I was at Target recently, hanging around the (mainly women's) toiletries while my daughter looked for a possible gift for a friend, and noticed that on a "discount" shelf they had a cheap version of one of the razor blade sharpening products that I had occasionally noticed at The Razor Shop; but at $20 or $30, I hadn't ever bought one.
The Blade Buddy only cost $5, so I bought it out of curiosity.
The operative part is just a slab of rubber or silicon, I'm not sure which, with some ridged sections, and all you do is rub the razor blade upwards on it (with a bit of shaving cream for lubrication) about 15 to 20 times before shaving. It doesn't take long.
The packaging says it works by "re-aligning" the blades, or some such, which sounds very improbable, so it was with low expectations that I started using it.
But, I have to say, I think it is working. I did start with a new blade cartridge (a cheap 4 - or is it 5?- blade razor that Coles and Woolworths both sell), but after a week, I have the distinct impression that it feels sharper than if I hadn't used the Buddy device.
Mind you, I have been able to get about 3 to 4 weeks out of one of these cartridges anyway, so maybe it is an illusion. But I don't think so.
When I google the topic, I see that there is actually a lot of material out there saying that these razor cleaning devices do work just by cleaning the blade, in a very similar way to the old "stropping" of a blade on a leather strap. Makes sense.
In fact, there is also material out on the web about just using old denim to "strop" a cartridge razor. And one guy - whose video I haven't properly watched - claims to have gotten 3 years out of one cartridge(!). Maybe there's black magic involved...
Nevertheless, it seems clear that there is good reason to believe you can get very substantial extensions to the "normal" life of razor cartridges. And to be honest, I don't mind the procedure: it makes shaving more feel more, well, ritualised. (You have to remember that I enjoy using shaving soap and a brush, too.)
Given the ridiculous cost of brand name, multi-blade cartridges, I am very surprised that this is not better known. Certainly, I had never thought of it before - I just assumed that cartridge blades were so thin that they developed pits and holes that you couldn't do much about it.
It would seem I was mistaken. I will revisit the topic in a month or two's time...
Update: more on using denim jeans to strop a razor cartridge. The guy claims to be using the same cartridge for 8 months at the time he wrote that...