Video: How To Extend The Life Of Razor Blades


It seems like everyone is unhappy with the cost of razor blades. Here are some ways that can make a blade last longer.

First lets correct a common misconception:  It is impossible to “resharpen” a cartridge razor blade. Why? Because to truly sharpen a blade you must have access to both sides of the edge. Even sharpening a double-edge blade would be very difficult because the blade is so thin that keeping the correct angle without flexing the metal would be almost impossible without some kind of machine. Some products play word games with dictionary definitions, but if you ask anyone who sharpens knives or razors for a living you will get the truth. Anyway, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

But that is not to say that a blade’s life cannot be extended. On the contrary, there are a number of strategies and products that can prolong the useful life of a razor blade by slowing down the dulling process. Exactly how much depends on a number of variables, including the metallurgy of the blade, the mineral content of water used for shaving and cleaning the razor, the type of hair being shaved, and even the ingredients of the lather used to shave. However, in my own research for this video I was able to at least double the life of my blades using any of the techniques or products I’m about to describe.

It seems like the best way to extend the life of a blade is to keep it clean, dry, and away from air. This keeps tiny particles picked up from the skin off the blade and slows oxidation which eventually creates chips along the blade edge. Cleaning and drying actions can be combined by rinsing the razor in hot water, then wiping it in the opposite direction from shaving. I use a dry towel but I have seen others do it on denim or even the skin of the forearm. Wiping the blade like this is a form of stropping. By the way, stropping is not really sharpening, its more like polishing off tiny bits of shaving residue from the blade edge and re-aligning the blade edge somewhat. Of course, in the case of a multi-blade razor you’re only stropping one side, but one side is better than nothing.

There are some products that claim to make this cleaning process a little more effective. Razorpit uses a rubber-like surface to clean the blade edge like a squeegee on a glass window. You use a little left-over lather as a cleanser, running the razor over the surface. Then you rinse and dry. Xtenda-blade is another product that uses a treated material to polish the blade surface, though in this case the blade should be dry before using.

Another strategy to slow the oxidizing of the blade is by coating the blades with a thin layer of skin-friendly oil. Mineral oils and cooking oils are commonly used. I happen to like olive oil: its widely available, cheap, and sticks to the blade reasonably well. You can apply a thin layer with a cotton swab or you can immerse the whole razor head in a glass of oil. One less messy alternative is Pacific Shaving’s Blade Oil, a combination of oils that stick well to the blade’s surface.

Finally are a class of products that I view skeptically but do seem to work at least to some extent. These products use the metallurgy of the blade somehow. Some, like Magna-Blade and Razo, claim that magnetic fields can keep the blade edge sharp longer. These claims were difficult for me to verify because they both suggest cleaning and drying the blade first before using.

If you use any of these techniques or products, be sure to leave a comment about how well it has worked for you.

Mark H Mark H (482 Posts)

also known as "Mantic59." Shave tutor and sharpologist.


Comments

  1. mister muleboy says:

    the instructions accompanying Feather blades are adamant that no wiping be done — air drying only.

    i'm not the kinda weenie who always does what he's told, but for some reason i've adhered to their instruction.

    query: am I the kinda weenie who always does what he's told? should i wipe my Feather (not in direction of shave, of course)

  2. T. Webb says:

    Mantic,

    Just to be clear, you're talking about cartridge razors like the Mac3 or Fusion, correct? For my double-edged safety razors I pay about 10 cents per blade and they last for a week at a time.

    I love your work… keep it up, and thanks for all of the help you've been! And my wife thanks you too… she likes my baby-bottom smooth cheeks!

  3. mantic59 says:

    T.Webb – No, these products and techniques apply to DE's as well, though Razorpit is more difficult to use with a DE (have to get the angle juuuuuuust right) and magna-blade would not hold a DE properly.

  4. mantic59 says:

    muleboy – I'll defer to the blade mfgr but they may be thinking of side-to-side wiping.

  5. After reading your previous review on Pacific Shave's Blade Oil I started applying vegetable oil to my blades after shaving and it definitely improved the life of the blade by up to 50%. In your review you said you was going to try vegetable oil for comparison, did you ever try it?
    Also as a passing thought, with the cost of DE blades so low how cost effective are devices like Razor Pit? or are they really aimed at people who are still brainwashed by Gillette and Wilkinson Sword into using their system multi-blade razors

  6. Anonymous says:

    To be honest why take this much time and effort with something like DE blades that is so cheap?

    If the DE blade gets dull just change it.I mean these things cost like what…US$12 to US$20 or so per hundred? Just can't see getting so mental over this. This is why I got into DE shaving in the first place!

    The one thing I do do is rinse the blade in rubbing alcohol by swishing the head of my razor in a small plastic bowl wit this in it for a few seconds after I shave. It appears to get more dirt off as well as remove the water from my last rinse. I do believe this simple procedure does extend the life of the blade by 1 or 2 shaves.

  7. mister muleboy says:

    I mean these things cost like what…US$12 to US$20 or so per hundred.

    Actually, my Feathers cost about $17.50 / 30 blades, or $25 / 50

    So my blades are closer to fifty cents a pop

    Not something I worry about at all, but

    not free

    I'm mainly interested in extending blade
    Life for the

    . . . challenge.

  8. Thanks for the new video. Are you using After Effects?

    The Gillette instructions I've seen say to keep your twist-to-open razor open after you shave and let it dry. I don't know if it has any effect but I do so hoping I'm taking good care of my antique razors. Once a week I squirt Scrubbing Bubbles soap scum remover on the razors I've used to keep them shiny. I wonder, how would that effect blades if you used it on a daily basis and would it be cost effective?

  9. It's been a long time since I decided to quit tampering with my DE blades. Those cost only a few cents which I happily invest. Think of it: the more DE blades you'll buy the longer the producers will stay in the DE blade making business. At least, that's what I'm hoping.

  10. mantic59 says:

    Mike, Anon, Dietmar, etc.: When it comes to DE blades its not really cost that determines whether you want to try to extend blade life, but rather the availability of the blade. It seems like every few years the "best" blade either changes spec. or stops production.

  11. mantic59 says:

    Madrat – I used Sony Vegas and Particle Illusion.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How effective was extenda-blade? did you try this on DE blades?

  13. mischkasmum says:

    I've just posted a review to Xtenda-Blade. My husband and brother-in-law both used the Xtenda-Blade and gave it 100%! Both guys used VERY old blades for the purpose of testing Xtenda-Blade and it passed with flying colours!

  14. shaveyourface says:

    One method you didn't mention that I've heard of before is using rubbing/isopropanol alcohol. Used in the same way as the oil immersion method. It's supposed to eliminate exposure to air and water as well as be a disinfectant.
    I have personally used the Pacific Shaving Blade Oil and it definitely works in extending the blade life by almost twice as long without treatment for me.

  15. I have been using Tri Flow teflon lube for years on my razor. It was originally invented for bicycle chains and I have used it for my knife blades and razor blades for years. It was recommended to me by knifemaker Bob Loveless when I was making hunting and fighting knives some years back. If you put it on Crucible 154 or the stainless steel blades you virtually never have to sharpen the blade because of the protective coating it puts on the edge. I was going through a Gillette Mach 3 blade every week and I thought I'd try the Tri Flow on the blades to see what happened and I now use a blade set for 3-months which is a big savings. Plus I shave my head.

  16. I use the razorpit for de blades.I originally bought it for cartridges,but when I moved to de shaving I thought I would give it a try with de blades.I find that using the razorpit smooths out the blade it feels as if there is no blade in the razor.It is removing burr left over from the sharpening process.I have tried it with the following blades 7o'clock yellow,Astra,Treet,Feather and derby.I find it improves all these blades considerabley.

  17. Robert F. Jaffe says:

    I spray my blades with WD-40. And no, I don’t have any connection with them. This does definitely extend blade life. My project is to get the entire cost of one shave down to less than one cent. Using Gillette products you can’t get to less than a dollar a shave. I use BIC single-edge throwaways. They now last more than two months of daily use.

  18. I use A small mayo jar with cap and fiil just above the razor blade top with olive oil. One blade has lasted with daiyly use easy 3 months. I only replaced it with a new one to see the difference. very little!!

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