How to Shave with a Safety Razor
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
There are many reasons to switch from a disposable razor to a safety razor. First off, you'll avoid throwing plastic in the landfill every couple months. You'll promote reusables over disposables. You'll save money! You'll improve your bathrooms aesthetic by using more metal, sleek products. All that being said though, I absolutely understand why a safety razor can be intimidating.
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Straight Razor vs. Safety Razor
When most people hear the word safety razor, they think of a straight razor. And there's a big difference! A straight razor is what old timey barber shops use to shave someone's face. They also like to use them in intense parts of action movies when the good cop is trying to pass a bad guy and you're not sure whether he's about to be killed. A straight razor is NOT a safety razor.
A safety razor is basically just a metal version of a disposable razor. Yes, it has a blade you can cut yourself on. But how many of us also cut ourselves when learning to shave for the first time with a disposable one? There is a lip protecting the blade on each side so you can never give yourself more than a scratch.
If you're looking to purchase a safety razor, Life Without Plastic stocks a few as well as Tiny Yellow Bungalow and Biome over in Australia has quite a selection. You can also often find them at antique shops!
Learning how to shave with a safety razor isn't hard. But it is a lot different than with a disposable one. With a safety razor, the angle is super important to get right. Most people recommend about a 30 degree angle (although honestly I've just learned what's right for my body).
Start out going slow - just like you would when first learning to shave. After a few times though, it gets much quicker. And yes, a safety razor is safe to use on all those lady and man parts too :)
Caring for your Razor
Making sure your safety razor lasts many years is important, and also super easy. In general the rules are: don't throw it, bash it, or toss it in the trash by mistake. If you can pull that off, you are pretty much set for life!
Since it's metal, there is the potential for it to rust over time or get damaged by water. I recommend making sure that once you are done shaving, you place the safety razor on something like a soap box or a shower catty that allows for any excess water to drip off. Some people will take apart the safety razor each time and let the blade dry totally exposed. I haven't found I needed to do that though.
Replacing the Blades
The blades will need to be replaced every couple of months depending on how much you shave. I go about every six months but I only shave maybe once every week. I have a container of blades I purchased back with my original razor and I haven't yet gone through them all!
To replace your blades, make sure you understand how your safety razor comes apart first. Every one is a little different so I can't give you specifics. What is super important though to remember is that even though your blade is too "dull" to shave well, it's still sharp enough to cut you! Make sure to replace your blade on a table top with good lighting and make sure you have a plan for disposing of your dull blade.
Recycling your Blades
Depending on your local recycling system, it may be possible for you to actually recycle your old blades. In Bellingham, WA for example, you can place your blades in a box next to your curb side recycling marked "METAL SHARPS". The blades cannot simply be placed in the curbside bin as they still pose a danger to sanitation workers that need to sort the material.
If your local recyclers doesn't allow you to put metal sharps out on the curb, make sure to properly cover the dull blade before putting it in the trash. This can be done by wrapping it in toilet paper or in something else you already plan on throwing away.