Feb 3, 2017

All About Safety Razors

I feel like safety razors are becoming all the rage and I couldn't be happier! I switched over to mine several months ago and I wonder why I didn't do it years ago. I'm sick to think about all the plastic handles and money I could have saved. 

I've known about safety razors for almost a decade because that's when Hubby first got his (Remember he had me beat in the zero waste bathroom!). So when I was first looking for one he generously allowed me to try his (with a new blade of course!).

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He has a short handled safety razor and after a few strokes I immediately knew I wanted a longer handled one. I could have adapted to the shorter handle, but I felt like a longer handle would mimic the disposable razors I was used to, and that was the case. I got a Merkur brand, because that's what Hubby had been using so I knew how durable it was. 

There are three main designs of safety razors: one piece (also known as butterfly or twist to open), two piece and three piece design. The one piece you twist the handle, the top of the razor opens to expose the blade. I was afraid that those moving parts might break or be harder to clean. The middle bar you see there is what the blade is placed over horizontally and then twisting the handle closes the top over the blade.  

WEISHI Long Handle Version Butterfly Open Double Edge Safety Razor*

The two piece and three piece designs are nearly identical. The main difference is that in the two piece design the base of the cutting head is attached and in the three piece it is not. For both you twist the handle and the top comes off and the blade is released. In the three piece design, since the base is not attached it can make blade alignment more difficult and the entire process more cumbersome as there are now 4 parts (with the blade) to contend with. However cleaning can be easier as the pieces come apart. I got a three piece and Hubby's is a two pieces. They both seem essentially equivalent. 

Concord Double Edge DE Safety Razor 3-piece model

I went with the Merkur long handled MK 23C which is a three piece razor. Hubby's is a two piece. It had a longer handle, was a brand I was familiar with, and it was one of Amazon's best sellers. It really has been great. Update: I've since found a safety razor that I like even better. Read my review here.

Don't want to buy from Amazon? Check out Tiny Yellow Bungalow's Merkur safety razor and razor blades

Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor (MK 23C)
Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor (MK 23C)
This is the razor I got and it has been great!

I was nervous about using a safety razor. For some reason there is all these horror stories about people getting cut with safety razors. So I read all I could about reviews on various safety razors for ladies shaving. But really I haven't found it to be a whole lot different than using a disposable razor. 

Here are some tips to remember when using a safety razor:

  • Don't push the blade against the skin. Use the weight of the head to be the friction to shave. 
  • Maintain a 30 degree angle. Any more and the blade might not contact the skin, any less and the blade may skip or you may cut yourself.
  • Use short strokes. (I haven't found that as important with the shin and calf, but imperative for the knee and armpit.)
  • Exfoliate to get a closer shave.
  • Pull the skin to make sure it it taut before running the blade over.

And I watched videos on techniques particularly about shaving around the knee and armpit areas. I got the following tips from the videos: 

For the knee:

First shave around the knee itself. It may help to think of it as a diamond shape where the "top" of the diamond is on the shin just below the knee and the "bottom" of the diamond is above the knee on the thigh. Keep the knee bent to keep skin taut in those areas. Use very short strokes to get the actual top of the knee. 

For the armpit: 

I can go against the grain and make multiple passes without any issues. However the woman in one of the videos was far more sensitive and wasn't able to do that. She recommended going with the grain and only making three passes. Once down the middle, then from one side across and down and another from the other side going down. So I recommend seeing what works for you. The grain in the armpit can go several different directions so you may need to shave different directions to get it all. 

How long do blades last?

This I think is entirely up to you. Hubby has really course hair and shaves regularly. He swaps his blade weekly. He says it gets dull. He doesn't specifically dry his blade after shaving, but it doesn't stay in a wet environment. I keep my razor in the shower, but use it and change it far less frequently and have much finer hair. The best way to preserve the length of the blade is to keep it dry after use. Some people even put oil on it. I have heard some who take good care of their blades can have them last on the order of 6 months. But you will just have to see for yourself.

Where can I get blades?

While I have yet to really see a safety razor for sale at a major retailer (like CVS or Walmart), the blades can usually be found there. They come in tiny packaging, usually on the bottom corner of the men's razor section, so you've just probably never noticed them. However they are generally very inexpensive. When Hubby first got his razor he got a sampler pack of 100 blades from various brands. He is now using the Astra brand blade and I'd love to try these Merkur blades

Can you recycle the blades?

Some municipalities do allow for people to recycle the blades. Check for local regulations, because they can vary widely. Also since the blades are a "sharp" they probably shouldn't just be put in your curbside recycling or trash. 

Can I buy used?

I didn't, but mostly because I was early on my journey and it didn't cross my mind. Some are against buying a used razor due to safety concerns of infection. This could be a potential concern however you should be using new blades, the razor is metal. It can be boiled, it can be soaked with alcohol or bleach without concern for damage. Viruses and bacteria cannot live outside of the human body for very long. One person trying to turn people away from buying used stated a study where hepatitis C was found to live in the syringes of IV drug abusers for up to a month. To that I say, it will likely not live as long on the surface of the razor and then to  protect yourself ask the last time the razor was used. Chances are if they are selling it, it wasn't a razor they were using that morning, so you should be far out of that time frame. And then clean it anyway. :)

Want some more tips on how to use a safety razor and not get cut? Check out this post.

Looking to make more changes in the bathroom? Check out 5 Simple Plastic Free Swaps For The Bathroom.

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  1. I had no idea about safety razors until I read your post! Thanks for linking up at the #HomeMattersParty !

    1. They are a great plastic free razor alternative.

  2. Hubby used to use these - and then he grew a beard!! I need to think about doing the same ... using safety razors that is, not growing a beard! In my defence though I don't shave through the winter but when things warm up then I do. I wonder where he put his old razor ...
    Thanks for linking up with my #GoingGreenLinky 💚

    1. Go see if you can find it! Free is always best.

  3. I've just had a look for that safety razor on Amazon UK and they don't appear to have it. I found one similar but it's £54.80! That's really annoying because I would of gone for it otherwise.

    1. Scrap that I've found it! £24.75 I'm going to get it. The reviews are fantastic. Thank you for the recommendation :)

    2. I'm glad you found a more affordable alternative! I can't wait to hear how you like it. Stop by Monday a post is coming out for tips on how to get a close shaving without cutting yourself!

  4. I use a safety razor and love it!!! One quick grammar point - "Pull the skin to make sure it it taught..." I think you wanted "taut".

    1. Of course! Thank you, I've corrected it.