Razors are pretty hard, right? And hair, you would think, is pretty soft. Razors, made from the same material they make skyscrapers and megayachts, should be able to stand up to a few strands of hair. But the reality is that each razor only has so much cutting power, even against a wispy teenage moustache. And for the best shave you need to switch up your razor from time to time. Today we’re going to pull apart why this happens, look at why blades go dull and how often you should change them.
No country for old blades
Razors are harder than hair, 50 times harder in fact, so why do they go dull? Well it turns out a team of metallurgy researchers (that’s code for metal nerds) wanted to know the answer to that question too. So they started exploring what causes hair to wear down razors. They’re literally doing cutting edge research which also happens to be figuratively cutting edge research as well.
The team of researchers from MIT worked with disposable razor blades to understand what mechanism causes steel to bend to hair’s will. What the researchers and honestly what I also would have assumed was that the repeated contact between razor and hair was causing the blades to go dull. If it’s only 50 times harder than hair then every 50 strokes they’d be at an equal level of hardness.
The answer is more complicated than that. It turns out that much like a professional fighter the hair will find a weakness in the blade material, i.e. a point where the razor has differences in levels of hardness and will wear down the weaker part until the blade is done for. The weakness in the material cause chips which will eventually become bigger and bigger and can lead to all kinds of unfortunate consequences.
(You can read their full research paper in Science.)
Changing it up
So why change your blades? Well the dulling and chipping will eventually lead to the razor starting to pull on your hair. And the point where the blade chip being the most likely place for the blade to give you a nick. As the blade gets duller you’ll also find yourself using more force to get a close shave, increasing the chance of razor burn.
For more tips on avoiding razor burn see: Razor burn – soothe and avoid those painful polkadots
A different reason to change up your blades is for different parts of your body. You wouldn’t use the soap you wash your ass with to clean your face would you? And you shouldn’t be doing that with your razor either. Research has suggested that shaving downstairs can actually increase the risk of some viral infections due to microtraumas in the skin. This risk is obviously increased if you’re using blades which aren’t sharp and can cause you nicks. So if you must shave downstairs use a new blade and take your time.
For more tips on how to get ‘em as smooth as eggs with the minimum of fuss see: How to shave your balls… keep em warm.
This isn’t a simple question to answer. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ll know that different people shave in different ways. From people who just shave their face to swimmers and bodybuilders shaving every inch of their bodies. Everyone shaves in their own way and as often as it suits them.
How often you shave, the size of the area, and how coarse your hair is will all play a factor in how often you should change your razor.
Some tips for how to know when to change your blade are:
- Looking at the blade itself. Hold it up to the light. Does the surface look inconsistent? It could be chipping or rust. Change it up.
- How does it shave? Is it pulling and tugging? Then it’s time to change it up. Unless you’re not using enough Foaming Shave Gel that is. Razor’s can’t do it all on their own.
- Changing body parts? Then it’s time to change cartridge. Having trouble remembering which cartridge you use for your face and which for your armpits? Our blades for regular, sensitive and really sensitive skin are coloured to make it easy to tell them apart.
For some tricks to keep your razor working for longer see How to look after your razor. And to keep you looking fresh longer we’ve got articles on shaving almost everything. As our CEO always says “If you can reach it you can shave it.”
Did you know we have a razor recycling programme? So everytime you are finished with your old razors, up to three packs, you can return them to us and we’ll recycle them. We even pay part of the cost of recycling so we’re working together to keep the world as clean and fresh as you.