In the world of shaving, it would seem that bigger is better — the latest razors have 5 blades at last count. But do the extra blades make a difference?
A razor with 5 blades instead of 2 or 3 will give you a closer shave (although they feel like you’re shaving with a tiny vacuum cleaner head). Each blade cuts the hair another fraction of an inch as you pull it across your skin, actually finishing below the surface, which is why it feels so smooth. You can get a similarly close shave by shaving against the grain.
But how smooth is smooth enough?
In some cases, a super-close shave is not desirable. Many men have thick or curly hair in their beards. Shaving too close causes the tip of the hair to get trapped beneath the skin, so when the hair grows, it grows back inward, trapped under the skin. This creates a tender (and unattractive) acne-like razor bump called pseudofolliculitis barbae.
A similar problem occurs in women when they shave their bikini area. If you have this problem, then be sure to soften the hair well with warm water and shaving cream first, then shave in the direction that the hair is growing.
Shaving closer also does not make the hair grow back more slowly. This is true for men and for women’s legs as well — the hair grows at the same rate no matter how close you shave it. Women, though, can try Aveeno’s Positively Smooth Shower and Shave Cream or Moisturizing Lotion which have soy proteins that can inhibit hair growth, keeping your legs smoother for longer.
If you have problems with razor bumps, consider scaling down to a two blade razor and shaving only in the direction the hair is growing. In most instances, the difference in closeness will not be noticeable, and you will be much happier without the ingrown hairs. Plus with the money you’d save (up to $3.50 ea. for cartridges), you might just be able to afford a full tank of gas for your car this month.
Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD
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Photo credit: Saintbob Flickr.com