Finding the best straight razor for sensitive skin is crucial in a world where three guys suffer from post-shave skin irritation every day, and almost half of all Americans suffer from sensitive skin.1, 2
But out of all the different kinds of razors, why opt for a single-edge cutthroat blade than a convenient disposable one?
It’s all about the blades and the various factors defining a refreshing and comfortable shave or clean shave.
- Shaving on Sensitive Skin
- Choosing a Razor for Sensitive Skin
- Best Kinds of Razors for Sensitive Skin
- Are Straight Razors the Best for Sensitive Skin?
Shaving on Sensitive Skin
It sucks to have sensitive skin, especially when you are so eager to get on with your first shave but it is what it is: Life throws you a punch. You just have to roll with it.
Experts don’t know for sure because there is a lot of stuff about skin sensitivity that they still don’t know about. Most of us think that skin irritation is when our skin turns red in response to getting in contact with a skincare product. But according to dermatologists, skin irritation is a catch-all term for just about any reason that your skin is flaring up.
“Sensitive skin is more about easily inflamed skin that’s more reactive to certain ingredients or products. Allergic skin reactions can happen to anyone, not just someone with sensitive skin” said dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu, MD of the Derm Institute in California.3
That being said, skin irritation affects men and women in different ways.
Men’s skin is more sensitive than women’s
A man’s skin is pre-dispositioned to be thicker than a woman’s because of our male hormones, but this does not mean that it’s tougher. In reality, our skin actually makes us more sensitive to ultraviolet rays.
Scientists call this condition photosensitivity. Regular unprotected exposure to the sun’s UV rays breaks down the skin proteins, causing redness and stinging.1 This is why a greater percentage of men are diagnosed with skin cancers than women; it’s also the culprit behind why men tend to age faster.
Men’s skin dries out easily
If there is anyone who should never forget about moisturizing, it should be us, men. Yes, our skin may be thick and tough, but it also naturally drier than a woman’s. Exposed to extreme environmental conditions, our facial skin easily cracks and flakes. That's why sometimes, you'll get beard rash if you haven't shaved in a while.
Nature offsets this by making men secrete sebum four times more than women. Sebum is an oily substance produced by our skin’s oil glands to help lubricate the skin. Unfortunately, it makes men susceptible to large pores and acne.
If that last piece of info moved you more than the idea of self-hygiene, you’d probably be raring to go out and head to the store to get your razor. But first, you have to learn what will work best for you.
While it may look smooth to the naked eye, our skin is rough terrain, microscopically speaking. There will be hills and valleys on the skin layer. The blade runs through this uneven surface when one shaves, creating friction. The friction is what usually causes irritation. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll get more than twice the expected degree of irritation.
So the goal here for every shaver with sensitive skin is to minimize the irritation. And that means preparing your skin very well and choosing the best razor to shave with.
Choosing a Razor for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, we know you loathe shaving. You might even have given up on finding a razor that works, and you just roll with whatever burning and itching happen after clearing your facial mane.
You do not need to hate shaving at all. You need to know what makes the best razor for shaving sensitive skin by considering the number of blades, lubricating features, steel material, and sharpness. You do not only type razors on Amazon and buy the first thing you see.
Number of blades
Everyone, man or woman, especially beginners, started shaving with that iconic blue disposable plastic razor and some also use the most modern shaving tool or what we all know as the cartridge razor.
Gillette was smart enough to make everyone think that shaving with three or more blades is more efficient and will give you a closer shave than a single-blade razor. On the contrary, it will not.
If you have sensitive skin, disposable razors should be at the bottom of the list of razors you are willing to yield on your face. Why? Because it is what it is—shaving with three blades in one pass, which is equivalent to shaving with a single blade in three passes but doing it all at once!4
Imagine the stress and disturbance that imposes on your skin.
Instead, go for single-bladed razors, like safety and straight razors. These traditional razors can give you a clean shave in a single pass and are easier to clean, removing all the gunk in between blades that can further irritate your skin.
Alright, shaving with a cartridge razor is a convenience that is difficult to miss. Plus, shaving with a straight or safety razor includes going through a learning curve that beginners may not have time or the guts for.
If you do choose to use a disposable razor for shaving sensitive skin, make sure that it has lubricating strips or features. But remember, there is no security or guarantee that it will give you the cleanest and closest shave. After all, you are still gliding three or more blades on your skin.
Also, whatever you do, never shave dry using a trimmer or an electric razor. Use your favorite shaving cream or soap, preferably with natural ingredients, to create a lather.
The razor blade is what defines the shave, and you need to determine what it is made of and how strong or hard it is to get your money’s worth fully. Not only that, but some razors can contain allergens that induce horrific irritations on your skin.
The best steels for razor blades are high-quality medical-grade stainless steel, carbon steel, Teflon-coated stainless steel, and Damascus steel—if you are feeling fancier.
Medical-Grade Stainless Steel
Healthcare professionals also use razors for procedures, and the blades’ manufacturers indicated these for surgical preparation use or anything similar to avoid surgical site infections.5 The most common medical-grade blades are single-sided blades, double-sided blades, or disposable prep razors, which have precision and polished blades that offer a clean-close and sterile shave for everyday shaving while reducing skin irritation.6
Carbon steel is a kind of steel containing amounts of the element carbon, and the lower the amount, the less brittle but, the less hard it is. High-carbon steel is best for razor blades because it is robust, tough, and resistant to wear, making it retain its edge despite multiple uses.7
Teflon-Coated Stainless Steel
Blade manufacturers use coatings on the steel to protect it from corrosion and rust. However, the most popular type of coating for double-edge or DE disposable blades is Teflon style.
Teflon-coated stainless steel is easier to manufacture, cheaper to make, and can even improve the blade’s sharpness.8 Hence, it is the most efficient razor blade for sensitive skin and is perfect for double edge safety razors.
Forged using a 2,000-year-old technique, razor blades with Damascus steel are known to be the sharpest and strongest. It has a perfect blend of high-carbon steel layered 72 times to achieve that distinct damascene or water pattern.
High-quality Damascus blades can be forgiving for those shaving on sensitive skin because they can retain their edge for so long despite the number of shaves. It can glide smoothly on top of the skin with its cutthroat edge, cutting in only a single pass and lessening the friction between blade and skin.
Whether you have sensitive skin or not, it is best to stay away from razors that have nickel. Studies have shown that “Hypersensitization to nickel is one of the most common contact allergies in the modern world and it is considered to be a major cause of contact dermatitis” because it causes a disrupted skin barrier.9, 10
Best Kinds of Razors for Sensitive Skin
Those with sensitive skin are more careful in choosing their razor than others. Different razors give varying post-shave skin reactions, wherein your tool of choice may or may not contribute to the level of inflammation.
If you have sensitive skin, here are the best razors you should try:
Anything from Gillette's collection of disposable and cartridge razors that have their innovative Lubrastrip can offer a comfortable shaving experience on sensitive skin. Lubrastrip has a lubricious water-soluble polymer made of Poly(ethylene oxide), Polyethylene glycol, Polystyrene resins, and Polyethylene glycol (5) undecyl ether as the main shaving aids.11
The safety razor design gives a sense of familiarity to those used to shave with cartridge razors. However, the blade in the safety razor’s head does not lay at a constant angle and instead shifts. As a result, many men are scared of aggressively nicking themselves.
With that, the best safety razors for sensitive skin are those like the Parker Variant Adjustable Safety Razor, which has a customizable comb feature that defines how much the blade’s edge is visible. The lower the number, the milder the shave you’ll get—just what anyone with sensitive skin would enjoy.
Notorious for their cutthroat edge, you will think that straight razors are a big no when choosing a razor for sensitive skin. On the contrary, it is the creme de la creme of the bunch. The straight razor’s single-edge blade is perfect for getting a close shave in one pass, which lessens irritations, and thus making them the best razors for beginners too.
Straight razors are made of the most premium and hardest steels you can ever find. They are like knives, with unyielding sharpness, for your facial hair. Naked Armor’s straight razors use Japanese steel blades—the same used on samurai blades—and Damascus steel which is both honed to perfection for attending to the shaving needs of any skin type.
Whatever razor you choose to shave with, opt for one that will give you the best value for your money and give your skin the biggest break.
Are Straight Razors the Best for Sensitive Skin?
Let us review the different factors to consider to find the best razor for sensitive skin: it would be wise to choose a quality razor with only a single blade, has lubricating features, and is made of the best steel.
Among the different kinds of razors, the best razor for shaving sensitive skin is a straight razor. It uses a single blade with extremely sharp edges, and it is always made of the most premium materials. Meanwhile, its lubricating agent comes in lathers and oils, which are essential wet shaving components that are better than chemical polyesters.
The other benefits of shaving with a straight razor if you have sensitive skin are getting a close shave, a smooth shave, and lots of moisturizing properties.
Because it only uses a single blade, you can easily bevel the edge of a straight razor on your skin to achieve the perfect angle. Finding the ideal blade-to-skin ratio is crucial if you want to cut the hair exactly at skin level to get a close shave.
Achieving close shave results in getting the smoothest shave because it lessens the amount of pass you need to make, therefore reducing friction which will then cause razor burn. Also, shaving at skin level prevents razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and tugging and pulling of the hair, which can increase the micro-abrasions on the surface that may, later on, get infected.
Straight razors work amazingly with wet shaving products, which is why the barbers rage about them, especially for coarse hair. Using a natural pre-shave oil and shave soap for lather creates protective layers between the sharp blade and your skin, safeguarding it from accidental cuts.12 These products also have natural plant and fruit extracts that are all beneficial to the skin.
Sensitive skin reacts best with traditional shaving, and using a straight razor basically lets you get the whole package and a barber-like shave at home. You have a mild blade partnered with shaving products with ideal ingredients for your skin type.
If you are a beginner in shaving, straight razors most likely intimidate you. The proper way of shaving with a straight razor involves learning the right grip, stropping and honing your blade, applying lather, and shaving within the grain. Afterward, do not forget to apply aftershave, you can most definitely disinfect, freshen up, and cool down any inflammations.
To get the most benefits, use a complete straight razor kit. Choose one from Naked Armor’s elite line of kits and experience the most comfortable shave ever. Each contains a carefully curated collection of wet shaving essentials including a high-quality 61-62 HRC straight razor, organic shave soap, leather strop, and more.
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- How Sensitive Skin is Different in Women and Men. Health Grades. https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/skin-hair-and-nails/how-sensitive-skin-is-different-in-women-and-men. November 20, 2022
McGehee RE Jr, Rossby SP, Cornett LE. Detection by northern analysis of alpha 1-adrenergic receptor gene transcripts in the rat. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1990;74(1):1-9. doi:10.1016/0303-7207(90)90200-r
Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2178106/
- S. Bernstein. Is Sensitive Skin a Myth?. WebMd. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/sensitive-skin-myth#1. January 29, 2018
- M. Shah. Why One Blade is Better Than Five. Supply Co. https://supply.co/blogs/journal/why-1-blade-is-better-than-5. August 12, 2020
- Can a shaving razor blade be classified as a medical device. Elsmar. https://elsmar.com/elsmarqualityforum/threads/can-a-shaving-razor-blade-be-classified-as-a-medical-device.42306/. July 13, 2010
- Surgical Skin Prep Razors. Vitality Medical. https://www.vitalitymedical.com/prep-razors.html.
- K. Beck. High Carbon Steel Properties & Uses. Sciencing. https://sciencing.com/high-carbon-steel-properties-uses-7596348.html. February 16, 2020
- Top 10 Best Razor Blades For Safety Razors & Double Edge Razors. Bespoke Unit. https://bespokeunit.com/shaving/safety-razor/blades/.
Gergovska M, Darlenski R, Kazandjieva J. Nickel Allergy of the Skin and Beyond. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2020;20(7):1003-1009. doi:10.2174/1871530320666200228124453
Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32108006/
- J. Thyssen, T. Menne, C. Zachariae. Allergic Nickel Dermatitis Caused by Shaving: Case Report and Assessment of Nickel Release from an Electric Shaver. Medical Journals. https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/html/10.2340/00015555-1160#:~:text=Allergic%20nickel%20dermatitis%20caused%20by%20nickel%20release%20from%20an%20electric,a%20high%20specificity%20(10). April 18, 2011
- Skin Engaging Member for Razor Cartridge. Free Patents Online. https://www.freepatentsonline.com/20100122462.pdf
- Why is lather important?. The Shave Den. https://theshaveden.com/forums/threads/why-is-lather-important.45306/