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Dull razors not only make shaving more time consuming, they can be hard on the skin. Using a dull razor means you will probably push harder, increasing the chance you may cut yourself. A razor sharpener can help you keep your razor sharp, as long as you know how to use it properly. You can choose between a hone, a razor strop and an automatic razor sharpener to keep your blades working well. The one that's best for you will generally be the one you are most comfortable using.
A hone is a whetstone that you can drag the blade across to sharpen it. Most straight razors come pre-honed, so a severely dull blade is typically the only kind that will need to be honed again. Whetstones can be purchased with surfaces that range from fine to rough. If you have never used one before, a whetstone with a fine surface may be the best razor sharpener to try because it will make smaller changes to the blade. This can help you avoid over-honing the razor and creating an edge that is rough rather than smooth.
Using a whetstone can take some practice. The razor typically needs to be stroked across the surface in a particular way to sharpen the blade properly. A hone is an excellent razor sharpener to use, though it is generally not used frequently to avoid scraping away too much of the blade over time.
Razor strops are a type of razor sharpener generally used on a regular bases. Most razor strops look like belts made from leather or canvas. Some leather strops have a canvas back so that only one is needed. The blade is stroked back and forth on the canvas to slowly sharpen it, while the leather side provides some sharpening and polishing. Stropping also generally requires a certain technique in order to get the best edge.
Single razor blades designed for safety razors can be removed from shavers and sharpened on a whetstone, but double and triple blade replacements usually cannot. Automatic razor sharpeners are generally used on these types of blades. Though the blades are disposable, they can be sharpened to make them last longer. An automatic sharpener is typically swiped over the razor blades to quickly thin and sharpen the edges. Devices such as automatic sharpeners are not generally recommended for straight razors, which can be damaged by the type of grinding action these kinds of sharpeners generally use.
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