What Is The Best Razor For Sensitive Skin – Was Grandpa Right?

I get it! I really do. Once again, you find yourself staring into the mirror. All the while knowing that the next few minutes are going to be bloody uncomfortable. And remain so for some time afterwards.

Shaving when you have sensitive skin is not something that many blokes look forward to. Redness and inflammation just become an accepted part of their day.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to stay that way! Many of the problems associated with sensitive skin an be easily fixed! A change of razor, and a small tweak of the process can convert your shave from a curse to blessing. When you have the right tools for the job, your mindset towards shaving can change from thoughts of dread, to joyful anticipation.

Maybe we sometimes need to take a step back from our fast paced world and look to the past. Did the razors, brushes and soaps they used decades earlier give men a better, more comfortable shave?

Maybe, Grandpa was right!

What is the best razor for sensitive skin? Together we’ll break down all the aspects of shaving with sensitive skin, and look at the best ways to make your experience far more pleasurable.

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Sensitive Skin

What Causes It?

Our skin was wonderfully designed to keep out things that are going to bug us. However for this natural barrier to work properly, it must contain the right amount moisture. We expose our skin to many things that can dry out or weaken it. Sometimes the irritation your skin suffers, can be just a simple case of genetics (thanks Mum & Dad).

Some of the causes of sensitive skin are:

  • Skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis
  • Overly dry or injured skin that can no longer protect nerve endings, leading to skin reactions
  • Excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors such as sun and wind or excessive heat or cold

Genetic factors, age, gender, and race differences in skin sensitivity are less well-defined but still may play a role in causing skin reactions.

Can You Fix It?

Even before we touch on shaving, there are a couple of things you can do regularly to help heal sensitive skin, and greatly reduce irritation to your face.

Cleansing

From one person to the next, sensitive skin responds differently to different cleansing methods. But most dermatologists agree that highly fragranced soap contains strong detergents, and shouldn’t be used on the face.

Soap-free cleansers such as mild cleansing bars and sensitive-skin bars along with most liquid facial cleansers have less potential for facial skin irritation than soaps.

Moisturising

By using moisturising products, you’ll help your skin hold on to moisture so it resists drying and abrasion.

Avoid Harmful Ingredients

Another way to pamper your visage, is to avoid certain ingredients. You need to be vigilant, as some or all of these might be included in the products you use.

Ingredients to avoid are:

  • Antibacterial or fragranced ingredients
  • Alcohol
  • Retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids

 

 

Razors To Avoid For Sensitive Skin

All razors have their drawbacks in one way or another. But some can definitely have a far greater impact on someone with sensitive skin than others. So what is it about these razors that can have a detrimental effect on their skin?

Electric Shaver

Although they can be a pain in the bum to clean. Because of their convenience and speed, electric shavers are a very popular choice for many men. There is a huge trade off for convenience however, and that is, the quality of the shave & the effect it has on someone with sensitive skin.

Let’s check out some of the disadvantages of using an electric shaver on a sensitive face.

Multiple Passes

The truth is, no matter how good the quality of an electric shaver is, they never shave as closely as a blade. This means that you will find yourself repeatedly going back over the same facial area during your shave. This continued removal of the upper layer of skin cells, will quickly irritate an already dry (and probably itchy) face.

More Shaves

If you have sensitive skin and you own an electric shaver, you’d be over the moon. I can imagine you enthusiastically bounding towards your bathroom door and diving through, ready to whip out your machine for yet another shave! And yes…I’m being sarcastic!

As I touched on in the previous point, electric shavers won’t give you that baby smooth shave we know and love from blades. Simply put, you need to be prepared to pull that sucker out far more than you would a bladed razor. The mathematics is simple men. The more shaving you do, the more redness, burn and discomfort you’ll experience.

Dryness

Some of the more expensive electric shavers out there can be used with water. The majority though, are used without. One of the main causes of sensitive skin is lack of moisture. I know you blokes are smart and don’t need to be Einstein to figure this one out:

Shaving  – H2O = Irritated Skin

Although not as complex as the theory of relativity, it’s just as important to those of us wanting a comfortable shave.

Cutting Action

In most cases, electric shavers do an okay job of cutting through whiskers. They can occasionally tug at the hair, instead of slicing through it. This is not only uncomfortable the moment it happens, but the source of the pulled hair can also contribute to irritation and soreness.

Multi Blade Razor

Like the electric shaver, millions of men find disposable razors to be incredibly convenient and fairly easy to use. Whack some shaving gel on the face, give it a quick pass, and your done. Sounds good right? How could this irritate sensitive skin? In my shaving showdown Safety Razor v Multi Blade, I run through a number of negatives associated with cartridge razors. Not all of these relate to sensitive skin, so I’ll highlight the ones that do.

Let’s check out some of the disadvantages of using a cartridge razor on a sensitive face.

Razor Burn

When you drag 3 to six blades over your face at one time, it’s unavoidable that you’ll remove a high volume of skin cells. If you already suffer from sensitive skin, this will contribute to further redness and irritation.

Ingrown Hairs

As the advertisements tell us, “the first blade lifts the hair”. This is so the following blades can cut the whiskers below the surface. This is a great way to encourage your hair follicles to become imprisoned under your skin. Pimple-like bumps soon follow, leading to further inflammation of your face and neck.

Poor Quality

No matter how state-of-the-art the latest cartridge razor is, the self-lubricating strip tends to disappear after a couple shaves. Plus the blades have a tendency to begin to “drag” on the face after a short period of time. This dragging and lack of lubrication will once again, influence the reaction to the shave.

Razors To Use For Sensitive Skin

Okay now. Enough of all this negativity. What is the best razor for sensitive skin? I could divide these razors into two groups. Straight razors and safety razors. The reason that I’m not, is because the attributes of both are identical if you suffer from sensitive skin.

As well as outlining the benefits of straight and safety razors, I’m going to recommend a few to help you get started.

Straight/Safety Razor

Less Irritation

Yep, you heard it! Less irritation; less razor burn, less shaving bumps, less ingrown hairs. When you’re navigating just one blade over your skin, it stands to reason that your face & neck are subjected to less trauma. Resulting in a more pleasant shaving experience.

My Recommendations

The three razors I have in mind also happen to be fantastic safety razors for beginners. They are considered some of the least aggressive & easiest to use razors available. And will help minimise the effects of shaving with sensitive skin.

  • Merkur 34C Heavy Duty

  • Merkur 23C Long Handle

  • Edwin Jagger DE89L

==> Click here for my review: Safety Razors for Beginners <==

If you have been shaving for while, it’s also worthwhile considering a slant bar razor. Although a little more aggressive, they cut extremely close. Resulting in a lighter touch ans fewer passes.

Shaving Tips For Sensitive Skin

Good Preparation

A good pre-shave routine will go a long way to preparing your face for a more comfortable and irritation free shave.

Good Quality Soap or Cream

A good lubrication can vastly reduce the redness and irritation you can get when shaving. In a previous post, I take a closer look at the many benefits of lathering up with good quality shaving soaps and creams.

==> Click here for my shaving showdown: Soap vs Cream <==

Water Temperature

Ninety nine percent of the wet shaving fraternity shave with hot water. Most of those, suffer with some form of skin irritation. Shaving with cold water can relieve many of the symptoms associated with sensitive skin.

Post-Shave Routine

A thoughtful post shave routine is a great way to keep razor burn and skin irritation at bay. Your face will love you for it!

Conclusion

I don’t know about you, but I reckon that Grandpa was onto something. I have no evidence to support this claim. But I believe it would be a fair bet to assume, that skin sensitivity & shaving ailments were far less common a generation or two ago, than they are today. But then again I could be wrong.

Sometimes, I think we change just for the sake of change.  Often to our own detriment.

Do you have a different way of dealing with sensitive skin when you shave? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Time to get your shave on! 😉

14 thoughts on “What Is The Best Razor For Sensitive Skin – Was Grandpa Right?

  1. carl

    Andrew,

    How is it I have been shaving for so many years and have never given it this much thought.

    You have dived in deep on this one and it’s an eye opener.

    Thanks for all the info, and a nice read

    Reply
  2. simon

    Hey Andrew great post. My skin is very sensitive and although I use an electric shaver it never cuts as smooth. I like this post because there are times like when going out for an evening I wish I still used a razor just to keep it smooth for longer. Gonna have a look at your review of the safety razors to see what my options are. Cheers mate.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Glad I was able to help you out Simon.

      Sensitive skin is a big issue for a lot of blokes. There are some great safety razors out there. They take a little more time than the electric shaver, but the results are fantastic. So it’s time well spent.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  3. ryan

    That was an interesting read. Now that I think about it, back in the the day when I would shave with less blades, my face was less irritated. The more blades I got the more irritated it was. This info is golden, I think I will try going to a single blade, I’ve never tried one before.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Ryan

      I agree mate. Less blades across your face definitely reduce the chance of razor burn, shaving bumps & irritation.

      Once you grab yourself a good quality safety razor and learn how to use it, you’ll notice a huge improvement in your shaving.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  4. Sarah

    Although I don’t have to shave myself, I was looking for some pointers to give my 15 year old son who will need to start soon. I came across this post when researching the best razor to buy for him and this was very helpful. I will send him the link too. Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Kevin O'Keefe

    Wow, some great tips on here!

    I’ve always suffered horribly with sensitive skin and shaving, it was at its worse when I was young and had to use cheap disposables, but even now with expensive ranges like the Gillette range, it’s been an issue.

    But reading that makes me wonder if I should go back to one blade – albeit a half decent one!

    Thanks again for the input, I think I’ll have to keep popping back here for advice every so often.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      You’re welcome Kevin

      So many blokes are rediscovering the benefits & pleasure of classic shaving.

      Time for real men to step up! 😉

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  6. Roger

    Andrew,

    I do have sensitive skin. It’s dry (like my hair, well, what’s left of it!) and I’m prone to eczema. So your post was very interesting to me.

    I used to suffer from chronic razor burn when I used an electric shaver. I was complaining about that one day, and one of my friends pointed out that an electric shaver blade whizzes onto your skin at hundreds of times per minute, while if you use a razor, it’s once!

    Now, as you point out, razors have multiple blades. But I never knew those extra blades meant a greater chance of irritation! Thanks for pointing that out!

    AND, I had no idea I should shave in COLD water! That was a real shocker. Makes things easier, though, since I daily run the water for quite a while waiting for it to get hot. SO, time saver! Cold water it is!

    Finally, the importance of soap can’t be stressed enough. As you point out, getting unscented soaps specifically designed for dry and sensitive skin is a must. I can never seem to remember to moisturize, though! I’ll have to make that a new goal!

    Thanks, Ryan!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Thank for your comments Roger

      You bring up some great points. It’s all those little things that contribute to a more comfortable shave.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  7. Von

    Thank you for sharing this. I do get pimples when I use shaving cream and its very irritating because its hard to shave without it. I started using an electric trimmer, but it doesn’t do a very good job for me.

    Thanks again!

    Reply

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