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October 1, 2013
Are single-blade razors better than multiple-blade razors?
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In recent years, the trend has been for razor manufacturers to pack ever-increasing numbers of blades into their razors. You’re not alone in thinking that razors have become absurdly complicated and over-the-top with something like 8 blades and a slew of moisturizing strips and exfoliating features. So if you’re looking for a comfortable shave that doesn’t leave you with a face full of razor bumps, you would be better off resisting the trend. Using a single-blade razor in combination with a high quality pre-shave oil and after-shave lotion is the best way to prevent razor bumps and shave overall.

The Problem With Multi-Blade Razors

As shaving advertisements are so fond of telling you, every stroke you take with a multi-blade razor results in the blades passing over your skin several times. The first blade that passes pulls the hair up, while the second and third blades cut through the hair with increasing closeness. What they don’t mention, however, is that the blades end up cutting the hair under the skin as well. While this is one way to get a close shave, it also exponentially increases the probability of hair getting trapped beneath the skin and resulting in painful ingrown hairs, especially for men with curly hair. The irritated hair follicles around the ingrown hairs swell up to form angry red razor bumps.

Many men who suffer from razor bumps take days off from shaving to give their skin a chance to recover. While this is necessary to allow the razor bumps to heal, it also means that the beard is longer the next time you get to shave. This increases the risk of tugging at the hair, which leads to even more irritation of the hair follicles. It’s a vicious cycle.

Why Is a Single-Blade Razor Better?

In contrast to a multi-blade cartridge, a double-edged, single-blade safety razor moves across the skin at a much gentler angle, cutting cleanly through the facial hair without pulling. The likeliness of ingrown hairs is significantly reduced and the skin experiences less irritation overall.

You don’t need a razor that cuts off your facial hair under the skin to achieve the clean-shaven look. The safety razor gently lifts each hair as it passes, so that the single blade can cut through the hair close to the skin, leaving hairs nearly imperceptible to the eye but assuring that they won’t become ingrown.

Although the price of a high quality double-edge safety razor may be higher than your average multi-blade razor, the investment is more than worth it in the long-run. In fact, it’s more cost-effective when you break the costs down over time. Single blades are extremely affordable at approximately 20 cents apiece. Compared that to overpriced cartridges, which retail for approximately $2 to $3 and must be used with multi-blade razors. Factor in the increased facial comfort that you’ll experience with a single blade, and you’ll soon realize that you scored a much better deal.

A growing number of men are shunning multi-blade razor cartridges as well as electric razors in favor of the single-blade as they realize the benefits of traditional wet shaving methods. Once you have mastered the technique of shaving with a double-edged safety razor, you will find that your skin is much smoother, more hydrated, and less prone to razor bumps.

Why Are Single Blades Not More Popular?

You may be be asking, “Are single blade razors are really that much better than multiple-blade razors? If so, why aren’t they more popular or heavily marketed? When was the last time I saw a razor commercial with fewer than 3-5 blades featured?”

The answer, simply, is due to patents. In the early 1900s, Gillette became famous due to their disposable blades, much like the ones we see in double-edge razors, and the company ended up patenting this process. About 20 years later that patent ran out, opening the market to many new players. This turned the double-edge safety razor into a widespread commodity. This didn’t help profits at all, so during the ’70s and ’80s the disposable cartridge and double-blade cartridge head were invented and patented. Gillette and others marketed these inventions as superior to double-edge razors since they would be the sole sellers and could therefore keep the profits for themselves. Over the years, the cycle has repeated itself, resulting in today’s ridiculous 6-blade contraptions that don’t ensure a better shave at all.

Our Recommendation

Go back to the original. Shave the way your grandfather shaved, and experience a better, smoother, and cheaper shave with a double-edge safety razor.

How to Use a Double-Edge Safety Razor

Before shaving, you should always moisten the face with warm water to open up the pores. Next, apply a pre-shave oil to soften the beard and lubricate the skin. Work up a generous lather using a high-quality shaving cream and a shaving brush. The lather helps the razor to remove hairs without causing skin irritation.

Once you are ready to shave, you need to use the proper technique when passing the razor over your skin. Traditional double-edge razors are designed to glide lightly across the skin at an angle of roughly 30 degrees; you do not need to apply pressure. Always shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize the risk of razor bumps, nicks and future ingrowns.

After shaving, apply an after-shave lotion to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Your after-shave lotion should contain essential oils, such as tea tree oil and jojoba oil, to reduce the risk of razor bumps and irritation. Enjoy your new shave—it’s a good look.