How to Shave With a Safety Razor
Zero Waste Bathroom
December 4, 2015 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on November 30, 2022
Curious about how to shave with a safety razor? I’m not going to lie, I was definitely a fraidy cat when it came to using mine at first.
But I have only cut myself once, and it was when I dropped the razor. I’ve never cut myself while shaving. In fact, using a safety razor is a lot easier than a disposable razor – you don’t need to apply any pressure!
Safety razors look trendy & chic but also do a great job giving you a clean shave that leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. Because plastic razors can’t be recycled, it’s vital to limit razor waste. A reusable razor is going to save you money, and it’s a step in the right direction towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links; for more information please see my disclosure policy.
Additionally, switching to a safety razor has saved me so much money. The initial safety razor purchase may be an investment, but from then on out all you need to buy is blades.
If you’re confused about how to actually use your safety razor, you’ve come to the right place. That’s why I’ve decided to put this guide together for you: It will answer all your questions on shaving with a safety razor.
is it better to shave with a safety razor?
It is better to shave with a safety razor because doing so reduces shave bumps, ingrown hairs, and skin irritation that are common with disposable and electric razors.
The reason for this is because most safety razors only use one blade against your skin – this allows for a smoother shave. I personally love Ecoroots’ safety razor (which you’ll see pictured throughout this post).
Also, by using a safety razor, you’re eliminating a lot of waste. Every year, 2 billion disposable razors are sent to landfill where they won’t break down. Instead, they’ll break up into microplastics over time that continue to contaminate soil and leach toxins.
Switching to a safety razor also saves you money. Instead of having to buy an entirely new razor, you just have to switch out the blades.
A ten pack of blades costs around $4.97 on EcoRoots. If you swap out the blade every three weeks, you’ll only be spending about $9.94 on blades a year. This will vary based on how often you shave, but it’s a lot cheaper than the alternative.
In total, here are all the benefits of switching to a safety razor:
- Creates zero waste
- Costs pennies
- Results in the closest shave
- Reduces razor burn!
what is the correct way to shave a person with a safety razor?
The correct way to shave a person with a safety razor is to follow these four rules:
- Use a light hand with little pressure (let the razor do all the work)
- Make sure to angle the blade away from your face, if possible (only applies if you’re shaving your face of course)
- Shave with the grain (not against it)
- If you have a beard, aim for beard reduction, not removal
Using shaving cream, foam or soap can help make the transition and shaving experience better. You’ll definitely want to get a shave soap or a soap with a lot of lather.
But honestly, as long as your skin is damp, you shouldn’t have much of a problem shaving it with a safety razor.
RELATED: 6 Best Safety Razor Brands + Blades
what angle should you shave with a safety razor?
You’ll want to hold your razor at a 20 or 30 degree angle while shaving. This doesn’t have to be precise, but keep a light hand when shaving and don’t apply pressure. You’ll find this gives the best shave!
do you wet a safety razor?
Yes, do wet the razor first before shaving. Using hot or warm water helps warm the cold metal and eases the shaving process. A wet blade glides better across skin, especially when paired with a nice lather.
I like to shave in the shower so I make sure to apply soap to my legs, wet my blade, then go to town. When I tell you the blade literally glides, I mean it! And I almost never have to go over an area more than once (especially when the blade is new).
do safety razors cut skin?
Safety razors only cut the hair at skin level, so the likelihood of cutting skin is reduced. In fact, ever since I started using a safey razor, I think I’ve only nicked myself twice.
A lot of people worry they will hurt themselves using a safety razor but I honestly feel I cut myself more using disposables. That’s because I had to use more pressure to get the disposable to work better.
With a safety razor, you don’t have to apply pressure at all, which results in a much smoother shave.
do you need shaving cream for a safety razor?
You don’t need shaving cream for a safety razor, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I like to use regular soap to lather my legs and armpits and that does the trick.
However, I don’t recommend shaving with just water unless you’re in a pinch. While you technically can, it won’t be as enjoyable a shave.
Definitely use some kind of shaving cream or soap for the best experience with a safety razor. I recommend checking out Ecoroots shaving soap – it’s plastic free, vegan and all-natural.
can you use a safety razor for pubes?
Yes, you can use a safety razor to shave the genital area. However, you should make sure the area and the blade are wet first and go slowly. Don’t seek complete hair removal all at once, but reduction.
I recommend going in increments: Every other day shaving a little more down. Don’t use too much soap or any shaving cream near this area, as it is especially sensitive.
recycling razor blades:
In order to recycle razor blades, you’ll need to take them to a transfer station that handles metal recycling with machines only.
If you’re in Northern California, I go to the Concord Recycling Center. Get a steel can that contains broth only. Cut a slot in the top of the can big enough for a blade to slip through, and pour the broth out. Rinse with water and leave the can to dry for a day or two.
Obviously, there’s no way of completely guaranteeing it to be dry, but that’s alright. Drop your used blades into the slot. Once it’s full put a piece of tape over the slot and take it to your nearest metal recycling facility.
alternatives to shaving
If shaving just isn’t your thing, I totally respect that. There are other options besides using the best women’s razor!!
There are many types of electric razors and trimmers on the market. One advantage is you can shave with wet or dry skin. Using an electric razor can lead to irritation, razor bumps, and razor burn.
While I am not a fan and feel like it hurts on my legs, you may really like it!
Epilators are small handheld devices that pulls the hairs out of your legs similar to waxing, it can be painful. They are especially good if you have a high pain tolerance. The results do last for a couple of weeks.
Of course, laser hair removal is a pretty extreme option, but could be right for some!
Sugar waxing is really popular in the zero waste community. I don’t really trust myself to wax myself, but if you’re feeling so bold – go for it!
And, of course, you could just not shave!
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which shaving method is best for you. For me, I am going to stick to Ecoroots because it’s the best safety razor I have found and I love how my legs feel after using it.
Did this guide help you? Do you feel confident to take on shaving with a safety razor? Let me know in the comments below!
I had no idea that razors were such a landfill issue! Thanks for writing about this. Oh and I think the weird sweaters sound kind of fun. ?
It’s amazing – when you have billions of people all using single use items it adds up so quickly!
It is such an amazing post, dear!
Have a nice weekend:)
Thank you! Have a great weekend!
I stopped shaving and get waxes done periodically. Over the years, its sort of paid off and I can get away with waxing once every 4 months.
Thanks for making a post on disposable razors. We didnt have the disposables in India and I was surprised to find them so affordable in America. They are a sort of luxury in India.
Zero waste has become synonymous with make-EVERY-THING-your-self. Its frustrating ! Deodorant for example. The right proportion of baking soda, oil, clay works. My mix has become rock solid in the winter and I currently cant use it. I have to experiment many many times before I find the right consistency for me that works as a deo. Same with dry shampoo. Its time taking and I have made bad batches. We are not experts at everything. Thoughts ?
We have a lot of shops in the Bay Area where you can find items like that in bulk. But, most people don’t have those options available. I enjoy making products myself and constantly experimenting to make it completely zero waste. But, if you don’t enjoy it, then find the best options for you. Maybe that’s buying products from local vendors or etsy. Or maybe it’s buying commercial products in recyclable packaging. Whatever works best for you. If it’s something that stresses you out or something you don’t enjoy, then you’re not likely to keep up with it. Choose the best option to make your life enjoyable. 🙂
Do you use the one you linked from Life Without Plastic? Using up my last few plastic razors, then making the switch to reusable–and I can’t wait! Curious to hear about which brand you have and if you like it.
Funny story. Thought I had the one from life with plastic. Turns out, I don’t! Lol. It was a gift. I fully trust the one from Life Without Plastic. They always have really solid products and they fully inspect all of the factories they buy from for quality. I really respect their store. When I buy online – they’re who I turn to. Hope that helps. Mine is unadjustable and long handled very similar to the one I linked. I buy shark blades, which aren’t sold on LWP. I don’t like that the ones they sell come in a plastic box, but they do sound like stellar blades. Platinum coated… oh la la. 😉
Awesome–you are the best! I love LWP too. Expect more queries when it comes time for me to start buying blades…you sound like you’ve got it DOWN! 🙂
I enjoyed reading this post, especially after the recent end of No Shave November. I’ve had a beard now for about a year, and I don’t have to feel bad about throwing away disposable razors!
That’s awesome! I recently found out no shave November was started by a charity to spend the money you would be spending on shaving and donating it to cancer research! I had no idea! I thought it was just a college thing all the boys did. Lol.
Awesome to see you using double edged razor. Aren’t they great!? You aren’t really paying $1 per blade, are you? At Maggard’s, the best resource for double edge razors they have 5 for $1.25, and if you by a 100 pack on amazon is is only $11 and will last ages.
I must be buying blades at the wrong place. Haha.
Is it possible to travel with the razor? My husband bought a safety razor and I am thinking about it. We have only had it in our check in luggage but next time we will only travel with handluggage. Do you know if it is ok to have it in the handluggage on airplanes?
Thanks for your help! 🙂
Hi Amanda, you can travel with the base of the razor, but I don’t think you’ll be able to carry on the razor blade. I’d check with TSA, just in case it’s changed!
What kind of shaving soap do you suggest?
I made a shampoo bar that is excellent for shaving! I’ll be sharing the recipe soon!
I love baths! I often chose a bath over a shower and do the same thing with bringing small hand-wash items with me. My only issue is, sometimes I find myself to not feel so clean after and I want to shower to rinse myself off…but then it defeats the whole purpose! I usually deal with it, go to bed and take a 2-minute shower to rinse off and wash my face the next morning but do you have a certain method in the bath? Do you shave last and handwash your clothes once you get out of the bath to avoid "laying in your own filth" as my roommates like to say, haha!
I wash my clothes first using dr. b. And, since it’s an all in one soap I don’t mind it being everywhere. I don’t really feel dirty being in the bath. But if you do, do a quick 30 second rinse!
Hi, don’t know if you still check the comments on this post but I would love to know what you recommend safety razor wise… I’m looking to buy but I want something to last!
Yes, I try to check all my comments! 🙂 They razors are linked in the post. You can click on the orange text or the photo.
Someone asked a similar question below, but do you have any suggestions for a zero waste option for carry-on travel?
I must have missed that one! You can bring the body on a flight, but you can’t bring the blade with you. You could try and buy a blade at your destination, but I don’t know how well that would work out depending on your location. If I were going on an extended beach vaycay, I would probably get waxed before going on the trip. Sorry to not be much help!
My next plan in my bathroom. We have old razors in plastic, when we won’t have more, I will found one like this.
Thanks for the informative post! I had found a secondhand safety razor for $5(!) so I snapped it up. Unfortunately I didn’t know enough about razors to know that it took single-edge blades, which are a lot harder to come by and have to be shipped to me. I bought a secondhand double-edge safety razor this week which is great so far. Just wondering though, do you recycle your used blades? How do you go about it (safety wise)?
Great question! You can buy a razor blade tin. We have one at work for Exacto knives You put the blades in and when it’s full you plug it and it creates a steel pack so it can safely be melted down.
For ladies: how do you shave your nether regions with a safety razor? I really want to make the switch but honestly I’m terrified of cutting myself, especially in sensitive areas. Thanks!
I have more issues with legs than sensitive areas. You’re more careful around that area, but on a long straight area like legs it’s easier to accidentally apply more pressure.
I use an Edwin Jagger Razor with a blunt Astra blade for my nether region, after about two weeks of using it for my legs and underarms. I’ve never cut myself.
You can also compost safety razor blades by rusting them in salt first! You can google how to do that if interested
There’s a movement to shift towards shaving strops to keep your razors in great condition, just make sure you start with a high quality blade. Check out clevershave.com for options.
There are two razors offered on the Life Without Plastic site; adjustable for about $100 and non adjustable for about $50. What adjustments do you make on a razor and why? I’d like to purchase one but now I’m faced with confusing options! Help! Ahhh!
Mine is non-adjustable and I’m very happy with it! I can’t speak for the adjustable one. Sounds like extra moving parts that would add more complications in my opinion.
Phew! A $100 razor is a bit steep. Thanks
You could look at one of the sites such as the Shave Den, or Badger & Blade, to get more information on shaving and razors. For a woman, the longer handle razors such as the Lady Gillette (can be found on E-Bay for 18-30 after shipping) work well, and they’re Twist To Open. As for blades, even buying from Amazon, Shark blades shouldn’t cost more than $10 for a box of 100. I picked up one for $7 on E-Bay. Astra SP are popular, and there are lots and lots. I suspect you got the $1 per blade price from looking at Walgreens or Krogers. For the person with the Single Edge razor, the blades can be bought at both CVS and Walgreens in the shaving section. Just don’t try to use the ones from the hardware store :).
For Australians: the Shavershop have a in house brand safety razor that’s only AU$29.95! They also seem to sell the double edge blades in 10 packs for AU$3-5
Not sure if they have plastic packaging or not – I’ll be sussing it out soon and I’ll try to remember to update this comment thread.
(A bit silly that its under ‘mens’ and the ‘womens’ products have no plastic free options lol)
I purchased and am using a safety razor. I have to get the hang of it as I nicked my legs a few times (always on the boney part). Any helpful pointers? In spite of the nicks, I love it! It does give you a very close shave, is totally a lot more cost effective, and very sustainable! Thank you for posting this alternative to disposables!
Thanks heaps I just bought a blade for myself 🙂 Appreciate your article
Thank you for the information/spreading the news concerning this cognitive-dissonance-free alternative to "disposable" shaving! (I purchased a safety razor ten minutes after reading this.) I did want to note however that, maybe through key word matching, Google Ads posted a "Harry’s" disposable razor ad near the top of your article, causing me some initial confusion and seeming to counter your positive push towards earth conscious living by advertising their unsustainable product. If possible to sidestep that ad I think this article would be perfect : )
Thank you again for the article : )
Its illegal to recycle safety razor blades. They pose extreme health risks to the workers at recycling plants.
I live in the US and talked to a recycling center (special metal facility, not the curbside pickup) and they just asked me to place the blades in boxes. I’m waiting to get a bunch to take them in, so I haven’t been yet.
Already shave with a safety razor, but this article is my favorite <3
I am inspired by your work and got some great ideas. It really gives me information that I am looking for. Thanks and keep sharing 🙂
I am inspired by your work and got some great ideas. It really gives me information that I am looking for. Thanks and keep sharing 🙂
I went and bought a safety razor. Even with a pristine sharp blade it rips my face to pieces and I’m covered in bits of paper now to stem the blood. These razors may not be for everyone, especially if you have delicate skin.
Shave twice a week with the safety at first. Your skin will actually toughen up. Then when you don’t look like Lizzy Borden’s Dad, add a day. Do that until your using it every day. It works
This is so helpful! When my disposables run out, I’m switching to this safety razor. 🙂
"You know something I haven’t given up – shaving. You know something I won’t give up – shaving."
Why should anyone give it up?
When I was 3-4 years old, Dad had a safety razor. I’d sit on the closed lid of the toilet and watch my idol shave. SO cool! If he wasn’t rushed, he’d sneak out the blade and ask if I needed a shave? I always said yes and he would run the empty blade head under hot water so it would “touch” my face like a blade. Awesome experience! Dad’s 94 and uses disposables bc I have the safety razor now. When my daughter was 3-4, she “learned” to shave her legs like I shaved my face. No doubt that tradition will continue down the line
What brand/model of safety razor is that featured in your photos?
PJ, thats a Parker 95R Safety Razor, I have had my Parker 99r safety razor for a little over 10 years and it still shaves like the day I first used it. I also have a 95R and my wife uses the Parker 29L safety razor on her legs. There are a good price and quality razor, best of all, no plastic waste.
I read an article that went viral about a girl who went zero waste and had only accumulated a few stickers from fruit over a prolonged period of time. That seems to have stuck with me over the years, and I am now conscious (feel somewhat guilty at times) about my trash waste. I switched to a DE razor about two years ago (Edwin Jagger), and I haven’t looked back since. I did it mainly for the cost effectiveness of DE razors, but it is nice knowing that I’m not contributing excess landfill via disposable razors anymore. Great article!
i dont shave much at all so i still have my disposable from a couple years ago, but when it gets too dull to use anymore, i think i might buy a safety razor or just stop shavin in general ??♂️
Thanks for the info. I’m confused by the inclusion of ‘electric’ and ‘epilator’ being zero waste options – manufacturing an electronic device with a likely lifetime of 5 years or less probably uses up a lot of resources – so just becasue you are not putting things in your bin on a weekly basis its almost certainly a far worse option than a straight razor/ safety razor, infinitely worse than not shaving and definitely not ‘zero waste’. Likewise with the laser option – the calculation proably becomes prety complicated because someone else owns and opperates the device and lots of people use it, but a laser hair remover is likely a resource heavy and complex bit of kit that one day will become waste…
can’t be more agree, the safety razor is more suitable to the atmosphere than their counterparts… but its a myth that stops people from getting in is they might cut themselves or is hard to use… what you think is the best reason people willing to pay a premium for a long time than that of up front?
Wow, what a great article it is! Your posts are so interesting and providing me great information.This is really effective for us. Thanks for the shearing…
Hi! I’ve tried two safety and could get none of them to work. I am doing this to reduce waste so I really don’t want to buy another one, maybe you can help.
The first one was the cheapest one I could get (student life) and it left a 5 mm deep gash in my leg twice. I think this was due to the gap between the blade and the razor being too large allowing it to angle really dangerously.
Not willing to give up I treated myself to the Merkur 42C Safety Razor. Now this does nothing. I have to press it into my leg super hard to get any hair whatsoever and it gets none of the finer ones and none of the hair at the curvatures of my ankle and shin. I tried for an hour basically having to scrub the razor over my leg in the end and got the most stubby incomplete shave of my life it was really frustrating. I was using Wilkinson Sword Classic Double Edge Safety Razor Blades and I am thinking maybe they are a tiny bit too short? When you get the perfect angle on a soft area where you can squish the razor in a bit it does cut hairs so I don’t think the blades are dull. The website I bought the razor from says it takes all standard double edged blades. Do you have any experience with this razor? How did you get it to work?
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Anyone have any idea of whether or not the coated paper the individual blades are wrapped in are compostable or recyclable?
Thank you for all that you do! I think that making the switch to a safety razor is, a great option for some, but just wanted to share my experience, in case anyone can learn from it. My razor was one of the last non-zero-waste-items in my bathroom, so was excited to read up on them and promptly bought a safety razor at my local zero-waste shop. The first time I tried it, I cut myself twice, but wasn’t deterred and still felt super excited about the new purchase and was determined to be extra careful and to make it work for me. But about 4 weeks into using the safety razor, I noticed what I thought was an ingrown hair, but it became painful/red/hot over the next few days. When it showed no signs of improving, I went to the doctor who said that I have a staph infection, probably from a tiny cut that I didn’t even notice giving myself. These infections can become quite serious if not treated with antibiotics, so I would encourage those who are trying out something new for their skin to be aware and don’t put off going to the doctor if you notice something unusual and painful. It’s possible that I just got unlucky, but I haven’t had any problem like this in ~20 years of shaving with a plastic multi-blade razor. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try again, but will look into some of the other options you listed here and hopefully find something that will work for me. All the best!