Some couples have no problem sharing a razor, while others flat out refuse. So who’s right? As much as, professionally speaking, I should probably give you a well-balanced, point/counterpoint on the topic, weighing all the evidence on one side versus the other, I’m absolutely not going to do that. Why? Because sharing razors is disgusting and there’s no good reason why anyone should ever, ever do this, ever.
Don’t believe me? Read on.
Even the briefest Google search on the subject of borrowing razors will yield article after article detailing what kind of horrible stuff can happen to you if you do. For example, there’s this piece from Cosmopolitan, which claims you can receive bacterial infections, fungal infections and even blood viruses. Then there’s this article from Women’s Health that goes into more detail, saying that you can catch ringworm, all kinds of hepatitis and — while it’s admittedly not very likely — even HIV.
Sharing razors can have such shockingly nasty side effects for two main reasons: 1) The fact that you’re spreading bacteria; and 2) the fact that shaving can create tiny microscopic tears in the skin that can spread viruses and pathogens. So, if you use your girlfriend’s leg razor to shave your balls, you’re basically sending the bacteria on an awesome vacation, giving them an unfamiliar and moist new land where they can grow and flourish in a completely different way. Or if someone’s got an STD or a virus in their blood, those viruses can be transferred and infect someone via those microscopic cuts.
Because of the dangers of transporting bacteria from one area to another, “The Germ Guy” Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files, recommends not only not sharing razors between couples, but not even using the same razor on different parts of your own body. “Some bacteria that are normally found on the face can end up causing some rather nasty problems in the genital tract, because people manscape and they use a razor or trimmers on all these different body parts without disinfecting it in between, which can cause MRSA and other problems,” says Tetro, citing an Oxford study conducted on college football players. (MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause you potentially deadly staph infections.)
The reason all this horrible stuff can happen is because of the nasty germs we’re leaving on our razors. On our face specifically, Tetro says you can expect to find skin bacteria like staphylococcus epidermidis (a normal skin bacteria that’s usually safe but can cause an infection) and Corynebacterium (another common skin bacteria that’s fairly harmless, though one nasty version of it can cause diptheria). You can also expect to find environmental bacteria like staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which are usually harmless, but the former can cause a staph infection and the latter can cause ear infections and the like — it can be especially harmful to the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
Again, these kinds of things usually won’t cause a problem on your face because your face is used to them, but if you shave your butt and balls right afterwards, it can cause some major problems due to either the moisture level down there or if you nick yourself shaving.
As for the aforementioned butt and ball shaving, Tetro says that in addition to those skin bacteria, you should expect fecal coliforms on your blade, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how ineffective most of us are at wiping our own butts. Generally this stuff is relatively harmless, but the poop bacteria klebsiella can potentially cause pneumonia, and E.Coli (also found in poop) can make you sick, as you probably know from every news item ever about pulling food off the shelves. Tetro also adds that if you have an STD, you could end up with a virus on that blade.
Women have got it even tougher when they’re shaving the labia, as they may end up getting fungal bacteria from yeast infections on their blade. And considering that men can get yeast infections too, guys should also be concerned if they share a razor with their lady friend.
When guys are shaving their chest or women are shaving their legs, Tetro says you’d expect the same kind of bacteria as you would on the face. More than likely, though, it’d be less of the environmental bacteria as these areas are more often covered up (though that may be affected by where you live or your personal sense of style). If you’re a guy who likes to be shiny-smooth from head to toe, pretty much the whole rest of the body will be like this except the underarms, where you’ll find a bit more propionibacterium. While these can cause acne, Tetro explains that these bacteria are fairly harmless — the little freaks just really dig living in your sweaty pits.
“The thing about razors is that you’re not just transferring a little bit of these bacteria,” Tetro explains. “You’re actually transferring lots, which can cause an infection. The blades should go on a specific area of the body and nowhere else.” If, as with most people, you don’t want to be bothered with a half dozen different razors for your face, butt, balls, chest and other parts, Tetro says you can use the same one if you thoroughly disinfect it after each new area, which you can do by soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for at least 30 seconds, thereby killing whatever is on your blade.
Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “Can I just dip my junk in isopropyl alcohol before shaving down there to make my razor safe to share?” the answer is no, and you should go sit in the corner and have a good hard think about why you’d even ask that question.