What is a Safety Razor?

When transitioning to a low waste lifestyle, I wanted to convert all of my bathroom items to plastic-free alternatives. I was unsure of what the alternative to a plastic razor would be until I happened to come across the idea of a safety razor.

I was intimidated to get one, to say the least. It looked like an old-fashioned razor that only a skilled barber should be holding. But after some research, I knew it was a swap I wanted to make.

Believe it or not, plastic razors weren’t even invented until the 1970’s. Before that, all metal safety razors were the norm. Since the ‘70’s, plastic razors have dominated the market. Unfortunately that isn’t necessarily a good thing. According to the EPA, Americans alone toss out over 2 billion disposable razors into the landfill each year.

Investing in a safety razor is one of the easiest and most earth-friendly swaps you can make.

What is a Safety Razor?

A safety razor is a shaving tool that has a single blade attached to it. It’s called a safety razor because it has a protective device attached to it that protects the blade against your skin.

Unlike most disposable razors that have multiple blades, a safety razor has one single blade that is exposed on both sides.

The safety razor consists of a removable handle, the top safety bar, and the blade that goes in between the safety bar heads.

History fun fact: Gillette introduced the multi-blade razor in the late 90’s and other big brands followed suit. They marketed this as helping consumers get a closer shave. It was never actually proven to have a closer shave, but it was proven to have a higher profit margin.

Benefits of a Safety Razor

There are a whole host of benefits of using a safety razor. First and foremost, it is plastic-free. Buying a safety razor will reduce your environmental impact and save on a ton of plastic waste.

The safety razor also gives you a closer shave and contributes to less razor burn. You know those little soap strips on plastic razors? Yeah, they are filled with harmful chemicals that leach into our skin when we shave. Not only can this have serious health consequences, but it also contributes to razor burn!

Buying a safety razor may seem more expensive initially, but they are actually more cost-effective than a disposable razor! I will go into more detail about this down below. But let’s first dive in to how to use the razor!

How To Use a Safety Razor

Using a safety razor for the first time can seem pretty intimidating. It’s a bit heavier than the disposable ones and the blades are sharp.

However, they are surprisingly extremely easy to use and not as scary as they seem.

The first thing you are going to want to do is insert your razor blade. You do this by simply twisting off the handle and placing the blade on the pegs of the safety bar (bumpy edges facing up). Then place the top portion on that and twist the handle back on.

Tip: When inserting your blade, hold the razor head by the short side edges, rather than the blade edges.

Once your blade is inserted, you can shave away! You can use any shaving soap you normally use whether that be soap, shaving oil, or cream.

I have found that the safety razor works best by shaving in slow, short strokes rather than long, quick strokes. This helps ensure that you are getting the closest shave and getting all the hair off of your body.

This razor works just like a disposable one. The only thing you have to be cautious of is working around bony areas like your shins and knees. I nicked myself a couple times around my knee when I was shaving too fast, so just go slower and gentler around those areas. Other than that, this razor is not more prone to cuts and nicks than any other razor you might use.

During the shave, it is always a good idea to rinse off the soap and/or hair that may accumulate in the razor. This will ensure that you’re getting the best shave every time.

When you’re done shaving, you will want to store your razor in a dry area to avoid rusting and keep it in good shape. You can either place it on a shelf in the shower that stays dry or take it out to and place it in a bathroom drawer to dry off.

The blades should last you about a month or so, depending on how often you shave. So, when you notice the blade starting to dull, you will want to replace it.

How To Dispose of the Blades

Perhaps one of the best parts of this razor is the fact that it is completely reusable and recyclable. The actual razor will last you a very long time, but it is the blades we have to dispose of properly.

Although the blades are 100% recyclable, they are too small and sharp to go in a regular recycling bin as they pose a health hazard to the workers going through the recyclables and are too small on their own to be recycled normally.

For this reason, the blades must be disposed of in a metal sharps recycling bin. Since it isn’t very efficient to dispose of them one at a time, most people store them in a small container over time before recycling them.

You can store them in an old mint container, pill bottle, lotion jar, or anything else you find!

Finding an actual sharps container, however, is the next part. Some cities will have metal sharps bins for you to use, as do most doctor’s offices. Please let me know if and how you found your local metal sharps container!

And voila! That is how you use a safety razor. It has so many benefits and way easier to use than it seems.

Cost Comparison

Now, I know what you might be thinking… a safety razor is so much more expensive than a disposable one!

In fact, those were my exact thoughts for a long time. Until I did some digging.

Because I wanted to see if I was actually saving money with a safety razor, I decided to do a little cost-comparison between a disposable razor and a safety razor.

This cost breakdown is assuming you change the blade 1x/month (no blade lasts longer on either razor).

Venus Disposable Razor w/ 1 extra razor head – $8

Refill pack of 4 – $13

8 + 13 = $21 for 6 months

21/6 = $3.50 per month

$42 per year

Lisse shave safety razor w/ 5 blades – $59

100 blade refills – $18

59 + 18 = $77 for 105 months

77/105 = $0.73 per month

$8.80 per year

An average plastic razor will cost you $42 per year and a high-end safety razor will cost you $8.80 per year. This is a savings of more than $33 per year if you switch over to a safety razor. This is not accounting for the additional cost of buying a new plastic handle every so often either, which most people do.

It’s important to note that this is just an example. There are some cheaper disposable razors out there and there are also some cheaper safety razors out there. But these results would be fairly similar with other brands.

Overall, a plastic razor (although seemingly cheaper at first) costs you more than a safety razor.

Should I Get One?

The answer: YES!

As if the cost savings wasn’t enough to convince you to switch over, some other bad aspects of a disposable razor are that they are a huge contributor to plastic waste and they also contain chemical-filled soap strips that are a main contributor to razor burn! Mind. Blown.

Overall, a safety razor is by far the better choice when it comes to shaving.

  • Saves you money
  • Gives you a closer shave
  • Doesn’t contain any chemicals that contribute to razor burn
  • And is 100% reusable and recyclable (yay!)

I am honestly so glad that I switched over to a safety razor. They are definitely not as intimidating as they seem and pretty much works just like any other razor you would use. It has already saved me some money in the past year!

Luckily safety razors are gaining popularity again so there are tons of options available for people.

I use the Lisse shave safety razor, which I love. But I also know that people really enjoy the brand Leaf shave as well.

Whichever one you choose will be a good choice because you will be saving money and the environment so you really can’t go wrong.

As always, let me know if you have any questions about using a safety razor if you feel that I’ve missed anything and I’d be happy to answer your questions!

Happy shaving!

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