How Many Blades Does Your Razor Need?

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How Many Blades Does Your Razor Need?

Why More Blades Does Not Equal A Better Shave

how many blades does your razor need
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Big Razor has led many to believe that more blades mean you’ll have a better, closer shave. It’s not surprising, given the amount of money its spent on advertising to do so. Who hasn’t seen a cartridge razor ad, with slick animations of multiple blades chopping away at pesky stubble? At the end the man seems to have an effortlessly smooth face, with his significant other just that much more attracted to him than she might have been before. 

Big honesty time, we totally bought into this myth too. When we were starting our company, we initially planned to sell cartridge razors. But the more we did our homework, the more we realized that the additional blades don’t actually give you a better shave.  We’re going to share with you some of the things we learned.

What Is A "Better Shave" Anyway?

If you get ten guys together and ask them what the best beer is, chances are you’re going to get ten different answers. Some will advocate for lagers, and others will swear by IPAs. You’ll also probably get a few who have theories about what beer pairs with what situation. In life, what’s “best” or “better” is really subjective, but when it comes to shaving, we think there are some pretty solid criteria that most guys can get behind. The best shave is one that’s close (creates a smooth face with minimal effort), doesn’t seriously irritate the skin, and is the most hygienic. To that end, we’re firm believers that more blades in a razor aren’t going to give you a better shave.

When It Comes To Blades, More Is Less

how many blades does your razor need

So how did multiple blades become all the rage? After all, for most of human history men have been shaving with a single blade (more on that later). Multiple blades became a thing in the 1970s, when Gillette introduced 2-blade cartridge razors. The company accompanied its launch with a massive marketing blitz, and the trend took off. People were convinced that two blades were better than one. Around 20 years later, they added another blade with the launch of the Mach 3. Again, advertising was used to convince people that the extra blade somehow meant a better shave. Competitors soon followed, adding blades to their cartridge razors. Four and five-blade razor cartridges are not unheard of. But were they right?

Simply put – no. If we look at our definition of a better shave, the first criterion is closeness. You can absolutely get a close shave with a cartridge razor, but you’re going to pay a hefty price for it, and not just financially.

You Really Want 5 Blades?

Five Blades Razor Lifting Hair
And Irritating Your Skin

Lifting A Hair Can Cause
Hair To Be Cut Below Skin

Which Can Cause
Ingrown Hairs

Firstly, you’re going to have more irritated skin. Not matter how you shave, you’re going to be scraping a blade across your face, which leads to irritation. With a cartridge razor, you have to multiply that irritation by the number of blades. More blades, more irritation. And those blades aren’t even all designed to cut hair. The first blade pulls the hair up, then cut by the next. This process continues for as many blades as the cartridge has, invariably ending with a blade that pulls hair.

This pulling/cutting mechanism leads to another problem – ingrown hairs. Because the hairs aren’t cut evenly, it leads to the edges of the hairs being sharper. This sharp hair increases the chance of it growing back into the skin, causing ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are a major cause of razor bumps. Razor bumps are just more irritation. This means that multiple blade cartridges fail the low-irritation requirement of a better shave – twice.

Who Cares About Sanitation?

Blue disposable razor on a white background.

What about hygiene? When it comes to multiple blade razors, it’s simply terrible. The closeness of the blades is basically a trap for bits of stubble and all things grime. You can rinse some, but not all of it out. The leftovers are a breeding ground for germs, which means that when you shave you’re not only irritating your skin, you’re doing so with unhygienic blades. More blades definitely do not equal a better shave.

All You Need Is One - One Is All You Need

So what’s so great about single blade shaves? Until the 20th century, men shaved with various versions of straight razors. These were single blades, but maintaining them was time-consuming and dangerous to use. Basically, you were taking a knife to your face, and that’s about as safe as it sounds. With the invention of the safety razor (our specialty here at The Wet Shaving Club) in the early 1900s, you got a single blade that was safe to use that didn’t require sharpening. 

A safety razor is going to give you a close shave. That one blade is there to do only one thing – cut hair. No pulling or tugging like with a cartridge, the safety razor gets right to business. When placed against the skin at thirty degrees, the blade is at the optimal angle to slice right through the hair. Because there’s only one, you’re only going to get a fraction of the irritation of a multi-blade cartridge. But that’s not the only advantage a single blade has.

shave with a safety razor

As we mentioned earlier, cartridge razors with multiple blades tug and pull, which leads to uneven cutting and ingrown hairs. With a safety razor, the hairs are cut at one angle, meaning they’re cut more evenly. Even cut – less chance of an ingrown hair. How’s that for a better shave?

Then there’s the hygiene factor. The gap between the blade and guard of a safety razor leaves plenty of room and doesn’t trap the byproducts of shaving. Anything that might get stuck is easily removed with a quick rinse. You’re not going to get the nasty, germ-riddled residue and leftover stubble of a cartridge razor. Your skin will thank you.

As you can see, shaving with a single-blade safety razor is the better shave. Close shave, less irritation, more hygienic. A classic example of less being more. Our mission is to give you the best shave possible. Head on over to our shave club and get yourself the razor you deserve.

Nick Rosholt

Nick Rosholt

Nick Rosholt is a Los Angeles-based writer, specializing in podcasts and online content. He spends his free time pursuing screenwriting and perfecting his guacamole recipe. Follow him on Instagram @allegedly_nick.

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