I am, perhaps, uniquely unqualified to talk about this. Being the whitest redhead, I’ve got such light hair you likely can’t tell whether I shaved yesterday or three months ago unless you’re feeling my leg. (Please don’t do that.)

Still. I am a person that occasionally shaves my legs. When I started my zero waste journey, switching away from plastic razors seemed like a simple, extremely effective way to get started. The EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away each year, so it’s critically important to move away from such an egregious waste area.

Enter the safety razor.

Safety razors are a more simple, durable type of razor. They can be bought very cheaply online while keeping quality, as it’s pretty hard to mess up stainless steel. I bought the Van der Hagen brand from Target (about $15 with five blades included) and have been very happy for over a year.

They are NOT terrifying instruments of torture that tear your skin apart or require cult-like devotion to ritual as some people like to threaten. In fact, I cut myself exactly as often on a safety razor as I did on any other razor. If you’re careful, shaving with a safety razor can be just like shaving with a disposable razor – minus all that destructive plastic waste.

How much money/trash will I save shaving with a safety razor?

I’m using myself as an example. For reference I shave once or twice every two weeks. Chances are you shave more frequently and your savings will be even greater.

100 % disposable razors | Cost per year: a pack of 5 mid-range razors is $3.69, so a year’s worth would be approximately $8.90. Trash per year: 12 full razors, all plastic and unable to be recycled. Whatever additional plastic packaging they came in.

Plastic razors with changeable head | Cost per year: a mid-range product costs $7.99 for two full razors and $17.99 for a five-pack of replacements. Per year, that would be $43.97. Trash per year: twelve disposable heads (non-recyclable) as well as at least one handle which, made of cheap plastic, typically broke after 5-7 months. Whatever additional plastic packaging they came in.

Stainless steel safety razor | Cost per year: a kit of one safety razor and five blades cost me about $15. Those blades lasted about two months each. To buy a pack of 100 blades is $9.49. Trash per year: regarding the Van Der Hagen, you’ll be able to compost or recycle the cardboard box with the only trash being a small plastic sheet and part of the razor box. The replacement blades come in 100% cardboard. The blades themselves can be recycled, but put them in a soda can so they won’t get lost or cut someone!

What products do you need for shaving with a safety razor?

Typically, a razor purchase comes along with a tall can of shaving cream. Foamy, out of a (not-always-recyclable) can goodness. But in fact, with a safety razor, that chemical mix you really ought not to put down the drain isn’t a necessity. There are plenty of zero waste or low waste options for replacing conventional shaving cream. All you really need is a good soap and some lotion for afterwards.

How to: shaving with a safety razor - Green Indy BlogBar soap: I prefer bar soap from Fresh Thyme, but you can pick up unpackaged soap from pretty much all health food or natural living stores, or even farmers markets and artisan gift shops. Experiment with what works for you, but I find a good oil-based soap works well. (I personally avoid castille soaps as they can be a little too dry for me.)

Natural oils: If you have very sensitive skin – this is my method in the winter when my skin gets uncomfortably dry – you can use olive oil to slick up your legs and shave. Olive oil is protective and moisturizing, with less of a chance of clogging up your drains than coconut oil.

DIY options: You could also make your own shaving cream made with just oil, honey, and liquid castille soap. I’d avoid recipes with coconut oil as – again – they can clog your drains pretty quickly. (Great recipe here.)

Tips for shaving with a safety razor

Have you started shaving with a safety razor yet? Do you feel a little more empowered to do it now you know it won’t rip all your skin off? Drop any other questions/comments/helpful safety razor shaving routines in the comments below!


November 27, 2017

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