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Zero waste shaving – is this thing even possible?
The short answer is YES. Luckily, there is an environmentally friendly way to shave.
In this article, we will go through everything you are possibly wondering about zero waste shaving and, more precisely, safety razors!
We will cover the following:
- What is a safety razor?
- How to use a safety razor (+video tutorial)
- How to clean & maintain a safety razor
- The best zero waste razors
+ additional tools
- How to dispose of razor blades
- How much money you can save with a safety razor
- Safety razors: Pros and cons
- Other zero waste shaving methods
- Quick sum-up and final words
1. What is a safety razor?
A safety razor is one of the most eco-friendly ways of removing unwanted hair. It is typically made out of stainless steel, and it is reusable. The only thing you need to change is the metal razor blade.
If you get a high-quality safety razor and you take good care of it, it can last you a lifetime! However, in case you break it or something else happens, you can recycle it.
That’s because steel is a metal and can be recycled endlessly. The razor blades are also recyclable, but you can find more about that later on.
Safety razors are ideal for both males and females, and most of them look the same.
However, there are some differences, such as:
- The structure:
- A single piece ”twist to open” razor, also known as butterfly
- Two-piece razors
- Three-piece razors
- The color – It can vary, for example, my first one was black, and my current one is pink
- The handle length – It can be shorter or longer
- The material – Some are with a bamboo grip
In this particular article, we will talk about the Single piece ”twist to open” razor, which is probably the most beginner-friendly method.
2. How to use a safety razor: A step-by-step guide (+ VIDEO tutorial)
Before buying a safety razor, I was a bit afraid of using it. It looks intimidating for many people, and I was a bit nervous about getting one.
Luckily, my roommate at that time had one, so he quickly showed me how to place a razor blade inside and how to use it. I saw that it isn’t scary at all, so I got my own afterward.
With this guide, I hope to help you be more confident in using a safety razor!
What you will need:
The safety razor
A mirror (optional)
Step 1: Place a razor blade.
If you have a single piece “twist to open” razor, you need to open the top by unscrewing the safety razor’s bottom part. Then, place a razor blade inside, and screw it back.
Step 2: Wet the area.
Wet the part that you want to shave. Warm water will soften the hairs for a more comfortable and smoother shave.
What about a dry shave? Even though you can try dry shaving, you might experience razor burn, plus it won’t be as smooth. For some, it works well, but it depends on your skin and the area. That’s why it is best to use water.
Step 3: Add soap.
Apply a layer of soap on the area you want to shave. Then take your safety razor and start sliding it on your skin by holding it at about a 30-degree angle. Try to maintain this angle.
Step 4: Shaving time!
A safety razor is heavier for a reason – it is designed to work with gravity. Allow the weight of the head to pull down and shave as you slide it along your skin.
The most critical aspects that you want to remember are:
Use short strokes – Shave a few inches at a time do NOT press too much.
Slide it mildly – Always follow the hair’s direction (you can shave in more than one direction for smoother results).
Be extra careful on more sensitive and bony areas, like the knees.
If necessary, pull the skin tight before shaving as wrinkled skin is hard to shave.
Take your time and do not rush.
A quick VIDEO tutorial:
3. How to clean & maintain a safety razor
This is an essential step, as if you don’t do a few things right, you might end up with a rusty safety razor. Yikes!
When I got my first one, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem if I don’t dry it entirely as it is stainless steel.
Wrong! After less than a year, it got rusty. To avoid that, follow these steps:
1) After shaving, rinse thoroughly with warm water. Make sure that all hair is out from the cracks. You might need to take out the blade.
2) Dry it after each use. Carefully take the blade out and dry everything well. It is crucial that the safety razor is completely dry after you use it.
3) Don’t leave it in the shower/tub. Find a dry spot for it that’s not wet, and there is no moisture. A drawer or a shelf can be a perfect spot. It will be great if you find a small bag in which you can keep the safety razor.
Click on the images to see what can happen to your safety razor if you don’t take care of it, or if you buy a cheap one.
4. The best zero waste razors
5. How to dispose of razor blades
It is essential to dispose of the razor blades correctly. You can do it by:
Make or buy a blade disposal tin. To make one, just use an old aluminum can/container. Create a small slot on the top or on the lid, through which to throw the blades.
Start collecting the used blades inside the container.
Once it’s full, you can place it in your recycling bin or you can take it to your local recycling center. If there isn’t any, send it directly to Albatross Blade Take Back Program.
Seal the container so the blades cannot fall out and injure someone. Even though the blades will be dull, they can still cut someone.
6. How much money you can save with a safety razor
The initial cost is indeed a bit higher. However, in the long run, safety razors are so much cheaper than disposable razors.
For the curious ones, let’s make a quick, estimated calculation:
Most people shave from a young age, let’s say from 15 until 55 years old. That’s 40 years of shaving.
4 Gillette disposable razor blades cost $5.97 ($1.49 each). A single one lasts approximately 3-10 shaves.
Let’s say you shave 2-3 times a week. It is recommendable to use one disposable razor, not longer than two weeks. For a month, that’s around 3 disposable razor blades.
For a year (if one is $1.49), that’s ~ $53.64. For 5 years, it is $268.
If you get a stainless steel safety razor and take care of it, it can last a lifetime. They cost between $30-50. Even if you switch it after many years, you will spend $60-$90 in total. The only thing you need to keep buying is the razor blades.
For a pack of 100 safety razor blades, you will pay around $8. A single blade is $0.08. That is –
$0.24 if you change it 3 times per month
$2.88 for the whole year
$14.4 for 5 years
Estimation for 40 years is:
Disposable razors – $2,145
Safety razor – $90 (if you change it 1-2 times) + blades $115,2 = $205,2
7. Safety razors: Pros & Cons
Cost-effective: Using a safety razor is much cheaper than a disposable razor.
Reduces razor burn: A razor with multiple blades is extracting and pulling the hair follicles, which leads to razor burn. A safety razor reduces the chances of experiencing a razor burn.
Less irritation, too: With 3, 5, or 12-blade cartridges, your skin is subjected to a blade more times, which often causes more irritation.
Smoother result: More effective, as the shave feels smoother.
No hairs will stick between the blades: As it often happens with disposable razors.
*Almost* zero waste: You will stop wasting disposable razors, which will be so much better for the environment!
Requires “getting used to” time: As everything new, you will probably need some time to get used to it. It will be a bit different, so it may take a few shaves to get the hang of it.
It takes longer: Especially at the beginning, you will probably need more time to shave.
Requires more care: If you want to keep it for a very long time, you need to take extra care of it. This might be annoying at first, but after a while, it will become natural to you.
8. Other zero waste shaving methods
Sugar wax: Sugar waxing is another excellent zero waste shaving method. You will need sugar, lemon juice, and water.
You boil the ingredients to create a thick paste, which you put over the hairs and peel off. I’ve tried it, and it requires some practicing.
You need to be quite fast, but at the same time careful, as the paste is very hot. My first tryouts were relatively unsuccessful, but many people love this method, so you might as well give it a try. Follow this tutorial here.
Threading: A method where you use a thin cotton thread that you tie and twist. Then, you roll it over your skin to pluck the hair at the follicle level. It is excellent for smaller areas like eyebrows and over the lip (aka mustache).
It requires a bit of practice, too, but it is quite simple to grasp. You can follow a tutorial here.
Tweezing: Useful and great for small areas, such as the eyebrows.
Epilating: Unlike shaving, electric epilators work by pulling the whole hair out and its root. It is a dry shave method, and it might be preferable by some.
I’ve been using my epilator for at least 7-8 years, and I must admit I dislike it. Mainly because it’s very painful for me, and it takes a lot of time. However, it does increase the time between shaves, which is a positive side.
Laser hair removal: For this, you need to have some extra cash, as it can be pricey. Also, you need to be very committed, as it doesn’t happen after a few treatments. You can either go to a laser hair removal studio (find a good one!) or buy the machine and DIY.
9. Safety razors – FAQ:
In this FAQ, I tried to include a few additional questions for the more curious ones.
No, it is not. Like I mentioned, I was quite afraid at first, probably because of the blades. But the truth is that if you are careful, nothing wrong will happen.
A safety razor includes a protecting element located between the edge of the blade and the skin. The purpose is to assure a safe and harmless shaving experience.
Yes, you can cut yourself, but you can cut yourself with regular disposable razors, too, if you aren’t careful.
When I’m in a hurry, I might cut myself, but not severely. If you are careful, you shouldn’t be worried.
Yes, you can. But keep in mind that you should change the blade more often since it needs to be sharp.
If it’s not sharp enough, you might push it too much. Even if it’s a bit dull, it is still a blade, and you might cut yourself.
Yes. A few notes that you want to remember are:
- Pull the skin tight – this will allow the blade to slide smoothly.
- Avoid shaving the same area more than once to minimize skin irritation.
- Be careful & don’t rush!
These instructions also can be applied for shaving other sensitive zones, such as your armpits.
You can take your safety razor on the plane. However, you can’t take the razor blades.
Once I forgot to remove a pack of razor blades. They had to take them from my hand luggage. Because of their sharpness, they are considered a “dangerous” object. So if you travel with your safety razor, just make sure that you remove the blade.
That mainly depends on how often you shave. Usually, a blade can last between 1-5 weeks. So, if you shave:
- Daily – every week or so
- Every second day – every 2-3 weeks
- Once or twice a week – every 4-5 weeks
Technically, it can last a lifetime. Safety razors are often made of a particular type of stainless steel, called razor steel. Yet, even though it’s “stainless steel,” if you don’t take care of it properly, it might last you just a few years.
Ultimately, if you take good care of the safety razor (wash it, dry it, and store it correctly), you can have it for many, many years.
Even though there are some recycling programs, most disposable razors are rarely recycled. They are made with mixed materials, which makes them quite challenging to recycle.
10. Quick sum-up and final words
There you have it – everything you need to know to start with your zero waste shaving journey. To sup it all up:
A safety razor is stainless steel, reusable & eco-friendly way to shave unwanted hair.
It is ideal for both males and females.
There are three main structures – a single piece, two-piece, and three-piece razors.
It is not scary or dangerous, but you might need a bit of time to get used to it.
To avoid rust, you need to clean & dry the razor after each use. It is way cheaper than using disposable razors.
There are a few more zero waste shaving methods includes sugar waxing, threading, and epilating.
I hope this article was helpful! Let me know below, which is your preferred shaving method and why.