My Google search criteria gave me away.
‘saftey razor how to women’
‘safety razor how to women legs’
‘safety razor cut’
‘safety razor cut bad danger artery blood die’
“Why even bother if you’re so scared?” asked my friend, Lea. “Just use a normal razor.”
But experimenting with a seemingly unforgiving double-edged stainless steel slicey thing had to be less harrowing than paying £16 for 8 Gilette refills. My fear of bleeding to death was the only thing holding me back.
- Zero Waste. Safety razors are easy on the environment. Only the tiny blade is discarded, and it’s completely recyclable. Nothing goes to landfull.
- Cost. As I mentioned before, disposable razors can be reeeeally expensive. Sure, there are cheaper single use varities, but these produce even more plastic and waste than their cartridged compadres. And they’re usually crap.
- Convenience. I always run out of blades when I need them most, so it means more frequent trips to the drugstore. Or more jeans on hot summer days.
- Gender Politics. I hate how women’s razors are marketed. Why are they always pink? If it’s not too much to ask, I’d like to remove my leg hair with something that doesn’t reek of lilies and destructive gender stereotyping.
- Aesthetics. Disposable razors are tacky, plastic, cheap, and ugly. I love to display my favourite things in the open so I can admire their design. Hiding ugly things in a drawer isn’t my style.
- Quality. Last but not least, according most sources, saftey razors provide a better shave with a lower risk of ingrown hairs. Guess we’ll see!
- Safety. These are a lot safer than straight razors since the blade is guarded. It’s all in the name!
How it’s done
I opted for a Merkur 23C Long Handled model (£24.75) because it had outstanding reviews, and also because I had read that having a longer handle is better for shaving legs. I also ordered a pack of 100 blades (£9) which were not included.
Next, I hit up YouTube. Many of these “how to” videos generally advocated complicated “pre-shave” rituals, special balms, soaps, lotions, and aftershaves. It all seemed complicated, time-consuming, and intimidating.
But after watching a particular video by the Minimalist Ninja entitled “Shaving EVERYTHING with a safty razor” my fears were somewhat assuaged.
Eventually, I got up the nerve to run a bath and give it a go. I didn’t have any special creams or lotions, so I just used hair conditioner and prayed.
The first three minutes were terrifying as I carefully experimented with the blade’s weight/pressure/grip. It took me about half a leg to get the angle right because unlike cartridge razors, safety razors don’t bend with your contours – you have to hold the blade at about 30-40 degrees and apply no pressure.
Before long, I was moving with Sweeny Todd-esque confidence, and had found my stride.
On my second shave, I didn’t even bother with the conditioner. Or water. But I don’t have sensitive skin and never suffer razor burn (haters gonna hate).
My bottom line is that the internet is full of fear mongering and scare stories about people being rushed to A&E after severing major arteries. DON’T FALL FOR IT. Safety razors are called safety razors for a reason. If you’re capable of handling a normal kitchen knife, then its time to ditch the disposibles and get a grown-up razor.
My boyfriend, Oli, also gave my Merkur a whirl after he discovered that I had stopped buying (shared) replacement cartridges. He was also dubious at first, and shaving for him is a real chore at the best of times, but he also reported a cleaner and more comfortable shave first time round.
Now we’re just sharing one razor and the same box of blades, which will probably last us years. At some point, he may get his own, but for now it seems unecessary.
Travelling with saftey razors
Generally speaking, most airports won’t allow safety razor blades through security in hand luggage.
This isn’t really an issue for me, because before embarking on long trips or sunny holidays, I usually opt for a hot wax so I can spend more time eating/sleeping/exploring, and less time grooming. The rest of the time, I can’t justify the cost of waxing, or the hassle of making and keeping appointments. Enter my razor.
Oli has just finished packing his bag for a 10-week interrailing trip around Europe, and he’s opted to take his old Gilette disposible since a) he’s not taking my Merkur; and b) the Merkur’s German design is comparably heavy which isn’t ideal for backpacking.
If you travel with checked luggage, then you’ll have no problem at all packing a safety razor (or more specifically, the blades). But, if like me, you only ever travel with hand luggage, consider your options beforehand.
Safety razors have just landed on my radar, but I am officially a convert.
Of course, an even cheaper, convenient, and eco alternative is to stop shaving altogether, but I’m not quite that brave . . . yet.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on razors, hair removal, or anything else! Happy shaving!