Barbershop Blog


June 15, 2021

Five blades with a swivelling head, gel strip and skin protector, how can any razor match up to all of these bells and whistles? With marketing and propaganda of course! For decades men have been convinced by companies that more blades equals a better shave but we all know that the best shave is delivered by the barber, and how many blades does the barber use? Just one!

Razors and shaving tools in barbershop

For the sake of keeping this article short and succinct, let’s not focus on different brands and different handle / razor blade systems, let’s just focus on the number of blades and whether more blades equals a better shave or not. More specifically, let’s look at whether a single blade razor or a multiple blade cartridge is superior.

The whole premise behind multiple razor blades is that they perform a closer shave. The idea is that the front blades lift the hair up for the trailing blades to cut shorter. Multiple blades can mean a faster shave because more blade surface is cutting with every pass of the razor. The trouble is that more blades means more friction and this irritates the skin. The more blades, the more chance of razor burn and post shave complications. So why do so many men assume that more blades are better? Well, because they have had billions of dollars of marketing telling them that for the last 50 years.

It seems like the razor blade companies are always adding another blade or a new gimmick to try and keep people attached to the upgrade cycle. If your thinking five blades seems excessive then you wouldn’t be alone. Men who are prone to ingrown hairs or razor bumps often find that their multi-blade razor aggravates their problems. Five blades are also far less nimble around sharp corners than one and this increases the chance of nicks and cuts. Razor blades scrape off skin as well as hair so again, more blades equals more potential for scraping and irritation.

If five blades were truely better than one, then why does the barber use a single blade for what is undoubtably the best shave a man can get? Because the barber must accommodate all facial hair types, skin types and sensitivities. They must be able to perform the same superior level of service on every man. For these reasons the master barber trusts in the traditional single blade and his ability to provide a consistently clean shave with less chance of nicks, cuts, burn or irritation. A single quality blade in the right hands and matched with the right techniques will win every day of the week.