Keeping your legs (and whatever else) fuzz-free has for years been a prime culprit for single-use plastic waste. Surprise, surprise.
Thankfully this is starting to change. So today I want to talk about eco-friendly hair removal options. More specifically, eco-friendly shaving. How to get smooth, silky whatevers without causing lasting harm. And I don’t mean shaving nicks.
Step away from the disposables
Despite some progress in this area, it’s still far too easy to blindly choose the usual shaving options time and time again.
Remember those BIC orange and white plastic stick razors from way back? Did you steal these from your Dad or brother when you were younger too?
Or maybe you were more of a Gillette person? Perhaps you preferred the pastel razors with a soft handle and five blade razor heads. Often with a nice spongey strip of something skin-soothing like aloe vera. Key ingredients = plastic, plastic and more plastic. Handily, they also came with their own travel cases. Remember? More plastic.
And those blades. So expensive! The handles always seem to be on “special offer” somewhere so often it works out cheaper to just buy a new one with a new blade included. Then chuck the old one away. No recycling. Just pure waste.
Eco-friendly, plastic-free safety razor
How times have changed. You might have noticed a few so-called “safety razors” popping up here and there in the last year or so. Like the type your Grandad used to use. Solid, long-lasting and best of all, plastic-free.
My go-to here is a brand called Naked Necessities. Based in Exeter, UK, they claim to have eliminated all plastic from their supply chain. Sourcing only from environmentally friendly and ethical suppliers. Big Tick.
The starter shaving kit has everything you need for this adventure: a handle (wood and steel), pack of five blades (steel) and a bar of shaving soap. All presented in a stylish cardboard box with compostable twine fasteners.
The handle is well made. It’s nicely sculpted and made of rose wood from sustainable plantations. It looks good and is reassuringly heavy with a weighted head which apparently helps with the shave. It really is a keeper.
The shaving soap is nicely scented but not overpowering. It contains aloe vera and clay extracts and there are no SLS, parabens or palm oil which is nice to know.
Assembling the razor
I know you might be a bit unsure about using a razor with a proper blade. I was too. There’s something unnerving about handling a bare razor blade, let along pushing it against your skin. But I think when you take the plunge, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Assembling the unit with a blade is easy peasy. The key thing to remember is to hold the bare blade at the sides only. When you look at it, it’s obvious where the sharp edges are. Then unscrew the metal holders, pop the blade in and screw everything back together. It takes less than a minute.
Once assembled you can still see the sharp blade edges at either side so you just need to bear that in mind when handling. Then you’re ready to go.
I’ll focus on legs here but the same points apply wherever you shave and whatever your gender. Most importantly, for the first few goes, it pays off take your time. These blades are sharp!
You’ll need to buy an eco-friendly shaving brush if you don’t have one. My brush has a wooden and metal handle and synthetic bristles. It’s not fully compostable but I’m hoping it will last a long time.
Wash your legs first (ideally exfoliate too) and then hold a hot flannel over them to soften the hairs. You might find this easier sitting on the side of the bath. Then swirl the brush onto the soap and add some water to create a good lather.
It’s easier to only do a small bit of each leg at a time as the lather doesn’t stick around. When using the razor you need to go slowly using minimal pressure. I’m talking feather light here. It’s also easier if you use the hand you write with.
The most challenging bits are the contours of the ankles and knees but going slow definitely helps.
You’ll be rewarded for all your efforts by the smoothest, closest shave. If you’ve ever been plagued by pesky razor bumps, irritation and ingrown hairs, you’ll notice a real difference. The smoothness lasts for a few days too which is a bonus.
Disassembly and storage
When you’re done, rinse the razor, take it apart and dry each component with a towel. Then re-assemble ready for the next use. I know it sounds like a faff but it takes seconds and will keep everything in tip-top condition.
I suggest you store the razor somewhere safe, especially if you have curious kiddies in your household. Maybe put it away in a box or a breathable cotton bag well out of reach. Or you could store it without a blade in it to be on the safe side.
Blade life and disposal
The blades last well. They’ll need to be changed after four or five uses but how often is down to personal preference. You’ll know your blade needs to be changed if the edges are looking a bit dull or if your shave feels less close.
Multi-packs of the blades can be bought online at a fraction of the cost of their disposable, plasticky mainstream cousins.
When your blades reach end of life, it’s great to collect them in a blade bank. This is basically an aluminium tin with a small slot in the top. Think piggy bank crossed with a sealed food tin but more shiny and attractive. Each time you’re done with a blade, you just deposit in in the tin. The only way to bust into it is with a tin opener so it’s pretty safe.
When the tin’s full – which will take years – you can pop in your home recycling collection box. This is a less risky way of disposing of the blades. It’s also miles greener than chucking them in the normal bin.
So that’s it for eco-shaving. Why not try Naked Necessities out for yourself or buy the set as a gift for someone else? Please do let me know what you think and also your experiences of eco-shaving in the comments below!
Shaving Starter kit by Naked Necessities, £26.99, Pack of 5 blades by Shark, £3.50, Shaving brush by Naked Necessities, £15.99, Blade Bank by Mutiny Shaving Co. £5.00. All available online.