Zero Waste Shaving: How to Use a Safety Razor
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. 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 razors are thrown away each year. That’s nuts!! They’re also a great plastic free alternative since they’re made from stainless steel. Not to mention, safety razors are such an elegant and sophisticated addition to a minimalist zero waste bathroom.
I finally got up the courage to try out my safety 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 shave than with my normal disposable razors. Safety 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. Here are a few tips for safety razor beginners:
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. Use short, smooth strokes. This will also help prevent you from cutting yourself!
Do lather really well before use
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 shave soap bar was packaged in plastic wrap, yuck! 🙁 Fortunately, now you can find a plastic free, handmade ,organic shave soap bar in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop that is fantastic! This one is really gentle and comes wrapped in flower seed paper that you can plant to grow wildflowers. Score!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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 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 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 safety razor but 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 a safety razor? Or do you have another zero waste shaving alternative that you prefer?!
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!