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.
Back Shavers: Review Summaries
Here’s a quick rundown of our picks, and why we think they’re worthwhile:
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Alrighty! Now let’s get to the details:
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 in the “no frills” 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, and we’ve had great experience with it, but if you want the “deluxe” version, you may want to look at…
The MANGROOMER ULTIMATE PRO Back Shaver
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.
There are two features we really like on the ULTIMATE PRO (and by the way, whenever you write ULTIMATE PRO it has to be in all caps, because that’s the only appropriate way to way to express the idea that something is THE ULTIMATE PRO). Those two features are:
1) The “Flex Necks” on the shaving heads. Basically, these wibble and wobble a little bit to “read” the contours of your back. Lesser back shavers don’t have that feature, and they can nick the heck out of you because of it. We’re not saying you’ll never get cut using a back shaver with adjustable heads—that depends on your skill and a whole bunch of other factors—but it can help a lot.
2) The Power Burst function. Features like the Power Burst are one of the reasons why a lot of guys go for electric back shavers over manual back shavers, and that’s because you can “kick it up a notch” when you shave over a patch of really thick hair. For some guys that’s on the shoulders, for others it’s in the small of the back, and for others it’s on the lats—but wherever it is, you can hit the “Power Burst” function and the shaver motor is designed go into overdrive and chew through the hair. Very cool.
All around, this is a great shaver, and one that we recommend.
The Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 3500 Showerproof Body Trimmer for Men
There are a lot of guys who like to use name brands they recognize, and if that’s you, you may want to check out the Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 3500 Showerproof Body Trimmer for Men. Philips Norelco is a big name is the shaving game, and they’ve got rotary shavers, beard trimmers, and a whole lot of other great products (and a few Norelco shavers we review!).
With the Bodygroom 3500, they’ve got a well-designed model that’s created not only for back shaving, but for other areas as well: back and shoulders, chest and abs, arms and underarms, legs, and groin. That’s really all you can ask for in a body groomer! That’s all the areas on your body where you’d want to shave. Well, almost. Ha.
The great thing about big-name manufacturers of shaving products is that they usually include some neat features. After all, the R and D they do for their main shaving products is useful here, too, as it is:
> Easy to clean—simply run it under water, and you should be good to go;
> Safe to use in the shower—which makes it not only more pleasant to use, but also easier to clean;
> Pretty long-lasting—at full charge, the lithium-ion battery gets 60 minutes of run-time, which is very good for a shaving device.
Our favorite aspect of the Norelco Bodygroom 3500, though, is the blades. Philips Norelco REALLY knows what they’re doing when it comes to blades—their entire business revolves around shaving, and they’ve had decades to master the craft!—and the foil on this shaver can be a lot more comfortable than other models.
We’re big fans of electric back and body shavers, and we’ve had great experience with this one.
Best Manual Back Shavers
We love electric back shavers, but what if you don’t like battery-operated devices? Well, here you go:
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 2.0 Back Shaver
We know what you’re saying: how on earth could BakBlade outdo their BakBlade 1.0? Get out of here with that. There’s no improving on the BakBlade 1.0. That’s lunacy.
Well, brothers, somehow—somehow!—they’ve build on the magnificence of the BakBlade 1.0 and created an altogether new back-shaving experience in the BakBlade 2.0 Back Shaver.
We kid, but this is really a solid back shaver, in our humble opinion, and with it’s new, streamlined shape, it really does improve on the original. It’s easy to hold, easy to maneuver, and it slices through hairs pretty easily. It has something called dryGlide Technology, which—as far as we can tell—ensures that the razor performs as gently as possible, by utlizing a less-rigid cutting angle.
That’s really the most important thing when it comes to a back shaver—we want to see something wide enough to shave a great deal of hair (because you don’t want to spend hours shaving), gentle enough to not cut us to ribbons, and effective enough to be worth any nicks we might get. That doesn’t sound that impressive, but it really is—it’s DIFFICULT to create a new product that works and feels good to use, and we think BakBlade has done that here. Others think so too, actually, and BakBlade won an Edison Award for design.
Two things we should mention about the BakBlade 2.0 before we move on:
1) You can still get the BakBlade 1.0—lots of guys still use it, and just get replacement blades for it when the blades get dull. That’s one of the really wonderful things about manual back shavers—when they get dull, just replace the blades; and
2) If you’d like a more “deluxe” BakBlade option, there’s the baKblade 2.0 Elite Plus, which features more blades and an exfoliating pad on the shaver itself. Nice!
The BRO SHAVER Back Shaver
We think the BRO SHAVER Back 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! Our favorite back shavers, in both electric and non-electric form! Hopefully there’s something here that’ll help you (and if not, jump over to our “Contact” page and drop us a note). Back shaving are a little more complicated than you’d imagine, and it can be difficult to select the right products. With that in mind, here are a few other things you may want to keep in mind.
Buying Features of Back Shavers
There are a few things you’ll want to think about 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.
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!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.