Multi-blade razors are popular, but single blades might be better. Here’s why

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Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen razor and shaving companies competing heavily to see who can fit the greatest number of blades on a razor. Gillette, for example, is known for its multiple lines of 5-blade razors. Presumably, shaving with multiple blades is the superior experience because the parallel placement of the blades allows you to catch hairs more consistently, leading to a closer and more consistent shave, and because they distribute pressure evenly, resulting in a more comfortable shave.

However, companies like Shave.net are contesting this conclusion by offering a wider selection of single-bladed razors and straight razors, and consumers are increasingly buying these simpler products. Why? Because in most ways, single-bladed razors offer the better overall experience.

Less Irritation

Multi-blade razors do have a couple of advantages, but those advantages have downsides. For example, the multiple blades can potentially cut hair beneath the skin, resulting in a somewhat closer shave; but this can result in the hair becoming mispositioned, ultimately resulting in ingrown hairs, bumps, and other forms of irritation.

Similarly, it’s important to understand that each blade passing over the skin has some effect on it. These are sharp metal instruments, and each of them can irritate the skin on contact. Using five blades instead of one will inevitably result in five times as much irritation. If you suffer from an itchy or burning feeling after shaving with a multi-blade razor, the multiple blades could be the main culprit. It’s one of several reasons why dermatologists frequently recommend single-bladed razors.

A False Sense of Security

Shaving with multiple blades can also give you a false sense of security. More complex razors often market themselves as being safer and more comfortable, and they often look more comfortable. For example, they might come with several tightly-packed blades, a lubricating strip, and a pivoting head. It feels good to hold as well. All these factors combined lead you to believe that this is the ultimate shaving experience, and that it would be nearly impossible to hurt yourself while shaving.

Inevitably, this attitude results in men shaving haphazardly. They shave much faster than normal, using long strokes instead of short, efficient ones. They speed over problematic areas like their Adam’s apple. They don’t pay attention to the consistency of their downstrokes or upstrokes. As a result, they end up cutting themselves and damaging their skin much more frequently.

By contrast, when shaving with a fixed-position single-blade razor, you know you’re dealing with a sharp, potentially dangerous instrument. Accordingly, you’re going to pay much closer attention to how you’re shaving. You’re going to use small, tightly controlled movements. You’re going to be careful, and you’re going to be more conscious during the experience. The end result is fewer injuries and less skin damage.

Cost

It’s also worth noting that single-bladed razors tend to be much less expensive than their multi-bladed counterparts, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Obviously, multi-bladed razors use several times as many raw materials as their single-bladed counterparts, and they often include extraneous features, like extra padding or strips. They’re also frequently the subject of expensive marketing and advertising campaigns, forcing companies to charge more for their end products.

Single-bladed razors, on the other hand, usually skip the pomp and circumstance. They offer a simple razor at a low price, and offer refills at a ridiculously low price. If you shave every day, you could save hundreds of dollars by switching to a single-bladed razor.

Switching From Multiple Blades to One Blade

There is a caveat to these findings, however. If you’ve been shaving with multiple blades your entire life, switching to a razor with only one blade can present a bit of a learning curve. Your first few times shaving with a single-blade razor, you may accidentally nick yourself, or you may find it difficult to control the blade. You’ll have to spend more time than usual controlling your strokes and making sure you shave closely and comfortably. However, after a few sessions, you’ll find it even easier to shave with a single-blade razor than you did with a multi-blade razor. It’s well worth the temporary discomfort and investment of time.

Overall, razors with a single blade are better for shaving than razors with multiple blades, no matter what the marketing campaigns try to tell you. While multiple-blade razors can get beneath the skin for a closer shave, that isn’t always an advantage; in fact, multiple blades can result in more ingrown hairs and shaving irritation.

Though it might take some time to relearn how to shave with a single-blade razor, it will ultimately make shaving cheaper, more comfortable, and more consistent.

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