Shave razor cost by drying blades

November 04, 2007|By Gregory Karp | Gregory Karp,THE MORNING CALL IN ALLENTOWN, PA.

Some everyday purchases seem to tick off consumers more than others. Gasoline and inkjet cartridges are examples. Another is razor blades.

The razor industry is known for a marketing strategy in which the seller takes a loss on the device, the razor handle, and makes money on refills, the blades.

Whether you are shaving your face or your legs, you could be paying several dollars each for today's multiple-blade cartridge refills. You could buy cheaper blades, but many consumers claim the more expensive new razors are, indeed, superior. So another way to save is to make the blades last longer.

Granted, some proposed ways of extending blade life seem far-fetched or impractical for everyday consumers. They include cryogenically freezing blades, coating or submerging them in various oils or rubbing alcohol, storing blades in a magnetic holder to avoid warping or placing your razor in a prism to somehow take advantage of the Earth's magnetic properties.

One simple method has at least anecdotal support: Dry the blades after shaving.

The concept is this: Razor blade dullness stems more from oxidation, microscopic rusting, than from contact with whiskers. Water that sits on blades between shaves causes the oxidation.

The Wall Street Journal once quoted a Gillette executive as saying the No. 1 reason for blade fatigue is corrosion.

Corrosion can cause metal to flake off and the edge to become blunted and jagged. Degraded performance prompts most people to ditch the blade for a new one.

Consumer-advocate radio host Clark Howard of Atlanta used a 17-cent disposable razor for an entire year. He said he extended blade life by blotting his razor dry with a towel after use.

Howard's report intrigued Atlanta resident Brian Cohn, who tried it. Cohn said his results weren't quite as good but still amazing. His blades lasted five to six months.

Cohn has since invented a razor-storage device with a small fan for drying razors. He hopes to market it under the name RazorPro.

Because the only evidence he had was anecdotal, he paid for testing research from an independent laboratory, 360-Degree Testing Service of Yonkers, N.Y. It tested a two-blade razor from Bic, a three-blade razor from Gillette and a four-blade razor from Schick.

The results? Using the fan device to dry blades extended blade life an average of 122 percent, or more than double.

My own test - drying a Gillette Fusion razor after every use - has been under way for more than two months with the same blade cartridge.

None of this is conclusive proof that drying your blades after shaving will make them last longer. But it's worth a try, especially if you use expensive cartridges.

To the extent that wear results from contact with whiskers instead of oxidation, shave only after softening hair with a moisturizing soap. After applying shave cream or gel, allow time for hair to soften further.

Other ideas for reducing shaving expenses are to buy cheaper disposable razors, use an electric razor or use coupons for name-brand cartridges.

Or you could shave less. Men can grow a beard, for example. For women, well, letting hair grow is an individual choice.

yourmoney@tribune.com

Gregory Karp writes for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. For additional discussion on spending wisely, see the Spending Smart blog at http:--blogs.mcall.com/spendingsmart

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