For years, I talked about wanting to change my shaving habits because I was tired of paying almost $4 per cartridge for the Mach insert-some-absurd-number-here refills. On top of that, I spoiled myself by buying shaving gel instead of shaving cream, which worked so much better for me that I couldn’t go back. But a can of men’s shaving gel was three times more expensive than the shaving cream and only lasted half as long. I needed to make a change, and although it was cost that got me motivated it was a very green thing to do too.
Cheap disposable razors are so uncomfortable that I think it would be less painful to pull out each hair individually with tweezers. Electric shavers are less painful but, over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the close shave that comes with blades. Plus, I didn’t want to invest almost $100 in an electric model to find out that I didn’t like it.
I first looked into the cut-throat straight razor. This is just cool. It really can’t get any more badass than wielding a deadly weapon near one’s jugular. Plus, it gives the closest shave and it’s an environmentally friendly option since a high quality razor can last a lifetime. I could say good-bye to wasteful disposable cartridges and their plastic packaging.
After doing some research, I decided that the up-front cost was worth the savings in the long run. When I finally set out to buy my own straight razor the sales associate at the shaving store convinced me that it wasn’t such a great idea. He informed me that, even after I actually got the hang of it, I would need about 45 minutes each time I shaved. Face-prep with a hot towel and pre-shave lotion, surgically slow strokes, and lathering up between each of the multiple passes are requirements for each shave. While this approach works for some people, I’m not a morning person. To wake up that much earlier and wield a deadly weapon didn’t sound like a great idea to me.
The sales associate suggested that I go for a double-edge safety razor instead. It gets almost as close as a straight razors but without the risk of severing any arteries and at less than half the cost of a quality cut-throat. While the routine for a safety razor is similar to the cut-throat, the shaving strokes can be much faster and longer, making the actual shaving time a fraction of what it is with a straight razor.
This option also provides environmental advantages. Replacement blades are needed for a safety razor, but it’s possible to recycle used blades. The packaging is substantially smaller than traditional cartridges, and the blades can cost just pennies a piece when purchased in bulk. For me, they also last longer than the thin multi-blade cartridges.
The last piece to the puzzle was the lather, which I actually figured out before I switched to the safety razor. Once again the key was to go back to the old ways. A simple shaving brush and shaving soap work wonders when used correctly. Shaving cream, gel or the brush/bar all serve the same purpose: they act as slick. The point is to lube up the face to help the razor glide along the skin. By using the brush to work up a lather, it creates a nice coating that is moist and won’t dry out. This should be an obviously greener option than any cream or gel. Packaging for shaving soaps often consists of only a recyclable wrapper. Good-bye aerosol cans with your plastic caps!
My advice for those looking to green their shaving routine, and save a few bucks, is to be reasonable and start slow. At first, I didn’t buy an organic or chemical-free shaving soap, but replaced it with one later. Replacing any elements of a shaving routine with greener options can go a long way, and it feels very rewarding once you’ve made a full conversion. Or, at least I assume it does, since I have yet to make my own aftershave, but that’s a future post.