When do Safety Razor Blades Need Replacing?
The safety razor or double-edged razor has taken a back seat to the cartridge razor and even disposable razors in recent years but like many traditional solutions to our everyday plastic pollution problems, they are currently making a comeback.
As the joy and benefits of wet shaving re-emerge it’s time to re-acquaint ourselves with blade life and how to change safety razors blades.
Why do you need to replace the blades?
When a safety razors blades gets blunt they will begin to tug slightly at the hair before cutting which can lead to irritation. A dull blade will also not glide across the skin as well, meaning you are more likely to suffer from nicks and cuts when you shave.
Although King Camp Gillet did not invent the safety razor he did create a razor with a disposable double-edge blade that became incredibly popular after being issued to millions of soldiers in WW1.
Unlike a straight razor, also known as a cut-throat or double edge razor, which must be sharpened, if you are using a safety razor or a cartridge razor you simply need to replace the blades. Honing and stropping a blade requires considerable skill. While it is possible to use a safety razor blade multiple times without problems, you may find that they become slightly duller after each shave.
When you buy a good quality safety razor the razor itself will last for decades if you look after it. The blade, however, will dull quite quickly and lose its sharpness thus needing to be replaced.
The good news is that double-edged razor blades are inexpensive, recyclable and easy to replace. Unlike their plastic disposable counterparts which cannot be easily recycled and are causing huge landfill issues.
How long do safety razor blades last?
On average safety razor blades should last about a week but this will depend on a number of factors and vary from person to person.
Your Facial Hair Type
How thick or coarse your hair is will affect how long your blade lasts. Thick facial hair means your razor has to do more work and goes blunt at a faster rate.
Coarse Hair – if you have coarse hair, shaving against the grain will cause irritation and a blunt blade. If your hair is really thick replacement blades may be required every 2-4 days.
Medium Hair – if your hair is medium textured, shaving with the grain for your first shave then against the grain will get you 3-7 days before having to change it.
Soft Hair – Fine and soft hair will need a new double edge razor blade every 10-14 days as it does not create friction with the blade.
Your Skin Type
Oily skin – if you have oily skin the blade will dull faster which may cause more frequent nicks and cuts.
Combination Skin- if your face is not overly oily but has some dry patches, shaving against the grain can lead to ingrown hairs which increases the rate at which your blade goes blunt.
Dry Skin – If you have dry skin, shaving with the grain for your first pass then against can reduce irritation and help to exfoliate. A new blade every 7-10 days is recommended.
If you have more dead skin cells on your face, the blade will dull faster.
Your Shaving Technique
The more pressure you apply when holding the razor will cause the blade to dull faster if you are too rough with it. If you have weak hands or suffer from any kind of arthritis this can also lead to frequent nicks and cuts so it’s important not to apply too much pressure.
How you shave can also affect how long your blade lasts. If you are pressing too hard on the skin when shaving with the grain, it can cause irritation and nicks which means you miss hairs when you pass over them again resulting in slower hair growth. If you are not shaving against the grain your hair will grow at different lengths which means you have to go over it more frequently. Too much time spent shaving with the grain can lead to ingrown hairs, razor burn and redness.
The three pass technique is generally recommended for a clean shave, but if you want to get the best from your blade it is important not to spend too long shaving against the grain. It’s also important to use light strokes and let the weight of the razor do all the work rather than applying pressure with your hand.
Speed of growth – How often you shave
If you shave twice a day you will obviously need to change the blade more frequently than if you shave daily or less frequently.
What you are shaving – The area of the shave
Again this would seem fairly obvious. If you are using a razor on your legs that’s a lot more surface area than your head which is a lot more surface area than your face.
How well you look after the blade
If you’ve ever left a razor in the bathroom and forgotten about it you will know that they oxidise (rust). You can help to avoid this by:
- Drying the blade after use.
- Storing it in a moisture-free environment. Out of the bathroom.
- Oiling the blade.
The Blade you use
Not all blades are the same and some will last longer than others. You may also find you prefer a certain blade so it’s worth trying a few. Low-quality blades will blunt faster. High-quality razor blades will give a close shave and cause less skin irritation. Using the the best safety razor will also help elongate the life of your blades.
How you shave
Your pre-shave and shave routine will also affect how long your razor blade will last. For example, using good pre-shave oil and lubricating shaving soap will create less friction for the blade and therefore mean it lasts for longer.
Showering or using a hot towel will also have a significant impact as it softens the hair.
How many times you shave each area also impacts the blade as more passes mean more work.
When to change your blade
As you can see how often you have to change your razor blade is likely to be a very personal thing. The best thing to do is to change it as soon as you notice it has stopped cutting so well either because it is hanging or pulling on the hair or you are having to go over the same area more often. Unlike with a cartridge razor, the blades cost pennies and can be recycled so there’s no reason to risk the discomfort you get from shaving with a blunt razor.
How to change safety razor blades?
Unscrew the razor head to get to the blade.
When changing the blades, make sure the safety razor is down and laid on its head.
Remove the handle, then remove the lower section of the razor head with your thumb and index finger. Then take out the old blade and replace it with a new one.
The blade is sharp, so don’t touch it too much as you might get cut.
If you’re using a butterfly safety razor, unhinge the head and take out the old blade, then insert a new one by putting both ends in first and snapping it into place.
What do to with the used safety razor blades?
The used blades should not be placed in the bathroom bin but instead stored safely until you take them to recycle. A blade bank is really handy to store them in until you are ready to take them to recycle. It also prevents you from cutting yourself with the old blades, which makes waste disposal much easier.
The good news is used safety razor blades are 100% recyclable, unlike disposable cartridge razor blades. Replacement blades are also very economical costing pennies each.
It’s probably much easier than you anticipated to change razor blades, just make sure before you shave that you have a sharp blade and make it part of your eco-friendly shaving routine to check before you shave!