When it comes to shaving, the cartridge razor expertly dances between performance and convenience.
The best cartridge razor should not only cut your facial hair with ease, but should also not cause any irritation, razor burn, or razor bumps – like the Gillette Fusion ProGlide cartridge razor.
In this guide, we review some of the best-performing razors currently available.
5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Cartridge Razor
When buying a new cartridge razor, be mindful of the following:
1. Number of Blades
More blades help to displace pressure which leads to a more comfortable shave. However, a razor with more blades will experience a more aggressive hysteresis effect (i.e., lift-and-cut). While this natural phenomenon allows for smoother results, men with particularly curly facial hair may develop ingrown hairs (i.e., razor bumps) if the hair is cut too low. If you are susceptible to razor bumps, consider getting a cartridge razor with three or fewer blades. If razor bumps aren’t a concern, then you can consider a four, five, or six-blade razor.
Once popular a few years ago, battery-powered cartridge razors have not been proven to result in a closer or better shave. Nevertheless, this feature was the center of a 2005 court case filed by Schick (source).
The takeaway: Skip it; you don’t need a battery-powered razor.
3. Lubricating Strips
Lubricating strips or gel pools can provide a great deal of comfort when shaving. Their advantage is especially pronounced if you use a budget shave cream that doesn’t carry slick lubricating properties. In addition, some razors, such as the Gillette ProSheild, provides two lubricating strips – before and after the blades for greater comfort.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, make sure you put more weight on this feature. It is worth noting that the performance of the lubricating strip is directly tied to how often you change your razor blade.
4. Price for Refills
There is no denying that cartridge razors have a high long-term cost of ownership. Therefore, we recommend that you take a moment to do some quick math to get a better idea of the long-term investment.
As we recently learned, the average cartridge will last anywhere from six to 20 shaves.
5. What Are You Shaving?
Whether it’s your head, beard, chest, or pubic region, the area you are shaving should be considered when reviewing all the cartridge razors. With companies like Gillette allowing for increased pivot and flex through their proprietary Flexball head, this simple mechanism can provide excellent performance no matter how curvy the contours on your body may be.
However, if you are simply shaving your face, then a cartridge razor with a pivoting head will be plenty good for a satisfactory shave.
The 7 Best Cartridge Razors Reviewed
1. Best Overall: Gillette Fusion ProGlide
Of all the cartridge razors available on the market, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide is among the most popular.
This razor features the following:
- 5 anti-friction blades
- Precision trimmer
- Flexball neck
When it comes to the actual performance of this cartridge razor, it’s top-notch. This is the best cartridge razor for general shaving.
- Anti-Friction Blades
The blades on the Fusion ProGlide are thin and spaced close together making it perfect for men of all skin and facial hair types.
The reduced friction coupled with the lubricating strip allows for greater shave comfort.
As the blades get used, the lubricating strip will turn white, giving you the visual indicator that they need to be replaced.
- Flexball Neck
Able to stay close to your skin no matter the natural contours of your body, the Flexball neck provides an added range of motion making it perfect to use on the head, chest, or pubic region.
When you combine this added flexibility along with the thin blades, you have a comfortable shave no matter the area.
- Anti-friction blades provide consistent performance
- Flexball neck great for general use
- Comfortable results
What You Need To Know
2. Best For Sensitive Skin: Schick Hydro 5 Sense
While Gillette may be the biggest name in razors when it comes to both cartridge and disposable varieties, by and far one of their largest competitors is Schick.
Their flagship cartridge razor, and the one that many men loved, was the Hydro 5 Sense.
There is a lot going on for the Hydro 5 Sense, which includes the following:
- 5 ultra-glide blades
- Shock absorb technology
- 7 gel pools
As the name implies the Hydro 5 Sense is a 5-blade cartridge razor that provides an incredibly close shave with every use.
The ultra-glide blades reduce the occurrence of friction between both the blade, skin, and facial hair when it is being cut.
This results in a shave that doesn’t cut too deep nor shallow which would otherwise result in additional passes.
Secondly, these super-sharp blades will cut your facial hair easily, thus reducing the tugging or pulling sensation on the root which can cause post-shave irritation.
Shock Absorb Technology
One really unique feature with this cartridge razor among all others listed, was the inclusion of shock absorbing technology.
Adjusting the pressure with each stroke, the razor ‘knows’ when to either apply or lessen pressure.
A common irritation issue for men with sensitive skin, this allows for an even-pressured shave that increases shave comfort.
7 Gel Pools
A trademark quality found in Schick cartridge razors is their gel pools. With the Hydro 5 Sense, you can purchase a cartridge razor with any of the following lubricating strip gel varieties:
- Hydrate – coconut oil (normal skin)
- Energize – menthol (normal skin)
- Sensitive – herbal extract (sensitive skin)
* Italics represents the name that Schick uses.
- Great for sensitive skin
- Provides an even pressured shave
- Sharp blades glide when cutting
- Limited range of motion on cartridge head
What You Need To Know
3. Budget Friendly: Micro Touch Tough Blade
The MicroTouch Tough Blade is a great value pick.
What sets the MicroTouch apart from the others on our list, and why you should consider it, is the following:
- 3 Micro-thin stainless steel blades
- Engineered to shave comfortably
- Inclusion of 12 refill razors
3 Micro-thin Stainless Steel Blades
In order to get a comfortable shave, the razor blade should not only be thin but evenly spaced to prevent gunk buildup.
With blades that were made in Germany, a country highly revered for its precision engineering when it comes to razor blades, the MicroTouch provides great value.
As found with the expensive cartridge razors of other brands, these razor blades have a non-stick coating that will lengthen the life of the blade.
Engineered to Shave Comfortably
While absent of any Flexball neck, the range of motion that you get with the MicroTouch should still deliver acceptable performance for most shaving situations.
While it won’t stay as close to your skin when shaving your head or public region, the pivot head will do a great job on flat surfaces such as your cheeks.
With only 3 blades on the head, like Mach 3, the reduced number allows for less contact of the blade with your skin – making it a favorite cartridge razor for those with sensitive skin.
Inclusion of 12 Refill Razors
What we found in the reviews of countless men was the love for the included refills. With each razor blade able to last up to a month on a single-use, you have a year’s supply of razors included with your purchase.
This allows the MicroTouch to simply deliver a much better value when compared to other cartridge razors.
- Provides a good shave for the price
- Included refills deliver value
- Good handle
- Not as comfortable shave
What You Need To Know
4. Best For Razor Bumps: Bump Fighter
The intelligently designed Bump Fighter was initially made for men with dense and curly beards but now has been sought after by any man that gets razor bumps when shaving.
Caused when the hair grows into the skin, razor bumps are both painful and unsightly.
However, after using the Bump Fighter cartridge razor for a few days, razor bumps become a thing of the past.
Unlike other cartridge razors that offer multiple blades, pivoting heads, or even a lubricating strip, the Bump Fighter offers none of those.
Instead, the Bump Fighter only features a single cartridge blade with ridges.
With their patented bump guard technology, the Bump Fighter creates just a little bit of space that allows the razor to cut your hair just a fraction above the surface of the skin.
This allows the hair just enough room to grow outwards instead of curling back into the skin and causing an ingrown hair or razor bump.
A truly genius idea.
When you pair this unique cutting system with a comfortable rubber grip that prevents slippage, you get a terrific razor.
- Prevents razor bumps
- Rubber grip for increase comfort
- Perfect for men with curly beards
- No frills
- Not for those that want a close shave
What You Need To Know
Originally introduced in 1998 and racked up an astonishing $750 million in research and development costs (source), the Gillette Mach 3 set the gold standard of which all other cartridge razors would be compared against.
Still being made today, the Mach 3 remains a favorite of men everywhere, especially those with either acne or sensitive skin.
The three key features that men loved most are the following:
- Stronger-than-steel blades
- Comfortable handle
- Skin guard and lubrastrip
Coated with DLC (Diamond-Like-Cutting), the razor blades on the Mach 3 are super sharp and can cut your facial hair close to the skin.
While the sharp and close-cut is a large selling point, another is that the blades last much longer compared to cartridge razors of similar price point and quality.
Able to withstand about 15 shaves per razor, the Mach 3 provides great value.
As you will see in our guide below, one of the most important factors, in order to get a good shave, isn’t only the sharpness and quality of the blades, but your grip on the handle itself.
The ergonomically designed handle that Gillette has put together allows for a firm grip that does not slip even if your hands are coated with shave cream, water, or a mixture between the two.
This allows you to get a close shave in fewer passes – a key factor in order to reduce razor burn and redness.
Skin Guard + Lubrastrip
The skin guard on the Mach 3 is a unique addition that allows for consistent results. Able to gently stretch your skin before the razor cuts the hair, the skin guard ensures that you only need to make one pass in order to achieve your desired results.
Once that pass has occurred, the lubrastrip on the other side of the razor head works to stop any irritation or discomfort.
Like most Gillette razors, the lubrastrip serves as a gentle visual reminder to replace your blade once it turns completely white.
- Still a great razor 20 years later
- Affordable compared to modern razors
- Delivers a close and comfortable shave
- Not the best for body grooming
What You Need To Know
If you are familiar with The Dollar Shave Club, then you are familiar with Dorco razors. Dorco is the primary provider of razors for The Dollar Shave Club. The Dorco Pace 6 Plus would be considered a comparable razor to TDSC “Executive” option – which is also a 6 blade razor.
While we cover a variety of subscription shave clubs elsewhere, we want to focus on what makes the Dorco Pace 6 Plus so unique as a standalone cartridge razor.
When reviewing, we found that the following factors really stood out with this cartridge razor:
- Angulated blade platform
- Common docking system
- Vitamin E, Aloe, and Lavender lubricating strip
Angulated Blade Platform
In order to make 6 blades really work for this cartridge razor, Dorco had to get creative and come up with a new head that would allow for both a close and comfortable shave.
Their patented angulated blade platform allows for just that, a shave that competes head-on with the likes of Gillette and Schick.
These micro-thin blades not only slice through your facial hair with ease but are also set in a way to resist clogging or gunking up – which can drastically reduce the life of a blade.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about any mild corrosion on the ends of the blade, which can of course lead to health and safety concerns.
Common Docking System
One of the biggest frustrations for men who use cartridge razors is that when a company introduces a new razor with an extra blade or lubricating strip, they also change the fitting of the razor blade.
This leads to waste as your old cartridge razors are rendered useless should the handle break.
Unlike other companies out to make a profit no matter the costs, Dorco smartly makes all their cartridge razors with the same fitting.
Therefore, if you want to try out one of their other handles or blades, you don’t have to worry, your existing blades will still work just fine.
Vitamin E, Aloe, and Lavender Lubricating Strip
With Vitamin E, aloe, and lavender contained within the lubricating strip, the Dorco 6 Plus offers intense comfort making this a perfect razor for sensitive skin and razor burn.
Able to not only repair your skin through the inclusion of Vitamin E, but the aloe also provides instant comfort should any sort of irritation occur when shaving.
- Unique blade setting allows for greater comfort
- Lubricating strip helps sensitive skin
- Common docking system reduces waste
- Large head may have a hard time around tight contours
What You Need To Know
Shave clubs offer a great way to get an acceptable shave with regular razor rotation.
When doing a quick bit of math, you will often find that they are more expensive than if you were to just simply buy a set of cartridge razor blades in bulk.
In addition, some of the major shave clubs such as Dollar Shave Club actually use Dorco razors and try and sell you on additional products such as shave cream, aftershave, etc.
So, if you are (or have) been thinking about joining a shave club, our recommendation here is to make sure that you check what the annual costs are before signing up – you will probably be surprised.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.