May 19, 2016 by Jack

Ever catch yourself in a drugstore shopping for a new razor and wondered whether you should splurge on the one with more blades in hopes of getting the closest shave possible? Don’t feel bad; that’s the intended effect. Thing is, the ability to fit more blades on a razor wasn’t considered a benchmark of technological advancement until—well, until we were told as much in advertisements beginning in the ‘70s. We laughed at the idea then. So what’s changed? (Hint: the opinion of dermatologists has remained the same.)

A “close” shave, indeed: Multi-blade cartridges operate under the principle of hysteresis (don’t bother googling it—you’ll never get that time back), a term borrowed from physics to describe how the blades work together to simultaneously pull and cut whiskers. The result is that your facial hair is often cut below where it meets your skin’s surface. Closer than close, right? Maybe so, but it’s hard to feel good about a 7 o’clock shadow when your skin’s on fire.

More blades can mean more irritation, mainly because those blades can easily push hairs (and gunky buildup) back down, which can lead to razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and serious razor burn. Put simply, razor burn describes your skin’s reaction to having a razor blade raked across it, commencing the eponymous burning sensation and subsequent redness. The two biggest culprits behind razor burn? Dull blades and buildup of bacteria—mostly dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. The spaces between blades on multi-blade cartridges can trap this buildup between the blades and your skin. So change your blade out every fifth shave and rinse your blade with warm water constantly while shaving.

Double Edge Safety Razor is better because a single fresh blade in a properly weighted handle minimizes pressure on your skin and can reduce the harmful buildup of bacteria—both of which can cause irritation, bumps, and razor burn. A close shave depends on the proper skincare routine for your skin type more so than on the number of blades you use.

There’s the added benefit that it’ll save you money. When you’re dropping $5 a cartridge, it’s not as easy to toss out blades after every fifth shave. Luckily, replacements for safety razors are dirt cheap—less than $15 for 100 blades. So making the modest initial investment is worth it when you consider that your German-engineered razor will probably outlast you.