Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 10% of the U.S. population is affected by a nickel allergy. That’s a lot of people!
Most people associate nickel allergies and sensitivities with things like earrings and other kinds of jewelry, but nickel is also found in coins, eyeglasses, buttons, zippers, keys, batteries, furniture parts, cell phones, medical devices (such as hip replacements and IUDs), and… razors!
Depending on your shaving habits, your razor might make its way around a good portion of your skin, which could potentially cause quite a bit of irritation. So we investigated a list of the most popular razor brands (including disposables, safety razors, and electric razors), to find out which ones are nickel-free, and which ones aren’t.
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What Are Razors Made Out Of?
These days, most razors are made out of stainless steel and/or a metal alloy. A lot of the metals used in razors contain trace levels of nickel, but it just depends on how they’re made.
Most razors also have extra coatings on them (like plastic and titanium), which help to increase durability and prevent rust. These coatings can also help prevent your skin from actually coming into contact with the nickel in the razor.
Again, at the end of the day, it depends on how exactly that specific razor was manufactured. Some razors contain 5% nickel, while others might contain a fraction of a percentage. In fact, if you have a nickel allergy, you could have used a razor that’s not technically nickel-free but not had a reaction to it simply because the amount of nickel contained in the razor is so small that it’s nearly undetectable.
Signs You Might Have a Nickel Allergy
Nickel allergies can arise at any point in your life. Although some people might be allergic for no reason, others may develop an allergy by direct and prolonged exposure to items that release a lot of nickel. Those who have auto-immune conditions are more at risk for nickel allergies (as well as other allergies) due to the chronic “misfiring” of the immune system.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you have a sensitivity to nickel, watch out for these signs:
- Rash or bumps on the skin
- Itching, which may be severe
- Redness or changes in skin color
- Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn
- Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
- Nausea and vomiting
Consider removing any metal objects from your skin to see if the symptoms go away, and go see your doctor for more help.
5 Brands That Sell Nickel-Free Razors
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic razor, fret not. We reached out to a number of brands to find out whether or not their razors were nickel-free. Here our our findings and recommendations:
Type: 5-blade razor with replaceable refill heads
Billie’s subscription-based shaving products are formulated for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin. Not only are they nickel-free and rust-free, but all of their products (like their shave cream, wipes, lotion, dry shampoo, and more) are made without sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, GMOs, drying alcohols, synthetic dyes, fragrances, or BHT. They’re even EWG Verified, which adds an extra layer of assurance.
Billie’s products are also vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and made in the USA. 1% of their profits are donated to non-profit organizations around the country and around the globe, too.
Type: 5-blade refillable razor
Athena Club is actually pretty similar to Billie, with the main difference being that you can buy your razor refills without a subscription if you want to. In addition to being nickel-free, these razors are made in the USA and come in several different colors (Coral, Sky Blue, Midnight, Rose, Onyx, and Glacier White).
They have lots of other body care products as well, including shave foam, body wash, wipes, lotion, deodorant, and more. Everything is vegan and cruelty-free, and most of their ingredients are natural and non-toxic.
Type: Whole-body electric shaver
This waterproof electric shaver is specifically made for “grooming below the waist.” The blades are actually made of ceramic instead of metal, which helps to reduce scratching and tugging. You can pair it with their non-toxic, pH-balancing “ball spray” for all-day comfort!
Type: Safety razor
There’s usually a bit of a learning curve when switching to a safety razor, but it’s a favorite sustainable switch for those who are trying to reduce their waste by eliminating disposables.
EcoRoots’ (beautiful!) safety razors come in rose gold or sleek black and have just one single blade. They’re 100% plastic-free and 1% of the profits are donated to environmental non-profit organizations. Also, check out their organic shaving soap and flower exfoliant.
Type: 3-blade replaceable razor heads with bamboo handle
Public Goods’ 3-blade razor heads come with a couple of thin moisture strips, a classic-looking bamboo handle, and a razor stand for convenience. Public Goods carries a looot of non-toxic and eco-friendly household and personal care products (including shaving cream) that are much more affordable than other comparable brands.
Type: Safety razor
A bit more of an investment, Well Kept’s gorgeous safety razors are meant to last a lifetime! They’re all made in Canada and come in gender-neutral colors like cream, black, and dusty rose. The razor itself is made from brass, while the blades are made of stainless steel. They also carry other shaving accessories like all natural shave soap, exfoliating cloth, and a canvas wrap for traveling.
Brands That Are Not 100% Nickel-Free
The following brands are not completely nickel-free, although most of them contain very small amounts of nickel. We’ve included some quotes from our correspondences with them to provide some more info.
Flamingo (“Our blades are currently not nickel free — they contain a tiny percentage of nickel.”)
Oui the People (“All of our razors currently contain a nickel coating underneath the color plating.”)
BiC (“All of our blades do contain miniscule amounts of nickel.”)
Dollar Shave Club (“Our blades are made of stainless steel, however, there may be traces of nickel. If there’s an allergy concern we recommend consulting with their physician.)
Harry’s (“Our blades contain less than 1% nickel.”)
Supply Co. (“Our Stainless Steel razors are made from 17-4 Precipitation hardened stainless steel and have a nickel content of roughly 3-5%. The Alloy razors are coated in Nickel Chrome and have a significantly higher nickel content, although specific numbers can’t be accurately given based on the variability between batches.”)
Albatross (“While our razors are primarily made from stainless steel and zinc alloy, the type of stainless steel we use does contain some nickel. We are unsure the exact percentage of nickel, but just to be safe, we would encourage those with a nickel allergy to seek out a safety razor that is 100% nickel free.”)
Preserve (“Please note that nickel is a specified component for stainless steel razor blades and therefore may be present in trace amounts, but the amount is usually too small to detect with standard testing equipment.”
hanni (“Our blades do contain a small percentage (.11%) of nickel.”)
Leaf (“Our razors aren’t nickel free (nickel is a common ingredient in stainless steel, as well as in finishing processes unfortunately).”)
Schick (“We do not add any intentional Nickel to our products, but there could be very small amounts of it (>0.1%) as a byproduct of certain processes.”)
Target Brands (Smartly, up&up, Goodfellow & Co.): We were actually not able to get a straight answer from them. The Target customer service associates we spoke to did not know the answers to our questions.
Gillette (which includes Venus) – They gave us a long response that’s worth noting:
“The stainless steel used in Gillette razor blades contains slight traces of nickel. However, the exposure to nickel from razor blades made to Gillette’s specification is essentially zero.
We use a special stainless steel that has no nickel added as an alloying agent. Our specification to our suppliers limits the amount of nickel present as an impurity to one half of one percent. This is in contrast to the stainless steel used in cutlery which has up to seven percent nickel added.
In addition, all our cutting edges are coated with one or more layers of metallic or plastic materials to improve shaving performance, none of which contain any nickel products. This further minimizes the risk of nickel to skin contact.
If you have a nickel allergy and are concerned about using Gillette products, please check with your doctor or other medical professional first.”
Brands From Whom We Are Still Awaiting an Answer
These are the brands we reached out to but haven’t heard back from yet. We will update this article as we get answers!
Other Potential Culprits for Skin Rashes & Allergic Reactions
Unfortunately, there are a lot of different things that can cause eczema, contact dermatitis (a.k.a. rashes and redness), and/or other skin problems. Some of those things might be internal issues (like a gut microbiome imbalance), or they could be caused by something on the outside (such as a lotion with allergens in it).
For most people, dealing with skin sensitivities usually requires some trial and error. In addition to seeing your primary care doctor, dermatologist, and/or functional medicine practitioner, consider switching to non-toxic and hypoallergenic personal care products and see if it helps to clear things up for you over time. The Filtery is filled with these types of guides, so just type what you’re looking for into the search box at the top of the page, or let us know in the comments below if there’s something specific you’d like us to investigate!
If you live with a nickel allergy, don’t worry: although many razors DO contain nickel, there are several great brands like Billie, Athena Club, and EcoRoots that are completely nickel-free. So you can feel free to shave away!
P.S. If there’s a razor brand missing from this list that you’d like to know about, just comment below and we’ll look into it!
More Sources for dealing with a nickel allergy:
Image Credits: Supply, cottonbro, all product images belong to respective brands