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.