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Are Pivoting Head Razors Gimmicks?

Are Pivoting Head Razors Gimmicks?

Are pivoting head razors gimmicks?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive which is ironic because Albatross razors don’t have pivoting heads! 

While we won’t outright say pivoting heads are gimmicks, the underlying razors they may be a part of, well, kind of are. Multi-blades typically have pivoting heads because the blades in these types of razors are set in a certain plane where the blades are mounted at steep angles with tiny blade gaps. A bit of pressure is needed in order for these blades (again mounted at steep angles) to be able to actually touch the skin. Pressure is also needed in order for the multi-blade head to pivot and follow the contours of the body.

Double Edged safety razors don’t have a need for a pivoting head because they are simpler, more graceful machines. Firstly, with double edged safety razors you never apply extra pressure. The weight of the razor itself against your skin, held at the right angle, is sufficient to cut your hair follicles off at their base. So, even if you did have a pivoting head on your double edged razor, you probably would never want to apply enough pressure to make the head pivot in the first place. 

With a double edged safety razor you constantly adjust the angle of the razor to the contours of the body part you are shaving, aiming to keep the razor at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of your skin. See the picture below for a visualization of this:

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Now, while you might think that a multi-blade razor complete with pivoting head must be an improvement on the shaving experience because it is a newer, more contemporary design, it really, truly is not. Let’s start with straight performance. You see, skin irritation from shaving occurs in 2 main ways.

Firstly, here is a simple rule: the higher the number of blades that get dragged across your skin, the more skin irritation you will experience. A multi-blade that has 3 blades in it means that 3 blades are being dragged across your skin with every stroke of the razor. If you make 2 or 3 passes with a 3-bladed razor, you are effectively dragging 6 - 9 blades across your skin every shave. Contrary to this, with a Double Edged safety razor you typically make two passes with a single blade, effectively dragging only 2 blades across your skin. Thus, double edged safety razors have drastically less skin irritation than multi-blades in this capacity.

The second main cause of skin irritation is excess pressure applied to the razor. A pivoting head multi-blade razor demands that the user apply more pressure just so its many (skin irritating) blades can make contact with the user’s skin and the razor head itself can actually pivot, but once the blades do make contact, there’s too much pressure to avoid further skin irritation! A double edged safety razor utilizes the weight of the razor itself to ensure a hair is cut at its base without excess irritation.

An important point should be made here. Multi-blade razors also tend to cause ingrown hairs because the first blade catches the hair and tugs it taut. The following blades slice it, and when it goes slack, it’s been trimmed just a tiny bit below the skin level.  This hair follicle then must make its way back out to the surface of the skin in the form of often painful, messy, cosmetically disappointing bumps. Again, double edged safety razors on the other hand cut hair follicles at the base of the hair, but no further. The single blade cuts the hair off without the need for any “pre-tensioning” by, say, the first of 5 blades in a multi-blade razor head.

So, having looked into the actual mechanics of multi-blade and double edged safety razors, you might be wondering why double edged safety razors aren’t more common. 

Well to answer that, we need to first look at why multi-blades are so common. Here’s the simple answer: profit margins. Going back to the 1960s the major razor companies found a way to sell more plastic (at the time a revolutionarily cheap, useful material) and less metal (more pricey). As time progressed razor companies further enhanced the profit mechanism by adopting the cartridge model. They would sell proprietary handles that worked with their brand of razor cartridges only.

Why the transition to plastic razors happened is now beginning to be better understood. However, because there have been entire generations that have grown up only knowing about multi-blades, the better razor – a double edged safety razor – is misunderstood. People are understandably intimidated by them, but there really is nothing to fear

Double Edged safety razors are just as safe as multi-blades, you just use them differently, as we examined above. They also shave better – plain and simple. And as the world’s first zero waste shaving company, Albatross Designs’ double edged safety razors have set an unmatched standard for the extra lengths we go to protect the planet we love so much.

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