Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

Rachel Krause
Photo: Tom Medvedich

Photo: Tom Medvedich

I love to spend money, but only on things I want. If this happens to overlap with things I actually need (for example, a really nice vacuum, which I currently both want and need), then all the better—but when it comes to items that I need to buy but find no real joy in, I’m less than pleased. I feel that this is unfair, which is why every time I run out of disposable razors I find myself balking in the Rite Aid shaving needs section, like, “Why are these $13? I don’t want them! Fuck the patriarchy.”

But really, this has nothing to do with the patriarchy. (It’s just nice to blame it on social construct, because it takes the onus off of me.) There’s nothing wrong with eschewing hair removal as a woman, but I personally prefer to take an overall (mostly) diligent approach to smoothness.

Maintaining skin like a baby seal does not come easy to me. I’m reluctant to admit that I’m kind of hairy, but there it is: I’m kind of hairy. Or at least, I’m hairy if I don’t do anything about it, which I do. My coloring is also a contributing factor—my skin is very fair and my hair is very dark, which means that any regrowth is immediately apparent, like a five-o’-clock shadow but for armpits. My hair growth is also thick (this is so gross!!!) and can dull down a razorblade like nothing else, so the way I go through disposable razors you’d think I owned stock in them. I don’t.

I have no brand loyalty, so I was game to try five different cheapo drugstore iterations to see how they compared to one another. I wanted to know, definitively, which one was the best. (I also want to know everything in general, and this experiment helped me get one step closer to that.)

bic soleil Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

BIC Soleil Triple Blade Shavers for Women, $6.79
These razors are for women, just FYI. These are actually my go-to when I reluctantly hit up the drugstore to restock. I don’t think they’re all that great, but inexplicably I keep buying them, probably because I’m a creature of habit. My experience with these this time around was no different than it has been in the past: They get the hair off, but because the head doesn’t pivot, I find that I’m much, much more likely to cut myself with these than with razors that do have pivoting blades.

Also, I know using a dull razor is a bad thing, but these almost seem too sharp, and frequently leave my skin looking red and irritated from razor burn, especially on the lower part of my legs, which you’d think would be the least likely area to show sensitivity. I’ll try not to reflexively buy these again, even though they have “mango papaya scented handles.”

noxzema spa shave Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

Noxzema Spa Shave 4-Blade Shavers, $4.99
The only good thing about these razors is that they’re real cheap. Aside from that, they are effectively useless. I had a laughably difficult time trying to shave hair off of my body using these “shavers,” which were made for that express purpose. I had to go over every area several times, and even then there was stubble left behind. Don’t waste five dollars on these.

gillette simply venus Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

Gillette Simply Venus Disposable Women’s Razors, $7.99
Love that pivoting head! I liked these fine—I had to go over my underarms a few times to get them completely hair-free, but that could have been user error considering I’d gone about a week and a half without shaving them, which is a long time for me and yields about a quarter inch of hair. My bad.

I emerged from this particular shave gloriously scot-free, which I was happy about. However, these razors have two major cons. One is a technical flaw, which is that the “easy-glide MoistureRich strip” gets really sticky and slimy while you’re using it, and that can make it hard to get a good, close shave. The second downfall is that it features a “comfort grip handle specially designed for women,” “designed especially for the way a woman shaves,” which “makes it easy to maneuver.” This is an objectively ridiculous way to go about marketing a razor.

schick xtreme 3 hawaiian tropic Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

Schick Xtreme 3 Scented Handle Razors, $7.49
Why are scented handles a draw for “women’s” disposable razors? Nobody needs that. The scent here is Hawaiian Tropic, as in the sunscreen, which is almost as confusing as the question of why razors need scents in the first place. Anyway. These are very good! No errant battle wounds, no need to go over the same three square inches of hair a million times, no razor burn. I feel especially good about that since the packaging itself promises that it “FIGHTS Razor Burn – GUARANTEED.” I’m glad I wasn’t lied to.

studio 35 beauty disposable razors Drugstore Smackdown: 5 Drugstore Razors, 1 Ultimate Winner

Studio 35 Beauty Disposable Five-Blade Razors, $6.49
The underdog steals the show in this story. I had never seen these razors before in my life, and even if I had, I wouldn’t exactly have been drawn in by the generic packaging and general lack of aesthetic appeal. (Come to think of it, that’s probably why I buy those mediocre BIC Soleils. I think I might just like bright colors.) On several occasions I mistakenly referred to the brand as “Perfect365,” which is in fact “the favorite FREE makeover app of more than 30 million users.” Impressive, but not as impressive as the smooth, close, pain-free shave I got from this razor, which is manufactured by Walgreens and also sold at New York drugstore chain Duane Reade.

Subpar in appearance, yet outstanding in performance—these are like the Susan Boyle of their category. Is that still culturally relevant? Who else is homely yet absurdly talented these days?

WINNER: Studio 35 Disposable 5-Blade Razors