Whether you use disposable plastic razors or cartridge razor heads, you may have noticed your blades seem to get dull after a couple of shaves. You might be wondering if it’s worth sharpening your blades, or if you should just keep buying replacements. The answer depends on the kind of razor you use.
Classic disposable razors that come in bulk packages can cost up to a couple bucks each. You can normally get about three to five shaves out of these razors unless your beard is extremely thick. Disposable razor cartridge heads can cost up to three dollars each but will give you eight to twelve shaves.
While it might seem worthwhile to sharpen either type of razor, you’ll get more shaves overall by using (and sharpening) cartridge razors and skipping plastic razors all together. You can extend the lifespan of a cartridge razor head by about five times by consistently cleaning and sharpening the blades.
The reason disposable razor blades need to be sharpened
When you shave your face with a disposable razor, you’re shaving with an already-dull razor. There are only a few brands of disposable razors that aren’t dull out of the box. By sharpening your disposable razors, even after one shave, they’ll last for several more shaves. However, high-quality cartridge razors will last even longer before you’ll need to sharpen them.
Sharpening razor blades isn’t new
The idea of sharpening razor blades isn’t new. Before disposable razors hit the market, both men and women shaved with straight razors, sharpened their blades on a stone, and realigned the blade’s edge with a piece of leather called a strop. Technically speaking, when people refer to “sharpening” a razor, they’re actually referring to the process of stropping.
The difference between sharpening and stropping
Although the process of stropping is commonly referred to as sharpening (since the end result is a better shave), stropping doesn’t technically sharpen a blade – it realigns feathered pieces of metal that get bent out of shape from shaving. True sharpening removes pieces of the blade in order to shave down and create a sharper edge. Although, it’s not easy to truly sharpen a disposable razor since the blades are wrapped in wire.
Stropping should be done frequently to realign the edge of your blade and prevent tugging and pulling on your next shave. It doesn’t hurt to strop your razor after each shave.
How to use stropping to extend the life of your disposable razor blades
Whether you use plastic disposable razors or disposable cartridge heads, it’s easy to clean and realign the edges of your blades by using a pair of jeans. Since the metal used to make disposable razor blades isn’t as hard as a straight razor, you don’t need to use leather. All you need is denim or a piece of canvas and this stropping method.
Place a pair of jeans on a flat surface and run your razor over the material in the direction opposite of what you’d use to shave. In other words, don’t shave your jeans, but push the razor away from you in the opposite direction. Do this about twenty-five times and the process will clean and realign the feathered edges of your blade. Your next several shaves will be smooth and painless. You can use jeans you wear every day; stropping won’t cause any damage.
Safety razors are a sharper alternative to stropping your cartridge razors
If you’re looking for a way to get a better shave all around, you may want to consider switching to a safety razor. Unlike cartridge razors, safety razors are sharper to start with, and they won’t pull your hair out like multi-blade razors tend to do.
You can buy a safety razor and a pack of blades for about the cost of two packs of dull, disposable razors. When you shave with a safety razor, you’re starting with sharp blades, and you can expect to get up to twelve shaves per blade. You can extend that life by stropping your blades. When you run out of blades, you can get more for about $0.25-$0.50 each.
Although you can strop your disposable razors, a disposable razor’s blade will never be as sharp as a safety razor’s blade.
Whether you prefer to continue using disposable razors or you switch to a safety razor, be sure to strop your blades frequently to extend the life of your razor and get a smooth, close shave.