The Best Back Shaver: Our Reviews
We almost never do this, because it's lazy writing and poor form, but we'll start this post with a definition from the dictionary:
"Hirsute: botany. Covered in long, stiff hair; shaggy. Example: 'The hirsute man spent most of the afternoon shaving his back.'"
That word, "hirsute," describes a lot of us here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman, and it also describes this gentleman, who's singing a song near and dear to our hearts:
In this post, we'll go over our picks for the best back shaver, and we'll offer up some tips on the most effective back-shaving techniques, and some alternatives to shaving if you find out it's not for you.
Before we jump into our reviews, though, here's a quick run-down of what to look for in a back shaver:
Buying Features of Back Shavers
There are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when you're looking at back shavers:
Electric vs. Manual. This is the big decision you'll have to make, really. There are electric back shavers and there are manual ones. Electric shavers have a motorized blade at the head, and you can adjust the closeness of your shave; manual back shavers usually load double-edge razor blades, and you scrape them directly over your skin to remove body hair. The main difference between the two is that electric shavers are a little easier to use, and are less likely to nick you up; manual shavers are sharper and probably more effective, but they're much more likely to cut you up a little bit. We'll go a little deeper into the "electric vs. manual" debate in a minute.
Length. This is also important. Some back shavers are longer than others, and if you're a taller guy, you'll want to be sure it's long enough, so that you can reach those hard-to-get-to areas (particularly below your shoulders and near your lower back).
Waterproof. This is obviously something that doesn't matter if you're getting a manual shaver, but it's something you'll want to consider if you're getting an electric back shaver. Many are waterproof, so you can bring them into the shower with you. That's a great option, and a lot of guys shave their backs either before or during a shower.
Handle Grip. This would seem easy to overlook, but it's actually an important feature, because you'll be contorting into weird shapes to reach all the areas of your back, and you'll want to be able to maintain a firm hold on the shaver itself. Most back shavers have exaggerated grips that provide a solid hold, but it's still something to look for.
Warranty. This is more of an issue for electric back and body shavers, and honestly, it's seems like most guys don't care too much about warranties, but a strong few really care about warranties. If you're investing in a high-end shaver, though, it makes sense to figure out the return policy. A longer return policy is always better, but you should also look to make sure that all parts are covered—some warranties cover the entire electric shaver, whereas other may not cover certain parts (like the razor head).
Maintenance and Cleaning. This is another feature that's a bigger deal for electric shavers, but they've come along way: most electric shavers require you to rinse them after you use them, and replace the shaving heads every couple of months (and you'll need to check your owner's manual for a more precise replacement schedule), and that's that.
Charge Time. Another issue solely for electric shavers. Some lower-end shavers need to be plugged in overnight; some higher-end shavers only need a few minutes of charge and they'll last a while.
If you'll notice, there are a lot of differences between electric shavers and manual ones, so let's quickly discuss:
Electric Back Shavers vs. Manual Back Shavers
Before we get to the reviews, here's a quick run-down of the pros and cons of each. Hopefully they'll provide you a little guidance on which type you'd like to buy, so you can pick the best back shaver for your needs:
Manual Shaver—Pros. Easy to use; easy to replace blades (simply open the shaving head and insert new blades); easy to clean. Never runs out of batteries, easy to travel with, and provides an extremely close shave. And—always waterproof!
Manual Shaver—Cons. A higher likelihood of cuts and razor bumps. That's the biggest disadvantage, really.
Electric Back Shavers—Pros. Provide a more "gentle" shave, and are less likely to result in nicks and cuts; can usually be used on other parts of the body, like the chest; and many are waterproof and can be used in the shower.
Electric Back Shavers—Cons. Requires batteries or needs to be charged; difficult to travel with; doesn't provide as close a shave (but many are still excellent, nonetheless). Can break down over time, and some models are actually pretty noisy.
As we mentioned above, the real difference between the two is the closeness of shave: manuals will provide a very close shave, but may irritate the skin; electric back shavers are less likely to irritate the skin, but don't provide as close a shave.
The Best Electric Back Shavers
There are two electric back shavers we recommend:
The MANGROOMER Back Hair Shaver
Our vote for best electric back shaver goes to the MANGROOMER Do-It-Yourself Electric Back Hair Shaver. It's designed to handle medium-to-heavy growth, and it's got great specs: it's got a 1.5-inch blade, which is wide enough to cover some significant acreage as your scrape it over your skin; it extends to a 135-degree angle, designed to reach those areas of your back that are tough to get to; and it's pretty simple to use—it needs two double-AA batteries, so it's nothing too exotic. For a lot of guys, that's a plus—one of the negatives of using an electric back shaver is having to charge it, so "battery-operated" is a nice little perk.
And, for a relatively light-weight product, it seems to be pretty durable. It can feel a little bit like scraping your back with a rake—it's long, and as with most back shavers, it takes a little getting used to—but we found it to be a very effective tool. It's not a wet/dry shaver, so you shouldn't use it in the shower, but that's the only real complaint we have about it, and it's just as easy to use before getting in the shower.
It's likely that MANGROOMER got the message that guys want to shave their backs when they're travelling, and this option is great for when you want to hit the road. It folds up nicely, and is easy to stash in a suitcase. If you travel a lot, this can be a great option—you can throw it in whatever luggage you want to check, and be on your way.
The basic package is a great option, but if you want the "deluxe" version, The MANGROOMER ULTIMATE PRO Back Shaver has a few bells and whistles that the "Essential" package does not. It's got a "Power Burst" button that you can press when going over extra-course or extra-thick patches of back hair; two different shaving heads, one with a 1.8-inch head for shaving large areas quickly and another with a shaver for regular maintenance, and you can switch them as you please; and a "Flex Neck" that allows the head to contour to the curves of your back. That's a feature that's usually seen on high-end shavers you'd use on your face, so it's a nice addition.
All around, a great shaver, and one that we recommend.
The Razorba Sum3 Back Shaver
The Razorba Sum3 Back Shaver is another great option. It's not a great fit for heavy back hair, but it works well for light-to-medium growth, and that's a good fit for a lot of guys—not everyone has full-bear back, and sometimes a "lighter touch" will do. It's got a number of nice features we appreciate:
It's a wet/dry shaver, and you can take it in the shower with you. That can be somewhat rare in the world of electric back shavers, so if in-shower shaving is something you're looking for, it can be a good option;
It's got a very large, very wide 3-inch trimming blade, which can save you a lot of time. It seems like the #1 complaint that a lot of guys have when it comes to grooming is that it takes such a great amount of time, and a wider blade will allow you to shave more skin in a single pass, leading to fewer passes (and hopefully less irritation); and finally
It's got a charger, which is a great option for guys who DON'T travel. If you have a very similar day-to-day routine and shave in the same place every day, charging a shaver is simply part of your routine, and means you'll never need to go scouring through your house or apartment for batteries when the shaver runs out of juice.
Another great pick. Of all the electric back shavers we looked at, this was one of our favorites.
The Best Manual Back Shavers
These are a lot simpler than electric back shavers, and there are three we like:
The Razorba Back Shaver
The Razorba Back Hair Shaver is kind of the OG back shaver—it was one of the first models to come out, and it utilizes a really simple, really unique design to help you shave your back: it has an easy-grip handle with an extension jutting out at a near right-angle, and you load a disposable razor (like a Gillette) into the extension, and use it to shave your back. Easy peasy, and because it's a manual back shaver, there's no wizardry involved: no charging, easy cleaning, and you can bring it into the shower without fear that you'll get electrocuted.
The nice thing about the Razorba is that you can load it with very wide razor blades, so you can cut a lot of back hair in a single stroke. Razorba manufactures something they call the G.O.A.T. ("Greatest of All Time") Razor that's 4.5 inches wide, which can cover a great deal of the real estate on your back. The G.O.A.T. Razors comes with an aloe strip on the razor head to provide a little comfort on your skin, and they're compatible with all Razorba back shavers.
There are a couple of different Razorba manual back shavers, including the Razorba Silencer and the Razorba Warhammer (great name!) and we can't speak for those, but the classic Razorba is a tried-and-true back shaver. A very good bet.
The BakBlade 1.0
If the Razorba is the one of the "original" back shavers, The BakBlade is the model that modernizes the tool. It's an impressive development, really—you might imagine that a back shaver is a back shaver and that's that, because after all, how fancy could it get?—but the BakBlade actually features "dryGlide Technology" that's designed to provide a more comfortable shave. The razor is a little more flexible, and requires less friction to slice through body hair, than other back shavers.
It makes sense, too—many back shavers are similar to the shavers you'd use on your face. But shaving your back isn't really like shaving your face—when you're shaving your face, you can see what you're doing, and adjust your movements as you go over your face, so you don't cut yourself. But when you're shaving your back, you really can't see what you're doing, and a razor that isn't flexible can nick you up. So the dryGlide Technology, designed to make the razor a little more "lenient," is actually a real development.
It's another great option, and one we'd recommend, and of course, it comes with all the benefits of a manual razor—there's no charging, it's super easy to clean under water, and it's easy to change the blades. Those blades, by the way, are nice and wide at 4 inches across (and you can buy BakBlade Replacement Blades when your blades get dull). For all these reasons, we give it the title of "best back shaver" along with the BRO SHAVER, which we'll talk about in a second.
UPDATE: If you're the kind of guy who likes the newest model of whatever it is you're using, the BakBlade 2.0 is now available. It's not quite as flexible, and not quite as long, but it's still one of the better options on the market (in our humble opinion, of course).
The BRO SHAVER
We think the BRO SHAVER is another great option, and it looks very similar to the Razorba and the BakBlade—and it's basically the same model—with one very important difference: instead of using razor blades made specifically for the back shaver, it can use any kind of double-edge razor. The Razorba works best with Razorba wide blades, and the BakBlade works best with BakBlade blades, but the BRO SHAVER can work with any double edge razor blade. It's designed so that you insert three razors into the shaving head, and that can be a nice option, ESPECIALLY if you're a wet shaver, and use double edge razors in your safety razor. If you've already got double edge razors lying around, the BRO SHAVER might actually be a nice option for you.
As for the rest of the features, it's got everything we look for in a back shaver—good reach, nice design, easy to clean. And, if you've got really, really, really thick back hair, this could be a great option—double edge razors are seriously sharp, and they can be a good option for the truly hirsute gentleman.
And... there you have it! Two electric options, and three manual options. We think all of them are top-notch, and we hope that helps!
Back Shaving Tips
You'll find just about anything on the internet, but for some reason, there aren't many posts about how to effectively shave your back—which is odd, because there are plenty of dudes with really hairy backs. So, here are some pointers to help you tame your back mane.
It's Going to Feel Awkward at First. You know why we love having other people scratch our backs? Because even with a long pointy back-scratcher, scratching our own backs is hard. Now imagine shaving instead of scratching. Just as hard, and especially hard at first. If you find that you're unable to easily reach certain areas of your back, or your shaving is uneven and lopsided, hang in there. Using a back shaver is not a natural thing, really, and it takes some getting used to. And, if it's really that difficult, you can always...
Enlist a Romantic Partner. Many guys are surprised to find that many romantic partners find this kind of grooming intimate. A lot of us assume that a romantic partner would find hair removal unattractive—and for sure, some do—but there are plenty of people who will actually feel closer to you after they groom you. Something to think about.
Check for Moles for Growths. This is another reason why a partner is a good idea—they'll be able to tell you if you have any moles or skin growths that you'll want to avoid shaving over. And, if you do have any growths you didn't know about, you may want to take a trip to the dermatologist, just to make sure it's nothing threatening.
Having the Right Tools Helps. This post is about back shavers and hopefully we've done a good job of introducing them to you and reviewing products that would help you. But when we mention "the right tools" here, we're talking about mirrors. Back shaving is much, much easier when it's done in front of a full-length mirror. Most bathroom mirrors don't reflect the lower back, and a lot of guys need to put a lot of attention there. The larger the mirror, the easier the job. That's not an option for everyone, but if it's a possibility, it's something to consider.
There Will Be Blood. When you run a shaving website, it's amazing how often you use that phrase: "there will be blood." But, it's true, especially with non-electric back shavers. Most do a great job of removing unwanted hair, but they're prone to nicking you, or giving you small bumps that bleed a little bit. There are things you can do—using shaving cream or gel can help—but it's a frequent side-effect of using a manual back shaver. It may make sense to shave your back before you shower or while you shower, so you can wash some of that blood away, because blood doesn't usually come out of shirts. And that brings us to our next point:
Decide When You Want to Shave. Most men develop some kind of routine when it comes to grooming, and you'll want to figure out the best time to shave your back. For most guys, it partially depends on the tools you're using: guys who use manual shavers tend to shave before or during the shower—using a manual shaver after you shower is usually a bad idea, because you're wet and sticky and your newly-cut back hair will clump to your skin—whereas guys who use a waterproof electric shaver can shave before, during, or after the shower. Figure out what works before for your routine.
Make a "Map" of Your Back and Have a Plan. This is something we advise for regular shaving, too: develop an understanding of how your body hair grows in, and figure out the best way to manage it. Some guys learn that it's their shoulders that need the most attention; others find it's the area around their lats. Be observant as you shave and discover the areas that you need to look at. It also helps to figure out the direction in which your body hair grows. If you're experiencing razor burn or red bumps, make sure to shave with the grain, and you may see some smoother skin.
Make Sure You've Got Everything. Once you have a good "mental map" of your back hair, be extra certain not to miss any spots. Honestly, it's better to have a back covered in thick, rich hair, than to have a cleanly shaved back with one side-to-side stripe of thick, rich hair.
Switch It Up. Below, we'll discuss other different ways aside from shaving that you can use to remove unwanted body hair (basically, you can shave, use a gel, get waxed, or get laser surgery). Most guys pick one and run with it, but sometimes it makes sense to use more than one option. You may want to use a back shaver as your primary tool, and then use a hair removal gel to pinpoint certain areas that need some more precision. Or, if you find that you can't shave without getting razor bumps, you may want to alternate between shaving and gel. Take a little time and find out what works for you.
Prep If You Need To. Some guys find they're able to strip off their shirt, shave their back, and jump into the shower, and they're good to go. Their skin doesn't react poorly to the shaving process, and they're fine. Other guys may find that the skin on their back reacts poorly to shaving, and they need to use a pre-shave oil, to moisten the back skin and get it ready for the blade, or to lubricate the skin, by using a shaving cream or gel. If your back is roughed up after a shave, it may make sense to do some prep work and get it ready for razor.
Make Sure Your Blade is Sharp. For whatever reason, we find that a lot of guys are quick to replace a blade for their face, but drag their feet when it comes to replacing the blades in a back shaver. If your blades are getting dull—and if they are, you're probably experiencing a "pulling" sensation on your skin when you use it, along with more nicks and cuts than normal—be sure to replace them, and you're much more likely to enjoy a relaxing, cut-free shave.
Rinse Your Blade Frequently. Another mistake a lot of us make is using the blade on a large portion of the back without stopping to rinse the blade clear of hair. Ideally, you should rinse the blade every couple of strokes, before hair clogs the razor and makes it ineffective. It may break your rhythm to keep rinsing the blade, but it actually saves you time—if your razor gets clogged with hair, it becomes ineffective, and you'll end up needing more strokes to clear your back of hair. AND, the more strokes you use, the more likely you are to experience cuts or razor burn. So rinse as often as possible, and the quality of your shave—and perhaps even your skin's irritation—may improve.
Sometimes "Trimming" Is Enough. There's a trap that many of us long-back-haired-men fall into, and that's thinking that ALL back hair must be removed. Sometimes just trimming it is good enough, and increases sensitivity on your back.
Alternatives to Shaving Your Back
Our philosophy when it comes to male grooming is basically "Whatever works," so if you've gotten this far and you're still on the fence about shaving your back, here are some other options you may want to consider, along with that option's pros and cons.
The "High-Pain" Version: Waxing
If you've seen The 40-Year-Old Virgin, you're probably familiar with the scene: Steve Carrell goes with his buddies to get his chest waxed, and he screams and writhes in pain as the woman removes a quarter-inch of his chest hair at a time. Here's the bad news: waxing is uncomfortable. Here's the good news: it's not that bad. It's uncomfortable, for sure, and it stings, but it's not the worst thing in the world. And, because your back is one of your less-sensitive areas, it's bearable. Not fun, really, but bearable. So with that out of the way, let's take a closer look.
Pros: It's quick. You can make an appointment somewhere near your house or apartment, go in, and come out a less-hairy man. If you've got immediate plans—you've got a date tomorrow, or you're going to the beach with friends—it's a great option. Plus, because the person doing your waxing has been trained and has probably waxed hundreds, if not thousands, of other people, he/she will do a good job. So, as for pros, "quick and effective" are always good.
Cons: As we mentioned, it does sting a bit, and it can be costly, especially if you go for waxing once every week or two. It also isn't a great fit for all skin types—a lot of guys find that the treatment is truly effective, but results in red bumps on every surface that was waxed. And, in the end, you're relying on someone else for your own personal grooming habits—if you ever find yourself away from home for a while, you may be unable to find a place that you can go to.
A lot of guys don't really talk about it too much, but waxing is a very popular option for a lot of men, particularly before they head out on a warm-weather vacation.
The "High-Intensity" Option: Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal—sometimes referred to as "IPL," or "intense pulsed light"—is an option a lot of hirsute men explore. And it's easy to see why—it's got a very big advantage.
Pros: Can often be a longer-lasting form of hair removal. Every other option you'll find—shaving, waxing, even using creams (which we'll discuss next)—those are all non-permanent options. The hair will grow back, and you'll need to re-do (and re-do, and re-do, and re-do) all those options. Laser hair removal is among the most effective methods of removing unwanted body hair, and removing it for a long time (note that it is not permanent, and we'll talk about that in a second). Also, it's fairly painless. You may experience a warm sensation when the lasers hit your skin, but that's about it.
Cons: Unfortunately, there are some legitimate "cons" when it comes to laser hair removal. It requires multiple trips (usually one trip a week for six or more weeks) before the treatment is complete. So it's not a good option for the near-term—if you've got a date coming up or if you're going on vacation, you may need a quicker option. And, unfortunately, it's not truly permanent. Most laser treatments alter the way body hair grows back, and instead of fully inhibiting growth, it merely slows down growth, and makes it lighter.
If you're truly tired of constantly grooming your body hair, it may be an option to consider, but be aware of its limitations.
A Very Reasonable Alternative: Gel Creams
This is actually a great option that a lot of guys overlook. Removal cream is easy-to-use—most guys apply it and then wash it off in the shower—and it's a pain-free product that's very effective.
Pros: It's pretty simple! It works very well, and if you're not comfortable using a razor on a part of your body you can't see, a hair removal cream can be a nice alternative. Easy to apply, easy to wash off, and you can have a significant other apply it for you.
Cons: Not too many, really. You need to let the cream sit for a little bit in order for it to break down the hair, and if you leave it on for too long you may experience a slight burning sensation or a rash, but you can figure that out as you use it. The cream itself tends to go pretty quickly—we've had to replace them often—but that's the case with a lot of grooming products.
Probably the biggest name in the game for body hair removal is Nair, and the Nair Men's Hair Removal Cream is one of our go-to products when it comes to back hair removal. The cream itself can be difficult to apply to the more difficult-to-reach areas of the back, but a lot of guys use a lotion applicator (like the Aquasentials Easy Lotion Applicator) to apply the cream effectively.
Definitely an option to keep in mind, especially in conjunction with traditional shaving.
You're a Big Hairy Animal and That's 100% OK
This is obviously a post about the best back shavers you can buy, and if you're looking for a model you can use, we hope you find what you're looking for. But we'd also like to suggest that you may not always need one. Seriously.
We're going to be very honest here: we've noticed that a lot of guys who try to rid themselves of back hair don't feel great about it. We've found that very few of the people who shave their hair off their face dislike the hair on their face, but we've found a lot of the guys who shave the hair off their backs dislike the hair on their backs. So we're here to tell you: don't worry about it. For real. You don't really need to get rid of it. It's part of your body, and there is absolutely NO reason to feel negatively about it. Our culture has this weird obsession with grooming body hair, and it's really unnecessary.
Case in point: we've got a friend who we call The Grizzly, and brother, he's earned his nickname—he calls his chest hair and back hair his "body sweater," and when he puts on a loose t-shirt, you can see the fabric of the shirt resting an inch or so away from his skin, because it's lounging on his tight, springy, thick body hair. He never seemed to care—in fact, he takes his shirts off a lot, at the drop of a hat—and most of us had never really thought too much about it.
That is, none of us ever really thought much about it until we took a trip down to Mexico a few years ago. We were on the beach, and over the week or so we were there, women from all over the world would come up to him and tease him and flirt with him. It was incredible, and honestly, most of us would have never guessed that his insane body hair would actually draw people to him.
But it kind of makes sense, if you think about it. Honestly, body hair may be the most masculine look of all. Anthropologically speaking, body hair shows the world that you are a mature, capable human, and a lot of people equate more body hair with more masculinity. It's not a bad look for a guy. There are plenty of people who find the covered-in-hair look very, very attractive, even if that may not seem to be the case.
So we're not saying, "Don't shave your back." And we're also not saying, "Always shave your back" (and, just to be clear, we're also not saying that if you have a lot of body hair, people are going to come up to you and flirt with you, either. That happened with our friend, but he's also a pretty outgoing guy and absurdly friendly). What we ARE suggesting is that you should explore your thoughts, and if you're shaving your back because you're experiencing some negative feelings about your body hair, please don't. There's no need for it. Seriously—there's really no need for it. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and covered in varying amounts of hair, and there's a LOT more that fits into the realm of "attractive" than our culture says. Whatever your situation, own it, and make it work for you.
OK, public service announcement over.
That's It for Us, But in The Words of Homer Simpson...
"I'm shaving my shoulders! I'm getting it all shaved off...!"
Have fun, be good, and happy shaving!