Ever wondered if all those blades are necessary on your razor?
Back in the 1990s, ABC TV sketch comedy program The Late Show righly poked fun at multi-blade razors.
They make a good point. Are all those blades necessary, or is it just marketing hype?
Seems blokes are looking for alternatives, as sales of single blade razors are growing. Single blade razors, otherwise known as safety razors offer numerous benefits. They’re kind on skin, sustainable and more efficient.
If you’re new to the world of single blade razors, get comfy and settle in for our ultimate guide. Read on, comrade.
Looking at cutting down your use of wasteful plastic? Disposable cartridges (or worse—disposable razors with handles intact) wind up in the bin, so it’s hella wasteful. When it comes to climate change, you can’t stop baby boomers irrationally ranting at Greta Thunberg. But you can make a difference with each shave by choosing an eco-friendly option. Switching to single blade razors reduces your consumption of single-use plastic. Plus, if you treat your handle right, it can last for years. Minimalists and that crazy Japanese decluttering lady would approve.
One blade is better for your skin
Every blade is scraping your delicate skin, causing damage. Essentially, the first blade cuts the hair and the remaining blades go deeper, cutting hair beneath the skin. While your baby-smooth jawline will get women nodding appreciatively at you like models from shaving commercials, it won’t last long. As the hair regrows from beneath the skin, it’s likely become ingrown, causing unsightly bumps. The extra scraping can also cause redness, irritation and rashes. Not the smooth, polished and gentlemanly look you were going for, champ.
Single blades are ultra cheap
Admittedly, yes, the handle can be pricey. But it’s a one-off investment. If you take care of your handle it can last years. Some vintage 1950s razors are still going strong today (and can command good prices from collectors). A ten pack of blades cost about five to ten bucks. Compare this price to disposable cartridges, which typically cost about twenty dollars for a four pack.
More benefits of using a single blade razor
- You have more control over the direction of the shave with the double sided blade.
- Without the lubricating strip that comes with cartridge shavers, you won’t have to remove any slimy residue on your skin post shave.
- You feel like a rebel because you’re not a slave to the marketing machinations of evil corporate conglomerates brainwashing you to fork out for five-blade razors each month.
- You’re harking back to the good old days when products were made to last and men of yesteryear were chivalrous gentlemen, paying due attention to grooming. (But without the tobacco smoking and gender stereotypes of the olden days.)
- You can take comfort in shaving just like the way your dad and granddad did. And they were top fellas, right?
What kinds of single blade razors are available?
Guys. There's a lot of choice here.
There’s different types of handles, wooden and metal. Wooden will last about a year, metal will last much longer. Metal razors have the potential to be handed down the generations to your offspring. Aw.
You can find razors with different angles of blades, with options for a slight curve of the blade. You can also find single blade razors with twist settings that allow different levels of protrusion of the blades. A lower setting means the blades are nestled close to the handset (good for a novice) and a higher setting allows the blades to protrude further for an aggressive shave (for experienced shavers).
There’s also different ways to insert blades, with the butterfly that opens up. (It’s also called a TTO or twist to open.) Or the screw handle, which, unsurprisingly, screws apart each time you want to replace the blade. With screw handles, you can get two-piece or three-piece (more on them later).
There’s also razors with various types of combs on the area alongside the blade. The combs pave the way for the razor to do the cutting. Closed combs have divots along the bar. Open combs have more pronounced teeth, supposedly to allow more lather on the face and get a closer shave.
Our view or all this variety? Differences are minimal but not insignificant, and each bloke has his own preference.
What’s this double-edged thing mean?
It can be kinda confusing, when you have a single blade shaver with double edged blades. Is it single or double, dammit? Here’s the thing: the single blade has two edges.
Each blade is exposed in the razor. This gives you more control of the direction as you shave, giving you the power to change directions and angles by switching sides as you shave.
What’s the difference between a single, 2-piece and 3-piece safety razor?
The single razor, also known as the aforementioned butterfly or twist-to-open razor, has no parts that can be disassembled. The butterfly refers to the opening movement of the head when you screw the handle to open and replace blades.
The two-piece razor has a screw handle that allows the head of the razor to be removed for change of blades.
The three piece razor has also screw handle that can be removed to allow for change of blades. Both parts, the head and the base (or cap) can be removed. Only the head of the two-piece can be removed. The benefit of the three piece razor is you can swap handles if you wish, without replacing the shaver head element.
How to shave with a single blade razor
- Shave after a shower. The hot temperature softens your skin and hair, making it easier to shave.
- Lather with shaving foam. This is important to further soften hair, which makes it more elastic and easier to cut with the razor.
- Position the blade in place against your skin. Experiment with the right angle, usually about 30-40 degrees. This may be different to your typical shaving technique with disposable cartridges, so be mindful of old habits creeping in.
- Cover small areas of skin with the blade. Avoid temptation to repeat the process over previously shaved areas. That’s unnecessary and a one-way ticket to irritation and ingrown hairs.
- Rinse the blade in between patches. (Another benefit of single blade razors is no hair and shaving foam clogging up between multiple razors.)
- Blades are sharp. So shave gently without pressure.
- Shave in the direction your hair grows. This will ensure a smoother shave and reduce your chance of unwanted redness and razor burn.
- When you’re done, rinse away any leftover foam and apply your favourite aftershave lotion, you handsome devil.
Where to get a single blade razor
Why, right here at Milkman of course. Our popular razors include:
images of the Milkman range
Products to use with a single blade razor
You’ve got four options:
- clear shave gel
- shave cream
A shave oil is extra lubricating for dry skin. By softening the skin and hair, it ensures a smoother shave. The benefit of oil is its transparency, so you can see clearly what you’re doing when you shave. Oils tend to have fewer chemical ingredients, so if you have sensitive skin that’s prone to rashes, oil is a more natural option.
Image: milkman shave oil
- Try our shave oil which comes in a range of natural (yet manly) scents
Clear shave gel
A soap free shave lubricant, Clear Shave Gel is another option that many guys prefer to oils because it gives added volume. Unlike foam-white shaving cream, you get the lubrication of a foam, while still being able to see what you’re doing. Some can be drying to experiment with brands to find your fave.
Image: milkman shave clear shave gel
- Try our soap-free clear shave gel which comes in various size bottles and a tinted green ption
Cream is fine if you don’t care about the lack of visibility. It has a luxurious, silky smooth texture that many blokes prefer. There’s plenty of supermarket brands on the market, or Shavershop stocks a wide range of Australian and international shave foam products. Supermarket shave foam tends to have a lot of air which can be drying. Whereas boutique brands have more natural butters and tend to be more lubricating. But like whether ketchup belongs in the pantry or the fridge*, it’s entirely a matter of personal preference.
This is an option. Most marketing companies want to sell you a shave cream so they don't mention this choice. If you have sensitive skin that products irritate or dry out, then try no product at all. You can shave with nothing but wet skin, and follow up with nothing. Or you can just use an after shave serum to replenish dryness as shaving strips skin of oils.
Single blade shaving tips
- There’s no need to pull your skin taut during shaving. Just let it sit naturally.
- Don’t press on your skin as you shave.
- Sharp blades are ESSENTIAL. Sorry to yell but you gotta know the truth. Change your blade every second shaves. They’re dirt cheap, so there’s no excuse.
- Blunt blades don’t work, cause irritation and increase the chance of cuts, because you press harder into your skin to compensate.
- Don’t skip on your pre-shave routine. Shave foams, oils and gels help lessen the impact on the blade, making it last over three shaves (rather than two).
- Never shave on dry skin. It is way harsh on your skin and causes irritation fo’sure.
How to avoid cuts with a double edge safety razor
- Shaving with a dull blade is the easiest way to get a nick. Whether consciously or not, you press harder when the blade is blunt.
- When you migrate to safety razors, you will find the blades are sharper than the old cartridge style. So you may get a few cuts before you learn the hard way to soften the pressure.
- Saving on dry skin is more likely to give you cuts. So shower first to soften your skin and make the hair more malleable. Lathering with a pre-shave product helps further soften the hair.
- Use a good shaving technique: short strokes and washing in between shaves.
- Being too hasty is often the cause of cuts, slow down and do it right, buddy.
- If you keep getting cuts, consider changing to a different razor with a heavier/lighter handle or sharper/blunter angle to the head. It may be that your razor isn’t right for your technique.
Changing the blades on a safety razor
Nothing is ever simple. It depends on the type of razor and blades you’re using.
Screw open butterfly or twist-to-open razors allow you to simply twist the handset to open the butterfly razor case to replace a blade.
Two or three piece razors require a touch of disassembly before you insert the blade and put it back together. When screwing two or three piece razors back together keep an eye on the blade placement to ensure it’s symmetrical. Uneven blades mean an uneven shave.
Magazine style blade packaging allows you to slide the razor in place, directly from the packaging, reducing your chance of contact with the blade (and cuts).
You are guaranteed at least once in your life to cut your hand when changing razors or disposing of the blade. So it’s a good idea to wrap the blade in tissue before putting it in the bin. Go ahead and ignore us if you wanna risk it.
Surely we don’t have to tell you that blades are sharp so you should be careful changing blades? You’re fully grown enough to be shaving. So you’ll work it out.
How to care for your safety razor
Don’t leave your wooden razor handle in the shower. That’s okay for your crappy plastic razor handle. But wood absorbs moisture and will warp and break if left soaking up the humidity or soaking in the soap tray.
Even though metal razor handles have anti-rust treatment, it’s also best to keep them out of the shower (or bath, no judgement, bruh). After repeated exposure to water and humidity the handle will eventually wear down. Get in the habit of grabbing your razor as you enter and exit the shower.
How to clean your double edge razor
Aside from rinsing it thoroughly with each shave to remove the hairs, you need to clean your razor more thoroughly from time to time. Most metal razors are made from chrome-plated nickel or brass. Of course the wooden handle is made from wood—ours are beech. The razor itself is stainless steel: do not clean it.
Anyway, simply disassemble the razor (depending on the type) and soak the metal elements in the bathroom sink. Give them a good scrub with an old toothbrush and soapy water. Do this three and four times a year to keep your razor in good nick.
Have you grown a beard and neglected your razor for a while? It might be looking a bit stained, tarnished or have soap gunk buildup. Give it a rub with a rag soaked in white vinegar to bring back its sheen. If your blade has gone rusty? You can try to clean it. But you’ll probably just end up scratching it. Just get a new razor.
Phew. That’s it. We are really quite tired.