Prolong razor blade life with proper care, maintenance

June 1, 2010

For years, people have been trying to make expensive razor blades last longer. The currently marketed razor blade cartridges are designed to last five to seven uses. However, blade life is reduced if the razor is dropped and the blade dented. Dropping the razor immediately dulls the blade, and it should be discarded.

Key Points

Q How long does a razor blade last?

A Remember the 1970s pyramid that you placed over your razor to prolong blade life? Not really.

Finally, failure to rinse the blade frequently can also dull the blade, especially the newer five-blade razors, since the hair and skin debris get between the blades, preventing proper functioning.

The answer to how long a razor blade lasts depends on how well the blade is protected and maintained. Careful handling, frequent rinsing and good shaving cream application are the best ways to extend blade life.

I do not believe that the razor pyramids are still popular.

Q What is razor burn?

A Razor burn is the common vernacular for cutting of the skin around the follicular ostia.

If you examine skin afflicted by razor burn, you will note that a superficial to mid-dermal wound is present. This injury creates the pain and inflammation associated with razor burn. The skin around the hair shaft is preferentially cut because it sits above the surrounding skin.

It may be worthwhile to discuss what can be recommended to decrease razor burn, since patients commonly casually ask this question of their dermatologists.

The best way to minimize razor burn is to decrease shaving pressure. Shaving pressure is the force with which the blade is pushed into the skin. Patients push the razor into the skin to achieve a closer shave, but this also cuts the skin around the hair shaft.

A close shave can be obtained without increased shaving pressure by moistening the beard to soften the hair; using a shaving gel to decrease blade/skin friction; using a sharp blade; selecting a razor handle with the proper blade angle; shaving frequently to minimize hair length and create calloused skin; and leaving the shaving cream on for three to four minutes prior to shaving.

Many times, people with razor burn prefer to shave infrequently to minimize the skin symptoms. The better approach is to shave every day and develop a skin callous on the face that minimizes skin sensitivity and keeps hair short. These steps can minimize razor burn in a patient who prefers not to grow a beard.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a Dermatology Times editorial adviser and consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e- zdraelos@northstate.net
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