For many guys, shaving is one of the few treasured rituals we do each day. There’s nothing more invigorating than the smell of a crisp aftershave, or the feeling of warm lather on our skin. Every guy has their own method they swear by, and they often stick with it for life. But it’s easy to get carried away with shaving. I know many guys like using shaving soaps, aftershaves, badger hair brushes, soap dishes, and all that. But hear me out when I say all of that is completely unnecessary. In fact, it’s the opposite of what you want with a good travel razor.
By making shaving into such a complicated process that needs so many expensive items, you’re just wasting precious time and money. It’s also ridiculous to carry around all the added weight and space of a traditional deluxe shaving set when there are better options out there.
We need a better solution. Our ideal travel razor should give us the perfect shave, take up little room, weigh little, all at the lowest price possible. The longer it can be used without needing new razors, soaps, or in the case of electric razors, needing to recharge, the better. Below we’ll compare and contrast the different kinds of razors to consider using, and determine which one is the best travel razor.
Travel Razors Compared in this article:
- Double sided safety razor
- Electric razor
- Disposable razor
- Cartridge razor
But before we begin, I wanted to share some tips that might radically alter your views on shaving.
Electric vs. Manual
At first blush, electric and manual razors are pretty close when it comes to travel. While the electric razor does take up a fair amount of space and weight, when you factor in the shaving soap, aftershave, shaving bowl, brush, and the manual razor, they should be fairly similar. Because electric razors don’t need any other products to give you a shave, and they get the job done quicker, it might be fair to declare them the winner.
But not so fast. Last year I discovered a game changer that eliminates the need for all those soaps, brushes, aftershaves, and it comes in a tiny bottle that seems to last forever. After I started using it, I couldn’t understand why anyone would still use soaps and shaves considering shaving oils are so much better.
Shaving Oil vs. Shaving Soap
The purpose of a good shaving cream, soap, or oil is to soften the stubble and lubricate the skin to avoid razor knicks or cuts. Oils are better than soaps or lathers, as there are no gaps of skin between lather bubbles, they lubricate better, and the oil doesn’t clog up the razor area as much.
In my post on essential travel grooming for men, I mentioned how effective coconut oil is as a natural moisturizer. Surprisingly, it also works well as a cheap natural shave oil. But because you can only bring a small amount on travel, I still prefer bringing a separate shave oil. Out of everything I’ve tried, nothing I’ve tried beats somersets shaving oil. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you, it’s amazing. All you need is a few drops to last the entire shave. Best of all, the shave oil bottles are super compact at just over 1 oz each, and last forever. I bought one almost a year ago and it’s only halfway empty!!
It’s not as soothing as a warm lather, but you won’t believe how smooth your skin is afterwards, and the oil itself smells great. After wetting your face with warm water, simply put a few drops in your palm, rub your hands together, rub them over where you’re going to shave, then shave normally. The essential oils act as an astringent, so it also makes aftershave unnecessary. When you’re done, splash some cold water over your face to help close your pores.
Pro tip: To get more shaves out of your razor, rub the edge of the blade against your forearm or jeans in the opposite direction which you use to shave. This cleans off a lot of the gunk which would otherwise degrade the blade. You can also run a cotton bud across the edge of the blade to clean out the gunk. Using this method, you can extend the life of each blade to a month or more!
Once you opt for a compact bottle of shaving oil over carrying all the soaps, aftershaves, and other accessories with you, the picture swings more in the favor of manual razors over electric. But I wouldn’t discount them just yet. For some, they may still be an option to consider. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s compare which is the best travel razor.
Best Travel Razor Comparison
Merkur double-sided safety Razor
Many shavers regard this as the best razor ever made. When I’m home, this is my bread and butter. It’s easy to use, but most of all, it makes shaving about as cheap as humanly possible. As of press time, a pack of 100 razor blades is less than $13. I only use about 10 blades each year by doing the stroping method in the video above, so that means I only spend about $1.30 per year using this razor. When you factor in about half a bottle of shaving oil per year, it brings us to $9 per year, or about $0.02 per shave.
Unfortunately, double sided razor blades aren’t allowed in carry on bags, so this razor gets an automatic thumbs down as far as travel goes. While you can store it in a checked bag, the vast majority of travelers can get away with never needing to use checked luggage for most trips.
- Ultra cheap
- Prohibited in carry on bags
Cost per shave: $0.02
One of the benefits of an electric razor is you don’t need to use up any precious space in your liquids bag with shave oils or aftershaves. You have everything you need with the razor itself. They’re also pretty convenient for how quick the shave is. Electric razors don’t even require the use of a sink, so you can even use them while traveling from place to place. While it’s difficult to estimate the cost per shave, as the cost of electricity varies all over the globe, some sources place a ballpark figure of around $0.16 per shave when factoring in all costs. Even though you’re most likely not going to be paying for your electricity while traveling, you should also consider which option works for all situations (both home and travel). It’s cost per shave isn’t as good as the safety razor, but it’s not bad.
As far as the downsides, there are a couple. Cheaper versions of electric razors require the occasional cleaning, which can be a bit time consuming. However, even the self cleaning models require an electric source. If you’re traveling internationally, this can be a major pain. Often it will require not only an outlet adapter, but also a voltage transformer with a 50Hz to 60Hz converter. These razors are already bulky and heavy compared to the manual options out there, and the added space and weight of adapters and transformers make them a pretty poor option as far as travel goes.
If you already have an electric razor you love, then it’s not the end of the world if you want to stick with it until it dies. They’re also the fastest way to shave that’s humanly possible, so those with hectic schedules may still prefer them. But considering a typical manual shave shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes, that’s not a huge time savings. I’m not judging, but if that extra minute is make or break for you, consider a few words of wisdom from Brian Regan (skip ahead to 2:30):
- Eliminates need for oils/soaps/aftershaves
- Quickest shave possible
- Doesn’t require sink
- Requires an electricity source
- Requires outlet adapter and transformer in some countries
- Bulky, heavy
Cost per shave: $0.16
While not as stylish as the Merkur safety razor, disposable razors have many of the same advantages. Combined with the right shaving oil, they can give a close shave in a short amount of time. Yes, you can bring them on a plane. A bag of 30 goes for about $9, bringing their cost to $0.28 per razor. Assuming you can stretch a month out of each razor, that should run you $3.36 a year. Factoring in the shave oil brings it to about $0.03 per shave.
You should only need to bring one or two depending on how long you stay, so they shouldn’t take up much space. Maybe it’s overkill, but you can cut off part of the handle to save even more space. Overall they’re pretty cheap, don’t take up much room, and you can put them in your carry on. But is there an even better option?
- Tacky looking
Cost per shave: $0.03
Cartridge razors have many of the same advantages of the safety and disposable razors. They’re small, lightweight, and they’re great value. They may just be the most popular style of razor out there. But to really get the best value, you should up for the double bladed variety as opposed to the more common 3 or more bladed kind. Cartridges with 2 blades are more than enough to get a close shave.
Some of the multiple blade replacement cartridges cost nearly $3 each. That is absolutely ridiculous, considering a replacement cartridge for a double bladed razor can be as low as $0.15 each. So, that means depending on which type of cartridge razor you get, you could be spending over 1800% more than you need to!
So, which cartridge razor you get definitely matters. Because shaving companies don’t make nearly as much money off them, double bladed cartridge razors are becoming more rare. I was lucky enough that my dad gave me an old one as a gift (thanks Dad!), but if you look hard enough, you can still find some online. Double bladed cartridge razors are more popular overseas due to their value, and online retailers like Amazon continue to sell them. It’s also easiest to find the cheapest replacement cartridges online, which run about $15 for a pack of 100.
That makes their cost slightly above the Merkur and below disposable razors at less than $0.03 per shave. While they’re a tiny bit heavier than the disposable razor, they look a bit nicer, and the cartridges themselves take up much less room than a disposable razor, should you be traveling long term. It doesn’t get much better than this for an ideal travel razor.
- Rare to find in stores
Cost per shave: $0.03
The winner: Double blade cartridge razor
Combined with somersets shave oil, a double blade cartridge razor provides a super close shave. It’s also perfect for travel: you can pack it in your carry on, it’s durable, lightweight, and takes up next to no room. Because the cartridges are so compact, you wouldn’t have an issue bringing even a year’s supply worth of shaving gear in a small pocket.
Runner ups: Disposable razors and electric razors are also fine if you already have them. Electric razors have their own unique advantages, and may even be preferred under certain circumstances. However, if you’re shopping for a new razor, a simple cartridge razor is the best and most versatile razor for every situation.
I hope after reading, you guys know how to save some money with your shaving gear, and picked up some pointers that should make your life easier next time you travel.
All the best,