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Razors, which often live in your shower or bath, are exposed to a perfect storm of moisture, residue, and germs on a regular basis. Not only is that gross, it also makes them susceptible to rust and oxidation, making for a potentially dangerous shave. Gliding that blade across your skin after it has been seeping in a steamy, bacteria environment can (obviously) be harmful, introducing that growth into delicate newly exposed layers of dermis and small cuts, but when do you know it’s time to swap them out?
“[It depends] on how often you shave, as shaving daily will lead to the razor blade wearing out and becoming dull more quickly,” says Dr. Bowe, noting the environment in which you store your blade could have an effect as well: “Leaving it in the wet, dewy shower will cause the blade to rust much faster and will also leave it open to being exposed to bacteria much more. Women should get rid of their razor blades after a few uses.” Residual shaving cream or gel or soap may also lodge itself between blades and cause them to quickly dull.
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If you’re not a regular shaver — think: once a week or less — look for changes in your blade’s behavior to determine its shelf life. “Watch to see when there’s skipping on the skin,” advises Karen Young, the Founder and CEO of Oui Shave, meaning your shave feels a bit patchy and there’s a noticeable drag across the skin as you glide the blade. “That’s when you know it’s time to change out. It’s 4-6 shaves, generally, unless you wax every other part of your body and have very little hair growth or only shave twice a month. Then a blade may last you a lot longer.”
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If you don’t notice a difference in your shave, your skin may tell a different story.
“Areas that are most prone to razor burn and nicks from dull blades are the underarms and bikini area; the skin is thin and the hairs are coarse in these areas, so the dull blade tends to catch on the fragile skin and can create tiny tears and irritation,” says Dr. Bowe.
Oui Shave, which makes green-minded safety razors, says its single blade-mentality not only provides a clean, simple shave, but cuts cost concerns that keep women from reaching for that replacement blade. “There’s a mental thing that goes along with women having to pay more [for their shaving products]. For multi-blade razors, we hold onto blades so much longer than we should,” says Young, who prices her blades at $11 for a pack of 10. “I’ve definitely had razors rusting in the corners and been like, ‘Oh it is what it is.’ It’s the mental shift of, “I have to hold onto this [blade] for another month because a pack of four is $25.”
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So how do you keep your new blade in tip-top shape?
Well, for starters: get it out of the shower. “[You can] keep your razor blade sharp by storing it in a clean, dry place after use, which can prevent rusty blades and decrease your chance of a bacterial or fungal infection,” says Dr. Bowe. Also, be sure to clean soap residue from the blades and pat them dry before storing.
And don’t forget to treat yo’self. It’s what your razor would want. “It’s also essential to use the proper shave oils and creams when you shave, and to use warm water prior to shaving to open up the pores and soften the hair,” stresseds Dr. Bowe “This will result in less stress on the blade and in turn, will prolong its life.”
Ready to switch it up?
3 planet-friendly razors we recommend
Preserve Shave 5
With a plastic handle from recycled yogurt cups, you may feel a little less guilty about the 2 billion disposable razors that make their way into landfills each year. These ergonomically designed razors come in bright cheerful colors but vow against the dreaded pink tax should you feel compelled by their punchy coral option. Each razor features five ceramic-coated blades accompanied by moisturizing strips of cocoa butter and aloe. (And you can even recycle your used razors via their Gimme 5 program!)
Buy it: $9.48 at Amazon.com
Your relationship with the Oui razor may start with a hefty investment, but this rose gold handle is made to last for life. The safety razor is designed with women in mind, and glides seamlessly across each body surface, providing a delicate but effective shave — opposed to multi-blades that cut the hair from beneath the skin, creating a catalyst for ingrown hairs to bloom. Hearing the zero-waste needs of her customers, Young made sure her cost-effective blade replacements are fully recyclable and provide a shave that will never have you reaching for a plastic handle again.
Buy it: $96.00 at OuiShave.com
Schick Xtreme 3 Eco disposable razors
Made with 100 percent recycled packaging and handles, these three-blade razors could be your fix should you need a disposable for your gym bag or carry-on. Vitamin E (which supports skin cell regeneration and reduces razor burn following a shave) and soothing aloe cradle each flexible blade. The handle, made from recycled post-consumer products (hangers, if you want to be specific) is also specially designed to encourage a clean rinse after each shave, meaning less residue and soap scum eating away at your blades.
Buy it: $9.69 at Amazon.com