsequent blades continue pulling and cutting the pulled hairs, theoretically resulting in a closer shave. In the study, Gillette’s researchers note: “Hair mobility can be exploited to provide a measurable improvement in closeness, and this has formed the basis for multi-blade razor strategies for many years.”

But there’s a caveat, the paper says. Blades have to be the proper thickness. They have to be spaced properly, so that they clear debris and prevent skin from bulging into the spaces between blades. Those two attributes can work against each other, and closely spaced blades can clog more easily, especially if you have coarse or close-growing hair—which is why five blade razors can be problematic for some and work magnificently for others.

If you’re experiencing minor issues with your razor but don’t want to swap brands, it may have to do with how you’re shaving—these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology may be enough to fix your shave without requiring you to buy anything new.

If you have the time, or if you appreciate ritual and aesthetics, consider trying an old-school safety razor with a double-edged blade. These hefty, steel cutting tools and their ultrasharp, economical blades have a welcome learning curve and sit at the center of a shaving culture that turns the experience into something beyond a quick removal of facial hair. People prone to razor bumps—which occur when tightly curled facial hair grows inward, causing irritation or infection—do especially well with safety razors.

After five years of long-term testing, we’re confident that the Braun Series 7 remains the best electric razor to remove facial hair.

For this guide, we narrowed our testing pool down to cartridge razor systems—multi-blade units where you buy the handle once, then refill it with disposable cartridges. In recent years, shave subscription plans have given Gillette and Schick some competition. Dollar Shave Club—which rebrands razors made by Korean personal care giant Dorco—and Harry’s, which imports blades from a factory it owns in Germany—are the best known plans, and they’ve led Gillette and other razor makers to offer similar programs and even cut prices on their own cartridges. At the same time, the historically high price of name-brand razor cartridges has led to an increase in the number of generic and house-brand cartridge systems.

We primarily looked at razors with refills that run around $2 a cartridge, which we think is a fair price for most shavers—but a bargain is only a bargain if you get a good shave for your money, and two bucks can buy a good shave, but it can also buy a horrendous one. We compiled a list of the most important features of a good razor:

While we considered blade durability, it ended up not being a deciding factor because it varies substantially from person to person. How long a blade lasts depends on your particular hair and shaving cadence: If you have very coarse whiskers, you’re going to wear out blades more quickly. Gillette claims its blades last up to a month, where Dollar Shave Club pushes subscribers to change blades weekly.

We first tried more than 30 different cartridge systems, ranging from double-blade systems up to Dorco’s seven-bladed beast. It was fairly easy to eliminate some: cheaper store brands that, for example, used quick-rusting carbon steel blades, rather than stainless.

One thing we’ve learned about shaving is that every face is different. So we enlisted a diverse crew of testers with various levels of beard growth, coarseness, and shaving frequency.

Once we eliminated obvious non-contenders, we sent 11 razors out to seven testers (plus our guide writers). We spent two months with the razors, comparing them on alternating sides of our faces or on alternating days. We asked each tester to name their favorite razors, identify a clear favorite (if they had one), and single out anything they truly found heinous.

This classic razor’s three widely spaced blades provide the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. Its handle is comfortable and well designed, and replacement blades are relatively affordable.

After all those months of shaving, our pick is the same as it’s been for the past seven years: The Gillette Mach3 continues to provide the best balance of speed, smoothness, and safety. The Mach3’s simple, round handle is easy to grip and maneuver, and its three blades offer a close shave without over-irritating the skin or getting clogged with hair. And the price of Mach3 blades—$2 per cartridge or less, whether you buy them online or in a store—came close to, or even beat, shave club rivals, and the Mach3 shaved better than those competitors.

Six out of our nine testers named the Mach3 among their top three razors, and two named it a favorite. That’s one fewer than the Gillette Fusion5, but the Mach3 is significantly cheaper, and most of our testers found it to be the best balance of comfort and performance. It’s “like shaving with an old friend,” one tester said. “Very familiar feel, easy to clean.” The Mach3 was the only razor we tested that truly elicited deep, positive passion: “God, I love this razor,” another tester said. “Its hinge works as I want it to, and it doesn’t catch my face as I use it.”

Much of the Mach3’s performance advantage comes from having less in a world of more. The three blades make for a smaller cartridge head with a little more room between the blades than what five- and six-blade models have. The smaller head means sports-car like maneuverability along your chin and mustache area. Compared with the larger Fusion, that’s a plus. And a major benefit of having three blades is that they’re spread wider apart. This means spent shaving cream and cut whiskers are more easily washed away when rinsed between strokes—unlike the Fusion5, which packs five blades into an only slightly larger head, or the six-bladed Dollar Shave Club and Barbasol cartridges. Some testers even found that it gave a closer shave than the five-blade razors, though most didn’t. “I was very surprised by this razor when I first used it,” a tester wrote. “Although it has the fewest blades, it gave me the closest shave from all razors with the fewest rinse-outs.”

One of the things we liked most about the Mach3 is its handle, which has a more traditional round shape, compared with the toothbrush-like contours you’ll find on some competing models. To us, a solid, round handle equals more maneuverability, and others praised the handle’s simple cylindrical shape. That said, one tester didn’t like the Mach3’s handle, saying that he felt it put the blade at an “unnatural angle.”

Finally, there’s price. When we first recommended the Mach3, cartridges ran about $3 each, and we thought that was a good deal. Today, Mach3 cartridges cost even less: about $2 if you buy them in packs of eight or more. There’s been a lot of debate online as to whether Gillette has reduced the quality of those cartridges to meet that price. With all the different versions of the Mach3 blades, there’s no doubt that some reformulation has taken place—but Dan managed to get at least two weeks of daily, heavy beard removal out of the current iteration of Mach3 cartridges before he felt a significant difference in smoothness. That aligns with Gillette’s predicted cartridge life of 15 good shaves.

Gillette has simplified the brand’s previously expansive lineup, with just two blade versions in 2019: the standard Mach3 and the slightly pricier Mach3 Turbo. The handles are cosmetically different but functionally the same: The difference is—at least on paper—in the blades. According to Gillette, the Turbo blades are better at fighting irritation and have a more advanced lubricating strip. However, Gillette’s website says that both products have the same blade quality—and in our preliminary tests, we didn’t see or feel any difference between the two.

The biggest downside most of our testers reported was that it took longer to get a close shave with three blades than with Fusion’s five. “Extra strokes,” said one tester. But we’re talking a matter of seconds to get those extra strokes accomplished, and not everyone will find five blades to be quicker if the extra time needed to rinse those blades is factored in. One other negative came from a user who’d previously loved the now-discontinued Mach3 Sensitive, which used a thinner blade with a different coating. “The shave felt pretty rough and not especially close,” that tester added.

This razor’s five closely packed blades meant smoother shaves for some of our testers, and it has a trimming blade for fine edges. But it clogs easily, and the replacement heads cost twice as much as our pick’s.

The Fusion5 is fast, smooth, and has great ergonomics. It shaves closer than the Mach3 but requires more frequent rinsing, so if you prioritize smoothness above all else and don’t mind spending more time between strokes, it may work for you. Our testers who liked it really loved it, many saying that it gave them the closest shave of any of the razors in our test pool. But Fusion is also expensive, around twice the price of the Mach3.

The Fusion5 got more top-three votes than any other razor we tested: Six of our nine testers placed it in that ranking. On the other hand, it garnered more negative comments, with some saying the higher blade count scraped against their skin, or the large head was harder to maneuver. But for the majority of the complaints, the issue was that the five densely packed blades had to be rinsed more frequently. Typical was a comment from tester Brent Butterworth: “The Fusion5 gives me a close shave, but I would say that I did have to do a few more passes compared with the Mach3, [because] it needed repeated rinsing.”

Space those blades closer together, and you’ll need to clean them more often. You can’t defy physics.

"The edge trimmer was a necessity for me, and the blades wear incredibly well," one tester said. "I’m able to get way more than the recommended life out of these blades, and the open construction on the back meant that wash-through was easy, and I never wound up with a bunch of hair clogging up the spaces between blades.”

All Fusion cartridges have five blades as well as a sixth cutting edge—used for trimming and precision grooming—at the top of the cartridge. They also all have a lubricating strip. How much lubricant is on that strip, and where the strip is placed, is a key difference between cartridges. Also, one of the varieties has a strip that has a cooling sensation. Fusion handles differ by how they pivot, bend, and vibrate; there’s also a bulky Fusion handle that adds a beard and stubble grooming attachment.

We picked the basic, non-vibrating Fusion5 because it is a good place to start. Though the Fusion ProGlide and ProGlide Shield are sold as different razors, they use functionally the same handle—one with a ball-shaped pivoting mechanism (the ProGlide handle has black accents; the ProGlide Shield handle is trimmed in yellow). The true difference between the two is in the cartridges. The ProGlide Shield adds a second, lower lubricating strip and a finer guide (shaving term: comb) for maneuvering your whiskers into the blades. We don’t think you need either of them to get the full benefit of the Fusion5 experience. Again, you can mix and match, and with so many different possible permutations, you stay lathered in whisker novelty for a while.

Add price to all this—Fusion blades can cost as much as $4 each if you buy them at the drugstore (they’re cheaper on Amazon, but again, beware of counterfeits)—and the Fusion, good as it can be for many, doesn’t end up as our main choice. But if the Fusion works for you—especially if you need or like the trimmer attachment—you’ll get the fastest, smoothest shave out there.

If you want a more-customizable, cartridge-razor–like experience (and are willing to pay top dollar): The up-to-three-blade Leaf razor is billed as a plastic-free alternative to a standard multi-blade disposable-cartridge model like our picks. Chiefly, it is just that. But shaving with it is also in some ways similar to shaving with a more traditional safety razor.

What sets the Leaf apart—from, say, a double-edged Merkur—is a staggered three-blade head that looks almost identical to what you’d find on a drugstore razor, rendered in sleek and weighty metal. Rather than using a disposable head that you throw out each time you need a replacement, the Leaf takes three individual single-edge blades that you can then recycle, either through the company or locally.

The blades are slotted into the Leaf’s flexible, spring-loaded head, a design that amounts to a shave similar to what you get with a Mach3: the same closeness, the same comfort, and the same ability to adjust to the curves of the face, head, or body. Since you load each of the blades individually, you can tinker with the shave of the razor to your heart’s content. You can put all three blades in, for the closest shave possible; use just one, to go as easy on your skin as you can; or use the first and last slot, to allow lots of room for hair to wash away. Combined with the number of blade brands available (all of which have different prices, sharpnesses, and longevity), that versatility creates a lot of room for you to dial in the precise shave you’re going for.

It’s pricey, though. The razor alone regularly costs $84. A starter kit—including the razor, 50 single-edge blades, and a tin for storing spent blades—is $124. (Leaf also makes a single-edge razor, which we haven’t tested.)

The weirdest competition to our picks are shadow offerings by Gillette itself. Take, for example, the Gillette3 and Gillette5. These use Mach3- and Fusion5-compatible cartridges on different handles. In the case of the Gillette5, the cartridges are significantly cheaper (around $2 each, or half the price of the Fusion5, while the Gillette3 blades are about 30¢ less than the Mach3’s). However, our testers noted more irritation with the Gillette3 and Gillette5 cartridges than with the Mach3 and Fusion5 and absolutely hated the handles, which use what Gillette calls Aqua Grip. This design consists of a gel-like series of bands around the handles that, in theory, are supposed to give the user a firmer hold on the razor—whereas we found the opposite. “Despite the name I found the Aqua Grip handle to be maybe the slipperiest possible design,” wrote one tester. You don't have to use the Aqua Grip, and shouldn’t; Gillette3 blades work on Mach3 handles, and Gillette5 on Fusion5 handles.

The big question is how close the Gillette3 is to the Mach3, and the Gillette5 to the Fusion5. The Gillette5 doesn’t have a trimmer blade, which we see as a good reason to buy Fusion. But you pay almost double for that accessory. The triple-blade Gillette3 cartridges are much closer in appearance and function to the Mach3, but they’re also much closer in price, so we don’t see a good reason to mate the Gillette3 blades with a Mach3 handle, given that the Gillette3 cartridges were more irritating to our testers’ faces.

In 2019, Gillette introduced another version to the Fusion line: the SkinGuard. Though it uses nearly the same handle as the standard Fusion5 (no FlexBall technology), the blade—which Gillette says is designed for sensitive skin—is a radical departure. Like the Fusion ProGlide Shield cartridges, SkinGuard cartridges have lubricating strips above and below the blades. But the big difference is that the SkinGuard cartridges contain only two blades. The blades are more widely spaced than even the Mach3’s, though they’re separated by a pair of ladder-shaped plastic combs—the Fusion ProShield cartridge has a similar mechanism at its bottom, but we’ve never seen a razor with two of them—which are meant to gently guide hair into the blade.

What’s interesting about the SkinGuard line is that Gillette promises a less-close shave with them: “Due to the blades’ position,” a company press release states, “hair is only pulled and cut up to two times in each stroke at the surface of the skin. In comparison, many multi-blade razors use each blade to gently tug the hair outside the follicle, trimming each hair in rapid succession while they remain extended. Once the blades pass and the hair retracts, it has been trimmed below the surface of the skin. This kind of close shave is optimal for many men, but for others can contribute to skin irritation or a propensity for ingrown hairs.” SkinGuard cartridges, which are compatible with all Fusion handles, are worth considering if you experience folliculitis when shaving.

Introduced in 2020, Gillette’s Planet Kind is a five-blade cartridge razor on a comfortably grippy handle made from 60% recycled plastic. Its packaging is also made from 85% recycled plastic and paper, and both the handle and spent cartridges are recyclable through TerraCycle. However, it’s available only through a subscription (you can cancel at any time), and it’s typically more expensive compared with our picks: $10 for the starter kit and $10 for each four-count cartridge refill.

After years of attempts, Gillette released the Heated Razor, a model intended to recreate the experience of a hot-towel shave at home. With a thicker, longer handle and replaceable cartridges, the razor quickly heats and creates a relatively consistent experience, according to our testers. However, they were not impressed by it overall.

Gillette’s Sensor razor line is ancient even compared with the Mach3, having been introduced during a time known as the 1980s, an age when men allowed their chest hair to range upward and connect, like the vines covering the walls of a respected university, to their facial hair. The old-school line is just fine, even admirably simple but didn’t make our final cut because it’s not easy to find in stores, it’s hard to find legitimate listings online, and the blades appear to be made of chromium-coated carbon steel, not stainless, so we don’t think they’ll last as long or give as smooth a shave over time.

Dollar Shave Club was the first subscription service to disrupt traditional shaving, and it got Gillette to significantly lower prices on its existing products. But we couldn’t make it a pick for a simple reason: Though three testers named its six-blade flagship model as a favorite, an equal number described it as irritating and uncomfortable. Still, DSC’s flagship six-blade (that’s right! six!) razor got three top-three votes, and several reviewers especially liked the razor’s heavy, ergonomic handle (think: toothbrush-like). You pay $2.25 per cartridge on a weekly cartridge replacement plan (DSC also offers a cheaper four-blade cartridge plan; all DSC handles work with both the six- and four-blade cartridges).

Dollar Shave Club’s product is manufactured by Dorco, which also makes the nearly identical six-blade club razor for Barbasol, maker of the famed red, white, and blue can of shave cream.

Barbasol’s club beats DSC’s in two ways: simplicity and price. The handles and blades are similar to but not exactly the same as DSC’s, and our testers viewed both as slightly less comfortable than the DSC equivalents. However, Barbasol does have one rugged angle covered: It is a title sponsor of Major League Fishing.

The DSC/Barbasol six-blade and trimmer unit can also be purchased directly as the Dorco Pace 6, so you can simply replace the cartridge when you need to rather than as a subscription for around the same price. Dorco also offers the Pace 7, with seven blades (plus a trimmer). Unfortunately, adding a seventh blade is like adding a seventh ring of hell (for the record, Dante posited nine, so razor makers still have a journey ahead).

Rather than securing itself to a pivoting axis, the way most modern razors do, the Harry’s cartridge attaches with a flexy rubber pseudo-hinge that bends when you press it against your skin. It feels totally backwards, something several of our testers noted: “Flexible,” one noted, “but in the wrong direction.”

Harry’s has upgraded its blades since 2015 by making them out of stainless steel, instead of carbon steel. And Harry’s smooth orange Truman handle—it looks like it’s made from lovely, old-school Bakelite—is gorgeous (it also comes in dark blue and olive). But smooth is also slippery, and we prefer Harry’s pricier Winston handle, which is made of heavier metal and has a better grip surface. Either way, you end up with the flawed Harry’s cartridge design.

Today’s Schick Hydro 5 comes in three iterations, with different formulations for the lubricating strip. Unfortunately the strip is the worst part of the razor: The Hydro 5 is comfortable, shaves fairly close, and rinses well, but the strip turns into a gooey mess after a couple of shaves. “Snail slime,” one tester wrote. “Very unpleasant.” (The Hydro 5 also includes a trimmer blade, though you might not notice it, since it is hidden behind a flip-back cover.)

Priced about the same as the Mach3, the Defender is another club/disruption-attempting shaver that’s getting a lot of online promotion right now. Its primary attribute is that its triple-bladed cartridges are spaced more widely apart for greater rinsability. The concept works—detritus flushes right out—but that width, along with a somewhat Harry’s-like reverse flex mounting system, also made the Defender the only razor that consistently left me with nicks and cuts. We did like the razor’s handy, built-in suction shower mount.

Bic’s Made For You, a five-blade cartridge razor, got mixed reviews from our panel. Testers with coarse or thick hair tended to dislike this razor, comparing it unfavorably against both the Fusion5 and the Mach3. But one of our panelists who has a lighter beard said the Made For You performed better for him than our picks. We suspect that the more-acute angle of the blades could give a much closer shave to those without a thick beard but would present more trouble for people with thicker, coarser hair. The Made For You’s head is less flexible compared with the Fusion5’s, which makes for a stiffer, less comfortable shaving experience. (Testers who used this razor to shave body hair were similarly unimpressed.)

Dan Koeppel is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He specializes in deep dives on topics ranging from treadmills to razors. His books include Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, and he received a James Beard Award for his writing on bananas. He is also a screenwriter whose credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Justin Redman is an associate staff writer covering sleep for Wirecutter. A poor sleeper for many years, he hopes to help others (and himself) reap the benefits of better, more comfortable sleep. He has previously been published in The Hill and The Credits, and he has blogged about the NBA for WizardsXTRA.

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The Best Men’s Razors (for Any Face) for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

3 Blade Razor Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).