Can you Sharpen Razor Blades? 5 Easy-to-follow Steps
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Shaving has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Several decades ago, our grandfathers used straight razors, but today, many of us are into disposable razors designed with two blades. However, manufacturers are still pushing tech boundaries in the grooming niche by adding multiple blades. Today, it’s not a surprise to find a razor with up to 6 blades. Moreover, you have the option of using electric shavers and getting a clean shave while on the go without needing shaving cream or water.
Recently, old-school straight razors have been gaining popularity—however, only a small percentage of men use these as well as traditional safety razors or electric razors. A lot of men still prefer using disposable razors or cartridge razors because they are cheap. Unfortunately, the blades on disposable razors get dull pretty fast, requiring frequent replacement. Despite being cheap, the cost of blades can add up fast in the long run.
Luckily, there’s a way you can prolong the life of your razor blade and save money in the long run with some easy-to-follow steps – and that is by sharpening your razor blades.
Can You Sharpen Razor Blades?
Well, yes, but the process isn’t sharpening. Instead, what most men call sharpening razor blades is stropping, which helps prolong use and sharpens the razor blades.
By stropping, you are simply realigning the thin blade edges that got bent when shaving. So while it’s not sharpening, it affords you a couple more shaves.
When Should you Sharpen your Razor?
Here are some signs that will signal it’s time to sharpen your razor blades:
- When the edge of the blade doesn’t glide over the skin as it used to
- If the razor doesn’t give a clean and close shave like it used to
- If you see cream, hair, or particles in the blade that clog it up or cause pulling and tugging of your hair
If you experience any of the above, the time is ripe to polish and refine the razor blade through stropping.
How to Sharpen the Razor Blade by Stropping
Below is a quick step-by-step process of getting the sharpness and shine of your blade back (this also works for a safety razor):
Clean your Razor Blades
It’s standard practice to sharpen the blade before shaving. After all, using a clean and sharp blade helps to protect your skin from germs. However, if you are one of those guys who’ve been skipping this step, you should clean your razor first. This step is essential as it gets rid of the barrier between the razor blades and your stropping material.
To do it right, fill up a bowl with lukewarm water and add a few drops of liquid soap to loosen the gunk. Then, to disinfect it, soak the razor in alcohol for a couple of minutes.
Swirl the razor in the water to get rid of the hair follicles, gunk, and stickiness on the blade. Lastly, dry the razor by patting it on a clean towel or blow-dry before you strop.
Pick the Right Stropping Material
To strop, you need to get an old pair of jeans or a leather cloth, a pair of gloves (to avoid cutting yourself), and the razor to be sharpened.
If you choose a leather material, ensure it’s real leather. True leather is resistant and hard. Unlike PU leather, it will not rip at the spot you strop. If you want to go all-in – pick up a strop that is made for sharpening a straight razor or a knife, this will do.
Canvas and denim tote bags work great too. However, there’s always the risk of fraying, or damage so don’t choose an item that you might not need to use later.
Strop the Blade
After cleaning and drying the razor, it’s time to strop. Here’s the step-by-step process.
- Place your canvas or denim jeans on a flat, sturdy and smooth surface – it can be a marble countertop or a wooden table. Ensure the plane isn’t delicate and there are no objects around that can get damaged by stropping. With that said, you shouldn’t strop on the bed, the sink, or any wet or uneven surface as it can limit the stropping motion.
- Run your razor along the length of the jeans between 15 times. When stropping, go in the opposite direction of the cutting blade. Use the same motion for the 15 licks on the jeans being careful to apply moderate pressure and maintain great stropping speed.
- After 15 quick strokes in one direction and spot on the jeans, jump to another area on the jeans and repeat the process. But this time, in a different direction.
- You can check if the blade is sharp enough by shaving a patch on your arm.
- When you are done stropping, rinse the razor in hot water. Then, shake it above the sink to get rid of excess water and pat it to dry. If you are shaving immediately after stropping, don’t forget to follow the wet shaving process. Getting the wet shaving process right and using a sharp razor will ensure you have a great experience.
If you don’t have leather or a pair of denim, you can strop the razor on your arm. Move the blade along the inner side of your arm towards the elbow. Don’t position the razor in a shaving position as it will cut you. Apply moderate pressure and use short and quick strokes. Perform 10-15 strokes with the blade being careful not to slide it sideways.
How Many Times Can I Sharpen Razor Blades?
Stropping to sharpen the razor blade adds life to the blade, but it doesn’t make them invincible. Eventually, the blade will get dull, and no amount of stropping will get it razor sharp enough for an irritation-free close shave.
The number of times you sharpen razor blades depends on the number of times you shave, how thick your facial hair is, and if you’ve been cleaning and drying the razor in between shaving sessions.
You know it’s time to throw it out when you strop the razor, but it’s still dull and pulls on your hair. After reaching its limit, you can either get a new razor or a new blade.
How to Maintain Razor Blades
Aside from stropping, there are other steps to take to ensure your razor blades serve you longer. These include:
- Clean the razor after every shaving session – razor blades get clogged up fast with dead skin, shaving cream, and facial hair. As such, it’s essential to clean it every time before storing it. Also, while shaving, ensure you tap it after every stroke to remove hair and cream from it as you shave. This way, it’ll be easier to clean it after.
- Dry the razor after use – water can mess the quality of the razor blade edge or, worse, cause rust to form. As such, it’s essential to dry your razor well after shaving. You can use a towel, but the easiest and perfect way is by using a blow dryer.
- Oil it after use – even after careful drying, the blade can still be damaged by moisture, especially if the razor lives in the bathroom. When you add a layer of oil, you protect the razor blades against moisture and oxidation.
Other Sharpening Options
Stropping is the cheapest and easiest way to sharpen your razor. However, there are sharpeners you can use for some blade types. We recommend using the RazorPit.
RazorPit is a sharpener that sports a proprietary friction razor sharpening and cleaning technology for all razors and blades. It claims to increase shaves from 10 to 150.
Can you sharpen disposable razor blades?
Yes, you can. This is done by stropping on leather or jeans. However, there's a limit to how many times you can do it. Eventually, stropping will not sharpen a dull razor, and you'll need to replace it. But before this happens, you'll get several extra shaving sessions from the disposable razor.
How do you sharpen shaving razor blades?
You can do this by using an old pair of jeans or genuine piece of leather. First, lay the jeans on a flat, smooth, and sturdy surface, and run a clean and dry razor along 15-20 times. Next, pick another spot on the jeans and run the razor in the opposite direction 15 times as well until it's sharp enough.
Can you sharpen a straight razor?
Yes, you can. This is done by using a leather strop. You can also sharpen it by honing on a whetstone.
How do you sharpen Gillette Fusion razor blades?
Swipe the razor across a pair of jeans between 10 and 20 times in one. Then, repeat the process on a fresh spot on the jeans but in a different direction (switching hands works perfectly).
So, can you sharpen razor blades? Yes, you can. And in this article, we’ve detailed – everything you need to know about sharpening razor blades and extra tips on prolonging their life. The method documented will help you save some money in the long run.