Advice for Switching to a Safety Razor with Assuredness — Reusable Nation (2024)

We share all the basics you need to know to get shaving with a reusable safety razor – how to use it step by step, why it is safer to use than disposable plastic ones and how to care for it to keep it trimming your follicles for years.

Advice for Switching to a Safety Razor with Assuredness — Reusable Nation (1)

How to load a razor blade

How to shave with a safety razor

What to do with used razor blades

How to look after your safety razor

Safety razor recommendations

With the invention of plastic and the emergence of the age of convenience, stainless steel razors with replaceable recyclable blades were replaced with plastic razors with blades built in so they could only be used once, maybe a few times, before having to be thrown away and repurchased again and again.

A burden on the planet and wallets everywhere, disposable plastic razors, 2 billion of which are thrown away each year in the US alone according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are both made from plastic and come in plastic, are more likely to end up as plastic pollution, are not recyclable in most cases due to being made up of different materials and are an ongoing unnecessary cost.

Read the below blog post, which was co-produced with and sponsored by Albatross Designs, to find out why we need to go back to reusable razors and why this is a good thing for you and the planet, as well as why they aren’t that scary to use and step-by-step instructions on how to shave with a safety razor.

Reusable steel razors not only reduce plastic waste from single-use shaves and e-waste from electric razors, but they also reduce the cost of shaving. These durable heavy-duty razors last, meaning they won’t need to be repurchased, and the blades are inexpensive and easily recyclable. According to Biome, the one-time purchase of a safety razor pays for itself in two months.

They can be used by anyone and are one price for everyone. Like other self-care products singled out for women, shaving products marketed towards women, although essentially the same razors and cartridges, are sold at a higher price and women spend roughly 11% more than men on these equivalent shaving products! Safety razors provide price equity.

And they provide a better, closer shave than their multi-blade disposable counterparts. Albatross Designs explains that safety razors shave with a single blade edge at a time and typically require no more than two passes of the razor for an ultra-smooth shave, whereas with multi-blade razors, with each swipe, three (or more) blades are dragged across your skin with every stroke. Make two strokes and six blades were effectively just dragged across your skin; the more blades that get dragged across your skin, the more skin irritation you’ll experience.

Of course, not continuing to shave at all is an amazing overall shaving waste reduction option, but not everyone can or is keen. If you do want or need to continue to shave, a safety razor is an excellent zero waste, Earth-approved option. We’re hoping all the safety razor related advice below reduces the hesitancy to try one and increases confidence and comfort when using one to ensure a safe, enjoyable shave.

What’s different about a safety razor is that you will need to load and replace the recyclable blades. Double-edged safety razor blades come in a standard size, and these blades should fit all double-edged safety razors. However, there are two main styles of razor handles, butterfly and 3-piece, and it’s easier to load the blade into a butterfly style razor because all you need to do is twist the bottom to open and close the blade holding plates.

The heads of safety razors don’t pivot like the heads on plastic disposable razors, so it is important to adjust the razor so it maintains an about 30 degree angle as you shave over the different topography of your skin.

Perhaps the most important difference is that when using a safety razor, you do not pull the razor across your skin like you would with a plastic disposable razor. No extra pressure should be applied – just let the weight of the razor itself do the work as it rests on well lubricated skin. It should just be guided over the skin in short strokes while you maintain the proper blade angle relative to the patch of skin you’re shaving.

How to load and change a safety razor blade

How to load a blade in a 3-piece style safety razor:

  1. Unscrew the handle from the two blade holding plates.

  2. Place the blade (be careful it's sharp!) between the blade holding plates, make sure it is level and then screw the handle back in. Make sure it is properly tightened.

How to load a blade in a butterfly style safety razor:

  1. Twist the bottom of the shaver handle to open the wings of the blade holder.

  2. Place the blade (be careful - it's sharp!) on the platform, make sure it is level, and then twist the bottom in the opposite direction to tighten the blade holder wings over the blade.

How to shave with a safety razor

Albatross’ first tip is to let the weight of the safety razor do the work for you: “There is no need to apply any pressure. Let the weight of the razor guide you.” Keep this in mind throughout your shave!

As safety razors need to glide, a high priority should be placed on lubrication before shaving, according to Albatross. Good lubrication with a shaving soap or a soap that lathers well ensures the blade glides, and the lubricating medium can be used to push your hairs upright. Take the time to work it into a lather and stand your facial hair up as best you can with your hands or use a shaving brush to prop up your facial hair when applying shaving cream to your face.

The blade needs to be held at a 30 degree angle. A trick Biome shares to help you find the right angle for this is to hold the razor parallel to the floor, put the razor head onto your skin, and then slowly tilt the head down until the blade just touches your skin, which means you’ve found the right angle.

For those new to using a safety razor, Albatross recommends using short strokes, no longer than 2 inches or 5 cm while looking in the mirror and maintaining your concentration. Firstly, try it out on and practice on larger, easier areas first before shaving any trickier areas. Lastly, watch a couple YouTube videos for extra insight and confidence.

Step by step instructions for shaving with a safety razor:

  1. Wet the area you’re shaving with warm water

  2. Lubricate the area with soap, and use the lather to push your hairs upright (use your hands or a shaving brush)

  3. Hold the blade at a 30 degree angle and let the weight of the handle do the work. Do NOT apply extra pressure and pull the razor across your skin like you would with a plastic disposable razor.

  4. Taking your time, using short, light strokes to shave with the grain. Use strokes no longer than 2 inches or 5 cm until you’re comfortable to do longer strokes. When shaving over certain areas of the jawline and neck, it is recommended to pull the skin slightly to be able to shave over a flat surface.

  5. Finish with after shave ointment or lotion

If you prefer to watch and learn via video, Albatross has a great YouTube video showing how to use a safety razor to shave your face and legs.

Many are intimidated by safety razors and are put off trying them by their weight and the sharpness of the blades, but they are better engineered, making them safer than plastic cartridge razors. Albatross explains that there is an inherent amount of error in the angle of the blade(s) in plastic cartridges: “With multi-bladed razors you get more angles that can at best be approximations for what is the best blade angle to cut hair at a given spot on your skin, whereas with a double-edged safety razor there is no approximation because you are always holding the blade at the proper angle to your skin, to, say, the specific curvature of your face at the specific time the blade is passing over that given spot.”

Many of those who have made the switch to a safety razor say they cut themselves less with a safety razor compared to the regular nicks they got when using plastic cartridge razors. “With a DE safety razor, you’re letting the weight of the razor itself do most of the work.This yields a smoother cutting action, and less opportunity to cut oneself,” according to Albatross. In general, the key is to recognise that you use the razors differently than cartridge razors, and do not apply extra pressure.

Keeping the blade at the right angle is key. If you keep the blade at a 30 degree angle the risk of cutting yourself is next to none.

Stainless steel is infinitely reusable and a prime material for recycling as it is strong and versatile. Razor blades can be reused to make high-quality stainless steel products.

Once your blade becomes dull and/or rusty (the blade is dull when it takes a few goes to get the hair off, or if it tugs at the hair), you can start a collection of blades for recycling. Safely store blades in a tin or metal container. Once full, seal the container and take or send it to be recycled.

Many municipal recycling centres do not accept razor blades, so contact your local council to find out where you can recycle them locally, otherwise some razor companies have take back programs for used razor blades.

Albatross uses the blades it collects through its Albatross Blade Take Back Program to make its Take Back Ware – a stainless steel reusable silverware set comprising a fork and knife that stack compactly on a spoon and slide into a locking position. The company accepts all double-edged razor brands including those made by its competitors, and its Take Back Program helps reduce stainless steel production energy by up to 67% and CO2 emissions by roughly 70%!

Proper care of a safety razor ensures it stays in good condition and that you will be able to keep using it for as long as possible. Ensuring your safety razor is clean and dry after use will make it last longer.

Follow these steps after each shave to keep your safety razor in great condition:

  1. Rinse off all the soap, hair, and gunk

  2. Shake it to dry it - don’t use a towel to dry it as this will make your blades duller!

  3. Store it in a dry spot

If you notice any corrosion, Albatross recommends rubbing that spot vigorously with a terry cloth towel, or a small piece of emery cloth.

A safety razor is an investment, so it is best to go with a trusted local brand that makes a well-designed product that has a warranty and will be able to continue to supply you with the razor blades needed, as well as take back your used razor blades and reuse them responsibly.

Some brands that have been in the zero-waste shaving business for a while and their advantages are listed below.

Eco-friendly shaving products for those in the US and Europe:

  • Albatross razors

    • makes its razors and replacement blades as affordable as possible to encourage their use and reduce plastic waste

    • was the world’s first zero waste shaving company and has been eliminating all plastic and waste from shaving since 2015

    • its doubled-edged razor blades are easier to load than other smaller, thinner blades

    • limited lifetime warranty

  • Albatross shave soap packaged plastic free in a tin

  • Albatross vegan wood shaving brush with bristles that are made from both bamboo fibres and nylon, combining the carbon savings of bamboo with the durability of nylon and reducing the plastic content as much as possible

Non-polluting shaving products for those in South Africa:

Sustainable shaving products for those in Australia:

Advice for Switching to a Safety Razor with Assuredness — Reusable Nation (2)

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Vicky Ellmore

zero waste bathroom, zero waste, bathroom, reusables, tips, easy switches


Advice for Switching to a Safety Razor with Assuredness — Reusable Nation (2024)
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