Money Saving Tips: extending the useful life of razors

This article was written originally for an environmental portal for which this author was associated briefly. But since it was not utilized (more importantly, since the author was not remunerated for his work) he had decided to publish this in the previous version of his blog instead.
Seven years after this article was published, the author is still using the same technique to extend the lifespan of his razors and in fact most of the twin-blades and triple-blades razors that was mentioned in the 2010 edition of this article are still in “active service” today (Sep 25, 2017) , over 7 years after the experiment started!
Apart from the companies making razors, it can be deduced that most consumers should try out the method described below which not only will save you a few precious Ringgit a few months but will help to reduce plastic waste to the environment.
The author had also taken the opportunity to update his estimation of the size of the razors market and other figures accordingly in view of more “data” and a reflection on his initial estimation.

Money Saving Tips: Extending the useful life of razors
Written by Dr. YN Chow at 2010-08-31 12:08:09

Removing hairs from bodily surfaces for cultural or aesthetic reasons has been a big business. While traditionally this has been viewed as the guys’ issue where shaving has been viewed as a sign of one reaching “manhood”, in reality, the razor blades have more customers than just men.

It is not surprising that a significant amount of advertising and promotion have been levied on selling “new” designed razor blades to the consumers and now they have even segmented this into the “guys” market and the “ladies” market. While the writer has not a single clue about how large this market is, a simple estimation of the market for Malaysia can be “guessimated” as follows:
  • There are 27 32 million people in Malaysia, about 50% are male
  • 60% of the males are late teen or older  =  50% * 32 * 60% = 9.6 million people
  • Assuming 30% of the 9.6 million late teen to older males shave regularly = 2.88 million people
  • Assuming each “shaving customer” uses equivalent of 3 razors per year @RM1.50 – RM2.00 per razor = RM4.32 – 5.76million
  • Every one uses the razor blade directly (self applied) or via your barbers or hairdressers, including ladies some of whom do shave their appendages!
Hence a conservative estimation of the market for razor blade in Malaysia is about RM4.32 to 5.76 million. Of course this figure will go much higher if we take into account of the fact that many of the branded razor blades sold are priced at much higher than RM1.50 a piece.

Even if you are spending RM3 a year on razor blades, and you are “hooked” on the twin blades or higher specs models…..you know that the razor will blunt itself after about 30 to 50 usages (or less, depending on how much shaving your face needs per day). What do you do? Throw away the old one and get a new blade? This article will tell you that is not a good idea as the average branded twin blades razor (or those of higher specs) have at least 80 or more good shaves ahead of it after the initial 30 usages!

A report in the Chicago Tribune in 2007 advocated that you should let the razor blades dry off before using again to extend its life. But there was no concrete proof that this was the case. And the writer has been letting his branded razor blades dried themselves each time after use but that did not seem to extend their lives. That is, until he reads an article about a video on how simple it is to extend the life of your expensive branded razor blades and actually went to view the video concerned, posted by a gentleman with the handle of Terrypun in late March 2010 that he was intrigued enough to want to try this simple experiment.

The Terrypun Technique:
This was taken from a short write up by Ben Popken of the Consumerist:

“When he (Terrypun) notices his blade getting dull, he rubs it on his forearm in the non-cutting direction for about 10 strokes. This is all you need to keep the blade honed and sharp. You can also rub it against the heel of your palm.

Contrary to popular misconception, it’s not water or rust that dulls the blades, which are often stainless steel. It’s just the fine edges getting dulled on your face (or legs, or chest, whatever you would like the shave).”

Traditional single-bladed razor
T-shaped single-blade razor was used as a control with new blade at each use.

This article is being written on 31 Aug 2010, Merdeka Day (and revised just over 7 years later,) and the writer has been experimenting with the technique shown in the embedded video for just about 5 months (over 7 years by Sep 2017!). He has summarised his findings (which, as a trained scientist, he must qualify that this was done without any statistically analysis, replicates, blocks etc. etc. & purely came from his own observations of his face & chin after each shave!).

  1. Resurrecting An Old & No-longer-used Twin-bladed Razor
    He tried to “resurrect” a twin-bladed razor (of a leading brand) which he had “abandoned” in his father-in-law’s house for close to 2 years using the Terrypun technique: He was able to sharpen the blades but no matter how much of the sharpening he has done, the razor still could not be resurrected and there was always remnant of stubbles left on his chin after shaving.

    Conclusion: You cannot flog a dead horse! The Terrypun technique will not return your very old & long abandoned razor blades to their former glory! Buy new ones!

  2. Resurrecting Two Branded, Recently “Abandoned” Razors (a Twin-bladed & a Triple-bladed)
    He has two branded razors (a twin-bladed & a triple-bladed) which he was going to replace their respective heads with new ones that he had bought (mind you at very high prices!) just as he thought about the Terrypun Technique. He applied the Terrypun Technique each day (by rubbing the razor on his forearm in the non-cutting direction for about 20 -30 strokes). He remembers his scientific training and replaced his T-shaped traditional razor with a fresh single blade and use this as a “control”, where he shaves with this razor once every week and compared the results with the resurrected Twin-bladed and Triple-bladed razors. The Terrypun Technique was able to return both razors to “functioning” level. The effect lasted till recently, about 5 months or 60 shaves for each razor. Over 7 years later, in Sep 2017, his two razors are still functional, each time after the “standard” Terrypun Technique is applied!

    Conclusion: The Terrypun Technique works for branded twin-bladed or triple-bladed razors, by extending their useful lives by more than 700%, but there is a finite limit to which you can “flog the horse” before it becomes a dead horse! You should, using Terrypun Technique, expect at least 80 – 90 300 – 400 shaves from a brand new branded razor.

  3. Resurrecting Cheap Disposable Razor
    The writer had to travel to China in Sep 2010 for work and was supplied with disposable razors at the hotel that he was staying. When it comes to disposable, supposedly single-use razors, it is quite a shame to have to throw these away after only a couple of shaves. Often you can use it for at least 3 -4 shaves. He therefore decided to apply the Terrypun Technique on one of the single-bladed disposable razors supplied by the hotel. The razor was good as new even after the 10 shaves (which the author “consumed” after his 5-days trip to China when he went on a few short local trips to the hometown).

    Conclusion: You can apply the Terrypun Technique to extend the lifespan of those disposable razors for as long as the plastic holding the blades are intact. Each of this type of razor can give you, via the Terrypun Technique, at least 10 100 – 200 shaves or more.

The observations given above were done on twin or triple bladed razors and the writer had tried doing the same on an old fashion “T-shaped” razor  which he had used as the “control” in this experiment (the type where you have to pop open the contraption & replace the individual blade, risk cutting yourself in the process)….he lost some hairs from his right forearm. So a word of warning, apply the Terrypun Technique only on the “new safety” razors and leave those T-shaped razor well alone!
 
What has all these got to do with being environmentally aware? You may ask.
First extending the life of your razors by 3 – 4 folds save your some money.
Secondly, and more importantly, as most of the razor’s parts are made of plastic, the less you have to throw away, the less you will contribute to the mountain of waste.
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