Need a new razor!
July 9, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I need a new razor/shave cream solution that will work on a weird beard and sensitive skin.

So I have been using a Braun series 7 electric, because I found that it generally did a good job on my stubble, which is sparse, wiry and grows in all sorts of directions. I could make multiple passes over an area without excessive irritation, and all was good.

It's given up the ghost finally, between a battery that isn't charging and a base that won't seal properly and leaks cleaning solution everywhere all the time.

I've decided that I'm willing to give blades a try again, but rather than going to Costco and picking up the first mega-blade-pack I find, I thought I would see what opinions are on the current crop of razors. All I know is that they all seem to come with cartridges that have more blades in them than a regiment of Hussar cavalry.

Complicating things is my extremely sensitive skin. The Braun shaved pretty close, but rarely nicked or irritated me too badly, and I could follow up with Nivea sensitive skin balm for a good comfortable shave. I know that shave gel/cream of choice makes a difference in this so I'd appreciate advice on that too.

Thanks MeFites!
posted by WinnipegDragon to Shopping (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Old-school single-blade might be worth a try: Badger & Blade's forum has threads devoted to similar situations. In general terms, to get the most out of blades -- even the big-name, multi-blade "systems" -- you need to slow down and devote time to prep.
posted by holgate at 10:36 AM on July 9, 2011

With sensitive skin you are really going to want to stay with electric. Blades are a nicer, closer shave but if you need multiple passes you are in for irritation.

Try shaving after a hot shower, it can really help to soften the skin.

Note: i'm not a man but married to one with sensitive skin.
posted by saradarlin at 10:36 AM on July 9, 2011

I've recently started shaving again (sensitive skin) and I've been using this bad boy. I don't know if this is me falling for marketing bullshit, but between the vibration -- it doesn't stay in any one spot long enough to cut, it seems -- and the ten thousand blades -- I don't have to drag it over the same spot over and over again to get rid of my 5-o'clock-shadow-at-10-AM thick beard -- it has completely eliminated nicks. Outside of my Adam's apple (which is weird and pointy) I haven't seen a drop of blood or felt rash-y.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on July 9, 2011

(Also, I only shave after a long shower, letting the hair get softer so there's more cutting and less pulling/resistance.)
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on July 9, 2011

This is going to sound weird, but it works for me. A month ago I ran out of shaving soap and substituted the following routine:

After a hot shower, I immediately rub a couple of teaspoons of olive oil into my stubble. Once that's done, I run a sink full of hot water, put a teaspoon of Palmolive dish soap in my palm, wet my badger-hair brush in the sink, and then whip up a lather with the Palmolive soap. I put this on my beard with the brush and shave with the grain, then repeat the process and shave against the grain.

So far this has been the best shaving experience I've ever had. I usually have some pretty severe razor burn, but not with the Palmolive and olive oil.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:48 AM on July 9, 2011

If you have sensitive skin, try using Shaving Oil as an undercoat, then put the proper lather/foam/gel on top of that.

I use a double-edged razor, shaving soap and shaving brush myself. If you go the brush route, a cheap synthetic seems to me just as good as a badger hair brush.

I found the Wilkinson Sword Protector least likely to leave cuts, though it's not the closest. Not sure if a double-edged will be harder on your skin, but no-name generics are cheap if you want to try, and nearly as good as big names.

If you're used to electric, remember not to apply any pressure. Just glide it along the surface as gently as you can.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:57 AM on July 9, 2011

If you're getting into double-edge old school safety razors, let me make a few suggestions about which blades to use:

Start with Merkurs. They're good quality, but not terribly sharp. You can make mistakes, get a decent shave, and not slice yourself up. (You'll never really hurt yourself with a DE, but cuts do happen.)

From there, it gets a little murky. There are many brands that people like, and it gets a little idiosyncratic. My personal experiences:
-Derbys are sharp, but a little harsh.
-Ditto with Dorcos
-Crystals are sharp, smooth, and give great shaves, but don't last very long. I get about 3-4 shaves out of them before they start to drag.

Eventually, if you really like this kind of shaving, work your way up to Feather blades. They're more expensive, but they're unbelievably sharp and they last as long as two weeks, giving quality shave after quality shave. Just don't start out with them.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 11:29 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Old-school single-blade might be worth a try

Yeah, I'm a huge fan of those. The single-edge blades are cheap and shave close. Plus you can use them to chop up ILLEGAL DRUGS later. I use mine with just water, and it works great on the unbearded parts of my face.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:51 AM on July 9, 2011

I've always had a problem with sensitive skin and ingrown hairs. After years of trial and error, I finally found the Bump Fighter razor and it's all I ever use. The cartidges are specially made to keep the blade just a little bit off the skin. So if you want a "baby smooth" shave this is not the blade for you. It does help prevent irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs, and the tradeoff is worth it, if that is an issue for you.

I also use either Bump Patrol or Billy Jealousy shave gel.
posted by The Deej at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have quite sensitive skin and coarse curly hair that grows in all directions. I've found that the Gillette Mach 3 is far superior for me to old-fashioned safety razors. As for shaving cream, I use a decent badger-hair brush and Proraso, an Italian shaving cream. They have a sensitive skin version, but I use the standard kind that comes in a green tube.

Here are a couple links for buying Proraso, which is often hard to find in stores.
posted by maxim0512 at 1:10 PM on July 9, 2011

NIvea shaving gel
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:44 PM on July 9, 2011

If you do stick with electric, try a Panasonic with a linear motor.
posted by twblalock at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2011

I recently switched from commercial shaving cream to shaving soap applied with a badger-hair brush. I've never looked back. I have pretty sensitive skin as well, but I have found success doing two passes: lather up and shave in the direction the hair grows, which gets most of it but leaves a low stubble; rinse, lather up again, and shave again against the grain, which gets it nice and smooth. It's really important to get your skin, and the hair, soft before you start. It's most convenient for me to shave right after I shower, but you can also use a hot towel--hold it on your face for a few minutes, and get it hot again if it starts to cool down. Another trick is to lather up and then wait a few minutes before you start shaving.

I have a Vulfix pure badger brush that I bought from You might want to get a "best" or "super" grade brush--which are more expensive, but softer.

I also love my whiskey skin quench aftershave balm from Portland General Store. Nothing like traditional aftershave: it actually feels good when you put it on. And it smells like whiskey!
posted by bokinney at 4:16 PM on July 9, 2011


Single blades are the worst thing imaginable for you and you'll end up with a forest of ingrown hairs and the resulting abscesses. Please avoid, get the Fusion and don't go back and forth over your whiskers.

You don't need shaving cream.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:52 PM on July 9, 2011

Man what a range of opinions here...

I think the biggest thing for me might be prep. Hot shower, good cream, good brush. I'll start from there.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2011

Shave Secret has all the packaging charm of an as seen on TV product, but it's provided the best shave of my life (tried with both a Gillette Fusion and a Wesihi DE). The turning point in my quest to achieve optimum smoothness was when I began shaving in the shower. It might be worth investing in a mirror, but I've never had any trouble shaving by feel alone. Shave Secret (or any similar shave oil, but this one is available at Wallly World for $5) is great for this as you need only a few drops, and the more water you get on your face, the smoother the shave. As a bonus, you do not need to put anything on afterwards as it is functionally its own aftershave (although I like to use lotion to keep unify softness with my smoothness).
posted by duomo at 7:53 AM on July 11, 2011

A followup:

I tried a shave oil, badger brush, shave soap combo after a shower, using a Fusion Power razor. Worked great everywhere except the base of my neck which immediately became rashy and incredibly sore for days.

I tried for three weeks to see if things would improve but it didn't.

I'm back to an electric, specifically a Panasonic ES-LA93 and I am incredibly happy with it. Smooth and close shave, no irritation, better cleaning design, no leaks.

I'm just not a blade guy it seems.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

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