Zero Waste Shaving Guide: How to Use a Safety Razor

Safety Razor Shaving

Let’s talk about an item that a lot of people overlook when trying to be more sustainable…razors for shaving! Aside from the potentially harmful ingredients in those lubricating strips (mineral oil, polyethylene glycol, aluminum salts, artificial colors, fragrance), many razors are made of plastic or are not recyclable.

Just think about how often you shave and how quickly you might go throw those disposable razors. The EPA estimates that roughly 2 billion razors are thrown away each year. Which is just crazy, especially if they are just ending up in a landfill or floating around the ocean. And not to mention the plastic packaging that usually comes with them!

The EPA estimates that roughly 2 billion razors are thrown away each year.

Also, since 2012, the market for replaceable blades has decreased by $85 million, while sales of disposables have jumped by $23 million. And around 65% of ladies use a throwaway shaver. [source]

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going all hippie on you and going to tell you that you should stop shaving 🤣 But rather, I’m going to introduce you to a more sustainable option that also happens to be more cost-effective in the long run. It’s called a safety razor!

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Safety Razor Shaving

You probably think this looks scary, archaic, and dangerous. I thought the same thing too! But hear me out because you really have nothing to be afraid of. A safety razor is essentially a single-blade razor that has a guard to reduce the risk of cutting the skin. They are simple, sturdy, and effective.

After lots of research and reading reviews, I bought a Merkur Long-Handled Double Edge safety razor from Amazon last year and love it! Basically, the top twists off which allows you to replace the blade and screw the top back on.

And since a lot of people ask me…yes, you can use it all over your body just like a regular shaving razor! Even your pits and even “down there” 😉

Benefits of a Safety Razor

  • ZERO WASTE: First and foremost, a safety razor is zero waste which means it’s wayyyy better for the environment. No plastic bits and pieces that end up in a landfill 🌏
  • LESS IRRITATION: One single blade calls for way less irritation. Contrary to popular marketing for fancy razors that have 3, 5, or even 12-blade cartridges for a quicker shave, the more times your skin is subjected to a blade, the more irritation you’ll experience.
  • LESS RAZOR BURN + INGROWN HAIRS: When you use a razor with multiple blades, that’s more pulling and tugging on the hair follicles which leads to razor burn and ingrown hairs. I definitely notice way less irritation, especially near my bikini area, since using a safety razor! 👙
  • CHEAPER: A safety razor might be more of an initial cost upfront (usually around $40) compared to disposables, but the refill blades are much cheaper. Depending on the brand, you can buy a 10-pack of blades for about $9 (I’ve even seen 100-packs for $9!), compared to a conventional razor like Gillette Venus with cartridges around $19 for a 4-pack.
  • CLOSER SHAVE: In my opinion, a safety razor is a little more effective. Not a huge difference, but the shave does seem closer! That will also depend on the blades you use, too! I actually find it to work amazing for armpits.

How To Properly Use a Safety Razor

So if you are just trying one out for the first time, go slow and have patience! It does take some getting used to but you will get the hang of it. And the first time I used mine, I accidentally screwed the top on upside down and it was NOT shaving, so if it doesn’t seem to be working, make sure the top is on correctly 😂

  • Start with getting your legs wet; I hope this is obvious, but dry shaving will lead to irritation and you are more likely to cut yourself!
  • Lather up! Make sure you have a good shaving cream or soap (I have some suggestions listed at the bottom of this post!) 🧼
  • Hold the razor at a 30° angle. This might be the hardest part to get used to if you are switching from a conventional razor or one with a pivoting head. You will be able to tell that it’s shaving if you do the correct angle!
  • You do not need to apply much pressure at all, just the weight of the razor alone going across your skin should be enough
  • Go in short strokes, and you might need to go over an area more than once
  • Rinse your razor frequently so it doesn’t clog!
Safety Razor Usage
[Left] Incorrect angle [Right] Correct 30° angle

Other Tips + Tricks for Shaving

  • Exfoliating or dry brushing before shaving will help you get a closer shave
  • I like to shave either while I’m showering or right after I shower so that my skin is warmed up and my pores are opened, it just seems easier!
  • Don’t rush, otherwise, you’re more likely to cut yourself! I’ve only nicked myself slightly with a safety razor, nothing major. But I find no problem with cuts if I take my time.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you don’t love the blades that come with the razor – try some others out! (the nice thing about safety razors is that most blades are universal and interchangeable)
  • For my pits, I go down against the grain, but see what works best for you!
  • I like to apply a body oil, lotion, or moisturizer to my legs after shaving to keep my skin hydrated 🦵 (see my Faves page for options!)

How Often Should I Change the Blade?

I don’t have a concrete answer for you on this one because it honestly depends! It’s going to be different for everyone depending on how often you shave, how coarse your hair is, the blades you use…lots of factors!

I’ve heard that you should change it every 10 shaves or so, but I am sooooo lax about it and just change mine when I feel the blade is starting to dull and not work as well. That might be like 2 months sometimes!

Also, if you have a double edge razor, it will last longer since you can use both sides!

Safety Razor Shaving

It literally takes a few seconds to change the razor, but be careful when replacing so you don’t cut your hands! For the razor I have, the top just twists off from the handle into 3 pieces – top, razor, and bottom as pictured above.

Your razor will probably come with a small set of refill blades too. You might also want to buy some different brands to try a few out.

Merkur Double Edge Razor Blades are mainly what I use. They are $9 for a pack of 10 blades.

I also have tried Astra blades which are $9.30 for a pack of 100 blades. The blades so seem a little more flimsy and thin compared to Merkur, but honestly, I don’t think I can tell a difference in the quality of the shave. I have heard some women say that the Astra blades did NOT work well for them. So maybe try them out and see for yourself!

As far as packaging, Merkur come in a little plastic container and individually wrapped in paper sleeves. Astra come in all cardboard packaging, individually wrapped in paper sleeves.

Safety Razor Shaving

Proper Razor Disposal 🗑

First thing first, check to see if your city or town accepts scrap metal through curbside recycling. Some cities do not accept it and have a separate collection site for scrap metal ♻️

If you don’t have access to scrap recycling, I’ve heard that the company Albatross Shave Shop out of California accepts all brands of blades and will recycle them for you! It’s called their Blade Take Back Program.

Secondly, you never want to throw razors loose into recycling for safety reasons! Think about the people that work in sorting and if they accidentally came in contact with blades…yikes! So always make sure the blades are wrapped or contained in something safe.

Safety Razor Shaving

I bought a little Razor Blade Bank which I just throw my old razors into and will recycle the entire thing when it’s full.

If you live in an older house, check your medicine cabinet! A lot of old medicine cabinets have slots in the back where people would put their used blades. So sometimes people do house renovations and find dozens of razor blades in their walls!

Medicine cabinet safety razor slot
Photo credit: Badger + Blade

Some razor blade refill packs even come in a small plastic container with a slot for used blades so you can dispose of the whole container at once.

And if you want to be even more simple, just use an old soup can or soda can and place used blades in there! 🚮

You might also like this post…

How to Sustainably Discard Old & Empty Cosmetics: Everything You Need to Know

How to Care For + Store Your Safety Razor

Although most razors are stainless steel and shouldn’t rust, it’s still important to take good care of it! It’s best to keep your razor dry when you’re not using it, so I recommend that you don’t keep it in the shower. A wet razor also puts you at risk for mold and bacteria! 🚿

I have this nifty little shaving stand where I keep my razor on the counter when not in use. It keeps it upright so water doesn’t collect.

Safety Razor Shaving

After each use, I make sure to rinse it out well so there’s no gunk or hair left in the razor. You can even unscrew it all and wipe it down carefully or use a razor cleaning brush. If you want to go even further, you can use rubbing alcohol to sanitize.

Basically, just keep it rinsed and dry! If it does show signs of corrosion or starts to get dirty, you can use castile soap to brush it down. For more extreme cases, soak your razor in a mixture of warm water, vinegar, and a few tablespoons of baking soda. Let it sit for about an hour then wipe it clean.

Safety Razor Options on the Market

Merkur Safety RazorI use a Merkur 23C Classic 3-Piece Long Handled Double Edge Saftey Razor and this seems to be a popular option with other women I know too! I like that it has a longer handle which I feel like that helps balance out the weight a little more. It’s pretty lightweight too! Merkur is a really reputable brand of razors, being manufactured in Germany since the early 1900s.

shop Merkur razors on Amazon

Other razor options:

Leafshave Razor

Leafshave Razors: This is the most popular low-waste razor brand on the market. What’s nice is that the head pivots and is already angled, so you can hold at the normal angle like shaving with a conventional razor. You can also use one, two, or three blades depending on how close of a shave you want. A little more expensive but very nice! You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on your first order.

Read my full review of Leafshave razor and dermaplaner here!

You didn’t hear it from me! I asked my readers if they have any safety razor brands that they love and recommend too. Here are some options that were mentioned:

Natural, Non-Toxic Shaving Cream Options

To make your shaving experience even better, make sure you’re using a good, natural shaving cream or soap! Avoid anything that’s really oily as it will clog your razor and make it less effective. Here are a few that I like:

Chagrin Valley Shaving SoapChagrin Valley Shaving Soap Bars
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Peppermint Shaving SoapDr. Bronner’s Organic Peppermint Shaving Soap
Kaia Naturals Deodorant Booster BarKaia Naturals Deodorant Booster Bar (for pits)
Schaf Unscented Shave CreamSchaf Unscented Shave Cream
Ursa Major Stellar Shave CreamUrsa Major Stellar Shave Cream


…or any natural soap bar or gel that lathers will usually do the trick, too! You can always pair that with a shaving brush to make it easier to apply. I have this Miusco Badger Hair Brush.

If you’re up for making the switch to a safety razor, I definitely recommend it. It takes some getting used to but it’s totally worth it. Not only will you be helping your wallet, but you’ll be helping the earth too! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I’ll be sure to help you out!


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Written by: Becca

Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having seen firsthand the benefits of switching to a natural lifestyle herself, she's passionate about helping women make the switch to clean beauty products, organic skincare, and a holistic way of life (without the stress of being perfect about it!).

8 comments on “Zero Waste Shaving Guide: How to Use a Safety Razor”

  1. Becca, I purchased my first safety razor recently (I learned to shave my legs with my father’s old Gillette). I am disappointed however, that the blades come in a plastic container. Do you know of any blade brands that skip the plastic? I am trying to be as ‘green’ as possible and not use any unnecessary plastics. Best, Paige

    1. Hi Paige! Which brand of blades did you try? I know the Merkur’s come in a little plastic container. Astras come in all cardboard packaging, individually wrapped in paper sleeves. I have them linked above in the post!

  2. I forgot my original question – I have a horrible time shaving around my ankle bone. I cut myself nearly every time. Any suggestions?

    1. My suggestion would be to go super slow and be cautious just like with a regular razor! Otherwise, the One Blade razor I have linked above might be nice for you in that instance because it pivots.

  3. I sliced myself badly, not once, not twice, but the three times I tried. It was a blood bath. But I’ll try again, you made seem possible. Thanks!

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