Shaving is a grooming habit that no man can forego forever. Some men are picky with their shaving gear, while some use whatever is convenient and can do the job fast—i.e. disposable multi-blade razors. If you are the latter, you may be wondering why are single razor blades better than five and why is it that lots of men debate which provides a better shave.
With several kinds of razors with different materials and qualities, it can be intimidating to understand the real deal that shaving enthusiasts go crazy about. So, let’s break it down.
What's The Difference Between A Single-Blade And A Multi-Blade Razor?
A traditional single-blade razor is made differently than a razor with more blades. A single-blade razor has a superior quality blade that stays sharp for years and can even be honed to a new edge if necessary. On the other hand, multiple-blade razors are made of plastic, metal, and Teflon-coated stainless steel blades, but they may not be as durable as single-blade razors and will dull quickly.
Whether you go for single-blade or multiple-blade razors depends on your own preferences and skin type. While some like the ease of multi-blade cartridge razors, others feel that a single-blade razor provides the closest shave with fewer razor burns, ingrown hairs, and other skin irritation.
How Did Multiple Blades Become Popular
Inspired by the safety razor patent of King Camp Gillette from 1901, multi-blade razors have surpassed traditional single-blade razors in popularity, with manufacturers promising faster, closer, and smoother shaves with up to 5 blades. However, the straight razor has been the real deal in the shaving world since ancient Egypt, but only barbers can use it. Today, the choice of shaving tool depends on individual preference, practical considerations, and grooming routine.
How Multi-Blade Razors Work
Shaving with multiple-blade razors does not mean shaving more hair in one go. Multi-blade razors work with a hysteresis effect: the first blade lifts the facial hair, the second blade cuts it, and the third and other blades cut the hair beneath. Unfortunately, shaving with many blades comes with a price: irritations. After all, it is like shaving with three single blades simultaneously.
More Blades, Closer Shave?
The secret to a great shave with multi-blade razors isn't just the number of blades. We also need to consider the blade distance, angle, and pressure. Blades too close or at a steep angle can cause razor burn, razor bumps, or cuts, and larger cartridges can make it harder to see what you're doing. Get it right, and you'll have a smooth and comfortable shave. Knowing these factors can help you choose the best multi-blade razor and get a close shave.
Multi-blade cartridge razors may provide a faster shave, but the additional blades create more blade friction and can pull the hair taut and cut it closer to the skin, leading to potential skin irritation like ingrown hairs and razor burn.
Are Single-Blade Razors Better?
Single-blade razors are not only better than multi-blade razors. They are of superior quality to other kinds of razors. Barbers have long trusted traditional single-blade razors for a smooth and extremely close shave without skin irritation.
The best choice for one-blade razors would be straight razors. With its cutting edge in plain sight, you can easily customize how you shave. The blade bevels perfectly on skin level, and you can easily wipe off debris to get a fresh edge for multiple passes and get a closer shave.
However, suppose you are looking for something more familiar, opt for safety razors. They have a similar look to a cartridge but have a protective guard to reduce the risk of cuts and ingrown hairs.
Unlike razors with multiple blades, straight razors minimize skin irritation from shaving by requiring less pressure and tugging on the skin, providing better control and precision. Using shaving cream and a shave brush with a single-blade grooming tool allows for a clean and close shave with fewer passes, reducing the likelihood of razor burn, which is perfect for sensitive skin.
How Hard Is It To Use A Single-Blade Razor?
Using a single-blade razor or a shaving tool with one razor blade may require a learning curve for some users, but it is manageable and should not discourage you from continuing. Mastering proper technique, including blade angle and pressure, is key to achieving a closer and more comfortable shave. With practice, using a single-blade razor can become a smooth and more rewarding experience than other multi-blade razors.
With proper maintenance, a single blade can last longer than seven shaves. But for a longer-lasting shaving tool, opt for a straight razor. Honing and sharpening its blade can extend a straight razor's lifespan and give it a close, precise edge that a multi-blade cartridge razor can never match.
Different Single-Blade Razor Designs
Single-blade shavers offer various designs, including traditional straight razors that require honing and stropping, shavettes with disposable blades, safety razors with a protective guard, and Kamisori razors with a uniquely Japanese style.
The different kinds of single-blade razors are:
Straight Razors: Classic single-blade razors that require honing and stropping. They have a long, narrow blade that folds into a handle made of materials like wood, bone, or plastic.
Shavettes: Single-blade razors that use disposable blades for convenience and hygiene. They have a blade holder that looks like a straight razor, but the blade is not permanently attached to the handles.
Safety Razors: Single-blade razors with a protective guard to prevent cuts and nicks. Available in modern or vintage styles, with a modern adjustable double-edge safety razor made of stainless steel or chrome-plated brass and vintage ones featuring a butterfly or twist-to-open mechanism for blade replacement.
Kamisori Razors: Traditional Japanese single-blade razors with a unique shape and style. They resemble straight razors but have a single bevel on one side of the blade and a flat other side for precise and controlled shaving.
When choosing a single-blade razor design, consider your skill level, shaving needs, and personal preferences, as each design offers unique advantages and disadvantages.
Are Single-Blade Razors Affordable?
A quality single-blade razor may cost more upfront, ranging from $20 to $100 or more. Still, it can save you significant money in the long run compared to disposable cartridges, which can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per pack. You can make a smart investment and a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice using a straight razor, which does not require any blade replacement.
Can You Travel With Single-Blade Razors?
Single-blade razors can be taken on trips with proper storage and compliance with airline regulations. You can carry safety razors in carry-on and checked baggage, but it is important to check specific airline requirements. Meanwhile, you should pack straight razors in a travel case inside your checked-in baggage.
With proper precautions, single-blade razors can be a convenient and effective shaving option for travel. It is worth double-checking airline and TSA regulations to ensure a seamless travel and shaving experience.
How many blades you use can significantly affect the way you shave, and adding multiple blades doesn't always guarantee better shaves. Single-blade razors, such as an adjustable safety razor and straight razor, are superior to multi-blade razors. The single blade catches fewer beard hairs, resulting in fewer ingrown hair and less irritation for a clean shave.
On the other hand, multi-blade razors with more than two blades pivot, causing more friction and cutting hair below the skin's surface, leading to more hair follicle irritation. Though there may be a learning curve, single-blade razors are perfect for curly hairs and offer a smoother morning shave.
As a gentleman, opting for a single-blade razor shows you prioritize quality and tradition in your grooming or shaving routine to achieve a perfect shave.