5 things that happen when you don’t change your razor

When do you know it’s time to replace your disposable razor? When is the blade too dull to battle with your knee hair? When you accidentally get a good look at all the gunk in there?

Yes and yes — and generally, every three to seven uses is a good rule of thumb, according to experts. That said, it really depends on a few factors. If you’re using a single-blade razor or shaving a large area, change it more often, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and creator of Sea Radiance Skincare. And pay attention to the shave and the blade. “If you find that the razor isn’t gliding over the area and seems dull, obviously you should change it sooner,” says Jaliman. And rust? Definitely a sign it’s time to toss it.

I get it — blades aren’t cheap and your hair seems to get darker and more powerful every time it grows back, so it’s tempting to try to extend the life of your razor as much as possible. But holding out too long isn’t good for your shave or your health.

1. Your razor gets covered in grime. The longer you hold on to your old razor, the more bacteria, dead skin cells, shaving cream and hair crops up in there. That goes double if you’re also not rinsing well in between strokes.

2. You get a worse shave. Who wants to spend more time shaving? You, apparently, if you’re unwilling to let an old blade go. “Using an old razor really does take more time and effort, since you’ll be shaving over the same area multiple times to get a close shave,” says Jessie Cheung, MD, director of the Dermatology & Laser Center in Willowbrook, Illinois.

3. You risk razor bumps galore. A dull blade tugging at and nicking your skin causes inflammation around your hair follicles and ups your odds of razor bumps, says Dr. Cheung. At best, they’re painful and annoying, but temporary. But some cases are pretty severe, causing pain and scarring.

4. You’re more likely to nick yourself. Not only does going over the same area over and over again increase the likelihood of skin irritation, it also makes you more likely to apply more pressure with each stroke — and more likely to cut yourself, especially in delicate spots.

5. You increase your risk of infection. An old blade and irritated skin is a dangerous combination — and just because you don’t see the cuts on your skin doesn’t mean they’re not there. “You’ll have more microscopic tears in your skin and bacteria with an old blade, so the risk of infection will increase,” says Dr. Cheung. Those micro-traumas to the skin may also boost your risk of viral infections like molluscum contagiosum, or itchy red bumps, suggest researchers.

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