Why do razor blades have lubricating strips at the top?

As the heading asks why do they?

If it is to make the blades glide more smoothly over the skin wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense to put them at the bottom so the lubrication is in place before the blades go over that bit of skin? I mean I use foam/soap/oil to provide a better shaving experience and thought the strips were to do a similar job. Having the strip at the top just applies the lubrication AFTER you have shaved that area and so really provides limited to no benefit in my opinion. If it is to soften/soothe the skin after a shave then it is wasted as everyone I know rinses after shaving thus washing any of that benefit away.


Apparently this explains it …


… but then this - ‘flexball technology’ - perhaps not for facial shaves? it has lube before and after the blades, so why don’t they all?


Good question …

Apparently the razor is due for replacement when the strip loses its colour - so planned obsolescence would be my conspiracy theory - you are paying more for an indicator its worn out, but in the meantime fooled into thinking it is helping ? :rofl:

(I have no connection to Gillette, and use a shaver once in a blue moon - Philishave electric. Everyone knows for the best blade shave, “Harrys” is the go - but they aren’t sold here yet …)


“I don’t know! Why do razor blades have lubricating strips at the top?”

Sounds like a riddle.

It is one of those things I take for granted. Similar to:
Why does a glass of Guiness always come with a tall frothy head on it? Just leaves a stain on your upper lip hair.
Or why does the barista play with the top of my coffee to leave a pattern? Pointless after the first sip.

And the topic, it is a great question as I have generally ignored the lubricating strip on a razor blade insert as being necessary.

Warning - personal hygiene content follows. You might experience unexpected feelings of awe and amazement, or be bored to sleep.

More scientifically. I’d suggest it is pointless based on my routine. And that the amount of magic lubricant contained in the microscopic strip really can’t be sufficient to coat the average face every day for a week or realistically a month! Yes that’s right! I get about a month out of a blade shaving a full face most days of the week.

At one point in time I actually looked for inserts without the strips as those with strips seemed to agrivate my skin!

Today I simply use a water soluable gel based lubricant to reduce razor friction. No irritation. If the QA fails there is always enough residual slime on the spare hand to lightly recoat that part of the chin for a second glide!

When travelling I often pack a cheap environmentally challenging disposable razor. Typically one with no lubricating strip. And use the same gel based shaving product. The non strip razors glide equally well without the strips.

Although with disposables the quality of the blades seems to vary with brand. Typically the blades don’t hold their edge for as long, less than a week.

Perhaps the strip on a razor insert (cartridge) does do as advertised. Experience suggests any benefit to the user is doubtful.

Perhaps a dry shave test is called for. Count me out!


Marketing differentiation. Once the market is saturated by many products all alike, what is next to make one stand out as well as suggest it demands a premium price? Voila. 2 problems solved with one lube strip. Maybe the next new and improved versions will have two, and then three or four of them, and another few blades added for ever better shaves.

First world capitalism is always dependable to create new needs we did not know we had.


I believe that the only thing that the lubricated strips are good for is to indicate when the cartridge needs replacing.


It doesn’t lubricate, it just reduces the friction between the blade and the skin, making the blade move over one’s skin easier.

A self lubricating razor maybe be a patentable design, if one can work out how the lubrication can be stored snd discharged by the razor.


Those who use razors tend to also use shaving cream or gel. Apparently not enough lubricant there so add a strip of molecular level lubricant and make a premium razor at a premium price. Still need that shaving cream or gel though. Makes me wonder why the shaving cream and gel manufacturers have not added their own extra lubricants in an even more premium product, but not quite enough to remove the need for that premium lubricant endowed razor product.

This seems analogous to rinse aid in dishwashers. First there was none, then the dispenser and liquid, then rinse aid was added to the premium tab but maybe not quite enough (by calculated design?). Back to paying extra for the premium tab and still buying the bottle… it is mostly marketing … ka-ching


As per @draughtrider’s first link, pulling the razor along removes much/most of the lubricant from that area of the face, so going back and forwards MAY cause shaving rash. Therefore when you push the razor back the strip at the top re-lubricates the skin reducing the likely-hood of rash; assuming of course that there is still lubricant on the razor.

In my experience, the lubricant doesn’t last very long, and if still sharp, I use razors well past the lubricant’s availability.

As a side issue, there doesn’t seem to be overly rigorous quality control on the Gillette razors, and sometimes the lubricant and the razor have the same use-by date.


… someone who shares my cynicism …


"Now, here’s the thing: I did find that once the strip had pretty much lost all its colour, shaving with the blade was rather like shaving with a rusty nail "

Yep…and I bet it runs out before the blade dulls.

The base of the ‘lubricating strip’ such as the adhesives or backing plate etc could be designed to reduce the effect of shavings creams/gels on the free movement of the razor. If is was just plain old plastic (rather than lubricating strip residues), I suspect the shaving creams/gels would work a treat as it would make the plastic slippery and allow it to glide effortlessly.


I would also like to know why Gillette sponsored the cricket and most of the guys had beards


Most of us with beards do shave, electrics designed for the clean shaven do not cut it because of their shape, leaving our choice razors that make neat edges and groomer/hair clippers, some that work for a tidy up better than others.

Secondly, in the world of marketing celebrity or ‘the sport’ matters and any link there might be to the product is good fortune for the sponsor.


… and thirdly, not all shaving is done on the head :wink:

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Because Disney wouldn’t do it?? (Jiminy so old now.)


Perhaps we also need to consider feedback from and the needs of the competitive Lycra set. Something to do with drag and faster coasting on the descents. Vive le Tour?

Not sure it makes much difference if you are in leather?

P.s. has the same trend in lubricant extended to the feminine blade designs?

From the Gillette Venus White Tea marketing spiel.
Envelop your skin in a lotion-like plushness. Flexible moisture bars release light body butter allowing the razor to glide seamlessly.

Body Butter? White tea? The promise of looking like Venus?

Yep, only the product :yum: offers so much more.


I suspect that more likely they indicate when the manufacturer wants you to replace the cartridge.


Don’t they just ride as a cover story for shaving their legs? like there is something wrong with shaving? perish the thought !!



Coincidentally, the strip makes it slightly more difficult to hone the blade on a scrap piece of denim before and after use. One Gillette 3-blade thingy usually lasts me about 5 weeks of daily use (I only shave my face though, so mileage etc. …). Also, the new blades lose their edge over time so keeping them somewhere dry ( I use an empty vitamin bottle with silica gel in the cap) helps a lot.

A relative did extensive research on finding the perfect shaving experience. He was a big fan of Italian shaving oils. Also (and I stand by this) he found hot wet towels on the face helped open the pores to facilitate a closer shave.

In the end, he grew a beard. :slight_smile:


The hot wet towel was obviously normal barber shop practice as often portrayed in westerns and mafia movies.


It was normal practice in the barber shop here, and just not the movies, but rare. Observed at our local SP bookies office (aka barber) might help to date the anecdote. Few of us saw the need to waste money paying someone to do a job we could all do ourselves.

It is now in full swing again as part of the theatre of the latest in on trend male barbers shops, (the latest in service from the USA). Evident for several years at least in BrisVegas, when I asked some mafia looking type to stop parking in our spot. :wink: