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Minimalism: Safety Razor vs Disposable Razors

Updated on November 6, 2017
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa Schlesinger is an ardent minimalist, convinced it is the only way to combat climate change in a world gone mad with consumerism.

Safety Razors Best Buy, and Here's Why

Plastic, throwaway razors cost consumers between $400 and $1000 per year. However, the environmental cost is even steeper, and the irony is that they give the worst shave imaginable. The safety razor, in use until the late 70s gives a smoother shave, with fewer cuts, lasts between 5 and 20 years depending on the make, and costs between $10 and $60 per year. It’s also a superior green option if you’re environmentally friendly.

Safety razors are hardier, last longer, and are cheaper

I bought a safety razor five or six years ago on Amazon for $3.50. It finally gave up the ghost a few days ago, and I bought a new safety razor for about $1.70 which included five blades. The point is that they are incredibly inexpensive. On the same shelf that I bought my safety razor which will probably last me another five to ten years, there were plastic disposal razors ranging anywhere from $11 to $40. Packets contained between three and five disposable razors, and blades ranged in price from about $8 to about $30. Generally blades for a safety razor come five in a pack, and cost about $5. Each blade lasts between three and ten shaves, depending on how close a shave you want, and how much hair you are removing.

Michael Fassbender using a safety razor
Michael Fassbender using a safety razor

Multi and Single Blade Disposable Razors are a Bad Buy

  1. The process which produces the plastic that encases the razors releases toxic waste.
  2. Two billion plastic, disposable razors and disposable plastic razor blades reach landfills each year. None of this is recyclable, whereas blades for a safety razor can be recycled.
  3. The packaging of disposable razors and blades also wastes precious resources and contributes to growing landfills.
  4. Disposable razors are more likely to nick the skin and provide a less smooth shave than a safety razor.
  5. The difference in cost alone is worth the effort to switch from disposable razors to a safety razor. A disposable plastic blade costs between $2 and $4 each compared to the blade of a safety razor which comes in

In days gone by, safety razors were considered safe enough for a baby to shave!
In days gone by, safety razors were considered safe enough for a baby to shave!

Benefits of a Safety Razor

  1. The blade has two edges so it lasts longer than the disposable plastic slither of a blade encased in plastic.
  2. It gives a smoother shave.
  3. One is less likely to cut oneself, especially after one has some experience in using it.
  4. Costs approximately 1% to 3% per year of the cost of disposable razors.
  5. Eco friendly because no toxic process are used and blades and metal are recyclable.
  6. The blade can be used for many tasks – including removing pilling from an item of clothing, or cutting or string.
  7. Easier to store as don’t take up a lot of space.
  8. Uses much less packaging.
  9. If you're a minimalist, a single safety razor uses less storage space than a packet of disposal razors.
  10. They eliminate razor burn and various rashes caused by the modern disposable razors.

An entertaining vintage-style video on how to shave with a safety razor!

History of the Safety Razor and its Current Resurgenace

The first safety razor was invented by William S. Henson in 1847. Although he did not call it a safety razor, he did apply for a patent.

Fredrik and Otto Kampfe of Brooklyn from New York made the blade a little further from the handle and, subsequently, A patent was issued to them in 1880 for the first safety razor. The purpose was to enable people to shave themselves in relative safety. A straight razor was generally used by a barber and it required some expertise in order to prevent a nasty accident.

In 1901, King Cambell Gillette made another innovation and submitted an application for yet another patent. This was granted in 1904.

The first safety razors used only a single-edge blade but in 1920,Schick Razors invented the double blade, and that is the one that is in use today.

Safety razors are making a huge comeback as several companies have opened their doors to focus on selling them. The top two safety razors are said to be the Seki Edge Stainless Steel Safety Razor and the Merkur Progress Adjustable Safety Razor. However, they are pricey, and a $4 safety razor will do just as good a job.

Safety razors are making a come back because they prevent  razor burn
Safety razors are making a come back because they prevent razor burn | Source

Shaving Tutorial for both men and women

Here's a quick tutorial for both men and women on how to use an old fashioned razor.

  • Open the razor
  • Insert the blade
  • Close the razor.
  • For men, make sure your face is clean. Washing with hot water makes your skin softer and makes the razor slide more smoothly.
  • For women, you will generally shave in the bath in hot, sudsy water.
  • For men, apply lather on all the places where you want to shave. You can either use one of the spray cans or mix your own and use a brush to put it on.
  • For women, use a soap which produces a good lather. (Shave your legs first, then repeat under arms.)
  • Hold the razor firmly and begin to shave from top to bottom in long lines.
  • Shave using one side of the razor only
  • For men, in small areas, like the chin, only do short strokes from top to bottom.
  • For women, the safety razor can be used for an intimate shave as well.
  • When complete, open razor, remove blade and clean by running under hot water.
  • Replace in razor.
  • Use the other side of the blade the next time you use it and repeat process.

This is a straight razor - not a safety razor

Have you ever used a safety razor before?

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Woman shaving legs with safety razor

VIKINGS BLADE The Chieftain Safety Razor + 5 Swedish Platinum Super Blades + Carry Case
VIKINGS BLADE The Chieftain Safety Razor + 5 Swedish Platinum Super Blades + Carry Case

I have used many safety razors throughout my life. Some have had a longer lifespan than others (ten years) while others have had a lifespan of only two or three years. However, I have found that all safety razors give a smooth,close save with no razor burn. In addition, the razor for mn is identical to the razor for women. There is no difference. A safety razor is a safety razor! Best buy you will ever make! So buy the razor that you can afford! They come in a different price ranges.


Personal Recommendation Plus Green Solution

My daughter wasn’t haven’t anything to do with my choice to buy a safety razor. Then one day, having run out of disposal razors, she used my safety razor. “Mum, wow! I can see why you use it. My legs feel so smooth and I didn’t cut myself.” She’s been using one ever since.

Enough said.

© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger


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    • TessSchlesinger profile image

      Tessa Schlesinger 16 months ago from South Africa

      I would thank you on behalf of the planet! We don't need to become Ludites and live like we did a hundred years ago, but small changes like this can go a long way if we all did them! Thank you! :)

    • CKleidis profile image

      Charidimos Kleidis 16 months ago from Athens, Greece

      I had given up shaving for almost 10 years, with an exception of 9 months in the military. I began shaving again a couple of months ago and I think it's time to switch from disposables to a safety razor. Thanks for the recommendation!