Hey everybody! This is a follow-up post from my latest video about razors, which is the one down below. I thought it would be good to share this in writing as well, in case some of you prefer that format. I recently took your questions about safety razors on IG, and boy, there were lots. I hope this will provide some clarity about the why and how of shaving with a safety razor. Let’s get into it.
Safety razors: why and how?
- A safety razor is much more sustainable than a disposable razor, in the US alone over 3 billion disposable razors end up in landfill every year, and they bring 25,000 tons of plastic packaging with them – disposable razors also account for 1 million tons of CO2 emissions.
- A safety razor is significantly cheaper than disposable razors because you only have to buy it once.
- A safety razor is a ton more hygienic because there is less room for bacteria build-up.
- If you are completely new to safety razors, and kind of scared about starting to use one, start using them in smooth even areas, like your shin.
- You need very little pressure for an effective shave with a safety razor, and most people put way too much pressure on the razor, which results in red skin and an increased risk of cuts – instead, keep the razor in an angle for the best possible shave.
- You don’t actually need shaving cream to shave, a simple soap will do. When I shave I also lather my legs, or whatever needs shaving in soap, and then I rinse it off my hands before grabbing the razor. Slippery and soap hands will make it more likely that you drop the razor or our hands slip – so dry or non-soapy hands are the way to go.
- To make sure that your razor stays in tip-top shape, remember to store it in a dry place, and not in the bottom of your shower.
- If your safety razor needs cleaning you can soak it in 1 part vinegar and 4 parts of water for 10 minutes, then dry it with a clean towel. You can also add some baking soda to the mix.
- Depending on how much you use your razor the blades will, of course, become less sharp over time. Personally, I use my razor 10-ish times before the blades go blunt – and I only shave a couple of times a month (max!). Maintaining the blade properly will also make it last longer.
- When the blade is too blunt to use, don’t throw it into your bin. First of all, it can harm garbage management employees, and also they are made from steel and can be recycled instead.
Frequently asked questions about safety razors:
Do they rust easily? There is a chance they will rust if you leave them in wet spaces, like at the bottom of the shower. If you keep them in dry places and dry them with a towel after you’re done, rust should not be a problem (I cannot speak for those who buy really cheap razors via Wish and stuff, the can be a questionable quality issue).
Is an electric razor a more sustainable option? Depends on a couple of things. Generally buying an electronic device comes with a big impact, because it takes a lot of resources to make, and e-waste is a huge problem because most devices easily become outdated, or break in ways most consumers cannot fix (this is less likely to happen with safety razors because they are quite simply built and thus fewer places they can break). So buying a new electronic device will not be more sustainable than buying a safety razor, however, being a second-hand/thrifted device can be a good sustainable option as well.
Are they hard to use? If you are used to using disposable razors, you are often used to shaving fast, so with a safety razor, you will probably have to slow down. Especially the first couple of times. Take your own to learn how to control the blade, find the right angle and just breathe and concentrate.
How you shave your genital area? You can, yes, just remember to apply the tips from above as well. One other thing that I have found very useful is using a mirror – at least until you get a routine and a muscle memory feel. Also, it is much easier if you hold the razor in one hand, and then stretch out the skin a little bit with the other. The straighter the skin is the easier it is to shave, and the less likely it is that you cut yourself.
Do you shave in the opposite direction of the hair? On my legs, I shave against the hair, but I do a little of both for the genital area.
Is there a safety razor specifically for women? A blade is just a blade, and there is really no need to specify the gender meant to consume the blade. If you are having trouble with sensitive skin you can use a lotion before and afterward or body oil. But gendered razor is definitely not a necessary distinction.
Do you exfoliate before/after shaving your genitalia? I use soap for sensitive skin to lather up hair and skin before shaving and then I use my lotion afterward.
How do you know the blade needs changing? You will be able to feel the sharpness of the blade declining, and over time you’ll get a good feeling of how many shaves you have in between blade changes. Usually, you’ll be able to feel the blade being less effective e.g. you will have to shave the same spot 2-3 times before the hairs are gone.
Does it irritate your skin? Any kind of shaving can irritate the skin, and the changes for irritation increased when a blade is blunt or dirty. So keeping it sharp and dry is a good way of avoiding that – together with a good skincare routine. However, safety razors tend to irritate the skin less because it is cleaner and there is fewer bacteria build-up.
Do you use soap when shaving? I do yes, I use a solid shaving soap from Lamazuna.
Will airport security confiscate them? Yes or no. If you remove the blades from the razor itself you can bring them in your carry-on. Then you can either buy blades at your destination or pack your own blades in the luggage you check-in. Pre-fly-free I would either shave my legs before leaving or pack the entire thing in my checked-in luggage.
How do you recycling the blades? The blades can be recycled with metal. Just keep them in a safe container when recycling, like a can where they won’t fall you, or the designated box from Leaf Shave.
How do you shave your ass crack? The same tips apply here is for genitalia, concentration, slow speed, and a mirror.
Is it okay to use a normal soap with it? Yes, you can. However, a solid shaving soap might be better in the long haul because they contain fewer fats in comparison to “normal soap” and the fats will make the blade go blunt faster. But even so, I’ve often used normal soaps anyway, and it hasn’t been the end of the world.
Do you cut yourself more easily? If you are rushing then you can cut yourself more easily on a safety razor than a disposable one, because more blade is exposed. However, most cuts will happen, not from shaving, but from dropping the razor/trying to catch it with soapy hands situations. When you practice, stretch the skin, concentrate, go slowly, and exfoliate the cuts should be minimal. And practice always makes perfect.
Why is it called a safety razor? Because they were both cleaner and safer than the blades that came before them. The old-timey shaving blades (you know, the Sweeny Todd ones) were very unsafe and the safety razor intruded a blade places behind a guard. So the entire blade is not exposed and you cannot make deep cuts like you could with the safety razor’s ancestor.
Where to buy razors, soaps, and blades?
- Leaf Shave
- Life Without Plastic
- Package free Shop
- The Zero Waste Shop
- Zero Waste Path
- Avocado Store