Zero Waste Shaving: How To Use a Safety Razor

zero waste shaving

Over the past year, I’ve been slowly making simple switches for a more eco friendly, zero waste lifestyle. Last fall, I was down to my last few disposable razors so I asked for a safety razor for Christmas. Double edge safety razors are an excellent sustainable option because unlike their disposable counterparts, these guys last forever. (No joke, I’ve seen quite a few safety razors at antique stores that are in perfect working condition!) The EPA estimates that nearly 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown away each year. That’s nuts!! They’re also a great plastic free alternative since they’re made from long-lasting stainless steel. Not to mention, reusable safety razors are such an elegant and sophisticated addition to a minimalist zero waste bathroom.

Long Handled Double Edge Safety Razor

I finally got up the courage to try out my zero waste razor a few weeks ago and so glad I did. Not nearly the blood bath I was expecting. If you’re hesitant to make the switch, don’t worry. I actually didn’t cut myself at all when using the razor for the first time.

I was also really surprised to find I got a much closer, smooth shave than with my normal single-use razors. Reusable razors, although you’ll invest an initial $30-100, are actually cheaper in the long run since they won’t need to constantly be replaced. Invest in a high quality razor that will last a lifetime. I personally love my long handle safety razor. I know a lot of people really love the Leaf Razor as well. They have a rose gold safety razor that is GORGEOUS.

While there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to zero-waste razors, I’d love to give you some beginner tips!

Here are a few tips for safety razor beginners:

Go slow!

The key to not cutting yourself is to go slowly. You don’t really need to apply much pressure to the razor, just use the weight of the handle to guide you. It’s really all about shaving with the proper angle so that the blade cuts the hair. You might have to fiddle with the angle in the beginning until you find what works. I was so used to shaving mindlessly with my disposable razor but realized quickly that I needed to pay close attention while shaving with my safety razor those first few tries. For a smoother shave, use short, gentle strokes. This will also help prevent you from cutting yourself!

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Do lather really well before use

Did you know there’s an eco friendly alternative to shaving cream in aerosol cans? My Christmas gift came with a shave soap bar which lathers really well, but I think you could use a regular bar soap just as easily, as long as it has a strong lather.  My shaving bar was shipped in plastic packaging, bleh! 🙁 Fortunately, now you can find a plastic free, handmade, organic shaving soap bar (and other cool eco friendly products) in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow online store that is fantastic! This one is really gentle (great for sensitive skin) and comes wrapped in flower seed paper that you can plant to grow wildflowers. Score!

Here you can find other great options >>> zero waste shaving creams.

zero waste shaving

Shave with the direction of the hair growth

I browsed the internet before trying out my safety razor for the first time, because I was pretty sure I was going to injure myself in the tub. This was a tip, every one mentioned, go with the grain. It will help to prevent razor burn, bumps, and damaging your skin. Get the perfect shave by moving with the direction of the hair growth.

Use a shave brush

I really like using a shaving brush with my shave soap bar. Using a brush helps make the hairs on your leg stand up better which makes for easier cutting of the hairs which equals less bumps and razor burn. In the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop, you can find two kinds of shave brushes: one with synthetic bristles (vegan option) and one with boar’s hair bristles (plastic free option).

shaving brush

I place my shave soap bar in a porcelain shaving mug and then use a shaving brush to create lather. There is a porcelain shaving mug available in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow online shop, but I’ve also had pretty good luck finding apothecary mugs at antique stores. If you have a favorite antique or thrift shop in your town, maybe check to see if you can find one secondhand first!

porcelain shaving mug

Dry blades for longer use

Be sure to dry off your blade in between uses so it will last longer. This honestly isn’t totally necessary, but I’ve learned that my blades last much longer this way. I usually take apart the razor in my bathroom and leave the pieces sitting out separately to dry. You’re welcome to skip this step; you’ll just need to change the blades more often. You can find replacement blades in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop as well!

Another tip for maintaining your safety razor blades is to replace the blades regularly. Safety razor blades will eventually dull with use. Replace the blade as soon as you notice a decline in shaving performance, such as increased tugging or discomfort during shaving.

Furthermore, some eco-friendly safety razor users recommend to rotate and flip blades. To ensure even wear, you can rotate and flip the blade during its usage. Some people find that flipping the blade after a few shaves helps maintain its sharpness.

What do I do with my used safety razor blades? 

Safety razor blades are recyclable. Woop! However, DO NOT throw your used blades into the recycling bin… this could definitely injure workers at your recycling facility. Instead, collect your blades in an aluminum can. It will take a good long while to fill an entire can, because the blades are small and thin. Once your can is full, seal the top and drive it directly to your local recycling facility. They can handle the blades directly this way.

I have several other zero waste blogger friends that have shared their safety razor experiences as well, check out their posts here!

Zero Waste Shaving!

Zero Waste Shaving: Safety Razors

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Zero Waste Alternative to Waxing 

UPDATE: Ok, so what if you are used to waxing for hair removal rather than shaving? Well, I did a little Googling, and apparently there IS a zero plastic waste alternative to waxing. It’s called “sugaring.” You basically make a hot paste of sugar, water and lemon juice on the stove top and use it to “wax” your body. If you want more details on how to sugar, check out Gippsland Unwrapped‘s very detailed blog post all about it. She explains how to make the sugar paste and the best technique for clean hair removal results!  I think I’ll stick to my trusty metal safety razor but it’s simply my eco friendly shaving personal preference. If you’re interested in giving this zero waste waxing alternative a try, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments section 🙂

Who else loves shaving with eco-friendly razors? Or do you have another zero waste shaving alternative that you prefer?! What do you think about using straight razors? What does your sustainable shaving routine look like? I know making the switch to a plastic free razor may be a small part of your carbon footprint, but I believe that all sustainable changes, big and small, are a manner in which we can do better for the environment!

Author’s Note: This blog post was originally posted in January 2016, but I’ve updated some information and want to share it with my newest Tiny Yellow Bungalow followers. Enjoy y’all! ?

You might also enjoy these blog posts from Tiny Yellow Bungalow!

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4 thoughts on “Zero Waste Shaving: How To Use a Safety Razor

  1. This looks like a great plastic-free alternative! Do you have to do anything to keep the razor sharp? Where did you get yours? Thanks!

    1. It is fantastic Britney! You don’t have to worry about keeping it sharp, just change out the recyclable blade if it starts to get dull. I got my razor for Christmas so I’m not exactly sure where it came from but I do know the brand name is Merkur! I haven’t tried any other kinds but so far I really like the one I have if you’re looking for one for yourself!

  2. Hi there-I’m a new reader and have been slowly transitioning to a more zero waste life style. My next big swap is the safety razor. Are there any brands you recommend? Also, do my husband and I both need our own or can we just swap the blades out? Thanks for your help. Keep up the good work!!

    1. You will love having a safety razor! I made the switch and haven’t looked back. The razor I have is a Merkur. It gives a really close shave! It was given to me as a gift, so unfortunately I haven’t researched other brands. However, I really love the one I have. If you and your husband are comfortable sharing disposable razors now, then definitely share the safety razor! It will save you a bit of cash. But if you are used to each having your own, then perhaps investing in two razors would be the better option! Good luck in your zero waste journey 🙂

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