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If you’re a woman trying to reduce the plastic disposable products you use, switching over to a safety razor might be your next smart move.
It’s been about five months since I started using my safety razor, and the transition was much smoother 😉than I expected it to be. I admit I did do quite a bit of research on what to expect before I switched, so that probably helped.
It was kind of difficult to find information on what to expect as a woman using a safety razor. Like, can you really use it to shave your legs, armpits, and bikini area?
I actually wasn’t 100% sure going into it, but I figured I’d just keep my triple-blade disposable-head razor around just in case. I never did end up using it again, though.
It turns out you definitely can use a safety razor for all feminine shaving places and purposes, and it’s not difficult or dangerous. But since men are the ones who have historically used safety razors, the woman-specific “how-to” can be hard to come by.
I hope this post will give you the answers you’re looking for. And if it doesn’t, please leave a comment at the bottom and I will address what I missed.
So, first things first.
What is a Safety Razor?
A safety razor has a handle and head (that holds a blade) and is typically made entirely of metal. The only part you replace is the blade, which is double-edged. Both edges of the blade are exposed through the razor head, so you can use either side to shave.
Safety razors are NOT a new thing. In fact, they are the type of old-school razor that your grandfather or great-grandfather most likely used. But safety razors ARE making a big comeback as people are looking for ways to go zero waste and stop throwing away so much plastic.
Safety Razors For Women
If you’re like I was before I made the switch, you’re probably wondering if you can use a safety razor to shave all the areas that a woman needs to shave. The answer is yes! I use mine for everything. Legs, armpits, and bikini area. It can handle curves.
In fact, safety razors have been around and used specifically by women since the early 1900s. They’ve just always been marketed to men much more than to women. That’s especially true as other more expensive ways for women to remove body hair have come into existence, like waxing and lasers.
How To Choose A Safety Razor For A Woman
First of all, don’t worry about trying to find a razor that says it is for women. I’ve found that right now, the vast majority of safety razors are marketed to men. The couple I’ve seen that say they’re “for women” are a nice color, but functionally identical to the men’s version. It really doesn’t matter if it is for a woman or a man, since safety razors are very simple in how they work.
That being said, there are a few features that vary from brand to brand and that you should think about before you buy. Some features are better suited for a woman’s shaving purposes.
Some razors have very short handle lengths, to make them easier for a man to manipulate while shaving his face. Since you’re a woman who will be shaving your legs, armpits, and bikini area, a longer handle will probably be more comfortable and easier to use.
This is really a matter of preference. There are three main types of safety razor head closure. Ones with a butterfly closure, those with a screw-together head that is in 2 pieces, and those with a screw-together head that breaks into 3 pieces.
I use a butterfly closure razor. By twisting the end of the handle, the hinged pieces that secure the blade are raised up and out like butterfly wings, to expose the blade.
I like this because your fingers are far from the blade as you twist to close the head back over the new blade. This makes changing the blade out very safe and easy.
Textured Handle Grip
Not all safety razors have a textured handle to help you keep a good grip on it if you’re in the shower. While I have not tried to shave with one that has a smooth handle, I specifically made sure mine had a textured handle and slipping has not been an issue at all for me, even in the shower.
Most razor handles will come with a few replacement blades. Just make sure when you purchase your razor that you know if it comes with some or if you need to buy your own to get started.
If you do need to buy blades, they’re really easy to find because they are universal. All double-edged blades are shaped the same so any brand can be used in your safety razor. They’re also cheap. I’ve been using these Weishi blades and I’m happy with them.
This is the razor I have and I highly recommend it. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s made in China. Weishi is a well-respected brand, though, known for quality razors. Plus, I’m in love with its magical, rainbow gleam.
I think we will probably start to see more small U.S.-based zero waste companies start to add these to their stores, but I wasn’t able to find one when I was ready to buy one. If you can find one locally, even better.
Before You Make the Switch
Especially if you’re switching over to a safety razor as a zero waste swap to use less plastic, make sure you use up your disposables first.
And if you’re nervous about switching over, then just hang on to your last disposable as security. (You won’t need it, though.)
The First Time
The first time shaving with your new razor is intimidating, I know. Here are a couple things that helped me for that very first trial with the razor.
The first time shaving with your razor, don’t try to do it in the shower or bath where everything is slippery. Go somewhere in the bathroom with really great light. In my bathroom, that was right in front of my sink since I have a nice bright light overhead.
I recommend only shaving the easy stretch between your ankle and knee while you practice getting the hang of the new razor. You’ll want to get a good feel for the pressure (really, the lack of pressure) needed, how to hold it, and taking short strokes.
And follow the tips below that are important for every time you shave, including that very first time.
How to use a safety razor
Shaving with a safety razor is a little different from shaving with a multi-blade razor. Here are the main things you’ll need to do differently.
The biggest adjustment you’ll need to make when shaving with a safety razor is that you should not apply pressure as you shave. The razor itself has a nice weight to it, and that is all the pressure that is needed.
One way to make sure you don’t apply too much pressure as you shave is to hold the razor lightly toward the end of the handle.
Hold the razor at about a 45 degree angle from your body. Just like when you’re shaving with any type of razor, try to position yourself so that the skin you’re shaving is as flat and as taut as possible.
No Dry Shaving!
Always use some kind of body wash, soap, shave gel or cream to allow the razor to glide over your skin. You cannot get away with dry shaving or shaving only with water with a safety razor, so just don’t try it.
When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to shave with the direction of hair growth until you are comfortable with the pressure and angle required. Once you have the hang of it, you can follow up with shaving against the hair growth for a smoother result.
Rinse & Let Dry
To get the most life out of your blades, when you’re finished shaving, open up the blade compartment and let water run through to rinse the blade really well. Then, close it back up, and be sure to store it somewhere dry where it won’t be sitting in water.
How To NOT Cut Yourself
This is everybody’s fear, right? I’ve been at this for several months and I’ve only nicked myself once going over my knee bone.
It’s not difficult to shave with a safety razor and it’s really not dangerous. Here are some specific action items that will help make doubly-sure you don’t draw blood.
DOs and DON’Ts
DO follow the how-to rules above every time you shave.
DON’T rush. Take your sweet time, even. I love my rainbow safety razor so much that it feels like a little self-care session when I shave. Put on some music and tell hubby he’s got the kids.
DON’T move the blade side to side. Yikes! Yeah, don’t do that.
DO rinse your blade often during shaving to remove hair and shave gel/soap and keep the edge clean.
DO use shorter strokes than what you’re used to with disposables. We’re talking 3-4 inches at a time.
DO make sure you can see what you’re doing. Turn the lights on. Use a mirror if you need to.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, so I’m just going to throw it out there. DO NOT drink and shave. Just don’t.
DON’T shave with a dull blade. The blades are cheap, and it’s more important with this kind of razor that you’re using a nice, sharp blade. So change them often.
How often? I’ve seen recommendations that you should change the blade anywhere from every 3-4 shaves to every few weeks. Mine last a few weeks, but I am not very hairy and my hair is pretty fine. I think it really depends on how often you shave and how much hair you have.
What To Do With Used Blades
Your razor blades will come in a little container that acts as a new blade dispenser and a used blade collector. Usually the new ones slide out of the top on one end, and the old ones can be inserted on the bottom on the other end.
Once your container is full of used blades, you can recycle them, but not in the regular recycling pickup. You’ll have to do a quick Google search to see how to recycle them in your city.
Surprising Benefits Of Using A Safety Razor
Now that we’ve talked about everything you need to know, I want to tell you how awesome I’ve found this zero waste swap to be!
The entire reason I decided to switch to a safety razor was to eliminate my waste associated with shaving.
As usual with my attempts to cut down on waste, I went into this with no expectations. If a swap works for me and I like it, I keep using it. If it doesn’t work or if it’s a pain, I look for something else to try.
My razor is a keeper, though. Here are the highlights.
No Bumps or Ingrown Hairs
⭐️I have had no razor bumps or ingrown hairs since switching. This really wasn’t even something that I thought was a problem for me before. But after switching, I pretty quickly realized that my old razor had actually been causing bumps. I was just so used to it, I didn’t notice until they were gone.
Super Smooth Skin
⭐️The shave from a safety razor is so smoooooth. My legs feel amazing all the time, making me want to wear dresses as often as possible. It’s that good.
⭐️The safety razor does not irritate my skin. At all.
I’ll risk over-sharing to tell you that I’ve been battling a painful allergic rash in one armpit for a few months. I think it’s from the baking soda in the natural deo that I just switched away from, but that’s for another post. Anyway, every time I shaved that armpit, it just flared everything up all over again and it would not get better. So I frequently had to skip shaving that side.
Since switching over to my new razor, I’ve been able to keep from looking like the hippie I am and have two shaved armpits, plus the rash has finally healed. Just in time for tank top season. If you have any trouble with skin irritation, you should really try a safety razor.
Big Money Savings
⭐️And finally, the money savings is the cherry on top.
Cost of Disposables
Before I bought my Weishi, I was using a Gilette Venus plastic handle with disposable replacement heads. The handle cost me about $10 and replacement heads are about $3.33 each.
Cost of Zero Waste Razor
A safety razor that will literally last your entire lifetime costs in the range of $18-$35. I paid $23 for mine on Amazon. Replacement blades are $.27 a piece.
Here’s a timeline price comparison, assuming I used to swap out my disposable head every month and I use a new blade on my Weishi every 2 weeks.
Money Savings From Switching To A Safety Razor
Sometimes it seems like choosing the zero waste route is more expensive than just continuing to use the regular disposable option. It’s true that often, a quality, reusable option does cost more than a cheap, throw-away version. Because it is built to last forever.
But that’s never the bottom line. You have to look at your cost over time to get the real picture of which product will cost you more.
Switching to an eco-friendly safety razor is no different.
Below is a graphic that compares the cost over time of using a safety razor compared to the cost of using a razor handle with disposable heads. The prices that I used for the safety razor are what I paid for my Weishi and blades on Amazon. The disposable prices are what I used to pay for my Gillette Venus razors before switching to my safety razor.
By 6 months in, using the disposable will become more expensive than the safety razor, even with the higher initial investment and the more frequent blade changes of the safety razor. And after that point, you will continue to pay only pennies to replace your blades and to have the best, smoothest hairless skin of your life.
Clearly, this is one zero waste swap that will save you a boatload of money over time.
So, that is my experience with using a safety razor after switching away from disposables. I hope this has helped demystify the whole thing for you. As you can see, it’s an adjustment that a woman can make fairly quickly and easily, and in my opinion, is well worth the effort.