Brydie posted "This is How Often You Should Be Changing Your Razor" featuring Dr. Purvisha Patel.
The article includes Dr. Patel’s expert commentary on razors.
As a kid who grew up during the golden age of the Gillette Mach III it’s staggering, if not overwhelming, to see the sheer number and variety of razors out there today. From those with upwards of four blades to models that vibrate or heat up, it’s a great time to be someone who shaves. But with all the bells and whistles taking most of our attention, there’s still a crucial question to answer, no matter how fancy your razor is: How often should I change my razor?
Admittedly, asking "how often should I change my razor?" is kind of a loaded question. Direct it to the companies who make the razors and you’re bound to get a lower number in order to sell more razors. So we reached out to a panel of experts on all sides of the shaving spectrum—including board-certified dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD, master barber Benny Perez, and Pacific Shaving Company founder Stan Ades—to get the full story and to answer the age-old question. Read on for what they had to say.
How Many Shaves Will My Razor Last?
The long and short answer: It depends on the type of razor and where on the body you use it, as the coarseness of the hair you’re shaving ultimately determines the wear and tear on the blade. The coarser the hair, the faster your blade will dull. And you do not—we repeat—you do not want to shave anywhere with a dull blade.
Ahead, a quick overview of the three main types of razors and what you can expect from each.
Great for: Getting a close, clean shave on the face with that awesome feeling of a good, old-fashioned shave. Since the blades can be sharpened, it’s ideal for those who don’t want to spend a lot on their razors.
Not so great for: Patel says straight razors require a steady hand and can cut or nick skin while going over uneven surfaces, so it’s best to avoid using them anywhere else on the body other than your face.
Skill level: Advanced. “It takes practice to learn and perfect a straight razor shave,” Perez says. “Be ready to spend extra time prepping the skin and shaving.”
Number of shaves: Since you’re only using it on the face, a straight razor will give you an average of 5-7 quality shaves.
Great for: Getting a close shave with minimal effort basically anywhere on the body, due to its ability to glide over uneven surfaces. Cartridge razors are ideal for the face, chest, armpits, legs, and anywhere in between.
Not so great for: Guys who don’t want to change their blades regularly, as frequent usage can make cartridges clog with dead skin, hair, and bacteria. Also, cartridges can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, you may want to consider one of the other options.
Skill level: Easy. Ideal for anyone who can hold a razor.
Number of shaves: Face, 5-7; Chest, 5-6; Armpits, 7; Legs, 7.
Great for: Getting a close, effortless shave that, as longtime fan Ades says, “just ‘feels’ like you are shaving.” With an easy-to-use design and cheap blades, the safety razor is ideal for the face, chest, armpits, and legs.
Not so great for: Perez recommends staying away from more intimate areas with a safety razor.
Skill level: Intermediate. Despite its simple operation, if you’ve never used a safety razor before it may be worth asking your barber for a quick tutorial.
Number of shaves: Face, 5; Chest, 5; Legs, 5; Armpits, 5.
Ades personally recommends this iconic safety razor from renowned company Merkur for its ability to achieve a close, effortless shave and its "great shaving action."
Can You Make Razor Blades Last Longer?
As we said, the wearability of a razor is proportionate to the coarseness of the hair you’re cutting. Perez says that typically, body hair tends to be coarser than facial hair, but that’s not always the case. One measure you can take to ensure not only a quality shave but also one that is kinder to your blade is to practice proper preparation. Perez recommends shaving during or just after a hot shower—so that skin is warm and pliable and whiskers are lifted—as well as using pre-shave oil and an emollient, alcohol-free shaving cream to create a super-slick surface for the blade to glide over.
Another way to make your razor blade last longer comes down to how you care for the blade itself. “Razor blades don't really get dull that easy,” Ades says. “Instead, what causes nicks and cuts is the oxidation of the razor blade, which causes it to deteriorate.” In other words, the 24 hours in between shaves does more damage to the razor than the act of shaving itself. Ades recommends drying your razor thoroughly after each use and avoiding keeping it in a humid environment (like the shower).
What Happens When You Use an Old or Dull Razor?
Bad news, that’s what. “If you use a dull razor, then the skin will get traumatized during shaving,” Patel says. Dragging a dull razor across the skin creates micro cuts and tears, which exposes the nerves under the skin to air causing pain, razor burn, tenderness, and itching, not to mention the opportunity for infection. “Constant use of a dull razor over a longer period results in increased pressure used to shave the hair,” she added. “This can increase the risk of infection, scarring, and can break down collagen in the area.” Ades also points out that if the blade is unable to make a clean cut across the hair follicle, you’re liable to develop ingrown hairs.
Therefore, it’s important to pay attention while you shave, especially if you’re nearing the fourth or fifth shave on one particular razor. Watch out for a noticeable lag as the razor moves across your skin, and if you feel any tugging or resistance, stop immediately and change your razor.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Razor
Never share razors: “Don’t share your razor with anyone else,” says Ades, as doing so may transmit bacteria and dead skin cells. Plus, it’s just gross.
Don’t use the same razor on different areas of the body: “The hair on the face is not the same quality as that on the body, so there are different needs,” Patel explains. “The body gets moist and sweaty and using the same razor increases the risk of spreading infection/bacteria and getting ingrown hairs.”
Always keep it fresh and sharp: “A fresh and sharp blade is going to get you the close shave you desire,” says Perez. “You can really feel a blade pulling if it’s not new as opposed to smoothly gliding across the skin.” And the closer the shave, the less often you’ll have to shave.
Choose your shaving product wisely: “The shaving product you use should not be made of anything edible such as coconuts, olives, or butters. If we can eat a product, bacteria and fungus can too,” says Patel. This can increase the chance of developing irritation and shaving bumps.
The Final Takeaway
As you can see, asking something as simple as “how often should I change my razor?" opens the gateway into today’s exciting world of shaving, and taking the right steps to ensure a smooth, healthy shave will help you achieve better grooming habits overall.