Do More Blades Mean a Better Shave? Single Blade vs Multi-blades
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more
Big razor companies insist that having more blades on your razor will yield a closer shave and a better shaving experience. Of course, with the money they’ve sunk into marketing, such claims are expected. But practically, is it true? Will the multiple blade razor work as brands showcase in video animations? Will you get the baby–butt smooth face?
If you are starting out, these questions are legit and expected. However, before you jump on any razor, do your homework past the marketing copy peddled by big brands; get to know the intricacies of the technology and if it’ll truly work as they claim it will.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken time to research and experiment on multiple razor blades and single blade razors. We’ll give you a comprehensive response to your question, but first;
What is a ‘Better Shave’?
Before we pass a ruling on which is better; a multiple blade razor or a single blade razor, we first need to understand what a ‘better shave’ is.
If you were to ask ten guys what their favorite beer is, you’ll most likely get a couple of different options. Some will swear by lagers and some by IPAs. You’ll also get answers on how different beers pair well with each other depending on the situation. All this to say that better or best is usually relative and depends on the person.
However, when it comes to shaving, the idea of what a ‘better shave’ is, seems to cut across the board. Simply put, there’s a criterion guys use to describe it. That is, a close shave that doesn’t irritate the skin and that is hygienic.
In this respect, we believe that multi-blade razors aren’t necessarily better than single-blade razors. We’ll get into more details below.
For centuries, using a classic cut-throat razor was the go-to option for many men worldwide (the tool and technique are gaining traction again). For a close and great shaving experience, the technique and sharpness of the blade were important.
But in 1901, Gillette disrupted the industry with the creation of a double-edge safety blade. This invention did so well that competitors jumped on it immediately with varied improvements in design and efficiency when the patent expired. So naturally, to stay in business, Gillette had to step up its game.
In response to the growing competition in the industry, Gillette decided to throw in an extra blade to their razors. Their logic was that two blades would yield twice the efficiency and reduce shaving time. However, wet shaving enthusiasts believed the new invention had more to do with making profits and less with effectiveness. This is debatable since they also added other features like wear indicators, lubricating strips, and comfort edges – a story for a different article.
Regardless of the doubts among consumers, multi-blade razors kept on coming, and Gillette established itself as the leader of cartridge razors.
Do more blades mean a closer shave?
To get the closest shave, Gillette and other brands thought to themselves; surely, a multi-blade razor will get the job done better.
Multi-blade razors were created to work as follows:
- 1st blade: the edge is blunt and hooks the hair and pulls it up and forward
- 2nd blade: cut the overly exposed beard hair
- 3rd blade: serve as a backup and makes a close shave possible
The same applies to razors with 4,5, and 6 blades. Unfortunately, as Gillette increased the number of blades, they increased the chances of;
- Skin irritation
- Razor burn
If you struggle with the above issues and are looking for a razor for sensitive skin, dermatologists suggest sticking to a single-blade razor.
If you are prone to cuts, a styptic pencil or an alum block will rescue you from the embarrassment of having to walk around with tissue paper on your face.
Why multi-blade razors cause ingrown hair
With a multi-blade razor gliding across the surface of the skin, expect some consequences.
As we’ve mentioned, the first blade hooks and pulls the beard hair up, causing the second blade to cut the hair beneath the skin. So while you’ll get a closer shave, it’ll be at a cost of getting ingrown hair which leads to razor bumps and eventually infections and unsightly bumps if not treated.
Can a single blade get the job done?
Before the 1970s, the single-blade double-edge razor was the standard and considered the best razors for men, and some shaving enthusiasts still swear by them today. However, straight razors were the preferred option for most barbers.
With a single-blade razor, you can make clean cuts and have fewer chances of a razor burn, and skin irritation because there are no extra blades to pull, tug and cut the hair below the skin.
As such, most wet shavers love double-edged razors to achieve close shaves.
How hard is it to use single-blade razors?
If we all had the same hair type and skin sensitivity, then shaving instructions you be simpler. However, this isn’t the case. To get the perfect shave and shaving experience, you should consider the following:
- Thick hair
- Thin hair
- Curly hair
- Straight hairs
- Hairs growing bi-directionally
We’ll be honest; it takes time to learn the perfect technique to shave your facial hair. You need to pay attention to the pressure you apply, the angles, and the speed with which you move the razor blade. Luckily, some razors have adjustable systems that make it easier for beginners to get close and comfortable shaves, even if it’s their first time wet shaving.
With that said, below is a quick guide on using a single blade safety razor
Using a single-blade safety razor
The first step is to shower to soften facial hair. However, since this isn’t always possible, you can wash your face with warm water or use a towel that’s damp with warm water. Lather up a small amount of quality shaving cream, and apply it to your face.
Start shaving, being careful to use short strokes, and then rinse carefully after a couple of seconds. When you keep the razor blade wet and clean, it’ll glide over your face easily. Once you are done, apply the best aftershave (one that’s free of parabens and alcohol).
The aftershave will prevent irritation and, depending on your choice, will leave you smelling great. Moreover, some aftershaves have astringent and antibacterial properties that’ll cleanse your skin cells and follicles and eliminate chemicals and dust particles.
To minimize nicks and skin irritation, you should shave every other day. Also, replace the single safety razor after every six shaves depending on several factors. If you are interested in increasing blade sharpness and getting more shaves from it, read more here.
Which blade razor is ideal for you?
So do more blades mean a better shave? Not quite.
If you are unsatisfied with your shaving routine, or you experience some skin discomfort or sustain cuts and nicks courtesy of the multi blade razor you are using, then it’s time to make a switch to an adjustable safety razor.
With that said, a safety razor will give you great results. There is a learning curve to it, but eventually, it’ll get the job done. However, multiple blade safety razors don’t necessarily translate into better shaves. On the contrary, it might do more harm than good.
How many blades give the best shave?
There’s a huge debate surrounding this issue. However, experts and dermatologists recommend nothing more than two blades to avoid nicking your skin. Often, with multiple-blade razors, the first is dull and designed to pull the hair up and forward in readiness for cutting. But beware, multiple razor blades often lead to ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
Is three or five blades better for shaving?
With multiple-blade razors, you expose yourself to higher risks of nicks, ingrown hairs, and razor bumps. However, they do have the benefit of a closer and smoother shave. Moreover, they reduce the shaving time, making light of the process. You have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.
Do you really need five blades on a razor?
Past the two-blade mark, it boils down to personal preference. In most cases, the first blade will pull, the second blade will cut, and the others will act as backups. Do you need three backups?
Do fewer blades give a closer shave?
Single blade cartridges glide across the surface of the skin at a gentler angle and cut your beards without pulling hairs forward. As a result, they deliver a close shave without the downside of increased ingrown hairs, bumps, and skin irritation.