This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on May 22, 2023.
Hey, friend! I am SO excited for today’s blog because today we are talking about my ALL TIME FAVORITE zero waste swap 🤩🥳
A stainless steel safety razor was one of the very first swaps I made when I started my zero waste journey back in 2017, and I haven’t looked back once since.
At first, safety razors can definitely look intimidating, especially for women.
We’ve been bombarded with advertising for decades that we need tons of blades and multiple swivel points and a giant band of shaving cream that doesn’t actually work all built into our $5 razor refill cartridges that go dull after two shaves.
Meanwhile, any time I’m doing a market or a pop-up for A Drop in the Ocean, all of the men that stop by my booth already know how to use a safety razor, know that they’re great, and often already use them.
But the women more often than not pick up the safety razor I’ve got on display, hold it at arm’s length like it’s gonna grow legs and jump up and bite them, say something about how they’d “cut themselves too much,” and put it back down and walk away, still staring at it like I stare at the spider hanging out on my ceiling as I walk through my kitchen.
But lemme tell ya - plastic cartridge razors are marketing BS. For all people.
So today we’re gonna take a dive into the world of plastic-free shaving and what makes safety razors the ultimate zero waste swap you’ll ever make - plus a step-by-step guide for how to use a safety razor for a totally plastic-free shave.
What’s so great about safety razors?
Okay so obviously I adore my stainless steel safety razor, but why? What makes them so great?
Safety Razors Save Money
The first benefit that drew me in was how much freaking MONEY you save when switching to a safety razor.
A basic Venus razor is about $9 for the razor itself, and refill cartridges run about $3-5 each, so you’re constantly shelling out dollars for blades.
But with a safety razor, you’re spending just $30 for the razor itself AND 10 refill blades.
So if we do some math (because you know I love numbers), a new Venus razor and 10 refill cartridges is already gonna run you about $45.
So even though a safety razor might seem more expensive up-front, you’re saving $15 right off the bat.
And when you’re in need of more blades, a new pack of 10 blades is still just $4 - the same price as ONE Venus refill cartridge.
It almost seems too good to be true, but I pinky promise you it’s not.
Safety Razors Save Waste
When your $4 Venus razor cartridge goes dull, there’s no eco-friendly way to dispose of it. It’s going straight in the trash and into a landfill, where it’ll live for an eternity.
Same goes for the razor itself - which never lasts as long as you expect it to, either.
But safety razors are 100% stainless steel. The razor itself is built to last for a lifetime, and even to be handed down for generations, and the blades are completely plastic-free too.
Every part of a safety razor is metal, and metal is HIGHLY recyclable.
You can’t just put used safety razor blades in your curbside recycling bin, but we’ll talk about that a little bit later 😉
Safety Razors Give You a Smoother Shave
I kid you not, friend, since using a safety razor I get the closest shave I’ve ever had, with zero razor burn or irritation, and I actually cut myself WAY less than I used to with the fancy-dancy Venus razors.
So let’s get into that a bit…
Is shaving with a safety razor better?
In short, YES! 10000%.
Like I said, shaving with a safety razor has been a game-changer, but why?
We may have been led to believe that more blades means better shave, but it’s all marketing BS.
With a multi-blade cartridge, the hair is more likely to get caught and pulled, and the blades are more likely to get hair, shaving cream, and bacteria caught in them, all of which is going to lead to skin irritation and razor burn.
No thanks, fam.
But with a single blade, you have more control over the blade, it doesn’t pull the hair, you don’t have to apply any pressure to your skin, and it’ll stay cleaner - all the makings of a clean, safe, shave without razor burn, ingrown hairs, or any sort of irritation.
Can you use a safety razor on your legs?
I get this question at markets and pop-ups all the time.
Safety razors have been so marketed towards men that we often only think of them as suitable for shaving faces.
(And Google seems to back this up. To get any sort of information about safety razors for women or for shaving your legs with a safety razor, you have to specifically search for that. Otherwise, all of the results are tailored to men and beards.)
But the answer is YES! You can absolutely use a safety razor to shave whatever parts of your body you want to shave - head to toe.
How to Shave with a Safety Razor
Okay so now that I’ve ~effortlessly~ convinced you that a safety razor is about to be your new BFF, you might be sitting there like, “Okay, great, Krystina, but how the heck do I actually USE the dang thing??”
Don’t worry, friend. You know I gotchu 😎
Step 1: Wet the area and lather with shave soap.
Ya gotta prep the area for shaving first. I love our zero waste shave soap bar and refuse to use anything else.
Just start the lather in your hands, or rub the bar directly onto the area you’ll be shaving until you get a rich, creamy lather.
Then set the bar down and rinse your hands.
Step 2: Hold the razor at a 30-degree angle to the area you’re shaving.
Safety razors are called “safety razors” for a reason.
They may look intimidating sitting on the shower ledge, but they have a built-in safety feature to avoid cuts: the razor head sticks out a little under the blade, so the blade isn’t just hanging out for anyone to accidentally nick themselves with.
So to actually shave with a safety razor, you’ll hold the razor at about a 30-degree angle to your skin. This angle protects your skin and exposes the blade just enough to give you a clean, smooth shave.
Step 3: Use short strokes and shave in one direction.
With a Venus-type razor, you’re typically applying pressure as you shave and making long strokes.
It’s basically the opposite with a safety razor.
Since the head of the safety razor doesn’t pivot, you’re essentially pivoting the razor manually by using short strokes and changing the angle as necessary to go with the shape of your leg or your face.
And you do not want to apply pressure when you use a safety razor like you would with a multi-blade cartridge.
This is typically the hardest part of the learning curve, so go slow at first! But once you get the hang of it, you won’t even have to think about it anymore.
If you’re more a visual person, check out this video I shared on Instagram with a step-by-step guide to using a safety razor and why I love them so dang much ✌️
Tips for Using a Safety Razor for the First Time
Whether you’re shaving your head or your legs or anything in between, here are a few tips to make your first shave a breeze.
Rinse your hands of any soap before handling the razor. I’ve seen several posts across the internet about safety razors being difficult to grip in the shower, but there’s a simple solution! Make sure after you apply the shave soap, you rinse your hands completely. I’ve found that the only time the razor feels “slippery” is when I still have some soap on my hands, and that’s just no bueno.
Go slow. Your first couple of times using a safety razor, you’re gonna want to take your time. It’s a more mindful experience than a Venus razor, because you hold and use it in such a different way. Be especially careful around your knees and ankles, since like I said before, the head doesn’t pivot and move around the joints like a Venus razor.
💥 Do not apply pressure. This is the MOST IMPORTANT TIP I can give you. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve asked every single person that has told me they’ve cut themselves using a safety razor if they were applying pressure or just letting the weight of the razor do the work, and every single one has said they were applying pressure. Safety razors have a bit of weight to them, and that weight is what will do all the work for you.
So if you don’t remember anything else from this email, remember this. Don’t apply pressure, friend, and you’ve got this 💪
And when you feel like you need to apply pressure or you feel like your hair is pulling, that’s when it’s time to change the blade.
What do you do with old safety razor blades?
Okay so like I said, even though safety razor blades are 100% stainless steel, you can’t just put them in your curbside recycling bin. ‘Cause that’s just bad news for the people working at the recycling center.
But the really cool thing about the safety razors we sell at A Drop in the Ocean is that the company that makes them will actually take your used blades back and recycle them into travel utensil sets!
It’s upcycling at its finest. And it’s one of the reasons I think our safety razors are the best safety razors.
You can either send your used blades back to us when you return empty jars or bottles, and I’ll collect them to send a bunch back at once, or you can send them directly back to Albatross yourself.
But don’t just take my word for it…
My stainless steel safety razor may be my personal favorite zero waste swap, but I'm not the only one that's fallen totally in love after just a couple of uses. Check out these reviews from some of your fellow EcoWarriors:
So whaddaya think, friend?? Have you made the switch to a safety razor yet? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? Comment below and let’s talk all things safety razors!