A pair of influencers on TikTok (which I don’t use) and Instagram gained notoriety last fall for sharing a profound discovery: you can shave both ways! SIGH. No, you cannot.
They explain that the the blades of women’s razors are dual edged and can cut on both an up and a downstroke. So, without changing the orientation of your razor, you can just go in one direction, then reverse. They say you shave faster with this method because you’re covering the area in half the time (or less). You may also think of this as backwards and forwards, or a push motion in addition to a pull when the razor is held in such a way that you do not change its direction.
These ladies are wrong.
The conclusions some people reach astound me. It makes me wonder, “Have you ever looked at your razor?” But of course, if they had, they would not be peddling this nonsense on social media. Or maybe they would. Maybe they realize people are gullible and don’t care if they embarrass themselves for the sake of content.
The construction of a modern consumer non-safety razor won’t let you do this fake life hack. That’s whether it is disposable or the replacement-head variety, (the likes of which are sold by Billie, Gillette, Schick, Flamingo, etc). These razors are built such that the blades are secured in a housing angled so that they can only cut on a downstroke (or, perhaps, sideways if you’re unlucky and slip/slice. Ouch.)
Think I’m Just a Fun Ruiner?
Okay, guilty. But I’m also not wrong. Let’s look at this through a scientific lens. We’ll start by making a hypothesis that supports these ladies’ position. We will keep that hypothesis simple and focused on the part that makes their stance fall apart: that the razor can cut backwards.
If I glide my razor backwards, then it will cut hair.
It won’t, because the angle of the blades cannot possibly shave that way. It would be like writing with the end of your pen instead of the tip. You can’t. More accurately, it would be like trying to cut a steak with the blunt (non-sharpened) side of your steak knife.
Still Don’t Believe That You Can’t Shave Both Ways?
Look at this razor head. This is a Gillette Venus head. Each of the three red lines terminates at a blade’s edge. They don’t just flip around, and hairs don’t come into contact with the top of that blade. That would be necessary for this claim to work.
But If it Isn’t True, How is it Faster?
This is a simple case of reaching the wrong conclusion. It isn’t that they aren’t experiencing a speed or efficiency gain necessarily. It’s that how they might be, if they are, is not what they think.
Instead of hair being cut on both a forward and backward pass, it has more to do with momentum and glide. The influencers who demonstrate this are moving very quickly. They don’t realize that they’re applying more of the lubricant bar’s product to their skin as they move, for one. Two, because its a constant up-down-up-down-up-down motion rather than calculated top-to-bottom (or vice-versa), reset, repeat, they are using their momentum to get the job done faster.
The Bottom Line
Look, I’m a curmudgeon these days. Okay, I’ll be honest, I was always a curmudgeon. But when I saw this not only making waves on other platforms but also making it onto blogs I otherwise trust, I had to facepalm and point this out, even if it took a while.
Suffice to say, critical thinking isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t to say that TikTok and Instagram never get things or clever little life hacks right, but this isn’t one of them.