My journey into living a zero-waste lifestyle started during my adventurous college years. From diva cups, to coffee cup mason jars, and stainless steel straws… I was all for it. Well, almost all for it, because switching to a safety razor was one of the last moves I made, and it definitely was an adjustment. I really dislike shaving, and luckily (or so I’ve been told) my blondeness doesn’t make my hair noticeable.
When I think of why women shave and how we’ve believed for decades that we have to keep up with it, not to mention how much waste is involved, I get angry. Hair is natural! Yet we spend countless hours, dollar bills and cuts to achieve such dolphin-like skin. I knew that if I did want to continue shaving on MY terms, I had to do it MY way. I couldn’t keep up with this beauty practice in the same way I had been doing it for years, and that’s why I started using safety razors.
Safety razors, which were originally designed with only men in mind, are made from a steel handle and hold a double edged blade in place at the top. They are shorter and heavier than regular disposable blades. Some of the benefits to using safety razors include:
- closer shave
- less irritation
- cost effective
- less waste
- environmentally friendly
Invention of Safety Razors
The first women’s razor was designed by an American traveling salesmen by the name of King Camp Gillette (and no, he was not a king). Even though safety razors were already invented, he was the one to develop the first disposable razor blade, as well as the handle to hold the steel blades together. With his new invention, he founded the Gillette Safety Razor Company in 1901. Subsequently, Gillette revolutionized not only how men starting shaving, but the introduction of shaving to a female audience. The first-ever razor to be debuted to women was the Milady Décolleté razor. Eventually, the company geared their advertising toward women and tied latest fashion trends to having shaved underarms.
Should We Shave?
Unlike men, women were never told to shave for hygiene reasons. It became a trend to shave when the hemlines got shorter and arms were exposed. Gillette’s ads made it a “feature of good dressing and good grooming.” Shaving was turned into an act women did to look a certain way, especially for the male gaze. Some women even used their husbands’ razors to achieve this look. Before razors, women were making homemade depilatories that were often harmful to use. There’s some research showing how pheromones (chemicals detected through scent that are linked to sexual arousal, fertility, and hormone function) can be found in sweat glands. And if hair catches sweat produced from sweat glands, could it be deduced that having hair makes one more attractive?
Problems with Disposable Razors
Once tossed in the garbage, disposable razors pose a serious harm to sanitation workers. Animals often get into trash and run the risk of cutting themselves on razors as well. There really is no safe way to throw out those types of razors. Just think of how much plastic is used in making the handles. With how prevalent shaving is, it isn’t environmentally friendly to continue with disposable razors with the amount of plastic, metal, and water used.
Safety Razor Disposal
As for safety razors, there are different ways of disposing of them safely. If you buy a safety razor, some companies will include a small disposable blade box. This is what you will use to safely store the used blades until it’s full. Then you’ll just toss it in the trash. Unfortunately, those can’t be recycled. You can make a homemade “blade bank” out of something sturdy (like a cleaned soup can) where you can store the blades and then securely close the top before you place it in the trash. The best way is to purchase a disposable blade tin. Those are made to be recycled once you fill them up. Depending on how often you shave, they can last a year. So less worry and less waste! Check out this brand and this brand.
The safety razor that I’ve been using for a couple of years is from Van Der Hagen, which I bought at my local Target. If you are wondering, I did buy it in the “men’s grooming” section. However, once more self-identified women catch on to using this cool tool, I think we can change which aisle they are placed in.
Bath Time Rituals
Lastly, I want to share what I’ve done since using a safety razor. When I turn my baths into a sacred act of spending quality time with my body, my mindset toward shaving changes. Light candles, play soothing music, and put whatever floats your boat into your bath water. Then, relax for a bit while the warm water softens your skin and opens up your pores. Maybe even do some exfoliating on your legs. Use some organic shaving cream and mindfully shave using your shaving razor. The cool thing about these razors is that they are double-sided meaning you can shave longer before needing to run the blades under water. Just be careful when you first start shaving. These blades are SUPER sharp. I suffered several cuts in the beginning.
All in all, by bringing more intention and mindfulness into my shaving ritual, I now honor my body, and my hair. This allows me to let go of any societal standards, even just for a bit.
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Photo: Paige Butzlaff