"Shaving with a dull razor blade is not a good situation," says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology. "The dullness of the blade makes it harder to cleanly cut the hair, which in turn causes tugging of the hair shaft. This can cause a lot of inflammation around the follicle, which typically shows up as razor bumps." He also points out that a dull blade is "more traumatic" to the skin, and this means that you'll have a greater chance of infection of the hair follicle known as "folliculitis".
If you're trying to remove hair with a dull, worn-out razor blade, you'll have to work harder in order to do the job. "Because the blade is dull, you'll end up needing to press harder to get a clean shave, which causes more nicks," says Dr. Mudgil. You'll also most likely have to take more strokes over a given area since the razor blade isn't going to be as efficient. "Increasing the amount of pressure applied to the skin as well as the number of times the blade passes over the skin can lead to skin irritation, nicks, and cuts," says Caitlin Orszulak, senior scientist for Venus.
To figure out whether it's time for your razor blade to be replaced, pay attention to how it feels against your skin. "You may want to consider changing your razor blade when the shave becomes uncomfortable," says Orszulak. "This could be due to a lack of lubrication, which might be the case when lubricating features like a moisture bar appear visibly faded color-wise or if the shave gel bars have dissolved so much that they're no longer contacting your skin when you shave." Another telltale sign? According to Khadidja Toure, founder of Kubra Kay Skincare, your blades can start to rust. (Yuck.) Basically though, once your starts creating friction against your skin, you should probably replace your razor blade.
The actual time frame of how long a razor blade lasts depends on a number of variables, including how you shave and how you store it. "The frequency in which a blade needs to be changed is dependent on how often you shave and how long it has been sitting," says Toure. According to Dr. Mudgil, every five uses—give or take—is a good general guideline.
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