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Single Blade vs. Multiple Blades: Which Razor Is Better?

Western Razor Co. single blade safety razor on a table
Western Razor Co.

There’s a certain refined quality to using a single-bladed razor. It calls back to the days of quaint barbershops and sipping malts at the local pharmacy. But we’ve progressed as a society, and so, too, has the tech behind shaving. Now more commonly found in homes are four or five-bladed razors, each one touting a smoother, safer, cleaner, closer shave. The variety of options does beg the question as to which is better, especially when companies like Western Razor Co. suggest that its single-bladed razor is “the last razor you’ll ever buy.” So which option is actually better?

A Tale of Two Razors

Near the onset of the 20th century, American inventor King Camp Gillette developed what would become known as the “safety razor,” a disposable design that would be the foundation for the multi-bladed razors used today. Early versions only had one doubled-edged blade surrounded by a safety guard, which was a stark contrast to the more traditional straight razor, which has its roots as far back as Ancient Egypt. It took about 70 years before another blade was added to Gillette’s safety razor design.

Though the first safety razors were safer and easier to use than straight-edged blades, Gillette thought that an additional blade would be more efficient and cut more hair with each pass. That thought process progressed throughout the years until companies like Gillette topped out at three to five blades. Unfortunately, this may be a case of newer not necessarily being better.

Single vs. Multiple Blades

It’s true that single-blade razors have a higher potential to cut your skin, but that’s primarily while you’re still in the learning phase. Once you get a rhythm and understand how much pressure you need to put on the blade, you’ll cut yourself quite a bit less. If at all. And a few shaving nicks here and there is really a small price to pay, too, considering the alternative.

Western Razor Co. Safety Razor| Starting at $60 | Western Razor Co.

The science behind a multi-bladed razor is simple. The first blade cuts the hair while the second trims it even further below the surface of the skin. Any blade after is meant to clean up stragglers, but in most cases, you’re dragging blades across your skin for no good reason. The result? A lot of friction and irritation. Though you may need to make extra passes with a single-blade safety razor, it’s still fewer blades rubbing against your skin.

While minor skin irritation may not sound bad compared to a few cuts, it’s what happens as your hair grows back in that can be painful and lead to infection. Multiple blades have been linked to higher instances of ingrown hairs, and it’s because that second blade cuts the hair to below the skin’s surface. Before it has a chance to grow, your skin may heal over it, trapping the hair and causing the often painful condition.

A Matter of Cost

It’s not surprising that the more modern method of shaving, the multi-blade razor, also happens to be the more expensive option. Generally, replacement cartridges for a multi-blade option will cost more than a refill pack of singular safety blades. You also have to take into consideration that multi-blade razors tend to get clogged, rendering them useless much sooner than a single safety blade.

The Single-Blade Revolution

It may seem like you’re going back in time, but single-blade razors are gaining ground against disposable multi-bladed razors. This is due in part to companies like Western Razor Co. and its 100% made-in-the-USA single blade. Available in gold or silver, the Western Razo Co. safety razor is available with up to 55 stainless steel, coated and oiled blades, and a leather cover for added safety. It’s time to admit that, in the case of safety razors, one actually may be better than two, three, four, or five. But don’t take our word for it; pick one up for yourself and give it a try.

Western Razor Co. Safety Razor

This 100% American made safety razor uses a single stainless steel blade to deliver a close and clean shave every time.

Mark LoProto Mark LoProto
Mark is a freelance reviewer for How-To Geek and Review Geek, a seasoned freelance writer, and a marketing manager with a strong footing in the gaming and esports industries. He’s been featured across the net on Cultured Vultures, Heavy.com, Bloody Disgusting, and more. Read Full Bio »