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The (Disposable) Razor’s Edge

Apr27

by

Amalah,

Getting back to a very serious topic: can we talk about hair removal systems? Specifically razors? I was at the local Costco with my sister the other day and she was buying more razors than I would think anyone would ever need in a lifetime. When I mocked her she said, “with three shaving girls in our house we go through a lot of razors.” Which made me think – how often are you supposed to replace your razor blades in your trusty shower tool? Am I not doing it often enough? Sure I don’t wait until its rusty, but I don’t have a written schedule of every two weeks, but maybe I should? Any insight?

While we’re on the subject, are more blades really better? Any science to the subject? Am I wasting my time with the razor and I should really just move on to creams/waxes/lasers?

Thanks!
R

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a really, really long week. I hope y’all can forgive me for hiding from the Very Serious Big Deal Brainhurty Questions you’ve sent in and picking this one instead. We’ll tackle bigger problems next week, promise.

So! Razors. Ugh. How complicated they’ve gotten lately. Between razors (and the accompanying shaving creams/gels/foams/lotions) and the deodorant aisle, you could realistically spend about two hours of your life contemplating all your options.

For starters, my razor of choice is a MacGuyvered hybrid: I use a Gillette Venus HANDLE, but not the blades. I use my husband’s Gillette Mach 3 blades. (They’re compatible, yes.) Why? Well, I like the Venus handle design — it’s definitely been made with the whole leg-and-armpit-shaving angles in mind, as opposed to the stick-straight styles of Olde. I rarely nick myself with the curvier handle, even though I always assumed that was more of the fault of the blades, or my shaving technique.

But I cannot STAND the Venus blades. Or any of the girl-y blades with the lotion strips or whatever those are. You still need a separate shaving cream or gel, and it seemed to me the strips accomplished little more than prematurely gumming up and dulling the blades. So I went through them faster and spent more money. (Also don’t get me started on the fact that each refill cartridge is INDIVIDUALLY packaged in a wee plastic pod, like a fancy Keurig coffee thing. So stupidly wasteful.) I like a nice, straightforward three-blade razor head that pivots. I have no idea how many blades some of the other razors are up to these days (five? six? 42?), but I like three. It’s probably a matter of personal preference — I have never come across anything of the non-marketing/advertising variety that definitively “proves” that more blades are better, or that even just one or two blades are woefully insufficient.

Basically: Are you happy with your razor, be it a jumbo bag of pink Daisy razors or something fancier? Awesome. Go with it. If you’re not, I’d recommend giving the men’s Mach 3 a try, especially if you already own a different Gillette handle.

Now onto the “how often should you replace your razor blade” question. That ALSO depends. It depends on how often you shave, how large of an area you’re shaving, and your body hair type. Thick and coarse and curly hair that grows super fast? You’re gonna be changing your blade a lot more than someone who is shaving fine peach-fuzz hair off every other day. (My leg hair is super-fine, but my bikini area is…uh, not. And will wreck a blade much faster.)

So there’s no set timeline! You’re probably doing just fine. You definitely want to pitch any blade that’s rusted IMMEDIATELY, or any blade that feels like it’s “tugging” on the hair instead of gliding smoothly across your skin. If you’re using a not-so-fresh blade and notice nicks or rashes or razor-burn bumps, toss it. That’s the dullness, and no amount of shaving cream is going to help it.

(Sidebar! For shaving creams, I use Alba Botanica Moisturizing Foam Shave. For super-sensitive/dry-skin types, Jason highly recommends Avalon Organics Moisturizing Cream Shave [Unscented]. I’ve used it as well and agree that it is uh-mazing, but since I’m shaving a much larger area than just a face, I go through too much of it, too quickly. [It’s quite thick and concentrated.] But if you’re really sensitive and haven’t found anything gentle or moisturizing enough, try it! It’s like shaving with creamy butter lotion.)

Since those little disposable suckers are expensive, however, I definitely try to use them as many times as humanly possible. To help prevent premature rusting/dullness, make sure you REALLY rinse them well after use — get them completely clear of hair and shaving cream residue. Shake off excess water, then let them air dry, preferably upright. Use one of those wall-hang-y things instead of setting your razor down in a puddle on a shelf or soap dish.

I’ve tried the creams (can’t stomach the ingredients anymore) and the waxes (can’t seem to commit to the process long-term and always revert back to shaving and tweezing). And I have approximately seventeen million other things I’d rather spend my money on than laser hair removal. (Though again, I am not dealing with the level of coarse, dark all-over hair that some of y’all have, so NO JUDGMENT for anyone who simplifies her life through lasers.) I have no first-hand experience with the at-home permanent hair removal gadgets (anyone?) like this $500 thingamajig from Sephora, though I have been SORELY TEMPTED to buy this shower-friendly brow-and-bikini kit from Bliss on several occasions.

Sharing time! How often do you change your razor? If you even remember. Which I kind of don’t. And also, does anyone have any advice on how to stop missing the SAME TWO PLACES on the back of my ankle and the one part of my kneecap EVERY TIME I SHAVE? What in the world, self. You look like a hairy patchwork quilt.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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36 Responses to “The (Disposable) Razor’s Edge”

  1. Bevin Apr 27 at 12:26 pm Reply Reply

    My favorite shaving cream, hands down, is by KIss My Face, available at any slightly hippy shop.

    It smooths on like a cream but will lather up like a foam with a little effort. Comes in unscented, patchouli (hippy shop, remember) and my favorite kiwi lime and others, tho it’s not strongly scented. I’ve turned loads of folks into it from peach fuzz to coarse. And comes in a small tube or a pump.

  2. Melissa Apr 27 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    I am the dark coarse hair over bright white skin type and after two kids, completely gave up on shaving and moved to waxing. I would have to shave nearly every day in the summer and with the kids, my showers were severely shortened plus the tired meant I nicked myself more. It’s not easy to go the 4 weeks but it’s been 9 months now and OMG so worth it for me to wax. But like I said, I’m the type of gal that had 5 o’clock shadow on her legs so that’s my 2 cents.

  3. Sarah @ TM2TS Apr 27 at 12:48 pm Reply Reply

    I change out about once every couple weeks, on average.
    Summer? Every 3 or 4 days, it seems, hehe.

    I use the Venus Vibrance (it vibrates, still on original battery after 2 years :O) with Embrace blades for my legs. That usually lasts about a week to three, depending on how often I’m shaving (or 2-3 months in the winter ;))

    I use the Venus Pro-Skin for underarms and bikini area. That gets changed out a lot more often, which is killer on the bank budget, but the blades and the “built-in” actually works. I don’t get razor burn anymore with them and I’d get it no matter what blades/shaving cream/after lotion I was using.

  4. Martha Apr 27 at 12:50 pm Reply Reply

    I read somewhere once that if you are really having to press down when you shave, it is time to replace. Your razor should just glide over your skin and remove the hair easily.  I don’t shave regularly so I can’t make a recommendation for how long they last.  I personally just use the disposable Bic razors and hair conditioner as shaving cream, because it is cheaper and works well for me (and I try to avoid aerosols).  

  5. Procrastamom Apr 27 at 12:53 pm Reply Reply

    With myself and two teenaged daughters in the family, our costs for just razors and feminine supplies call for their own line item in our budget!  It’s gotten so I have to hide a new package of razors under lock and key and ration them out…hmm, just thinking that maybe I should tie them to chores somehow.  “Clean your room, get a razor!” (TM)

    I buy our razors either from Costco (when they have them) or from the discount grocery/everything store.  My husband can last A YEAR on $50 worth of razor blades and us girls are lucky if we can last a couple of months on that much.

  6. trish Apr 27 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    I have one of those epilator things. I’m not going to lie – I feel it. Though I’ve found that it’s not so bad if I pretreat with bactine. Usually, I’ll shave once or twice between epilating. There is that awful grow out period after shaving

  7. Lexi Apr 27 at 1:00 pm Reply Reply

    I only change my blades when I realize that I’m not getting a smooth finish anymore. With the kiddo I only shave once, maybe twice a week, so I’m not a good judge of how long.

    If you figure out how to stop missing ‘those’ areas that always seem to get missed when you shave, please, fill the rest of us in because I often look like a hairy patchwork quilt too.

    As for gadgets, I have the Braun SilkEpil brow and bikini kit. I don’t think it’s shower friendly but it was cheap and it does the job. It comes with a couple of different heads and we’ll just say that both my brow and bikini area are all the better for it!

  8. Ally Apr 27 at 1:05 pm Reply Reply

    I actually really like the Schick Intuition (the kind with the soap around it). It’s really the only razor that doesn’t give me razor burn. It also makes for the fastest shave for me.

  9. Olivia Apr 27 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    I have fairly fine leg hair and only shave below the knee (plus arm pits). I use the disposable Bic blades, not the cheapest ones, but somewhere mid-priced, and replace them about once a month. And after years of using soap to shave I started using eos shaving cream http://www.target.com/p/eos-Shave-Cream-Ultra-Moisturizing-Lavender-Jasmine-7-fl-oz-207-ml/-/A-13729175. This stuff is wonderful. I originally picked it up because the bottle is all plastic so it won’t rust, but it’s really moisturizing and I think it gives me a closer shave. So, instead of shaving every other day like I used to, I now can go 3 or 4 days before the growth becomes really noticeable.

  10. Jessie Apr 27 at 1:33 pm Reply Reply

    I shave every time I shower however I do not shower every single day because I have extremely dry skin and hair. I would say I shower/shave about 5x per week. And I change my razor 1x per week. I am of the very dark, course, thick and VERY fast growing hair type.

  11. A Apr 27 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    I have super sensitive skin when it comes to shaving and have dark hair on light skin. The thing that works best for me is the Gillette Venus Spa Embrace razors with the moisturizing/soaplike strips so you don’t use shaving cream. I can shave much faster now which is essential with 3 kids 6 and under! They work great for under my arms and on my legs. They DO NOT work as well on my bikini line, I have yet to find anything that doesn’t leave me with at least a little razor burn. In the summer I usually use the 2 blade Gillette mens razors with Gillette sensitive shaving cream. I may try waxing before the summer season hits.

    I usually shave every 2-3 days and change razors whenever it looks like I’m not getting as close a shave, maybe every week to week and a half.

  12. Susannah Apr 27 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    I’m an old school pink Daisy girl. I cannot use anything with a pivoting head because I will literally filet the skin off my leg. Tis a problem… I’ve tried just about every razor there is and I always come back to my little pink love. I have a huge bag of the free sample pivot-y razors that they stick into every back of pink ones because I cannot use them. Venus something or other? No clue… I think they are orange and white and they want to cut off my legs. I bet I have 30 of them. I promised them to my sister the next time she is in town.

    I use LUSH soap to lather and I pretty much never get razor burn or ingrown hairs. Although that could be because I only use a razor once. Yes… once. I know, I suck. It’s HUGELY wasteful and I’m single-handedly clubbing baby seals. I’m SORRY! But I’m tall and and have REALLY long legs…

  13. Dana Apr 27 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    Coarse, thick dark hair here…one day I will laser it all off! Amy, I find I wear through my husband’s razor blades faster so I stopped using them. I bought a back of Gillette disposables and as soon as I use them all I’ll try this company.

    Hilarious commercial btw. Worth watching just to laugh.

    http://www.dollarshaveclub.com/

    (I am not affiliated with them in anyway)

  14. Corie Apr 27 at 2:35 pm Reply Reply

    I use a Schick Quattro. I shave my pits daily, and my legs usually once a week or once every two weeks (my poor husband). I usually change my blades every two weeksish, if I remember (which is a big if). If I’ve been shaving my legs more often I might change it every week or week and a half.

    As far as what I use for lubrication, I just use soap on my pits and my body wash on my legs. I shave towards the end of my shower, so the hair has had time to absorb water and get softened up a bit. I lotion up after every shower anyway, so I don’t usually have any issues with dryness or anything. And my bikini area gets waxed, when I remember to go. (Speaking of which, I’m due again…)

  15. Courtney Apr 27 at 2:38 pm Reply Reply

    I’ll just throw it out there that I bought the Brow-and-Bikini Bliss thing from Sephora and I am very happy with it. I original bought it for the epilator to try and get away from the bikini waxes, but that thing hurts like a biznatch and I just can’t do it to myself. However, all the other little attachments are sweet and do what they were meant to do very well.

    Thanks for the link to Dollar Shave Club Dana. I might give them some business just to reward them for the awesome commercial. :)

  16. Niki Apr 27 at 2:52 pm Reply Reply

    Hahaha! Have to keep this short, as I am rushing to an appointment and typing on a screen keyboard, so: I go through 2 disposable razors anytime I shave my legs and either my underarms or my bikini area. My lower leg hair is some dense sh….um, stuff. The other areas have super-sensitive skin that requires pristine blades.

    I use a 3-blade men’s razor for sensitive skin (Bic? Gillette?). They stopped selling them in my city years ago. I uses to stock up when traveling but now amazon will deliver them by the case!

    Shaving gel is a bugaboo for me. Aveeno’s unscented gel was perfect for me, until I went paraben-free. I use both of the items you recommend, and I agree that they are the best thing out there, but my legs never feel as smooth as they used to.

    Oh, and moisturizing strips are of the devil. They are why my razor buying is an ordeal. Pthuey on them.

  17. fancybob Apr 27 at 3:05 pm Reply Reply

    Although I used to mock them, I LOVE the 5-blade Venus razor. I really do see a difference from the 3-blade, especially in how much longer they last (even when my husband steals it once in a while for his chest… grr!).

    I may not be the best person for shaving advice, though, since I commit the ultimate cardinal sin of not using ANY shaving cream/gel. I’ve tortured my legs so much over the years that I rarely get razor burn anymore (when I occasionally do, some lotion fixes it right up). That might explain why my legs no longer tan in the sun…

  18. Chelsea Apr 27 at 4:03 pm Reply Reply

    I started doing what this guy suggests (basically stropping the blades backwards on my arm ten times or so after every time I shave), and I’ve only had to change blades once since last May.  Craziness.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ADaRIqy0Dc

  19. Susan Apr 27 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    I second using a mens razor. One time I borrowed my husband’s when mine was lost or out of cartridges or something and I have never looked back! I use the Gillette Fusion (still haven’t figured out the difference in Fusion and Fusion Proglide though) and love it. It is pricey, but I only shave my legs once a week so I don’t go through cartridges very quickly.

  20. Karen Apr 27 at 4:48 pm Reply Reply

    So my kid is three months and this reminds me that maybe I should actually shave and so I did and of course my razor was rusted. But thanks to this post  and a quick trip to Target, I think I can now emerge from my post-partum-ness and be human again!!!

  21. Suzy Q Apr 27 at 4:59 pm Reply Reply

    I have very light-blonde leg and armpit hair. I use the Bic (?) Soleil razors, 3 blades and a strip.  With soap.  I tried a bunch of shaving creams and gels years ago and found they didn’t to anything special for me.

    I shave my pits maybe once a week and legs (to a few inches above the knee) about twice a  month and whenever I plan to wear a dress.  The only creature currently sleeping with me is my cat, but for a significant other I would shave more often.  A razor lasts me about a month-ish.

    The bikini area gets waxed, and not nearly often enough. I will only go to one place, Uni K Wax. The other places injured me in a variety of ways, and I do not do Brazilian.

  22. jessica fantastica Apr 27 at 7:58 pm Reply Reply

    I thought I’d bought some crappy razors at Sam’s Club and committed to using them up (for the rest of my life it seems!). I usually am a shaving cream girl, rather than gel. I bought EOS (Evolution of Smooth, I think) shave cream and when I pumped it into my hand was quite disappointed to see it was more like lotion than cream. HOWEVER it gives me the smoothest shave I have EVER gotten. And now it seems my lifetime supply of razors are actually great! I highly recommend you try EOS (I got some of their lip balm that I love too). The cost is on par with any other shave cream or gel in your Target or drug store.

  23. Kaela Apr 28 at 2:28 am Reply Reply

    After reading everyone’s comments I’m starting to feel like a crazy lady (or at least, the black sheep). I use the Venus razor with the blades from Costco (like almost everyone it sounds like). I just replace the blade when I start to get that rough tuggy/razor burn feeling. Since I started shaving after swim practice when I was 12 I’ve never used shaving cream regularly (it gives me the worst razor burn rash). I have dark, not super course hair and shave 3-4 times a week and I only replace my blade once every month or so…I can’t imagine changing it every week! I feel lucky and crazy at the same time…so much for finding a consensus here, eh? :)

  24. Abi Apr 28 at 3:18 am Reply Reply

    I used one disposable bic for about two years. Granted I was not shaving very regularly, but seriously, it depends on your definition of a good shave.

    I still only change my blade once every couple months, but I’ve graduated to the Venus.

  25. Becca Apr 28 at 5:26 am Reply Reply

    I have exactly the same razor combo as you! I always begrudge spending more money on girly-specific stuff. I generally change the blade every four weeks, and shave weekly.

    I tried laser hair removal on my bikini line for a time, but different people feel different types of pain in different ways, and for me, it was worse than anything I’d experienced. It was also ludicrously expensive. My husband was hilarious – he was concerned that it was “too permanent” and was like “what about when you’re old? Old people should definitely have pubic hair!”

    I used to have a regular bikini wax – even going a few weeks before my son was born because I figured healing would just be easier without the added hair in the equation. Unfortunately, my waxer is two hours away, in London, so it used to work as I’d organise a trip and then just pop in while I was there – with baby, it seems to take way more planning than I’d like!

    • Rachel May 02 at 5:27 pm Reply Reply

      OMG, the second comment your husband made has me attempting not to bust out laughing in my quiet office! Oh, the mental pictures…

  26. Sheenah Apr 28 at 8:58 am Reply Reply

    L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil is AMAZING! I recommend it to everyone. Regardless of what kind of razor I use, if I use this to shave my legs are smooth. Oh, despite the name, it isn’t oily, it actually lathers a bit.

  27. Jadzia@Toddlerisms Apr 28 at 9:55 am Reply Reply

    I am a laser girl (or was before we emigrated).  Basically, depending on your age, if you sit down and do the math laser treatment can be less expensive (or at least competitively priced) compared to decades of razors/shaving cream or waxing.  I did about 3/4 of a laser regime before we moved.  For now I am back to waxing (very rural area) but have to go so infrequently that the expense is not nearly as daunting as it used to be.

    Also, I am such a clumsy shaver that the shower always looks like the prom scene in Carrie when I’m through.  So that was a consideration as well. 

  28. Kaelak Apr 28 at 3:07 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, ladies, we are really wasteful with our razors and are filling up landfills with them. What can we do to fix that? Does anyone have any stories about switching to more environmentally-friendly razors or methods of removing hair?

  29. Kailee Apr 28 at 3:50 pm Reply Reply

    @Sheenah – You speak the truth! I love L’Occitane shower oil for shaving too. A bit pricey, but it lasts forever. And it smells amazing too.

  30. sanbikinoraion Apr 29 at 6:51 am Reply Reply

    So apparently there is a bit of science in the blunting of razors that you can use to your advantage: as they get blunter it’s because the edge is getting ruffled back on itself a bit as the very fine blade repeatedly strikes its target (imagine a car bumper as it strikes a bollard – it squishes up and down as well as backwards).

    And… this is useful to you how…?

    Because if you stroke the blade “upside down” up your arm (ie so that the cutting surface is pointing backwards instead of forwards) you can tease off a lot of the blunting ruffles to resharpen the thing. If you notice your razor getting a bit blunt, try stropping it up your arm for about 40 strokes and seeing if it makes a difference.

  31. Becca Apr 29 at 8:59 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a Venus with liquid soap in the shower girl, and I go about 2 weeks between changes in the summer. Legs and underarms only, though, because I have NEVER figured out how to do bikini area without incredible itchiness as it grows back even a day. I was just careful swimsuit shopping, but now OMG it has started to travel further down my leg, so any suggestions on other options for bikini area that do NOT itch like the dickens growing back would be much appreciated, otherwise I will have to go totally bohemian so that everything matches, at least. 

  32. Lori Apr 30 at 5:48 pm Reply Reply

    I get about ten shaves out of a razor (armpits and full legs) and I dip the blades in rubbing alcohol after each use.

    My friend has turned me onto a wonderful, WONDERFUL shaving oil, five DROPS of which are needed to do each leg.  It comes in both girly and masculine fragrances, as well as unscented.

    http://www.craveshavingoil.com

    My whole family loves it.

  33. Nancy Apr 30 at 9:26 pm Reply Reply

    Let me preface this by saying I worked at Gillette for a few years when I was in college at the time they introduced both the original Sensor razors (for men and women). I only just recently gave up my old lady Sensor — I loved that big wide handle – I never dropped it! So now I’m trying a Venus razor (hate the handle). When I bought it it came with one measly cartridge with 5 blades. Great shave! That finally dulled so I bought whatever version I saw first, and this one has 3 blades and these humongous lubri-strips. The first time I used it, it was like an elephant sneezed on my legs or something, there was so much goop (thanks, polyethylene oxide) – gross! I am not typically an opponent of a normal lubristrip, but this is pretty gross.

    The purpose of any strip is to help condition the skin — mostly marketing so they can say they’re loading it up with aloe and whatever other botanical goodies they want. They are not a replacement for a good shaving cream/gel or soap or whatever – they’re just meant to help soften the hair and skin.

    More blades do give a better shave — to a point. The first blade grabs the hair and tugs it a tiny bit, and the next blades come and cut it flush with the skin. Sharper blades are more important than quantity, I think. As someone above noted, razor blades get dull just like cooking knives — that sharp point starts to bend over to one side, on a microscopic level that translates into a choppier shave and a higher likelihood of nicks. Find your own “sweet spot” with a particular brand and model of razor – it won’t be the same between brands or models or users because of blade geometry and metal composition/coating, not to mention hair type, blade angle to the skin during use, etc.

    The one razor that no one has mentioned yet that I really want to rave about is the Venus bikini trimmer. Not a razor that cuts flush to the skin, but a single-blade disposable with a little guard on it so you can trim your entire bikini area (not just the perimeter) to a relatively short length without danger of cutting delicate skin. I really am happy with that, except for the fact that the first one I bought rusted within a few weeks. I just got a new one and hope it will last longer. I would expect more from a Gillette blade (even if it’s a cheapo single blade disposable without any fancy additives). If you don’t like a wild garden, but don’t want to deal with shaving completely or waxing, you might try it to help tame things a bit.

  34. Emily May 09 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    is it weird that I get the most nicks with new blades? They gotta dull a little before I start getting a really good shave. So I generally use my blades much longer than I probably should. They get better over time for legs.. maybe not so much for my underarms.

  35. Anna May 09 at 7:32 pm Reply Reply

    You guys!!! I have an awesome trick that works for razor burn.

    Deodorant!

    I have 2 separate ones, one for underarm and one for bikini area. I apply the deodorant between my thighs and in my bikini area immediately after I shave on the first night or 2, and I have never had a problem with razor burn/bumps since I started. Not sure what it is about the deodorant, but it works wonders. This is coming from the girl who couldn’t wear shorts because razor burn was so bad.

    I use Dove Sensitive Skin (unscented)  if anyone is wondering :)