How to use a safety razor
Shaving with a safety razor is easy! Since Jungle Culture launched in 2018, we have helped thousands of people make the switch from single-use disposable razors, to a more sustainable shave with reusable razors!
And whilst safety razors are vastly cheaper in the long-run than buying single-use, and better for the environment, it can be a little daunting making that switch, which has prompted our team to write a guide explaining everything you need to know to get started with your sustainable razor!
Before we delve into our guide on how to shave with a safety razor, here’s why youneed to be thinking about sustainable shaving.
In 1990, a study showed that over 2 billion plastic razors and blades were thrown away in the US alone. These figures are no longer accurately tracked, but experts believe that today this number is A LOT higher. What’s more, this study only looked at the impact of disposable razors in one country.
But why does this matter? Who cares about trash anyway? Well… it’s estimated that a plastic razor will take around about 1,000 years to decompose. Once it’s decomposed, that doesn’t mean it’s gone. Oh no…. It’s simply broken down into tiny pieces of plastic, commonly referred to as micro-plastics. These microscopic plastic particles are gobbled up by fish and other animals and eventually enter our food chains. Do we really want to be eating plastic when the solution is simple, stylish and cheap?
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! The NY times recently reported that safety razors are regaining popularity amongst men, which is great news for the planet and hopefully signals the start of a trend towards sustainable shaving products.
But why is sustainable shaving only gaining popularity with men? We have no idea! But hopefully this guide will help both women and men jump on the sustainable shaving train. As an added bonus, we also interviewed some women who just made the switch to safety razors and you can hear what they had to say right here.
What is a safety razor?
Some of you reading may have stumbled in from Google and may be thinking… this all sounds great. Plastic-free shaving, no trash… It’s a win/win, but what’s a safety razor anyway?
In short, it lands somewhere in between a cut throat razor (poorly named in our opinion) and a cartridge razor. It’s infinitely reusable, easy to learn how to use and just plain good looking! Don’t you think?
Safety razors were invented and popularised by Gilette in the early 1900’s, but we’re guessing that selling an infinitely reusable razor wasn’t great for business!
Gilette eventually moved onto cartridge razors and are seemingly now locked in a race to create the world’s first 500 blade razor. Why do we need so many blades?
How to shave with a safety razor (step by step):
- Place your thumb on one side of the razor head and your index finger on the other side, twist and unscrew.
- Carefully separate the razor head and place a double edged razor blade in between the two pieces that make up the head of your razor.
- Re-screw the razor head and the razor base back together. Make sure that the ridges on the razor head are facing upwards (Common mistake).
- Before shaving, soak your razor in hot water and douse your skin with hot water, or heat your skin with a hot towel.
- Apply shaving soap (preferably plastic-free) to the area that you would like to shave. If you are using Jungle Culture shaving soap then make sure to lather by rubbing in circular motion.
- At roughly a 45 degree angle, move your razor in straight lines across your skin, making sure to only shave in straight lines, not diagonally.
- Pull your skin taut whilst shaving for the closest possible shave.
- Rinse your razor throughout and apply more shaving cream if necessary. Once you are finished, store your razor somewhere dry. Preferably using a razor stand.
More of a visual person? Here is a video tutorial we found showing how to replace safety razor blades: Click me
Here is another video showing start to finish how to shave with a safety razor (men): Click me
Here is another video explanation of how to use a safety razor for women: Click me
Which safety razor should I buy?
When buying a safety razor there are a lot of factors to consider. Let’s go through them one-by-one and hopefully this will help you to decide the best safety razor to buy.
Closed teeth or open teeth
The “teeth” of your razor are the small ridges that are on the underside of the razor head. The function of safety razor teeth are to funnel your hair into position, ready for shaving AND to protect you from cutting yourself.
At Jungle Culture we onlysell closed teeth safety razors. Closed teeth razors are perfect for first time safety razor users. They provide more protection and they do not irritate the skin as much. All in all, they are a lot easier to use.
Open teeth razors do not offer as much protection for your skin, but they are well liked by shaving aficionados as they can offer a closer shave if used properly.
Long handle or short handle
We receive a ton of messages asking us what length handle is best. The truth is that it’s a matter of personal preference.
Long handled safety razors are typically easier to use for men who have large hands whilst shorter handles are easier to use for women.
However, everybody has a different preference and we advise all of our customers to use a standard length razor handle as a starting point. If you'd like more information about the differences between long and short handled razors, we've written a guide here.
Grip, Grip, Grip
One of the most important factors when purchasing a safety razor is does it have enough grip. Grip is hugely important when using a safety razor because slips = cuts. Wet shaving is typically when most slips happen, but here are some useful tips on whether to shave before or after the shower.
Make sure that your razor is made from a grippy material such as bamboo, or that the metal base is ridged and comfortable. Most safety razors have good grip, so this normally isn’t a problem, but still worth mentioning!
Don’t forget about style!
Safety razors are things of beauty! They add class and character to your bathroom and since they are practically indestructible, your razor should spark joy to paraphrase Marie Kondo!
Here are some style options:
Jungle Culture offers a 5-year warranty on any of our safety razors. Make sure that any razor you buy comes with a similar commitment to quality.
Price is important
Safety razors vary hugely in price. You can purchase a standard issue razor for $10 (£8) or buy a vintage collectable safety razor for several hundred dollars.
When shopping for a safety razor, don’t forget that what you’re buying will probably last you a lifetime, so avoid extremely cheap razors as they tend to be made by inexperienced manufacturers and more often than not they’ll get jammed in a matter of months.
If you increase your budget just a little bit to around $20-40 (£17-35) you can find a safety razor that will last you a lifetime and save you money!
What extras are included?
Look for what is included in your purchase. Some safety razors include travel bags, stands, blades etc. Purchasing a bundle may save you money later on, so shop around for the best deal! There are also accessories to consider. For example, at Jungle Culture we make razor blade disposal containers to help keep your bathroom de-cluttered! This may not affect which razor you purchase, but purchasing these accessories in the same place might save you a bit in shipping costs!
Which safety razor blades should I use?
Now that you’ve decided on a safety razor, it’s time to purchase some safety razor blades. Most safety razors are compatible with any type of double edged razor blade, but there are a few exceptions, so we’ve put together a little checklist that comes in handy when you’re shopping for blades.
If you purchased your razor from Jungle Culture, then all of our razors are fully compatible with any double edged DE razor blade. The most trusted brands are: Shark, Derby, Astra, Wilkinson
You can purchase razor blade refills packaged plastic-free via our website right here. Or alternatively, you can find these brands on most shaving websites, in your local pharmacy or drugstore and at any barber shop. Some large supermarkets are also starting to stock singular razor blades too.
How often do I need to change a safety razor blade?
Typically safety razor blades last about the same amount of time as cartridge razor blades. You should change the blade when shaving starts to feel uncomfortable.
For us, that's around the 10 shave mark! But it depends how hairy you are and how coarse your hair is!
Pricing: Safety razor blades are cheap and long-lasting. Pay no more than £0.50/per blade. ($0.65)
Which shaving soap should I use?
Firstly, for anyone reading this that isn’t familiar with shaving soap and its benefits when compared to conventional shaving foam, check out our article here: “What is shaving soap”.
Now, a lot of our customers get in touch with us asking why they need to use shaving soap as opposed to regular garden variety soap bars or shower gel.
The main differences between shaving soap and body soap:
- Higher water content - Lathers more, doesn’t last as long
- Formulated to lift dirt and produce more lather (can clog your razor)
- Suds up in order to clean (bluntens your blades, can lead to cuts)
- Low water content - Extremely long-lasting
- Formulated to lubricate and moisten your hairs (razor glides easier)
- Does not lather as much (helping your blades to stay sharp for longer)
To summarise, using a shaving bar is more cost effective in the long run, because the lower water content means that 1 shaving bar can last more than 1 whole year! Not only that, you’ll get a better quality shave and using a shaving soap bar will help to improve the lifespan of your razor blades. You can extend the lifespan of your shaving soap even further by hanging it in a sisal soap bag or storing it on a wooden soap dish.
Using a shaving soap is definitely a no-brainer! Now, let’s move on to some do’s and don’ts of zero waste shaving.
Do’s and don’ts of zero waste shaving
To avoid cutting yourself and have the best possible shaving experience, follow these short do’s and dont’s and your bathroom will be rid of nasty plastics in no time! These tips for using a safety razor and shaving soap will help you get used to sustainable shaving much more quickly!
Do’s of zero waste shaving
- Use plenty of hot water and soak your razor periodically to make it hot to the touch
- Use a flannel or hot towel to soak up hot water and prepare your skin
- Use a quality shaving soap to ensure your skin is protected and your razor doesn’t get clogged
- Use short, straight strokes
- Go slow and take your time in the beginning!
- Apply a quality, post-shave balm
- Change blade at least once per 15 shaves, but maybe more depending on the size of the area that you intend to shave.
Don’ts of zero waste shaving
- Shave diagonally. Always shave with the grain.
- Dry shave. Always use water and ideally hot water.
- Leave your safety razor in water for a prolonged period of time.
Benefits of using a safety razor
So, now we all know how to use a safety razor, we know where to buy one and we definitely know which blades to buy. But hang on, why are we using a safety razor again? It’s plastic-free, right… but so are cut throats. What are the other benefits of using a reusable safety razor?
Here are the top 5 reasons you should switch to a safety razor, right now!
- Barber quality shave
Using a safety razor takes a little bit of practice, but once you perfect the art of shaving with a safety razor, you’ll receive a barber quality shave at home, every time!
- The most affordable shaving solution
Imagine buying a razor for £17-18 that lasts for an entire lifetime! Now imagine buying a shaving bar that lasts for a year for £9.00. Now imagine buying a packet of razor blades that last for a year for £3.99.
That’s the reality of using a safety razor. After the initial outlay of roughly £17-18, you will only need to spend £13.00/per year ($17) on shaving supplies.
- Using a safety razor is environmentally friendly
Not only is it better and cheaper to use a safety razor. It also helps reduce waste and make your home more sustainable. Safety razors, razor blades and shaving soaps all come packaged 100% plastic-free. It’s a win/win for you and the environment!
- Less skin irritation
We’ve all seen the commercials… aloe vera strips, designed to provide you with an irritation-free shave. The problem is, that little strip is designed to last 2-3 shaves and suddenly you’re dragging 5 coarse blades across your face or legs and your 'irritation free' razor is catching on every pimple, mole and skin tag!
Safety razors offer a frictionless shaving experience. Who needs an aloe strip!
- Safety razors are better for coarser hair
If you have coarse hair that always seems to be clogging up your cartridge razors, no need to fear, safety razors are here! Safety razors are less prone to clogging, perfect for coarser hair.
Should I use a post-shave product? (Men & Women)
The process of shaving can be quite intense for your skin and depending on your skin type, shaving can cause a lot of irritation, leading to common problems such as razor burn or acne.
To combat these common problems, and to make shaving feel more luxurious, we always recommend a soothing post shave balm.
Here are our recommendations for men and for women:
For men: Try something refreshing, antibacterial and calming for your skin. Our top pick is this Hunter’s aftershave balm. (Natural, plastic-free and with a hint of refreshing citrus)
For women: Look for calming, moisturising and antibacterial. Try this shea butter moisturising bar from LUSH. Made from all natural ingredients, this vegan friendly moisturiser is scented with aloe, perfect for calming your skin.
How do I recycle my safety razor blades?
The answer varies depending on where you live, and rather than explain each and every country’s recycling system, here is a directory of solutions that covers most of our audience. (If we haven’t included your country, get in touch and we’ll add it!)
US & Canada - Terracycle
Germany - Where do I recycle?
France - A guide to recycling in France
Italy - A guide to recycling in Italy
Spain - A guide to recycling in Spain
We hope that this article has helped you to start using safety razors, ditch plastic and rid your bathroom of waste. As always, if you’re a more visual person, go ahead and check out this video on how to shave with a safety razor (below), and if you would like to purchase a safety razor or any shaving accessories from us, here is a discount code for 15% off: BLOGRAZORDISCOUNT15
How to use a safety razor: Watch here