As a part of my quest to reduce plastic, and maybe save some money, I switched over to shaving with a safety razor at the end of 2019. There was also the hope of getting a closer shave, so I wouldn’t be quite so stubbly at the end of the day.
Previously I was using disposable razors, either the Gillette type ones where you change the head (Mach 5, or whatever) or the bog standard supermarket 10 pack of twin blade razors, with shaving gel that comes in a squirty can. The disposable razors are 10 for £1, and same price for a can of shaving gel, which probably does a month or so?
Anyway, I went for a Hill and Drew Double Edge Butterfly Razor and Case, which at the time was only £10 from The Shaving Stack. This turns out to have been an absolute steal; it’s a great razor, and should last me for many many years.
I also bought a badger shaving brush (which is more or less essential if you’re not using a squirty can), which was £15, but again should last many years.
I did try shaving soap, but didn’t really get on with it, so switched to Talyor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream. This does does come in a plastic pot, but one pot lasts me probably 9 months of shaving every day, which is pretty good. They’re not cheap at £10 a tub – but better to recycle than the squirty gel. You could probably make them go a bit further than I do as well – you really do only need the tiniest amount to lather up your whole face.
Than there are the razor blades. I use Astra Superior Platinum Double Edge Razor Blades, which I bought in a pack of 100(!) for £12 delivered. They even come in little cardboard boxes of 5, and wrapped in waxed paper.
In terms of usage, I gather it’s best to change the blades every couple of days, but I tend to use them for a week, with one day off shaving a week. This is about the same as the disposable ones, which I also usually made last a week – sometimes two.
So, objectives achieved?
Well, definitely less plastic. The only plastic I generate now from shaving is the empty pot of shaving cream once or twice a year. This contrasts with maybe 30 or 40 plastic disposable razors, and 5 or 6 shaving gel cans.
There is no doubt the shave is significantly closer (especially the first 2 or 3 with a new blade).
Cost? Well, there was an upfront cost of £25 to get going, and ongoing costs of 50p a month for blades, then £1 a month for shaving cream. The disposable ones are probably slightly cheaper than this, and the shaving gel comparable. Clearly if you use a Gilette disposable or semi-disposable then the Astra’s are a significant saving. So probably not much in it either way in terms of pounds of pence, but you’re not not really comparing like with like.
More qualitatively, shaving with a safety razor is a completely different experience. For literally the first 3 months I cut my face every day!! I was so used to dragging the disposable razors over my skin at any old angle – you have to be much more careful and precise with the safety razors. But on the other hand I find it a more enjoyable experience – it shaves so beautifully and easily if you do it properly, and is so much closer. The whole lathering up is quite fun to. I’ve always enjoyed wet shaving, and it’s even better, in my opinion, with a safety razor.
Actually speaking of nicking oneself, I also use an alum block to stop the occasional little cut which still happens. The alum stick also doubles up as my deodorant. That takes a bit of a getting use to, as you still sweat, but it doesn’t smell. The alum kills off the smelly bacteria without blocking up your pores (which is what normal anto-persperant deodorant does – and of course that usually comes in yet more plastic too).
I did briefly flirt with the idea of the full cut-throat razor, and the whole stropping thing, but decided (a) I wasn’t brave enough, and (b) it was probably just a step too far.