The best razors for a bump-free shave

Man applying MDacne Soothing Shave cream to face

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by shaving bumps and ingrown hairs 🙋‍♀️.

Irritation from shaving is a super common problem that a lot of people struggle to both treat and prevent—especially those of us with sensitive and acne-prone skin. Shaving with the wrong technique or products can often result in tiny, mean, red, and itchy (a great combination of adjectives) bumps and pimples can pop up on the face, neck, and armpits as well as the bikini area and legs.

The good news is that a combination of the right shaving technique, a good shaving cream, and the right razor blade for your skin can significantly reduce the risk of razor bumps and burns. Read on for dermatologist-recommendations to help achieve smooth, bump-free skin with every shave

What is the best razor for sensitive skin?

You may not realize it, but selecting a razor is actually a pretty personal choice! And we don’t just mean the color of razor you chose. Your razor should be more personalized to match your skin type as well as the area(s) you’re treating.

There are so many types of razors on the market, from manual to electric shavers, trendy “safety razors” and expensive cartridges to cheap, plastic disposables. It can be hard to figure out what’s the best choice for you and your budget. Here how we’d rank the different types of razors from Best (1) Worst (4).

  1. Cartridge Razors: Cartridge razors, the kind where you invest in a handle and replace with new blades every few shaves, are the best option for people with sensitive skin. They’re much easier to handle than safety razors and come with a swiveling/adjustable head to accommodate the angles of your face and body. This helps provide a closer shave and reduce the change of knicks and bumps. In addition, cartridges are generally designed with lubricating strips to help create better conditions for shaving the skin to help reduce irritation.
  2. Safety Razors: These vintage-style razors have recently come back “in vogue” for several good reasons. In theory, they provide a closer shave with fewer passes, which can help lead to less irritation. In addition, the blades themselves last longer, are easy to clean (important for acne-prone skin!)and are much more affordable than cartridges. Plus, they’re more eco-friendly than the cartridge alternatives as they can ultimately be recycled. That being said, safety razors can actually be anything but safe to the unskilled user and require a lot of practice and precision to prevent nicks and cuts. You can expect to require several (if not more bandaids) after your first shot with one of these.

  3. Disposable Razors: Disposable razors are significantly less desirable than multi-use cartridge razors. The handles of multi-use razors usually include and swivel head and will be built with better materials than the disposables alternatives. These pivoting heads allow the razor head to follow the contours of your face/body helping prevent nicks, cuts, and irritation. They’re often poorly designed with low-quality blades and materials and an overall bad idea for sensitive skin!

  4. Electric Shavers: While electric shavers might seem more convenient, they’re pretty much a no-no for anyone with sensitive skin. The main downside of electric shavers is that they are never as sharp or clean as manual razors. In addition, the way they remove the hair (essentially pulling up and “mowing” the hair) tends to cause more skin irritation and has a higher risk for shave bumps. Even with high-end (i.e. $$$) shavers, the electric shave will never be as close as with manual shave.

What are the best razor blades for people with sensitive skin?

There a few factors to consider when one is looking to find the best razor blades for you. These factors include blade quality, quantity, and distribution, handle shape, razor sharpness, and lubrication.

What are the best razors for men?

Man shaving with Gilette Mach 3 razor

  • Gillette Mach 3: This is of the best razors for men with acne-prone skin. Its main advantage is that it has a triple-blade cartridge, which provides the same close shave as five-blade cartridges but is much easier to rinse and clean. This is a great advantage when using thicker, creamy shaving creams, which need to be cleansed from the blades thoroughly after each use to prevent overgrowth of bacteria. In addition to well-spaced high-quality, sharp blades, the Mach 3 razor has a lubricating strip to help hydrate the skin and high-quality, well-balanced handle designed to prevent it from slipping from your hand during shaving. All that is to say...we’re big fans of this option!

  • Schick Hydro 5 Razor: The main advantage of this razor is its Hydrating Gel Reservoir, which is purported to deliver 40% less friction than standard lubricating strips used in other razor cartridges. It contains aloe and vitamin E, which helps keep moisture in the skin even after your shave is complete. However, there’s less space between the five blades of the Schick Hydro 5 Razor, making it harder to clean that the Gillette Mach 3 razor. For this reason, it’s the second-best option in our opinion.

What are the best razors for body hair removal for women?

Woman shaving legs with MDacne Soothing Shave Cream

  • Gillette Venus Extra Smooth: This fabulous razor has five blades for a super- close shave, necessary for short (dare we say, stubble-y) hair on the legs and bikini area. As we mentioned, this can be harder to clean that 3-blade razors but if you’re thorough with cleaning, it’s a great option. It has a reusable handle with a pivoting head and lubricating "moisture ribbon", which helps protect your skin from nicks, cuts, and razor burn. While it may not seem like an important detail, the handle on this razor is super well designed to fit comfortably in your hand, making it easier to reach those tricky spots on the backs of the ankles or under your arms. You can also use it around your bikini line, though you should proceed with extreme caution in this region!

  • Billie: Another great, high-quality razor choice for women is this subscription-based razor, that will both save you money (at an affordable $9.99/month or less) while also saving you a trip to the drugstore. The quality is just as good, if not better than the Gillette Venus. It has a modern design with an easy-to-grip handle, pivoting head, and more space in between the blades for easier cleaning. It’s also Encased in 360° of charcoal shave soap for a smoother glide. Plus (big bonus) it comes with a magnetic “pedestal” to help keep your razor out of puddles, clean, dry.

What is the best razor for shaving the bikini line?

The bikini area tends to be more tricky to treat than other areas so the blade you use for your face and body is not necessarily the best choice for your bikini line.

  • Noxzema Bikini Shave and Trim: this small razor helps provide a safer shave than most regular-sized razors, which is important for sensitive, hard-to-reach areas. In addition to its small size, this razor includes a shea butter lubricating strip and a unique, comb-like protective cover specifically designed to deliver a better shave for extra sensitive skin in hard to reach areas. These are disposable razors, so you'll have to throw the entire shaver away when the blades start to dull.

Is shaving your face good for acne?

Good shaving is an essential part of good skincare, particularly for people with sensitive, acne-prone skin. A manual shave, performed with good technique and with the right tools and products, helps provide a mild manual exfoliating effect on the skin followed by lubrication to help prevent both razor bumps and irritation as well as acne breakouts.

More tips for a better, bump-free shave:

Man applying MDacne Soothing Shave Cream

  1. Use Hot Water: The best time to shave is after a hot shower. The warm/hot water will soften your facial hair (in men) and body hair (in women) and makes it easier to get a close, smooth shave. Doing this also helps open the pores and keep them clean and unclogged—super helpful for acne-prone skin!

  2. Apply a Shave Cream: Shaving foams (and gels that turn into foam) can be convenient to use but could be contributing to your bump problem. Shaving creams, which lathers rather than foam, are a better alternative for people with sensitive skin, as it helps provide irritation-free shaving while leaving skin smooth and hydrated. We’re biased, but the MDacne Soothing Shave Cream is our favorite for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

  3. Use a Sharp Blade: There are several reasons why it’s important to use a sharp blade every time you shave. The first is that sharper blades simply provide a better, closer shave. Additionally, using a dull blade can tug on your hair, ultimately leading to bumps and irritation. Since sharp blades are often “fresher”, they usually have less dirt, grime, and bacteria, which you want to keep away from acne-prone skin. Most quality razor blades can provide up to 10 good shaves. For those who shave daily, it’s a good idea to replace dull blades at least every ten days and more often (every 3 shaves) if you can afford the cost of extra blades each month!

  4. Go the Right Direction: Always shave with the grain of the hair (i.e. in the direction of hair growth. While shaving against the grain does provide a closer shave, it is also more likely to cause in bumps, irritation, and ingrown hairs (also called pseudofolliculitis barbae). One tip for getting a closer shave while using this technique is to do two passes with the grain and then do a third pass against the grain.

  5. Not Too Much Pressure: You might not realize but you might be putting more pressure on your razor than you need to! When shaving with a heavy double-bladed safety razor or a high-quality multi-use use razor, you do not need to apply a lot of pressure on your skin—the weight of the razor will do the job for you. Lighter, disposable cartridge razors do require more pressure, which is one of the reasons why they tend to cause more irritation as well.

  6. Use the Right Angle: The angle that forms between the blade and your skin is super important. One of the benefits of multi-use cartridge razors is that they (usually) have a swivel head that automatically adjusts to match the contours of your face or body. With a safety razor, the angel of the blade depends entirely on how you position the razor with your hands. Therefore, you will need to be extra careful to keep the blade at a ~30-degree angle, which requires attention and precision.

  7. Good Hygiene!: Keep your blade CLEAN! One of the most common causes of shaving bumps is shaving with unclean blades. WIth multi-blade razors, the small spaces between the blades (especially in 5 blade cartridges) tend to accumulate shaving cream, cut hair, and dirt and harbor bacteria between uses. Using a three-blade cartridge and rinsing the blades clean with hot water immediately after use will go a long way in helping prevent irritation.

  8. Moisturize: Use an oil-free moisturizer after shaving is a great way to help soothe the skin and is a much better alternative to once-popular “aftershave”. Alcohol-based aftershave lotions are too irritating to the skin (adding insult to injury) and should not be used by people with sensitive skin. Alternatively, using a small amount of a good oil-free moisturizer can help prevent shaving bumps and is a great idea for people with acne-prone skin. An oil-free moisturizer that contains aloe vera is even better as it helps calms the skin and reduces irritation and redness. Using a shave oil is not the best idea for people with acne-prone skin as these oils can clog your pores and increase the risk of acne breakouts and shaving bumps.

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