If you shave often, there is nothing like the first blade out of a fresh pack. It always seems to give a better shave than the others. I always thought that it came down to a placebo effect, but if you're doing what I was doing (which you probably are), there may be something more to it.
Razor blades are sharp (duh.) and that sharpness comes from a very thin and specially shaped edge on the blade, called a honed edge. (the process of honing is actually pretty cool, check it out in a different setting here.)
This honed edge is quite fine and if you keep your blades in the bathroom drawer like I was, moisture in the air from showering or running the tap can corrode the blades on a microscopic level. This means that while the blade may look mint, it has actually lost a good degree of it's sharpness before you've even taken it out of the package. This applies to all types of blades, from safety razor blades to the removable 5-blade heads. The image below shows the difference between fresh blades and corroded ones
The same phenomenon happens when you finish your shave and leave the razor with moisture on the blades. This can corrode or oxidize the blades, making them duller, faster and increasing the chances of small cuts and inflammation.
How do we get around this? Are we trapped forever with blades that get dull before we even use them?
The easy answer is no; there are 2 easy ways to get around this pesky phenomenon. Firstly, keep your fresh blades in a spot away from the moisture and humidity of the bathroom. I've taken to keeping mine in a Ziploc bag in the closet near the bathroom. I've noticed quickly that the fresh blades seem sharper and in better overall condition since starting.
The other thing we can do is to thoroughly dry the razor once we finish shaving, or keep it in a cup of oil on the counter. Baby oil (or any other type of oil) is hydrophobic, meaning that it will drive out any water that may be trapped against the blade, keeping your razor corrosion-free and sharp.
Do you have any other shaving tips? We'd love to hear them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,