It’s a crazy world, and a lot of crazy people are living it. Statistically speaking, there must be someone out there who gets sad when they walk away from a shave without cuts, razor burns and red bumps. But obviously, the vast majority of people would prefer to do without them, and for those people, we have some sage advice: Stop leaving your wet razor lying in a puddle on the sink.
Razors are usually made of steel, since it’s strong enough to keep its sharp edge through multiple shaves. However, metal is also highly susceptible to rust when left wet. This causes the blade to become dull and uneven, resulting in nicks, cuts and a more painful shave overall.
If you think simply shaking it off will take care of this, I’m afraid you’re wrong. Sure, it’ll help, but leaving your razor lying around damp is a bad idea, exposing it to even more potential moisture (which your bathroom provides plenty of, such as the steam after you’ve taken a hot shower). “And if the razor happens to be within six feet of a toilet and you’re not closing the lid when you flush, then there’s a chance you may get some droplets from the toilet onto the razor,” adds Jason ‘The Germ Guy’ Tetro, author of The Germ Files and host of the Super Awesome Science Show.
This is a problem! When you shave, you’re taking off your facial hair, but you’re also scraping off skin cells, oils and other things bacteria love to eat — add moisture to that and you have the perfect breeding ground for bacteria from your sink, shower, toilet and even your bathroom counter (unless they’re clean as hell). Then, when you have your next shave, you’re reapplying literally millions of those bacteria to your face with a blade — and potentially an unnecessarily dull blade, already prone to creating those aforementioned nicks and cuts. These wounds, no matter how small, are the perfect repositories for the bacteria to seep inside and cause infections and folliculitis, the latter being the science-y name for razor burn.
Naturally, there is a solution, and it’s called keeping your razor clean and dry. Simple! In an ideal world, you’d put it away safely in the bathroom cabinet, but if, like most people, that cabinet is already stuffed full of a million other things, you have other options. First, clean your razor thoroughly after shaving. “I recommend spraying isopropyl alcohol — just rubbing alcohol that you can find at the drug store — onto the blade so that it’s completely soaking wet, and then you just let it dry,” says Tetro. “The alcohol kills off whatever [bacteria] is remaining, but more importantly, it’s helping to break down the potential foods that could be there, so that you’re reducing the chances for any microbial growth.”
Your best bet is to get yourself a razor stand, where the razor is placed upright with the blade on top, which can help any remaining moisture drip down and off, says Tetro. Keeping the blades exposed to dry air also helps evaporate whatever wetness might be left… assuming you place the stand somewhere that stays relatively dry. Keep the water and food away, and the bacteria will need to find some other place to set up shop.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, no matter how much you clean and dry your razor after use, it’s going to start to rust eventually. Oxygen rusts metal even without moisture, so unless you have some kind of vacuum-sealed storage area, every razor has a limited lifespan. But follow these rules and your razor will stay sharp and safe for much, much longer, which you’ll be grateful for — unless, of course, you like terrible, painful shaves, in which case, that puddle is right there, just waiting for you to set your razor down.