Oh, the joys of having body hair! I remember all too well the feeling of terror in junior high school when I was rushing to get ready for school in the morning, quickly putting on a cute outfit, and arriving at school only to discover that my outfit exposed my hairy legs. The HORROR. I would find any clever way to hide my legs while talking to people, especially boys. There's the nonchalant hand over the leg technique. There's the papers in hand, resting against the legs while sitting down technique. Then there's the (my personal fav) ants in the pants dance technique: basically moving around frequently yet swiftly so that there is NO chance another soul can take a good look at the legs of a terrified hairy Marina.
Fast forward 10 years, and I have actually grown fond of my body hair. Yet, there are times every now and then that I like to shave my pits and legs. So here we are, in eco fab fashion, to learn how to shave like an Eco Goddess with a safety razor (men + women edition!).
Why Make the Switch?
The EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away each year. That’s startling, considering all of the other common bathroom products being sent to landfill every single day worldwide such as plastic toothbrushes and plastic floss. Disposable razors are not recyclable in the U.S, nor are they manufactured to last you a lifetime– making it even more important for consumers to adopt a more sustainable alternative.
The Alternative: a Safety Razor
Since its inception in 1901 by American inventor King Camp Gillette, the safety razor has provided men and women with access to an economical and effective shave. Safety razors contain two parts: a durable, stainless steel metal handle that attaches to a thin, double-sided steel blade. The handle itself will last you a lifetime if you take good care of it. I sourced my safety razor from my local zero waste store Earthwell Refill in North Park, San Diego. They had quite a lot of options to choose from. The store owner Katrina recommended I hold each razor in my hand to see which one I liked best. I chose the black handle Parker razor, and I am very happy with my selection!
Earthwell Refill had two blade options. I chose Shark razor blades as they are quite sharp (meaning closer shave that lasts longer) and they are sustainably packaged in compostable and/or recyclable paper. Another affective and sustainably-packaged brand is Astra. I have yet to try these blades, but I have heard wonderful reviews from a handful of bloggers that I follow, including one of my favorites Kay from Living the Life You Love.
Will I Save Money?
This may be the coolest perk of investing in a safety razor. The Parker handle ($30) and a box of 100 Shark blades ($7.28) will cost you a total of $37.28. Assuming the handle will last a lifetime, the only investment I personally make moving forward is for blades. If I use an average of 1 blade per month, which is at most 12 blades per year– meaning a box of 100 blades will last me 8 years. My old razors heads from Gillette Venus are $18 for a box of 4 heads, or $4.50 a blade– meaning that using 12 blades per year costs me $54. By switching to a safety razor, I will save $1,535.50 in blades in a span of 37 years (assuming I will continue shaving until I am 60). Best of all? I am preventing THOUSANDS of disposable razors from going to a landfill. Win-win.
How Long Will It Take Me to Adjust?
Like adopting anything new, using your safety razor will take some time to adjust. Have patience with yourself and remember to go slow. Aim not to put as much pressure on your skin as your are accustomed to with your disposable razor. Watch my YouTube video shaving demo or follow the directions below to see how I shave without creating razor bumps or cuts.
How Do I Recycle My Old Blades?
Saving money with a product switch is great. Saving the planet while doing so, even better! Be sure to research if your city or town accepts scrap metal in their curbside recycling program. Most do, but unfortunately there are still some out there that do no. Google "Waste Management _______" and fill in the blank with your city or town. Browse their website or simply call them to explore the options you have.
Collect your used blades in a safe container like an upcycled bottle or a blade bank. Just discarding them as is could injure workers, and because of how small they are, they risk the chance of getting sorted out of the items that will get properly recycled in your recycling center. See how to make your own blade bank here. Once your container or blade bank is full, proceed responsibly with recycling. To the readers who do not have access curbside recycling options, send your used razor blades to Albatross Shave Shop in California. Albatross recycles any and all the steel blades they receive. Visit the link here to learn how to send in your blades.
Can I Take My Razor With Me on the Plane?
It depends. The safest way to bring your safety razor with you is to pack your razor in a checked bag. If you are like me however, you do whatever it takes to avoid checking a bag because of the added on travel expenses and the waste that comes with printing out tracking stickers.
When only pursuing carry-on travel options, pack your razor without the blades. Next, research places to buy razor heads where you land. Ultimately, shaving is up to you. For me personally, if it is a quick trip I will not bring my razor. If I know it is doing to be a longer trip, I will pack it and look for the best options when I arrive. I do not risk packing my razor blades because if security flags it, they will throw them away and this defeats the purpose of adopting a less wasteful shaving option (ya feel me?).
HOW TO SHAVE LIKE A #ZEROWASTE PRO
YOU WILL NEED
- A safety razor
- Soap (my choice: Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Bar Soap - Baby Unscented)
- Organic body lotion (my choice: bulk organic Griffin Remedy lotion)
- Almond oil (my choice: organic, packed in glass by FLORA)
*Affiliate links above & below. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.
- Introduce water to the desired area of shaving.
- Add a generous amount of soap.
- Take your razor to your skin and with minimal pressure, gently begin shaving your desired area. Go in the direction of your hair. Take your time, especially if you are a beginner.
- Keep a water dish beside you to clean off your razor as you go. This will help you conserve water. Be sure to feed your plants with the water post-shave for Eco Goddess brownie points.
- Give your skin a final rinse and walla!
- Lastly, apply moisturizer to the area(s) you just shaved. I have found my under arm areas are more sensitive than other parts of my body; thus, I use a thicker moisturizer.
Happy shavin' my loves! See you soon.