No one works harder during the holiday season than the pink Venus razor that’s been living in my mom’s guest bathroom since the early days of the pandemic. Despite the fact that this three-blade disposable was supposed to be trashed after a few uses, it’s been hanging around for the better part of the last three years and—apparently, as I recently and horrifyingly learned—is used by multiple members of my family every time they come home.
If your reaction to that is, “GROSS,” well, that’s correct—there are a whole lot of hygiene issues happening here. For starters, a “disposable” razor is meant to be exactly that—disposed of after a few uses (ideally two weeks), not kept around for years. “From a hygienic perspective, it’s an absolute nightmare, especially with plastic cartridges,” Leslie Tessler, the founder of shaving brand Hanni, previously told Well+Good. “Just think about the fact that you’ve got three, four, five blades, with plastic in between, sitting in a humid environment for long periods of time… We’ve spoken with many gynecologists who often see bacterial infections as a result.”
The bigger issue, though, is that multiple people have been using this same razor. As any dermatologist will tell you, just because my siblings and I share the same parents absolutely does not mean we should be sharing the same razor—whether it’s fresh out of the package or old AF—and the same goes for anyone else in your household.
“Borrowing another person’s razor is a seriously bad idea,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “The razor collects bacteria as it’s pulled along the skin, and unless it’s sterilized between uses, it actually spreads the bacteria to the next person.” She explains that if the primary user (aka the person who actually owns the razor) has specific strains of bacteria on their skin, like staphylococcus, it will contaminate the next user with the same bacteria—which can be potentially dangerous and will definitely raise their risk of infection.
“The blade also creates microtears in the skin, breaking the tissue down as it shaves the hair, so your risk of skin irritation and infection is already increased,” Dr. Nazarian says. “And that’s before we introduce cross-contamination with bacteria. So even if normally, ‘sharing is caring,’ we draw the line at our shavers and blades.”
So if you, too, are home for the holidays, reconsider reaching for that sad, dull razor—or any other shaving tool that someone else has used. The good news? Derms say the best way to get a smooth shave is with a basic, single-blade razor—so consider picking up a new one at the drugstore as your excuse for getting out of the house when family time starts feeling overwhelming.