At first glance, the women’s razor seems like a pretty straightforward tool — after all, there are only so many ways you can use a blade to cut hair, right?
Well, not exactly. In the past few years, they’ve gone from being one-size-fits-all to elaborate products with all sorts of performance-enhancing features, added durability, and even storage options to keep your tub or shower tidy.
The women’s razor is no longer merely intended to generate the “pink tax,” aka a higher price for women’s products just because they’re made for women. Rather, these razors are now made with women’s habits, personal preferences and convenience in mind. They’re designed to hug curved areas and small spots without nicking, for example, and often come with perks like built-in soap to lubricate skin.
We tested them all, from supersharp, single-blade safety razors to traditional five-blade versions, on CNN Underscored’s search for the best razor for smooth legs, underarms, bikini lines and beyond. Whether you’re diligently shaving year-round or only whipping out a razor once summer rolls around, after more than a month of shaving (and nicking), we chose three standout razors:
One of the first subscription-based razors solely for women, Billie The Razor Starter Kit took first place for its user-friendly design, close shave and overall durability. With built-in charcoal soap for easy lubrication and a rubbery grip for easy handling, it made for a quick, comfortable shaving experience. The blades are sharp but don’t irritate skin, and the magnetic holder ensures that the razor blades stay clean and dry.
Coming in close was the Flamingo Razor, which looks way more expensive and chic than it actually is (just $9, FYI). It has a more substantial, weightier handle with a rubber grip to make it easy to hold, and its cartridge is made to be flexible so you can shave backward, sideways and upside down with ease. It delivers a close shave, too, though not quite to the level of Billie.
Oui the People the Single Rose Gold Safety Razor comes from a Black woman-owned beauty brand that set out to rethink the safety razor — and did it ever deliver. While this may not be your best bet if you’re in a rush, it offered the closest, smoothest shave of any razor we tried. The handle lasts forever and has a weighted head, but at $75, it’s more of an investment. As great as it is, it might not be the best choice for someone who wants an easy, everyday razor.
Billie The Razor Starter Kit
Let us count the ways we loved the Billie razor. Seriously. We’ll begin with the way it looks. We appreciate form as much as function, and Billie just makes a pretty razor, with a cool, color-blocked design and a curved cartridge. The cartridge also features a charcoal soap, which allows it to glide across the skin, but doesn’t get slimy like some built-in soaps and moisturizing serums that we tested.
The blades were super sharp out of the box and removed hairs in a single swipe without having to repeat to catch stubble. We didn’t have to rinse hair out of the blades every two or three swipes, and there was zero irritation, even when we applied antiperspirant directly after shaving underarms with the Billie razor.
The razor itself is also comfortable to use — the handle has a rubber backing to provide a firm but comfortable grip, so there’s no slipping.
A great perk: The razor comes with a “magic holder,” which is a small, magnetic base that sticks to the shower wall via a putty that adheres no matter how steamy it gets. You also get an extra cartridge, making the starter kit an excellent value at $9.
The Flamingo Razor is more of a minimalist than Billie in terms of design, but it also has features that set it apart from the pack. The razor cartridge is longer in the front than its peers, with rounded edges on the sides, which gives it the ability to flatten skin as you glide the razor over, therefore making it easier to safely shave. We found it offered more control when shaving than other razors, especially those that only had blades and little else on the cartridge.
The cartridge has a built-in hinge, giving the handle about a 90-degree range of motion. That made it incredibly easy to shave in different directions on both underarms and legs, and it minimized the amount of twisting and contortion usually required to shave every last spot. Also, the handle has a nonslip finish and ridges on the underside, which make it especially easy to grip.
While the razor itself doesn’t come with a holder, if you spring for The Shave Set ($16, shopflamingo.com), you’ll get a mini shave gel, body lotion and a shower hook, which suctions onto the wall. It stayed put even after removing and resticking it a few times.
Oui the People the Single Rose Gold Safety Razor
You’ve got to hand it to this razor, which did nick our tester a couple of times, but was still so good that we’ll just call it a learning curve. If you’ve never used a safety razor before, welcome to the club. Assembling the safety razor took a few minutes but was otherwise easy — just unscrew the handle, place the razor blade on the head and then reattach the handle
We especially appreciated the thorough resources available on Oui the People’s website that walk first-timers through the process, from unpacking the materials to rinsing off the shave cream. Oui the People’s razor comes with 10 individually wrapped blades, stored in a little box that has a slot to safely insert your used blades. But we were disappointed that there wasn’t a storage option so it could be stored prettily (and safely) in the shower.
As experienced fans may already know, safety razors require a unique approach: The weighted head does most of the work for you, so you don’t need to apply pressure. A light touch was enough to comfortably grasp the textured metal handle, which never felt slick. However, old habits die hard, and our tester wound up with two nicks, one on the knee and the other on the back of the lower calf. It’s an entirely different style of shaving — think short, light strokes over small areas — and can take time to adjust. But it may be worth learning: It delivered the closest shave we’ve ever seen, even taking down one stubborn hair that was about to turn into an ingrown situation. It didn’t cause any razor burn whatsoever, and the razor itself is a stunner. If you have time and patience, it’s as close to a perfect shave as you can get.
We spent two months shaving and swiping with these razors, testing each at least three times. We used them on different areas of the body in order to account for all the ways you might use them. As we evaluated them, we took every aspect of the shaving experience into consideration, from how the razor looks in the shower to how close the shave was.
We designed a rubric to grade these various factors, which we broke down into function, build, durability and X-factors, such as the value:
- Closeness of shave: We checked for stubble left behind, or whether we had to go over a spot multiple times to get it entirely smooth.
- Skin irritation: Was the razor too abrasive? Redness and stinging were two signs we looked for, both immediately after shaving and within the first hour afterward.
- Hair clogging: We looked to see whether the hair clogged the blades too frequently, requiring constant rinsing. The clogging could interfere with the closeness and thoroughness of the shave.
- Performance features: We factored in features that aren’t necessities, but nice to have all the same, like special contouring of the cartridge, moisture strips or built-in soap, or any physical components that made shaving easier.
- Comfort: Was the handle comfortable to hold, particularly when shaving in different directions for areas like the underarms and the bikini line?
- Grip: No one wants to drop a razor midshave, which is why we looked for materials that made the handle easy to grip and minimized slipperiness.
- Aesthetic: Is it pretty? If you (and anyone with access to your shower or tub) have to look at it every day, it might as well be cute.
- Everyday wear: A razor might seem great the first time you use it, but we looked at whether it would get grimy or dingy after a few weeks in the shower. That was especially important for razors that had built-in soap.
- Signs of damage: We dropped the razors in the shower a few times and stepped on them to see how well the entire razor held up under pressure — whether the cartridge fell off, the handle snapped, or it just didn’t perform as well. We also let the razors languish for a week in a glass of water to see if the blades would rust.
- Value: The more cartridges included with the razor, the higher our score. We like razors that offered a great value for the price.
- Storage options: We don’t love razors that sit on the edge of the tub and get stuck there, so we looked for easy storage options that allowed razors to air dry without getting grimy, be it a plastic clamshell or a magnetic shower holder.
Using the testing methods above, we gave each razor a score in each subcategory, then combined those numbers for a maximum score in each category, then totaled those numbers for a final overall score. We broke down the scores as follows:
- Function had a maximum of 50 points: closeness of the shave (15), skin irritation (15), whether the blades got clogged (10), special features like swivel head, contouring, moisture strip (10).
- Build had a maximum of 20 points: comfort during use (10), handle slipperiness (5), how it looks (5).
- Durability had a maximum of 20 points: everyday use (5), signs of damage (15).
- X-factors had a maximum of 10 points: value (5), storage solutions (5).
Athena Club The Razor Kit, Schick Silk Touch-Up Face Razor, Gillette Venus Swirl Flexiball Razor
Athena Club The Razor Kit ($9; athenaclub.com)
With this subscription offering, we were huge fans of the slightly thicker handle and compact, rounded cartridge, which made it an easy fit for small areas like underarms. But the cartridge fell off a few times when dropped, and we would have preferred a few ridges on the handle for a little more control.
Schick Silk Touch-Up Face Razor ($6.65 for three; amazon.com)
If there were a face-only category, this would be a clear winner. It dispatched upper-lip hair in a minute, is easy to use and, as it comes in a set of three, is great value.
Gillette Venus Swirl Flexiball Razor ($11.34; amazon.com)
This was our favorite of all the Gillette Venus varieties, since it delivered a very close shave. However, there was no storage option included, and the rollerball didn’t seem to add much in terms of versatility and maneuvering.
Solimo 5 Blade Razor for Women, Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle Razor, Gillette Venus Extra Smooth Sensitive Razor
Solimo 5 Blade Razor for Women ($18.87; amazon.com)
With a whopping 12 cartridges and a shower holder, this razor offered the best value of the bunch. We noticed a little post-shave stubble and mild irritation after shaving, which is where it lost points, but otherwise found it comfortable to use, thanks to its rubbery grip.
Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle Razor ($12.58; amazon.com)
We loved the versatility of a razor-trimmer hybrid, and the fact that it included the battery was very much appreciated. The only drawback was that the thicker handle (to accommodate the trimmer) wasn’t as comfortable to hold, and the razor didn’t give a super close shave.
Gillette Venus Extra Smooth Sensitive Razor ($12.99; amazon.com)
We appreciated that this, as intended, was gentle enough for sensitive skin and didn’t cause any irritation whatsoever. Plus, it’s virtually indestructible and holds up well with everyday use. However, the blades didn’t deliver as close a shave as we wanted.
Joy Razor, Gillette Venus Smooth Razor Original, Gillette Venus ComfortGlide White Tea Mini
Joy Razor ($10; joyandglee.com)
Available individually or as a subscription, this gave us one of the closest shaves of all the razors we tested, and it holds up very well with everyday use. But we also noticed some irritation and didn’t love the look of it in the shower.
Gillette Venus Smooth Razor Original ($7.72 for razor and two refills; amazon.com)
We noticed a little irritation on the underarms after shaving with this one, and had to repeat swipes to get every hair. However, we’re fans of the relatively small, curved cartridge, which made it easy to maneuver around contours, as well as the grippy handle.
Gillette Venus ComfortGlide White Tea Mini ($14.70; amazon.com)
The built-in soap bars are very convenient — no shave gel needed here — but we found that they got a little dingy after the first use. However, we appreciated the multiple cartridges and easy clamshell storage. A solid choice for traveling.
Gillette Venus Snap Extra Smooth Razor, Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razor, Maapilim Safety Razor
Gillette Venus Snap Extra Smooth Razor ($6.49; amazon.com)
This mini razor and case are convenient enough for travel, but we found the short, round handle hard to grip, and less comfortable to use than typical long handles. However, it did deliver a fairly close shave and come in a packing-friendly case.
Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razor ($9.99; amazon.com)
Having a built-in shave soap is certainly efficient, but it also makes the entire design a little clunky. We found this to be a bit too large for underarms, so it was most useful for shaving large areas, like the legs.
Maapilim Safety Razor ($52; maapilim.com)
This safety razor scored points for a close shave and aesthetics, but we were disappointed that it didn’t come with either razor blades or any instructions, even on the website. It might be best for experienced safety-razor fans only.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.
Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: