There are two kinds of fools: One says, “This is old therefore it is good.” The other one says, “This is new therefore it is better.” — William R. Inge
In recent years, the average razor blade has gotten a lot bigger. First we had the Mach 3, then four and now 5 blades on a razor (here’s a little history of Gillette’s product introductions). A man gets to wondering…
How many razor blades do I really need?
CAUTION: Unflattering photos of my face follow. You can click them for larger, even more unpleasant versions.
I decided to get scientific. I visited my local drug store, and purchased a five-blade Gillette Fusion (hilarious flashtasticness ahead, with our highly-suggestive hostess Cassandra) razor. The calculation is based on replacement blade pricing:
Some features of the Fusion (thanks, Cassandra!):
- Flexible comfort guard carefully follows the contours of the face
- Enhanced indicator Lubrastrip signals when it’s time to change the blade
- Backside of the cartridge features a Precision Trimmer for side-burns and hard-to-reach areas
- Features an ergonomic, superbly engineered razor handle with elastomer coating
- Breakthrough five-blade shaving surface on the front of the cartridge
Then I looked for the cheapest razor I could find. I eventually went with the Bic Twin Select, which has two blades and feels very dainty in my hand (sorry about the white balance there):
The selling features from the Bic website:
- Twin-blade for a close and comfortable shave
- A slim head to help shave those Ã¢â‚¬Å“hard-to-reachÃ¢â‚¬Â areas
- Longer handle for better maneuverability and control
Here’s my receipt. As it turns out, I got a buck off each razor. I also needed antiperspirant:
And here are the contenders:
Here is my pre-shave face:
I didn’t shave yesterday so I built up a good scruffy stubble. It’s first thing in the morning, so I look a little grumpy.
I followed my normal routine, and shaved in the shower (sorry ladies and gents, no photos there). I divided my face in half, using the five blade razor on one side, and the two-blade number on the other. I was careful to use the same number of strokes on each area, and tried to apply the same amount of pressure.
Here’s my post-shave face. I’m happier because I’m clean:
Let’s see those side by side:
Here’s a close-up of the area around my mouth:
It’s difficult to judge, but both cheeks feel equally unirritated. This, of course, may be down to the very excellent Body Shop Mostly Men shaving cream I use.
Photo evidence wasn’t sufficient, though. I went out in the world and asked five people to feel my face and tell me they thought one side was smoother than the other. Only one of them identified the right side of my face as the five-blade side. Like me, most couldn’t tell the difference.
Conclusions? After one shave, there’s little reason to use five blades. Maybe, over time, the cheap two-blade razor would irritate your skin more? Regardless, I think I’ll just stick with my three blades.