Safety Razors: Everything you need to know for a zero waste shave

May 4, 2019

This post contains affiliate links which are marked in line with my policy. 

One of the eco switches that I put off making for the longest was getting a safety razor.

Truth be told, I was terrified. I was convinced that I would spend my first year using it with more cuts on my legs than hairs I’d started with.

I think somewhere along the line I got confused between a straight razor (ya know, what Sweeny Todd used to murder people) and a double-edged safety razor (no dramatic literary history attached).

So, when I finally decided to put my eco-warrior pants on and take the plunge, I was actually pretty underwhelmed to find out that using it was, well, almost exactly the same as using a normal razor. Whilst I think it definitely takes a bit of getting used to, it really isn’t as scary as anticipated. At all.

And in fact, I haven’t cut myself any more frequently than before making the switch.

A double-edge safety razor in front of a plant

Like I said though, using a double-edged safety razor can take a few tries before you’re comfortable with it and I totally understand that they can feel intimidating. So, it made sense to sit down, tell you all of the lessons that I’ve learnt in my year of using one and answer the questions that you’re probably asking yourself.

Yes, including whether you can use it on your bikini line.

What is a safety razor?

A double-edged safety razor is a low-waste alternative to conventional disposable razors or reusable razors with disposable heads. They are often made from stainless steel and contain a blade which can be taken out and replaced when it gets blunt.

They are called “safety razors” because, traditionally, they were considered easier to use than a typical cut-throat razor.

How to get the most out of your safety razor (and avoid cutting yourself!)

  • Safety razors should be used at a 45° angle to the skin to best avoid getting cut.
  • Don’t push the blade against the skin, allow the weight of the razor to do the work. Just hold the handle with a gentle grip and pull it softly across the skin at a 45° degree angle.
  • Start with your legs: The longer flatter surface will be easier to shave at first whilst you’re still getting used to the weight of a safety razor and the fact that it doesn’t have a moveable head.
  • On areas that aren’t flat – your knees, ankles, armpits, bikini region – use shorter strokes. Safety razors don’t have the same “glide” as razors with moveable heads, so this will stop you from catching yourself.
  • When shaving, pull the skin tight as you go over it. Not only will this give you a closer shave, but it will help to stop looser bits of skin getting knicked.
  • Invest in shaving cream, foam or oil. Unlike a lot of women’s razors which now have bars of lubricant built in, a safety razor needs a smooth, wet surface to work best.
  • Always moisturise post-shave! Since it gives such a close shave, the skin can sometimes be left a little dry.

Why are safety razors better for the environment?

The reason that I made the switch to a safety razor was environmental.

Since they’re most often made of stainless steel, they don’t contribute to our growing plastic pollution problem. Disposable razors and disposable razor heads, on the other hand, do, as they are not recyclable.

When looked after properly, there’s no reason why a stainless steel safety razor couldn’t last you a lifetime. That means that the only waste created is the blade after it needs to be replaced, and sometimes the packet the blades come in.

Which safety razor should I buy?

There are two main types that you are likely to come across: One piece and three-piece razors.

A one-piece razor – you guessed it – is one piece of stainless steel, that cannot be taken apart. Instead, to insert the blade, you twist the bottom of the handle and the head of the razor opens up. You then pop the blade in and twist the handle in the opposite direction to close the head.

With three-piece razors, the head is removable and splits into two parts which you then insert your blade between. The handle is the third “piece”. See the picture below for reference.

Left: Three piece razor. Right: One piece razor [AD affiliate links]. 

Types of safety razor

There is very little difference between the two when it comes to actually shaving but, having used both, I felt that a three-part razor was more sturdy. Sometimes the one-piece needs to be tightened up mid-shaving sesh.

I think it’s hard to find one that won’t get the job done, though.

Do safety razors give a good shave?

Closest. Shave. I’ve. Ever. Had.

Can it be used on all parts of your body?

Face or fanny, the safety razor has you covered. Definitely switch out the blade if you’re going to alternate between the two, though…

Just remember to use shorter strokes on smaller and less flat areas, as safety razors don’t have the same “glide” as razors with moveable heads.

What do you need to start using a safety razor?

The razor itself (obvs), a blade and some kind of cream, foam or oil to protect your skin whilst shaving. I use coconut oil.

Is it expensive to use a safety razor/buy blades?

Not to sound like every zero waster online ever, but I’m afraid I’m going to use the “I” word: Investment.

I totally understand that not everyone is in the position to make investments and that, for them, buying cheaper disposable razors more frequently might be the most financially viable option. If that’s you, I’ve been there! Don’t beat yourself up over it.

However, if you can afford the £15 – £30 initial investment of buying a safety razor, it will most definitely work out cheaper in the long run. Whilst the pack of replacement razor heads that I used to buy cost £10 for three, you can easily find 100 razor blades on Amazon for around the £10 mark [Ad – Affiliate link]. You do the maths.

Where can you buy replacement blades? 

Most supermarkets sell blades in their men’s shaving aisle. You can also find them on Amazon easily [AD affiliate link].

A double-edge safety razor in front of a plant

Is it hard to replace the blades? 

Replacing a blade takes all of about 20 seconds. Just open your razor up (either by twisting the base or removing the head, depending on whether you have a one-piece or two-piece razor), take the old blade out by holding the short edges, not the long, sharp edges, and then put your new blade in.

Can old blades be recycled?

Some recycling centres do accept razor blades, so check with your local council!

Luckily, mine do, so I store the blades up in a jar and then take them to centre in bulk.

How long do blades last?

The general rule of thumb is ten uses, but it depends on how coarse your hair is! Like conventional razors, you will know when to replace it if it starts to feel blunt and like it isn’t doing such a good job.

How do you care for a safety razor?

Simple: Keep it clean and dry. Do not store it in the shower/near steam or water as it might start to rust.

As far as washing your blades is concerned, just open up your razor head and run the blade under water to ensure it’s clean.

 

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  1. Brita Long

    May 7th, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I am definitely not willing to try this yet, so I admire year! A few months ago I switched from disposable razors to a razor with disposable blades. I picked a brand of razors designed specifically for women’s bodies, and it’s been great for my sensitive skin.

  2. Bethany

    July 9th, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve found something that works for you, Brita!

  3. jenna

    May 13th, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    I started a journey towards living zero waste last year, and one of the first things I did was switch from plastic razors to a safety razor – I absolutely love it! I have nothing but great things to say about it, and I have yet to cut myself with it (which was my biggest fear when I made the switch). Thanks for sharing – you have a lovely blog!
    -Jenna ♥
    Follow me back? The Chic Cupcake

  4. Bethany

    July 9th, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Yay! Well done, Jenna. Thanks so much for your kind words xx

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