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Thread: Using rubbing alcohol to sterilize razor before shaving?

  1. #1
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    Default Using rubbing alcohol to sterilize razor before shaving?

    I was in Antwerp last saturday at 'De Koordenwinkel', it's a shop in downtown Antwerp that sells a lot of razors, brushes and other shaving related gear.

    I had a nice chat with the owner and he shared some stories from some of his other customers about Belgian doctors advising their patients with skin problems to use DE razors for shaving. The idea behind it is ofcourse that a DE only uses one blade where a cartridge razor uses two or more.

    More interesting however was his story that some Belgian doctors advise to sterilize a razor with rubbing alcohol before each shave! This supposedly leads to less skin problems because the razor does not carry bacteria that can (and will) irritate the skin.

    Has anyone ever heard of this before or even ever tried it themselve? The theory seems logical to me because it's basically what they do in hospitals to sterilize equipment.

  2. #2
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    Probably not a real benefit.

    Isopropyl (rubbing) and ethyl (SD) alcohol both react with aluminum so be sure the razor does not have any.

    Prolonged/repeated skin exposure to isopropyl can cause dermatitis due thinning of the epidermis.

    It is possible a given skin condition can be traced to bacteria from a razor (or brush) but if your skin is clear, there is no real cause for concern.

    IMO, it's not worth the cost, hassle or chance of further skin irritation/damage.
    Cogito ergo doleo

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    Well, if you do try it just let the alcohol evaporate first so you don't have the issue Patris mentioned.

    I guess my question is how much bacteria is living on your razor:

    --you wash your face before you shave
    --you rinse off the razor when you're done and you store it in such a way that it dries efficiently.

    I suppose that in the nooks and crannies of a DE razor, there are places that don't dry quickly and that encourage the growth of bacteria. But in theory it should be less bacteria than, say, grows on your toothbrush.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kongjie View Post
    But in theory it should be less bacteria than, say, grows on your toothbrush.
    Great, now I feel the need to soak my toothbrush in isopropyl alcohol before the next use.
    Dave - This space for rent, inquire via PM

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kairtane View Post
    Great, now I feel the need to soak my toothbrush in isopropyl alcohol before the next use.
    Try Tequila

    You have to remember you do need exposure to some bacteria in life. The body needs exposure to bad things to know how to fight them. Maybe there are some people who do have issues with sensitive skin and razors so the advise is appropriate to them but for most people I am sure it's not an issue.

    I imagine you get far more exposure to worse bacteria in everyday life. Think of all the things you come into contact with during the day that have been touched by people with worse personal hygiene than you. I am always amazed at the number of people who still don't wash their hands after using the bathroom!

    Simon

  6. #6

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    I usually swish my razor around in rubbing alcohol after use; or sometimes before use if I will be in the shower and have time to let it air dry. I certainly wouldn't shave with it while it's wet with rubbing alcohol. Before the first pass, it gets swished through hot water anyway. So I figure any alcohol left would be so dilluted as to be a non-issue.

    It's just a good way to keep it clean. IMO.
    --- Gabe
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    You know, if we had any moral character, we wouldn't be standing here covered with mud drinkin', when we should be washing.
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    If there are skin issues then soaking the razor in alcohol before each shave might help a little. And I don't see exposure of the skin to rubbing alcohol as an issue because we rinse the razor as we use it.
    ~Jon~
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  8. #8

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    I dont think that there is much of a point in doing this. Most of your skin conditions you get from shaving have absolutely nothing to do with bacteria. They are most likely due to bad technique. Besides, the only thing that will fix a bacteria infection of your face will be antibiotics or sheer luck. If you have a bacterial infection on your face, chances are, it has nothing to do with your razor.

  9. #9
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    I read somewhere that one in three people don't wash their hands after using the restroom; from that day on I stopped washing my hands so I'd know the other two people I'm with have.

    Anyway, I think the alcohol is an unnecessary step.
    Limecat can never die!!! Unless he gets curious.

  10. #10

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    Haha. Its true. Nothing makes me flinch more than seeing somebody walk out of a stall and walk straight out of a bathroom. Keep your hands washed and you wont be getting bacterial skin infections on your face.

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    Frequent hand washing at work dries out my hands big time. Then I started using Kiss My Face "Filthy Rich Moisturizer." I'm in love with this stuff. The scent is Citrus Lavender and it's amazing. I just look for excuses to put it on now. My cubicle-mates are all women and they use the worst-smelling lotions around. Everything is some foul variation on rose. So every time they put their stuff on, I put MY stuff on LOL.

  12. #12

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    This in an interesting thread. I'm voicing the other side of this discussion. I have had chronic skin problem such as acne and a facial fungus (think dandruff on your face) and was informed by several MD (3 different dermatologist, yeah, I have been suffering with these issues for a while), an NP and a PA to sanitize my razor before each use with rubbing alcohol. This, I think, has helped with my issues. They also suggested to replace blades as often as fiscally possible. It was for all of these reasons that I switched to wet shaving and using a DE.

    Keep in mind that each time you shave you make micro cuts in your skin (may not be bleeders, but you do get invisible micro cuts and tears) and any bacteria, fungus etc, on your blade May be injected into that micro cut. Any compromise in your natural skin barrier is a possible entry point for bacteria. Bacteria is everywhere and on every surface there is just no getting away from them. I was also told to use an alcohol based ASS to sanitize my skin after each shave.

    Any alcohol on your razor is removed with a quick dip in your sink full of water. If you want to keep things as sanitary as possible, rinsing your razor in rubbing alcohol before each use is a good idea.

    I keep a small lidded container in my shave den with rubbing alcohol. Before my shower when I'm filling my skin with water to soak my brush, I put my razor in the tub of rubbing alcohol. When I get out of the shower, I just put the razor in the sink with the clean hot water. I change the tub of alcohol once a week.

    This process of razor sanitation with rubbing alcohol and alcohol based ASS has reduced my skin afflictions and my complexion has greatly improved. I have not seen any ill effects to any of my razors (I use Merkurs). As for expense, rubbing alcohol is cheap and you can reuse it several times. Really not that big of a deal.

    It may not be necessary for all, but if you suffer from facial skin issues such as acne, ingrown hairs, seborrheic dermatitis etc. this simple set might help.

  13. #13

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    As I recall alcohol will not kill some of the nastiest stuff out there. You would need to use bleach or put the razor in an autoclave to kill everything.

  14. #14

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    Yes you are correct - you are not going to sterilize your razor, just sanitize it - reduce the number of bacteria and kill as many pathogens as possible. Other chemical agents are very caustic/harsh to your razor and skin.

    This is just a simple way to reduce the numbe of bacteria.

  15. #15
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    i've done some research on this subject relative to my own condition and what often passes as razor burn or simple acne is oftentimes folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicle. this appears to look like acne with red sores around a hair shaft that can itch and burn.

    the most common source of folliculitis? bacteria, namely Staphylococcus which exists on your hands, face, nostrils, and also on your razor. anything which spreads the bacteria around the face can also be a culprit. in my case, it was a buff puff.

    the best way to diminish the occurrence of this is to wash your hands thoroughly, always use clean towels and to spray your razor with 70% isopropyl alcohol and let it dry, which only takes a few minutes.

    i took a small spray bottle and added the alcohol and tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic. it's an easy thing to spray both sides of the blade down before hopping in the shower. by the time i'm ready to shave, it's ready to go.

    check webmd and search "folliculitis" for more information.

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    The previous few posts offer a lot of useful information. Those with skin issues should take a hard look at them. However, a relative few of us need to take those steps.
    ~Jon~
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  17. #17
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    Before and after each shave I dip the head of my razor in alcohol, and I notice a difference if I don't. Along with the sanitary concerns, I believe it also helps in reducing razor burn by keeping the blade from corroding, possibly because it will dry faster and remove soap scum.
    A word to the wise is infuriating.

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    I'm of the "can't hurt" persuasion. Not very scientific (there must be some reason nurses and techs use alcohol swabs), and while I don't have skin problems, and I don't dip my DEs in alcohol often, I do dip my toothbrush every week and I also dip the blade of my straights after shaving to displace any water. I'll also dip a new, or new to me, razor. Unless there is the possibility of metal reaction, can't hurt. Might help.
    John






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  19. #19
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    I've been doing this since I started DE shaving (quick swish of the razor head in a bowl of rubbing alcohol). No particular reason. Figured:

    1. It can't hurt any. The alcohol dries and the razor is rinsed before it touches my face.

    2. If it adds some sanitation to the routine, great.

    3. If it does anything to remove dried soap/other build up on the razor, great.

    I've done no studies/tests, but I've also had no problems. So no reason to change the routine.

    On the days when I've forgotten to swish the razor in alcohol, though, nothing has happened and no difference in shaving.

    I also still walk around ladders, FWIW.
    Brent

  20. #20
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    I've got the same sort of mixture as drandall (alcohol and tea tree oil) and I use a dropper to apply it before and after each shave. I was skeptical when I started it, but it seems to have made a difference for me.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
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