When to change razor blade?

Replacing razor blades is essential to keep your skin healthy. But who can honestly admit they know exactly when it’s time to chuck out a blade?

While there’s no precise rule on when to throw away a razor blade, Charles Park, Head of Product Innovation for Dorco Razors, says there are a couple of tell-tale signs you should look out for…
Pulling and tugging
‘A good razor blade should glide over the skin with ease, but older, blunted blades have a tendency to tug and pull at the skin – causing irritation,’ Park told us.

So if your blade starts to feel uncomfortable against the skin, you’re maximising your risk of getting nicks, cuts and rashes.


The moment you see any rust on your blade, it’s time to chuck. And it isn’t just because you’re less likely to get a clean, smooth shave. It can also pose a risk to your health.

‘Rust is a sign that a replacement is needed immediately,’ says Park. ‘Not only does rust interfere with the performance of the blade, it can cause serious blood infections if the skin is nicked during shaving.’

A poor shave

In general, one of the main hints you’ll get that your razor blade is ready to be replaced is the fact you can still feel some hair left post-shave; i.e. the shave is not as close as it should be.

This is an indication that the razor has become blunt and it’s time to switch.

So how can you prolong the life of your razor blade?

  • Repeatedly rinsing the razor after every two or three swipes will stop hair from increasing friction and pressure – which can dull a blade.
  • Rinse your blade thoroughly after every shave, ensuring you wash away any remaining hairs.
  • Use a flannel to dry razor blades after each use. While water is essential to keeping blades clean, contact with water can also cause steel blades to rust.


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When do you know it’s time to replace your disposable razor? When the blade is too dull to do battle with your knee hair? When you accidentally get a good look at all the gunk in there?

Yes and yes — and generally, every three to seven uses is a good rule of thumb, according to experts. That said, it really depends on a few factors. If you’re using a single-blade razor or shaving a large area, change it more often, saysDebra Jaliman, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist and creator of Sea Radiance Skincare. And pay attention to the shave and the blade. “If you find that the razor isn’t gliding over the area and seems dull, obviously you should change it sooner,” says Jaliman. And rust? Definitely a sign it’s time to toss it.

I get it — blades aren’t cheap and your ankle hair seems to get darker and more powerful every time it grows back, so it’s tempting to try to extend the life of your razor as much as possible. But holding out too long isn’t good for your shave…or your health.

1. Your Razor Gets Covered In Grime

The longer you hold on to your old razor, the more bacteria, dead skin cells, shaving cream, and hair crops up in there. That goes double if you’re also not rinsing well in between strokes.

2. You Get a Worse Shave

Who wants to spend more time shaving? You, apparently, if you’re unwilling to let an old blade go. “Using an old razor really does take more time and effort, since you’ll be shaving over the same area multiple times to get a close shave,” says Jessie Cheung, M.D., director of theDermatology & Laser Center in Willowbrook, Illinois.

3. You Risk Razor Bumps Galore

A dull blade tugging at and nicking your skin causes inflammation around your hair follicles and ups your odds of razor bumps, says Dr. Cheung. At best, they’re painful and annoying but temporary. But some cases are pretty severe, causing pain and scarring.

4. You’re More Likely to Nick Yourself

Not only does going over the same area over and over again increase the likelihood of skin irritation, it also makes you more likely to apply more pressure with each stroke — and more likely to cut yourself, especially in delicate spots. But finding a Band-Aid for your vulva isn’t your only concern…

5. You Increase Your Risk of Infection

An old blade and irritated skin is a dangerous combination — and just because you don’t see the cuts on your skin doesn’t mean they’re not there. “You’ll have more microscopic tears in your skin and bacteria with an old blade, so the risk of infection will increase,” says Dr. Cheung. Those micro-traumas to the skin may also boost your risk of viral infections like molluscum contagiosum, or itchy red bumps, suggest researchers. And before you starting shaving away your lady bits, be warned: Some researchers believe that frequently shaving your pubic hair can even put you at greater risk of contracting HPV and herpes from an infected partner, thanks to the microscopic open wounds and irritation it causes.

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How Often Should You Change Your Razor Blade? It Depends On A Couple Factors

Despite what you may think, shaving doesn’t have to be the worst. In fact, you can get a smoother, more long-lasting shave just by regularly changing out your razor blade cartridges.While there is no general time table for how often you should be changing out your razor blade, there is an agreed upon standard when you should ditch your old blade. According to InStyle, any tugging, nicking, or rusting is a general sign that it’s time to change our your blade.

While many companies like Gillette state that it can take anywhere from 5 – 10 shaves before you should swap out your razor, others sites like GroomingLounge.com state that it can be as often as 3 – 4 uses. Honestly, it just all depends on how often you shave. If you shave daily, your blade is obviously going to wear out much more quickly due to use. However, blades that hang out for long periods of time in the shower are more likely to rust and need to be changed. So, if you’re wondering when to change your blade, it’s all about using your best judgement.

If you’re wondering why you should even be changing your blade in the first place, there are actually loads of reason. For starters, newer blades are more likely to give cleaner shaves as oppose to duller razors. Also, older cartridges can tend to harbor bacteria and cause bumps or possible infections, according to Oprah.com. Your best bet for your best shave is to keep track of the quality of your razor cartridge in order to ensure a healthy shave. Here are three razors that you should be reaching for next time you change out your cartridge.

1. Schick Hydro Silk Sensitive Care Shower Hanging Refills

Refills, $16, Amazon

Keep your skin feeling silky smooth with razors packed with moisturizing serum.

2. Gillette Fusion Manual Men’s Razor Blade Refills

Razor Refills, $35, A mazon

While these razors may be marketed towards men, getting a close shave has never been gender exclusive.

3. Gillette Venus Swirl Women’s Razor Refills

Razor Refill, $18, Amazon

Reach for a razor that moves with you.

Razor bumps, burns, and missed hairs don’t have to a fixture in your summer beauty routine. Keep your skin looking and feeling its best by regularly changing out your razor blade.

Images: jeffbergen/E+/Getty Images; Courtesy Brands

This Is How Often You Should Actually Switch Out Your Razor


Real talk: we can’t remember the last time we actually switched out our razor. Though some claim you should get a new one after roughly three to five uses, that number just doesn’t seem realistic to us—like, the moisturizing strip hasn’t even worn off by that point, not to mention the price both your wallet and the environment pay if you stick to that mindset. To clear things up once and for all, we spoke to Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, dermatologist at Marmur Medical and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, who spoke to telltale ways your razor needs to be replaced.

First things first, let’s bust that myth about tossing your blade after three to five uses. “There is no set number of uses after which you need to change your razor. You should be doing so if you see any signs of rusting, dulling, tugging the hair, or nicking the skin,” she explains. “There are multiple factors that can impact this, including how often a woman shaves, where the razor is stored, and the post-care of the razor after shaving.” That being said, if you tend to shave every day, your blade will wear down quicker than that of someone who shaves once a week.

VIDEO: How to Shave Your Legs

RELATED: How to Avoid Razor Burn in the Summer

Hair on the thicker end of the spectrum will cause a blade to dull at a faster rate, but with proper care, it is possible to prolong the lifespan of your razor—even if it’s disposable. Although storing it in your shower seems like the easiest option, doing so can trigger rust or the accumulation of bacteria. Dr. Kanchanapomi Levin recommends completely rinsing it out with water after every use, then storing it in a dry place.

Additionally, shaving cream (hell, even a bar of soap or conditioner when you’re in a bind) is as helpful for reducing cuts as it is for keeping your blades pristine. “This helps to soften the hair, but allows the razor to have less friction when shaving,” says Dr. Kanchanapomi Levin, who recommends the Schick Intuition ($10; walmart.com) as an all-in-one option. Once that moisture strip wears down (which takes a few weeks for us) pay close attention to any discomfort caused by the blades. Your razor’s days are numbered if it starts tugging at an area, or just doesn’t seem to get your legs as smooth as it used to.

While most guides will suggest replacing your razor every 2-4 weeks, we know as men that this will vary greatly from bloke to bloke, and 2 weeks can mean 2 shaves for some, and 14 shaves for another. A much better guide is to look at the condition of your blades after a certain number of shaves, rather than by time span. According to Gillette (who admittedly sell razors, so want you to top up ASAP), you should be replacing your razor every 5-7 shaves.

Although this is a great guide, if you can visibly see that the blades are blunt, there’s rust on the blades, or an excess build up of gunk that can’t be rinsed out, it’s time to part ways with that razor.

One common mistake men make is leaving their razors in moist areas, such as the shower, which promotes bacteria growth creating a minefield for skin irritation issues. Once you’ve finished shaving, rinse the blade and leave it to air dry, before storing it in a dry place, like the bathroom cupboard.

Razors can be expensive, so following these simple care rules could not only save your face, but your wallet as well.

Related: Your Guide To Shaving Sensitive Skin

Are You Wasting Money? Here’s How Long Your Razor Blade SHOULD Last

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn More. By Shawn Burns November 4, 2019

There’s a reason why the Dollar Shave Club was just recently bought by Unilever for $1 Billion (yes with a ‘B’) dollars:

Razor blades are ungodly expensive, and no man likes paying hand over fist for cartridge replacements.

Now I will admit, when I was a bit younger and strapped for cash, I would try to extend the life out of my razor as much as possible.

But, this begs the question:

How many shaves can you really get per blade?

While this is a bit of an open-ended question due to the fact that there are many different types of razors that exist in the market place, we want to go ahead and break apart each popular shaving system…

…and we will take it a bit further.

In fact, we will also go over some secrets that men have been using for years to not only extend the life of their razor blade, but also some tips and tools that will significantly reduce your cost per blade.

By the end of this guide, I promise that you will not only save a boat load of money on razor blades, but also discover how to get a better, closer, and more comfortable shave.

So, let’s dive into the cartridge razor first:

How Many Shaves Per Cartridge Razor Head

By and far the most popular razor system in the world will be the cartridge razor.

Not to be confused with the disposable razor that is a single piece, a cartridge razor is where the razor head is ejectable (i.e. think Gillette and Schick high-end multi-blade razors).

With these systems, you keep the handle but replace the head on a regular basis.

But how many shaves should you expect to get out of a cartridge razor?

In total, most men on average get about 30 shaves of their cartridge razor for their face.

Here’s a key point to this though:

As a bald man that occasionally shaves my face, I have a much shorter lifespan with my trusty cartridge razor.

The reason being is that the surface area is simply more and therefore makes the cartridge razor do a whole lot more work (i.e. the surface area of my head is much greater than just my face).

So if you are also hair follicle derived like myself, expect to get around 20 shaves from your cartridge razor before it will need to be replaced.

How To Reduce The Cost Per Blade Of A Cartridge Razor

As we eluded to at the beginning of this guide, shave clubs have grown rapidly in recent years.

Among the most popular will be Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s.

Both of which offer introductory plans that ring in at under $5 bucks a month and often include a shave cream (or butter) in addition to the razor.

Now if you still aren’t looking to commit to a monthly contract with one of the big shave subscription services, another option is to ‘downgrade’.

Seriously, there is no reason or rule that you MUST need 5 or 6 blades on the head of a cartridge razor in order to get a close shave.

Sure, a 5 or 6 blade razor may mildly increase comfort, but there are plenty of men who still rely on their Mach 3 to get the job done.

Not only is the shave just about as close as the newer systems that exist, but also the replacement cartridges often ring up at a fraction of the cost of the latest and greatest models.

How Often Should I Change My Safety Razor Blade?

Ahh, the safety razor (also known as the double edge safety razor or DE razor).

Once all the rage in the early 1900s, the safety razor had taken a backseat to its electric and cartridge counterparts for a number of years.

But just recently, the safety razor has now started to experience a renaissance of sorts.

Here’s why:

While not the easiest to learn, nor the longest lasting blades on the market, safety razors are perfect for men who want total control with their razor (for better or worse).

But there is a bigger reason why men are loving safety razors today – they are cheap.

In fact, you can expect to spend just pennies per blade.

When it comes to lifespan of the razor blades found in safety razors, they are significantly shorter than both cartridge or electric razors – in fact, you can expect (and should) change out your safety razor on a weekly basis (or about every 6 shaves).

This is assuming that you are making three passes with your safety razor blade during every shave session:

  • With the grain
  • Across the grain
  • Against the grain

While safety razor blades are just as every bit sharp as a cartridge razor, the single blade found on the head does all the cutting (as opposed to a cartridge razor that has 5 blades sharing the work).

How To Reduce The Cost Per Blade For A Safety Razor

Given that safety razor blades are already pretty cheap, you have very little in the way of wiggle room to work with.

For men looking to shave a few pennies (pun intended) off their monthly grooming budget, we would recommend that you test out other blades on the market and see if you can find a bargain blade that delivers the same results as a pricier blade.

In fact, we recently outlined all the popular safety razor blades (along with their cost per blade) in this post.

It’s important to note, that just because a blade is ‘cheap’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it will perform poorly.

The lower price point may be due to the labor costs of where the blade was manufactured (i.e. German blades tend to be pricier than India made blades).

A variety pack is great for testing out blades from different countries at an affordable price.

But as you will find out in just a minute, there are a few tricks men use to extend the life of safety razor blades…

…but first the straight razor:

How Long Does A Straight Razor Last?

Straight razors come in two varieties:

Shavettes (also known as the barber straight razor) and traditional straight edge razors.

Both share the same single handle form factor, however, shavettes offer an ejectable blade (often found in barbershops due to their sanitary nature).

This ejectable blade is very similar to the safety razor blade, and you should expect about a week’s worth of shaving from this straight razor variety.

The traditional straight razor is a bit more tricky to estimate the number of shaves you can expect. The reason being is that you are responsible for sharpening the blade yourself with a strop.

So, depending on the man, some like to sharpen their blade before every shave session while others may sharpen on a weekly basis.

Therefore, its largely up to you to decide how often to sharpen the blade.

But we would recommend at least weekly if you shave daily.

How To Reduce The Cost Of A Straight Razor

Honestly, there isn’t much you can do here, other than trading in your shavette for a straight razor.

Straight razors are designed to last a lifetime and then some.

Proper care, stropping, and honing of the blade will allow this razor variety to be passed down from one generation to the next.

How Long Do Electric Razor Blades Last?

Electric shavers come in two varieties: foil and rotary.

While we won’t get into the nuances of the different heads of electric shavers, if you want to learn more, check out our in-depth guide comparing rotary and foil heads here.

Within the foil and rotary categories, there are largely two manufacturers: Philips (maker of rotary electric shavers) and Braun (maker of foil electric shavers)

How Often Should You Change A Braun Foil Head?

Braun recommends that their heads are changed out every 18 months.

Going longer than the recommended time may lead to hairs being pulled and general post-shave discomfort.

While some Braun foil electric shavers can cost more than $300 bucks, the replacement blades are significantly cheaper – and ring up at about $50 dollars.

How Often Should You Change A Philips Rotary Head?

Per the Philips Norelco website, it is recommended that you change out the rotary head once every 12 months.

While a bit more frequent than the Braun foil head, replacement heads for the Philips Norelco electric shavers do tend to have slightly lower prices at around $40 a head.

Other Electric Razor Replacement Timelines

Generally, when looking at other brands like Panasonic and Wahl, you will want to check the owner’s manual for the most accurate information.

However, we found that most recommend a replacement of the blades once every year.

What Can You Do To Extend The Life Of Any Razor Blade?

To squeeze every penny out of your razor blade, men will often resort to these tested methods to extend the lifespan of their trusted blade of choice.

Pre Shave Oil (i.e. Shaving Oil)

If you aren’t aware of what shaving oil is, you should be, especially if you shave on a regular basis.

Often chalked full of natural (or in some cases, synthetic) ingredients, pre shave oils will make for a much more comfortable shave.

Providing a slick lubricated base, shaving oil makes it significantly easier for the razor blade to glide along the surface of your skin while cutting your hair.

The addition of the shaving oil will ensure that there is less friction and subsequently less stress on the razor blade and your skin.

While pre shave oil price points can vary wildly on the market, some natural solutions cost upwards of $20 while other synthetic options ring up at ~$5.

If you are on a tight budget, we invite you to check out this article where we talk about the common ingredients found in pre shave oils that you can use as a substitute (and at a fraction of the price) OR if you want to get into the whole DIY thing, then check out this guide on how to make pre shave oil yourself.

Quality Shave Creams That Will Preserve Your Razor Blades

Shave creams not only increase the comfort while you shave, but a quality cream will contain rich lubricants that will help to preserve your razor blade.

So whether you go with a brushless shave cream like a Cremo or Jack Black’s Beard Lube or with a more traditional offering from Taylor of Old Bond Street, the end result will be the same: a much better shave for both your skin and razor blade.

If you aren’t sure which type of shave cream is best for you, check out our in-depth comparison of all the top brands on the market.

There we go over scents, value, performance, and more.

Razor Blade Dryers Will Help Extend The Life Of A Razor Blade

One of the mean rains that razor blades perform poorly over time will be due to oxidation.

With systems like BLEW, you can be sure that your razor blades are bone dry immediately after you shave.

While safety razor blades are changed out regularly, this type of drying system can have a marked increase in razor blade lifespan with regular use.

Go With A Safety Razor For Cheapest Cost Per Shave

While we went through all the different razors and their blade lifespans in this article, we cannot stress enough the value that a safety razor delivers.

With blades only costing a few pennies as opposed to blades that cost a few dollars found in their cartridge counterpart, you really do save money hand-over-fist with this shave system.

So if you have the patience to perfect your shave technique and don’t mind the occasional nick while you are learning, buy yourself a quality safety razor – you will be glad you did.

Adopt A Good Shave Routine

High-quality products won’t mean a darn thing if your shave routine isn’t right.

The most important factor you need to do before you shave in order to extend the life of your razor blade is to shower.

Showering before shaving not only softens the hair follicles significantly, but it also will help to loosen up the sebum oil nestled in your pores.

This natural oil that your body produces will coat both your skin and hair shaft – ultimately increasing comfort and lessening the work needed by your razor blade.

If showering isn’t convenient for you, then the next best alternative is to simply apply a hot towel to your face for about 5 minutes prior to shaving.

This will achieve similar effects as a thorough shower.

Wrapping Up The Best Methods To Extend The Life Of Your Razor Blades

While every shave system is unique, some baseline rules are always going to be important. Ample lubrication coupled with the application of a quality shave cream will help to extend the life of any razor blade.

However, instead of just trying to squeeze pennies out of a cartridge or electric shaver, we would recommend that you check out other alternatives like the double edge safety razor or simply a shave subscription service.

  • About The Author

    Shawn Burns

    Shawn is the founder and senior editor at Tools of Men, the leading style and grooming source trusted by men in 187 countries. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. He is an expert in all things men’s grooming related. His work has been mentioned on countless sites including The Wall Street Journal, NBC, AskMen, Vice, WikiHow, and the New York Times.

    (Picture: Getty)

    Razors are expensive, which is why many of us might opt to keep ours until they’re probably past their best.

    However, it’s crucial to keep on top of changing your razors. Not just for hygiene reasons but for safety reasons.

    According to Gillette, it can be hard to know when to change your razor, but there are things you should look out for.

    If it’s blunt, rusty or has any gunk stuck between the blades, it’s time to throw it out.

    If you see your razor is starting to get blunt, it needs to be changed – as the blunter the razor, the harder you need to press it on the skin, and the more likely you are to get cuts which can lead to infection.

    (Picture: Getty)

    If you don’t notice any of these things, the shaving company recommends throwing a razor out after at most 10 shaves.

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    If you want to make sure your razors last up to those 10 shaves, it’s important to shave with actual shaving cream and to rinse the blades before letting the razor air dry, as well as storing it in a dry place – like a bathroom cupboard – so that the blades don’t go rusty.

    Alongside keeping your razors nice and clean, to avoid any infections you should be super careful when shaving your legs. Don’t rush the process.

    Be sure to lather up your legs with shaving cream to help the razor glide down your legs more easily – this gives you less chance of cutting up your legs, which can later lead to infection if the cut isn’t looked after properly.

    Oh, and one more thing – you should never, ever share a razor.

    According to Dr Cynthia Bailey, a razor can also carry germs like Hepatitis, candida yeast, and the fungi that causes athlete’s foot, as well as viruses like herpes and warts.

    So, embrace the fuzzy leg if you can’t find your own razor – it’s just not worth the risk.

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    But it’s clear that I’m not the only one confused about how often you should be replacing your shaving tools – Refinery29 recently debated the issue amongst their team, with some changing every few shaves and others every few months.

    RELATED: 7 Shaving Mistakes That Could Be Wrecking Your Skin

    So they spoke to dermatologist Whitney Bowe to determine what best practice is.

    “Women should get rid of their razor blade after a few uses, as it will have been exposed to bacteria,” Dr. Bowe told Refinery29. “The first sign of any rusting or dulling of the blade, or any tugging or nicking of the skin, should tell you it’s time to toss it.”

    Eeek. But she says it also depends on where you’re storing the sucker.

    “Leaving it in the wet, dewy shower will cause the blade to rust much faster, and will also leave it open to being exposed to bacteria much more,” Dr. Bowe explains.

    “If you use a razor for too long, it has a greater chance of harboring bacteria, and shaving with a bacteria-filled blade can cause little red bumps on your skin. Those openings can allow bacteria to enter and spread infection.”

    RELATED: This Is The Best Time To Shave Your Legs

    She suggests storing your razor in a dry, clean spot and rinse it thoroughly after every use.

    And while we’re on questionable grooming habits, you should never, ever share the shaving tool. Those little nicks she mentioned up your chances of transmitting or receiving STIs like herpes and HPV.