Does it matter how many blades are on your razor?

Goodbye Ingrown Hairs and Razor Burn

Ingrown hairs are another bane to avoid. Hairs become ingrown in a few ways, all starting with a close shave. In close shaves, the cut hair retracts below the surface, into the follicle. If the hair is sliced at an angle, giving it a "sharp" tip, the hair can pierce the follicular wall below the skin's surface and grow into the surrounding skin. It can also exit the skin's surface, bend and poke into the skin from the top.

Men's chin and neck hairs, which already grow at an angle, are prone to becoming ingrown hairs [source: Draelos 2002]. Curly beard hairs, especially in African-American men, are especially prone. Bumps and irritation result, and if they happen repeatedly, there's scarring [source: Bridgeman-Shah, Greidanus]. Some men can escape the problem by shaving daily. They tend to be the ones whose sharp hairs reach the surface, bend and repenetrate the skin from the top. Daily shaving stops the hair from growing long enough to bend and enter the skin again [source: Draelos 2002]. Men with curly beards usually aren't so lucky. Some dermatologists recommend that they grow their beards. If they must shave, many dermatologists advise against the close shave that multiblade razors give. Instead, they recommend leaving the hair 2 to 3 millimeters (0.08 to 0.12 inches) long and trimming with an electric razor or the Bump Fighter Razor, whose foil guard prevents close shaves [source: Bridgeman-Shah].

There's another injury to avoid: razor burn. Razor burn happens when the blades scrape off a lot of skin with the hair. Avoiding this has nothing to do with blade number. You need a proper shaving technique. Writing in Dermatology Times, dermatologist Zoe Diana Draelos says dull razors can be the culprit. You should replace old razor blades -- ones you've used for more than 5 to 7 shaves. You should also soften the hair, so you can plow it with less force. Wet the hair with warm water. Then, add shaving gel. Draelos recommends using shaving gel instead of cream because it allows more water to enter the hair shaft. To further soften the hair, leave the shaving gel on for 3 to 4 minutes [source: Draelos 2001].

Keep reading for more links on how to take care of that beautiful face of yours.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Bridgeman-Shah, Sharon. "The Medical and Surgical Therapy of Pseudofolliculitis Barbae." Dematologic Therapy. Vol 17. No 2. 2004.
  • Burns, Nick. "Skin Deep: Shaving With Five Blades When Maybe Two Will Do." The New York Times. January 19, 2006 (9/22/2009)
  • "Shaving." 2009. (9/29/2009)
  • Draelos, Zoe Diana. "Cosmetic Conundrums." Dermatology Times. August 1, 2002.
  • Draelos, Zoe Diana. "Q&A with Zoe Diana Draelos." Dermatology Times. December 1, 2001.
  • Greidanus, Thomas G and Beth Honl. "Pseudofolliculitis of the Beard." EMedicine. March 27, 2009. (9/24/2009)
  • Kugel, Seth. "Low Tech Vs. High Tech." The New York Times. December 11, 2008. (9/22/2009)