Do more blades mean a better shave?
Unless they have long beards like the ZZ Top guys, most men will shave for thousands of times during their lifetime. Young boys often look forward to the day they will have some beard and be able to shave like an adult. While the process seems like a lot of fun at first, it soon becomes another chore that needs to be done in the morning (when the time is limited anyway).
Any man would like to shave as quickly as possible, but without cuts and irritation. So if a single blade does a good job, does that mean that a razor with 6 blades will get the job done 6 times as fast and effective? Single or double-edged safety razors are still sold, but they are not as heavily marketed as the new and shiny devices with 4, 5 or even 6 blades.
The ads usually state that you can get a closer shave with more blades. But is that actually true? The answer may surprise you, so keep on reading in order to find out.
Do More Blades Mean a Better Shave?
Shaving (especially when done on a daily basis) can be considered an art form for some people: you need to get the closest shave possible, while avoiding irritation, razor burn, cuts or in-grown hairs. We will get into more details below, but the simplest answer is: no! More blades do not mean a better shave, and most of the times they can cause more cuts and irritation than a single or double blade razor.
The Evolution of Razors
Shaving with a straight edge razor was the go-to option for hundreds of years and it did the job very well for men all over the world (some people still use this method to this day). The technique was very important, as well as having a very sharpened blade (which seems quite dangerous to use on the neck). But with the right knowledge and experience, you could get a perfect shave and a silky smooth face.
Then, in 1901, Gillette changed the shaving landscape forever with the invention of the double-edged safety blade. It sold very well, and after the patent expired competitors came up with various changes and improvements.
This forced Gillette to step up their game, and they too came up with new models and technologies. They created 3 bladed razors, added lubricating strips, wear indicators, comfort edges, 4 bladed, 5 bladed and even 6 bladed razors.
Does The Amount of Blades on A Razor Matter?
As mentioned before, 6 blades aren’t necessarily better than 2. And here’s why. In order to get a clean and close shave, the blade needs to cut the hair below the surface of the skin. Even a single blade can easily achieve this. When they added a second blade to the razor, they didn’t just put it there like usual.
The extra blade is a bit blunt and it hooks the hair follicle, pulling it up just a little bit so that the second one can cut it. In the case of 3 blades, the first 2 act as the “hook”, while the third one makes the final cut. The more blades are added, they simply repeat the actions of the primary and secondary blade.
And the worst of all is that the more blades are added, the higher the chances of razor burn, cuts, irritation or ingrown hair. Most dermatologists recommend using just a single or a double bladed razor.
When shaving, you actually remove almost the same amount of skin as you remove hair. Scraping away the outer layer of skin causes the discomfort and the following irritation, so it’s obvious that 6 blades will cut more than 2 (without any significant difference when it comes to the hair).
How To Get A Good Shave?
The ideal shaving conditions would involve a beard that has the same thickness all over the face and grows in the exact same direction. That would allow for a really close shave with no cuts or irritation. But unfortunately that’s not how things are in real life, and hair grows in all directions and has different thicknesses.
There is thin hair, thick hair, curly hair, straight hair and even bi-directionally growing hair. Getting a perfect shave would require patience and preparation.
It would be best to take a shower first in order to soften the hair. But even if that is not possible all the time, make sure to wash your face with warm water for a minute. Then, add the shaving cream and make sure it’s a quality one (if it comes from a metal tube it’s probably not).
Apply a thin but even amount of cream and allow it to lather up fully. Start shaving with short strokes of the razor and rinse it carefully every few seconds. By keeping it clean and wet, it will glide more easily across the skin. After finishing the entire face, apply an aftershave that is free of alcohol.
This will prevent irritation and will also leave a pleasant smell. Some aftershaves also include antibacterial agents and astringent substances, that will cleanse the follicles and skin cells, and also remove dust and chemicals.
If you want to minimize nicks and ingrown hairs, it’s best to shave every other day. Use a single or double blade razor and make sure to replace it after about 6 shaves, depending on a few factors. We discussed more about this in the article “How do you keep a safety razor blade sharp”, so make sure to check out that one as well.
The overall conclusion is that more blades will not result in a better shave, but can actually do more harm. Sure, the manufacturers of razor blades such as Gillette will claim that more blades are always better. And you will also find lots of people who can swear that the 6-blades razor gives them the best shave ever.
Men are very different from one another, and so are their beards. So the best thing you can do is to experiment with various razors and see which one works the best for YOU.