Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Frugal Shaver: Maximizing Effective Blade Life

It is possible to optimize the durability and cutting performance of a DE blade. Below are some do-s and don't-s to maximize the useful life of a DE razor blade.


  • Don't palm strop, arm strop, or strop in any way a coated blade. The coatings are thin and relatively vulnerable, and any abrading against the blade edge will prematurely wear away the coating.
  • For the same reasons as given in the preceding bullet, don't even wipe a coated blade clean or dry. The wiping is just another form of abrasion that will unnecessarily remove some of the coating from the blade. Some blades even have that proscription printed right on their wrapper: Do not wipe blade.
  • Though blades are made of stainless steel, which resists corrosion, the fragile blade edges are susceptible to oxidative reactions, so if you want your blades to last as long as possible, don't put your razor away with the blade wet. This begs the question of how to dry the blade, since the preceding bullets advise not wiping or stropping the blade if it is coated. This is answered in the do list below.
  • Do rinse the stubble, soap, and other contaminants off your blade after the shave.
  • Do dry the blade, but not by wiping or stropping if it is coated. My daily ritual includes removing the blade from the razor and putting the rinsed blade flat on a dry washcloth, which itself is flat on the bathroom counter. (I also use the washcloth as a surface for disassembly and reassembly of my three-piece razors.) I then take a square of toilet paper and lightly press it on the blade to dry the upper surface. I then turn the blade over onto a dry part of the cloth and use the same square of TP to press onto the second side of the blade to dry that. (I then use the TP square to dry the razor head prior to reinserting the blade for the next day's shave; see the following bullet.)
  • You may wipe or strop an uncoated blade without damaging it.
  • Do ensure that your razor is dry before you re-insert the used blade. This will not only help extend the life of each blade (assuming you use a given blade for more than one shave), but may in some cases -- though not all -- also help extend the life of your razor.
  • Do store the razor and blade in a space that is relatively dry, not humid.
  • As an alternative, some store their razor and blade submerged in a small quantity of mineral oil. This can work as well, but I choose not to do this because it can be messy and I don't want to have an open jar of mineral oil around that might get spilled.
Is it necessary to take this advice? No, if you simply rinse and shake out your razor, it should be fine -- especially if you periodically clean, dry, and lubricate the razor. As for the blades, they'll be fine too; you just might not get as many good shaves from a blade that isn't handled for optimal durability.

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. Two of these factors might interact: I like to apply oil to my palm where the blade will later be stropped, and use the same drop of oil to load my fingertips and moisturize.

    Driving the edge into skin with bad technique during shaving seems to be an overriding consideration, though. Bluebirds never lasted for me, until I learned to correlate pressure to blade angle. The lower the angle, the more pressure may be applied perpendicular to the skin.

    In addition, the handle must be gripped firmly at any angle, to avoid turning the edge like a vaulting pole. When the vibrations of the handle are damped, greater energy remains to spring the edge forward, coincidentally producing the razor's "song."