If you have a nickel allergy — which may affect up to 16% of women, and 3% of men — finding a safe razor blade for shaving is just one of many day-to-day problems you might encounter. In fact, there are so many, that I recently published a new book, The Metal Allergy Guide (pictured right), to address the many facets of this common allergy — including jewellery, make-up, diet and other considerations.
But when it comes to razors, you’ll find that blades are generally made from stainless steel, which contain varying, though low proportions of nickel. While nickel-free grades of stainless steel exist, none would be useful in a razor, because without nickel, a durable sharp edge is impossible. Titanium-covered blades appear to be the only option.
When it comes to electric shavers — for both men and women — there are a few choices.
Wet Razors / Blades
Titanium coating helps blades stay sharper for longer, but continued use will wear them down, exposing the steel — and hence low-level nickel — underneath. Change blades regularly. Also: consider using a plain oil (such as argan oil) as an additional protective layer under your shaving foam or gel. Bear in mind that it’s possible to be sensitive to titanium too — see my article here — but this is quite rare.
This brand’s razor blades are made from stainless steel, but their Triple Razors titanium coated, which effectively creates a barrier between the steel and your skin. Their Shave 5 razors are ceramic-coated. Preserve say that the level of nickel in the steel they use is usually too small to be detected, and nickel allergy sufferers have reported they can use them safely.
In the US, find their selection from Walmart or Amazon.
In the UK, the triple blade and replacement razors are stocked by Planet Organic, but you can also buy on Amazon.
Wilkinson / Schick
Like Preserve, they produce a few titanium-covered razor blades, although I’ve been unable to find any reports of success, which may suggest the underlying nickel content is greater in these than in Preserve’s. On the plus side, these are far more widely available, and may be a better starting point to see whether you can tolerate them.
In the UK, the Quattro Titanium parallel four-blade razors come in standard, precision and sensitive. Browse here on Amazon.
In the US, Quattro Titanium options are available under the Schick brand. Click here to view.
Is Australia, try the Schick website here.
The only double-edged blades I’ve been able to find which are titanium-coated come from Asia.
These, by SuperMax, pictured right, and stocked by Razor Emporium in the US, might be worth a try.
They’re harder to order from the UK, but there are a few vendors on eBay.
You may need the razor to hold the blade. Most will be made from stainless steel, and may leach nickel. Standard Razors in the US, however, use nickel-free aircraft grade aluminium alloy and told me they have several satisfied nickel allergic customers. See their website here, or find their Standard Razor with Stand on Amazon.
Electric Razors / Shavers (for men)
Panasonic Single Blade Travel Shaver
Model ES3831 or ES3831K (right) describes itself as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘nickel free’. The foil is made from a tungsten alloy.
Wahl Rechargeable Foil Shaver (US / Canada only)
Model 7339 from Wahl comes with a titanium foil head, “designed to help shaver bumps and for sensitive skin or those with allergies”. Replacement foil heads are available separately too.
I’ve been told their rotary shavers are nickel-free, but their foil shavers are not. I am trying to establish with Remington whether or not this generalisation is true, and have not yet verified this. Meanwhile, the most promising appear to be their range of titanium shavers.
Electric Razors / Shavers (for women)
I found the following options for women on Amazon, and all describe themselves as “nickel-free, hypo-allergenic”, although NB I’ve not been able to find them on the respective brand websites to confirm this.
Panasonic Ladies Wet / Dry Shaver
Happy Hours Ladies Wet / Dry Shaver (US only)
Aenmil Ladies Wet / Dry Shaver (US only)
There are a number of hypoallergenic options for women on Amazon too, where you will find some ‘smooth and silky’ shavers which appear to be nickel-allergy safe.
And finally ….
If you’re unsure of the nickel status of any existing shavers and razors you have that you would like to test — or indeed other metal-based products you use or come into contact with — you might try using a cotton bud with a few drops of a solution of dimethylglyoxime — which turns pink when rubbed onto a metallic surface containing nickel.
There are a few options: the Delasco Nickel Spot Test (US), Nickel Alert (US) and Squarix Nickel Test Sensitive (UK). Use with caution and only according to instructions, though, as the solution can discolour surfaces and damage other materials.
From what I can find (for some reason only in German), the blades and foils in all newer Panasonic electric razors are nickel-free. I was recently with nickel allergy and purchased an Arc5 (ES-LV9N-S) hoping it would solve my problems, and I can confirm that it causes no allergic reaction. It is an aggressive razor and can cause a bit of irritation while you get used to it, but no allergy!
Here are the links to some Panasonic Germany pages specifically mentioning their razors are nickel-free:
What a great tip – thanks so much, Mark. I will do some more more digging about this.
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I have found Treet Black Beauty (carbon steel) give me a allergy free shave. https://www.amazon.com/Treet-Carbon-Beauty-Double-Safety/dp/B06ZXSD5CD/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=f0313-20&linkId=b39132b4abbac178d98ea0b11747ce1f&language=en_US
Thanks for sharing, Phillip. Do they have a website? Can’t seem to find one, and would like to contact to enquire on their materials.
I cant find a website either. I just buy them from E bay. I believe they are made in Pakistan.
Not much help. Why can’t they be more clear. I seek a nickel free rotary shaver. Beware of those “Titanium” shavers – many are just talking about the blades and still contain a nickel based foil. It’s very silly.
I’ll try to update this page at some point, WeirdCity, as I’m sure things have moved on since I wrote it. Will add it to the to-do pile!
A good study has been done: https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/html/10.2340/00015555-1160
I have been searching for months for a truly nickel free razor. Currently emailing all the companies. May have to use either a women’s razor or a manual one. Will update you if I find one. Check that study it’s really good. I don’t think the major shaving companies have released the massive gap in the market that exists for a nickel free truly hypoallergenic razor, Who wouldn’t opt for that type of razor (even those without a nickel allergy). Because here;s the thing – I am convinced that that thing they all think is a “shaving rash” is actually a nickel reaction (given 20% of the population have varying degrees of nickel allergies).
It annoys me that Remington’s “titanium foil shaver” is actually a titanium bladed foil razor. I have emailed them to confirm if the actual foil contains nickel (as the foil is not titanium just the blades). A nickel free razor (as per the study) would need to have both nickel free blades and a nickel free foil (or rotaries). I think your article is great, and people struggling should use manual nickel free razors above or check with the companies (such as remmingtons) whether their titanium range actually contains nickel. I will let you know what their response it. Andis titanium foiled razors (the foil is nickel free in this case) also look promising – though this time I am awaiting a response as to whether the blades contain nickel. As per the study – it seems to be the interaction of the blades and the foil that creates the nickel particles. So assume both would need to be nickel free to be truly “hypoallergenic”. Apols for rambling -just trying to save others the hell I have been through looking for a new razor). lol.
No apologies needed, and appreciate your input here very much. I will put some work in on this article when I can and read the paper too. I’m just currently overwhelmed with other projects, but I promise to come back to it. Thank you!
I tried the titanium shick due to this site. And had the worst allergy attack. Had to take Benadryl and steroids immediately from those.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT TRYING
Sorry to hear this, Hannah. I can’t think why it was so severe, if this is unusual for you. Were you using any acidic product / gel / soap with it? Did you patch test on a small area first? It might be worth letting the brand know your experiences.