Safety razors are a fantastic alternative to disposable or cartridge razors. They provide a quality shave, are better for the environment and save you money, but how long do safety razor blades last? Discover answers to this and related questions below — including how much you’re likely to spend on safety razor blades...
Why Do Blades Need Changing?
Safety razors are designed to be a lasting tool that can be reused for decades. However, blades naturally lose their sharpness with time and use, which makes them less effective at providing a clean and close shave. This means that while the razor might last, the blade does not.
Having a dull blade not only makes shaving less effective, but it can also lead to nicks and cuts - a dull blade doesn’t glide across the skin as smoothly. This can lead you to overcompensate by applying pressure to the blade. When shaving with a safety razor, you shouldn’t apply pressure, but let the weight of the razor do the work. Applying too much pressure can lead to cuts.
A dull blade will tug slightly before cutting instead of easily slicing through the hair as a sharp blade would. This can lead to irritation, making your shave less comfortable.
Unlike straight razors, which offer the same longevity but need stropping and honing to maintain sharpness, a safety razor blade can be replaced. This means you don’t have to worry about the skill and time it takes to sharpen a blade, but can still get an environmentally friendly razor which shaves effectively and saves you money.
How Long Do Safety Razor Blades Last?
On average, a man shaving daily should expect his razor blade to last around a week. This means that a razor blade will need changing after about 6 shaves if you shave using the three-pass technique (with the grain, across and against). Most people change their blade somewhere between 1 and 7 shaves.
However, this is just a rough guide as there are a lot of different factors that impact the actual length of time a safety razor blade lasts from how you store it to how you use it.
Factors That Influence How Long Blades Last
The length of time that a razor blade lasts depends on a range of different factors…
The thickness or coarseness of your hair impacts the speed at which your razor blade will become dull and how often you’ll need to change it.
When a blade does a lot of work, it loses its sharpness. If you have thick and coarse hair, then the blade will need replacing more often. If you have very fine hair, then you can get away with changing it less frequently.
This applies for both facial hair and any other hair which might be shaved, such as leg hair.
Speed Of Growth
The speed at which your facial hair grows back will impact how often you have to shave. Some men will experience that 5 o’clock shadow and have to shave every day, while others will be able to leave it a couple of days between shaves.
Personal preference will also impact how often you shave. If you don’t mind a bit of stubble and your workplace allows it, you might choose to leave your facial hair a few days between shaves.
Your razor will need changing approximately every 6 shaves (give or take) so the frequency with which you shave will impact how often you’ll have to change the blade.
Surface Area of Shave
The size of the area you’re shaving will also impact the speed at which the safety razor blade will become dull and need replacing. Some men grow hair more thickly on the cheeks and not much on the neck area, while others will have to shave from the cheeks right down the neck (and sometimes beyond!).
You also might be shaving your legs rather than any facial hair, which is a larger surface area than the face. This means the blades might need changing more frequently than a man who is shaving his facial hair. However, it will depend on how fine your hair is and how often you shave.
All blades should be made from stainless steel or stainless steel alloy, but this doesn’t mean they’re all the same.
Each blade manufacturer makes their safety razor blades slightly differently. The material of the blade, the grinding, the thickness and the coating will all impact a blade’s performance and longevity. This means that different blades will be sharper to begin with and will vary in lifespan.
It can be a good idea to try a few different brands of safety razor blade to get a feel for what works best for your skin. Once you get used to a brand, you’ll have a better idea of how often those blades will need changing.
The technique you use to shave also impacts the speed at which the blades become dull. The grain describes the direction in which your hair grows. Generally speaking this is downward, but you’ll probably notice that it’s not at a 90 degree angle and the direction of growth is not uniform across the face.
The three-pass technique is the best way to get a very close shave. This means shaving with the grain (the same direction as hair growth), then across (horizontal to hair growth) and then against the grain (the opposite way to hair growth). The three pass technique is very effective but will dull the blades quicker than a single pass.
It’s also worth noting that shaving against the grain wears the blades out quicker than shaving with the grain. It’s always recommended you perform a first pass with the grain before shaving against it.
Where and how you store your safety razor blades (or the full safety razor) will also impact how long the blades last. The blades are made from stainless steel, which means that it can be corroded by moisture and other chemicals over time. This is called oxidation and it leads to the blades becoming dull.
Drying The Blade
There are various ways that you can keep your razor blades sharp. The most basic is to ensure you dry off your blade before storing it and to keep your safety razor in a dry place — not exposed to moisture on the shower shelf.
Ideally, you should remove it from the bathroom completely so the steam and humidity in the air can’t corrode the blade, but if that’s not practical you could keep it in the bathroom cupboard.
As well as drying the blade after use, you could store it in oil, such as baby oil. Oil and water don’t mix, so this would prevent moisture and oxygen reaching the blade and corroding the metal, helping it to last longer.
Other Razor Blade Questions
How Much Will You Regularly Spend On Safety Razor Blades?
Knowing how long safety razor blades last will help you know how much you’re likely to spend on new razor blades. New blades cost somewhere between 15-40p depending on the brand you choose to use. If you change the blade once a week, replacing the blades will cost approximately £10-£20 a year.
In contrast, a cartridge razor head costs upwards of £2.20-£2.40. If these last approximately 3 weeks each, they’ll cost a minimum of £40 a year.
How Do You Know If Razor Blades Need Changing?
If you notice more skin irritation, you can feel the blade pulling on your hairs slightly or your shave becomes less effective, you’ll know that it’s time to change the blade. You might also notice that it takes less time for the hairs to come back because the blade is no longer cutting as close to the base or that you’re getting more nicks that usual.
How to Dispose of Safety Razor Blades
Safety razors are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that they’re made entirely of metal and the whole blade can be recycled. There are a variety of different ways to dispose of safety razor blades including collecting them in the original blade case, making a sealed bank from an old jar or tub, or recycling them in a metal blade bank.
For more information, view our blog on how to dispose of safety razor blades.
If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have a huge range of safety razors and razor blades available to buy from all the leading brands.