How to Use a Safety Razor: A Guide

A safety razor can be a little intimidating. 

We all remember when we were first learning to shave and our knees would suddenly turn into the most difficult terrain.  A few cuts and growth spurts later, shaving is second nature for many of us.  Starting over doesn’t sound all that enticing.  I’m here to tell you why it should.

Zero waste is all about simplifying your life by reducing your waste, right?  This is one of those switches that will take one more thing off your list of errands and save you money right off the bat.

There’s certainly a learning curve to using one of these, but I promise you they will change your life.  Here’s a few reasons why, followed by the answers to all your questions about safety razors.

Reason #1: The price

All these years, I’ve been buying replacements for a disposable item that cost almost as much as the one that would last me the rest of my life.  I don’t want to know how much I spent on razors, razor heads, and shaving cream.  A safety razor costs $20-50 and is a one time purchase.  All you do is buy a new pack of blades every year for $1.50 and that’s it.  Why had no one told me about these before?!

Not only was I outraged at the amount of money I had spent on these items, but I’ve been angry for years about the difference of pricing between men’s and women’s products.  I’ve been buying men’s razors since college, when it occurred to me that mine cost $11 at the store and theirs cost $6.  Did the extra few blades and the pink sheen and the shea butter have anything to do with a closer shave?  I’ve never seen a difference. 

This price discrepancy is a real thing, and there’s a word for it.  Pink tax.  Women’s products are priced higher, often two times the price, even when they have the exact same ingredients and features.  Stop paying more for products simply because of your gender.

Reason #2: The waste

When I first got into zero waste, I started by literally looking in the trash can in my bathroom and figuring out what I could eliminate.  Whenever I would run out of something, I would replace it with a greener alternative. 

I remember the day I attached the last of my disposable razor heads and thought, I like the feel of smooth skin too much to just quit shaving.  What else is out there?  I discovered safety razors.  The concept amazed me… my entire adult life, I’ve been using a disposable product that wasn’t invented to solve any particular issue.  They aren’t even more convenient with all the different sizes and attachment configurations.  Why had we switched to plastic? 

I called my Dad and he told me his Father had a straight razor growing up.  I dug a little deeper in my research and learned that in America alone, two billion razors end up in the landfill every year.  I was horrified.  From the plastic disposables to their excessive packaging, the environmental costs are high.  So much of going zero waste is a return to the way our grandparents did things.  Bring on the learning from the beloved grands and greats that came before us.

Reason #3: The look

With my design background, aesthetic is important to me.  I used to be drawn to the products on the shelf with more attractive packaging.  Now I’m drawn to simplicity and minimalist functionality.  Anything this simple is right at home on our boat.  I love the purity of the stainless steel body.  It’s not gendered, it’s not bulky, and it has a lovely sleekness to it.

 Stainless Steel Safety Razor Eco Collective

Now, getting to the essentials! 

 

How to use a safety razor without cutting yourself.

Funny story: around the same time I started reading into safety razors, Jarod brought home a straight razor.  It had a beautiful carved handle and a rich leather strap to sharpen it.  He’s always surprising me with his love of simplicity and how it feeds into sustainable habits.  I figured hey if he can do it, so can I.  So I tried it.  On my bikini line.  Don’t ask me why, but that’s where I chose to try a straight razor for the first time.  Let’s just say the cut stayed around for quite awhile.

A few weeks later, I purchased a safety razor from Albatross, inspired again by their mission to reduce ocean plastics (let’s be honest, they had me at “sailing team”).  This time I had done my research.  I took my time and used an extra nourishing bar of soap.  I got one little nick around each ankle, but that was it!

It takes some time to get the hang of, but it’s like riding a bike.  Once you get it, you’re home free.  The secret?  Never press down.  You simply let the weight of the razor head guide you.  If you hold it lightly and move it across your skin, you’ll get a smooth shave and no cuts. 

I would recommend starting slow, not just the first time but every time you install a new blade. 

Some other things you can do are waiting until the end of your shower (even a 2 minute rinse will ensure your skin is saturated) and use a shaving cream bar.  Which brings us to our next point…

What to shave with

A creamy suds from our shaving bar will keep your skin smooth for a close shave.  Our bars are chock full of seaweed and other hand harvested botanicals, which are ultra nourishing.

You can also use something that comes in bulk, like Castille Soap (find it at Ballard Market or Central Co-op).

The important things are to take your time and make sure your skin is well hydrated.

How to make the blades last:

Another question we get is how long the blades last.  Each of our safety razors comes with a pack of 10 replacement blades, included in the price.  It depends how you care for your razor, but a blade can last anywhere from 10 shaves to several months.

Bea Johnson said her sons discovered that if you remove the blade after every use and let it dry, each blade lasts almost 6 months!

But can you travel with it?

Yes!

I take mine with me all the time.  I like to travel light, so I only ever bring a carry-on, and I toss it in my toiletry bag with the rest of my essentials.  I’ve only had a problem going through security one time, and it was because I forgot to remove the blade.

I’ve had quite a few conversations with TSA agents and the deal is, you’re allowed to take the blade with you, but it can’t be installed in the razor.  I take the blade out of my 3 piece razor and wrap it in the paper it came in (which I like to keep for recycling the blades anyway) and stow it in my toiletry bag along with the disassembled razor.  Trust me on this, it’s better for every one if you leave the blade separate if you’re going to keep your razor in your bag and shuffle around in your bag every morning.  It’s just good sense.

So, that’s the low down on how to use a stainless steel safety razor!  If you’ve got any questions we didn’t hit, let us know in the comments below!

 

And say no to the pink tax once and for all and invest in reusable alternatives!

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