Over 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away every year in the United States alone! These are going straight to the landfill and contributing to the global waste that is piling up due to the non-biodegradable items we use in our everyday lives. For those looking to reduce their footprint but are not wanting to give up their hair removal, there are some great options.
Eco-friendly alternatives to disposable razors. There are many alternatives to disposable razors. If you are open to other hair removal options, sugar waxing and laser hair removals are more long-term solutions for hair growth. If you enjoy using a razor instead, try swapping out your disposable for a safety razor to cut back on your single-use plastic waste.
With billions of disposable razors riddling our planet, it is important to find a more low-waste sustainable alternative that will cut back on the plastic being disposed of in your home. In this article, we will talk about five alternatives to using disposable razors and walk through the pros and cons of each option.
Safety razors have become increasingly popular as users have reported getting a cleaner shave for a lower price, and with less waste. The only waste that is produced is the blades that they must be replaced between every week and every month. How quickly blades are gone through is dependent on how well they are taken care of while they are in the razor and how often they are used.
For some who may not be shaving often, the blades will last much longer but only if kept in a dry place. These razors should not be stored in the shower when not in use as the blades must be replaced before they rust. The lifespan of a blade can be prolonged by thoroughly drying it after each use to ensure no water is sitting on the metal.
Pros of Safety Razors
The benefit of using a safety razor is getting a clean shave at a low cost. Those with sensitive skin who are prone to razor burn do well with safety razors as they can help reduce the bumps some people can get when they use a disposable razor. In addition, a safety razor (much like the disposable razor) is likely the cheapest option on this list.
These razors are readily available and can be ordered on sites like Amazon or bought in stores like Target. While some think buying extra blades is expensive, in reality, they come in around $3 per 10 blades, which is cheaper than some disposable razors! In addition, the blades can be recycled by companies like Gillette to reduce the amount of waste in landfills.
These are truly environmentally friendly, having no plastic on them. The majority of these razors are made out of metal, and some have bamboo handles for a better grip. Since there is no plastic around the blades or on the handle, there is no single-use plastic being thrown away when you are using one of these razors.
Additionally, as long as you are recycling your blades properly, you will completely eliminate your razor footprint!
Cons of Safety Razors
For those who have never used a safety razor and are used to using disposable, there can be a slight learning curve to avoid cuts. These razors require a light hand; if you push too hard while using, you will end up nicking your skin. This can cause additional irritation that is meant to be reduced with these razors! Therefore, be sure to be gentle on your skin.
The blades on these razors do need to be changed quite often and disposed of correctly. For those who keep their razor in the shower or use it almost every day, you will find yourself changing the blades every one to two weeks. It is important that they are changed before they rust, and the more they are used, the quicker they will rust.
To extend lifespan, it is important to dry blades after each use and store the razor in a dry environment where they will not accumulate moisture over time. Finally, a downfall to these razors is the difficulty while traveling. Since the blades can be kept separately and are detachable, airport security may give you trouble if your safety razor is in your carry-on bag.
If you are flying with a safety razor, it is recommended that you keep it in your checked bag to reduce any setbacks while you are going through security at the airport.
Reusable Razor Heads
Instead of buying a safety razor, many people opt for a razor that has interchangeable heads that are disposable. This means you keep the base of the razor and continue buying new heads that need to be replaced about every one to two months, depending on how often you shave. This reduces the amount of plastic being thrown out but does not bring it to zero.
Unlike the safety razor, this can leave you with plastic bits being thrown into the landfill; it is just a smaller amount than with a completely reusable razor.
Pros to Reusable Razor Heads
The best part about these razors is they are essentially the same as a classic disposable razor just with a different handle. Therefore, it is a seamless transition from your old disposable razor to these reusable razor heads. They will leave you with the same kind of shave as they are often made by the same producers that create disposable razors.
It is extremely easy to swap out new heads and to detach the razor head to the base whenever you need to store them separately. This makes them easy to travel with and will not give you any trouble with airport security because they are built in the exact same way as a typical disposable razor without detachable blades.
Cons to Reusable Razor Heads
The biggest downfall to these razors is the price. The replacement heads can be very costly with a four-pack of razor blade refills costing about $18 off of Amazon. This, on top of about $13 for the initial razor, can be a more expensive alternative to the safety razor. In addition to the extra cost of blade refills, you are still consuming plastic by using these razors.
While you are significantly reducing the amount of plastic you are throwing out with these razors, you are still using blade refills that are constructed with plastic and that need to be thrown into the landfill, which still contributes to plastic pollution and overflowing landfills. If you are looking for a zero-waste option, this is not going to be the best fit.
Electric razors have long been popular among men, and part of the reason for this is because it is common to get irritation from electric razors if you do not have thick skin. These battery or power reliant razors, while being a bit more costly upfront, can still be a great alternative to classic disposable razors.
Pros to Electric Razors
One of the best parts of using an electric razor is how little upkeep they require. Although blades do need to be changed every once in a while, they last for a long time, making them a great low-waste option and low maintenance option. They are not that difficult to use and should provide a much smoother transition from safety, or disposable, razors.
Cons to Electric Razors
These razors can cost about $60 but do not incur much additional cost over the course of their lifespan. Unfortunately, they do often rely on batteries or a power source, which can make them a little inconvenient.
In addition, they are not 100% zero waste as the blades do need to be replaced every once in a while. And maybe the biggest downfall is the irritation they are known to cause for users. They are a bit of a rougher shave, and because of that can leave many micro-cuts in the skin and cause irritation and razor burn for users, but not everyone experiences this.
If you have sensitive or thin skin, it is not recommended to use electric razors. By using one of these, you are likely to experience some discomfort after shaving and have some visible redness and irritation. However, for those who do not have sensitive skin at all, this may not be an issue! In which case, this may be a great alternative to disposable razors.
Waxing and Sugar Waxing
A great alternative to shaving is waxing or sugaring. This, of course, is very dependent on the area of the body being done! However, waxing has become increasingly normalized for both men and women as a more long-term solution to hair growth that can, over time, encourage hair growth to completely stop or slow significantly.
Waxing is the practice of spreading wax on the skin, which is then ripped off with a strip. Sugaring is generally done with a sticky, sugary mixture that does not require any strips for ripping. Practitioners generally spread the sugar wax on the skin with their hands and continue ripping bits of hair out with the same bit of sugar wax.
By foregoing wax strips and instead of using a more hands-on wax, you are ensuring that the wax is not sticking to your skin and instead only sticking to the hair. Oftentimes people can get some skin ripped off when using hot wax because it sticks to the skin and can pull everything off, especially for those with sensitive or thin skin.
Whereas with sugaring, the wax only sticks to the hair and therefore is much better for the skin. You will not experience any skin loss or pain after using sugar wax due to the gentler nature of the wax. Depending on the part of the body being waxed, it is common for people to buy at-home wax kits and do it themselves.
This can be a cheaper and more time-efficient option than going to a salon to get a wax. Unfortunately, for some body parts, it is difficult to wax at home and is highly recommended to see a professional to ensure no discomfort.
Cons of Waxing and Sugar Waxing
For those going to a waxing salon to get their services done, this can often be expensive. Depending on the body part being treated, it is possible to spend upwards of $100 on hair removal treatments.
In addition, as previously mentioned, with classic wax, it is possible to experience some skin damage or loss. Although this is not permanent, it can be painful and cause scabbing or scarring. By using sugar wax, you will have less pain; however, it is still common to get ingrown hairs if the wax is not removed correctly, especially when done at home.
While you can make your own wax at home, it can be a messy process. Although you will have smooth skin for about two to four weeks depending on your hair, you will need to keep up with treatments. This can get expensive over time; however, it is common to see hair thinning overtime if waxing is consistent.
Laser Hair Removal
For those who are looking for a permanent solution to hair removal, laser hair removal is a great yet expensive option. By doing laser hair removal, you are ensuring that the hair in the region treated will not grow back and need to be shaved at all in the future. Laser hair removal is done by trained professionals in salons and requires several treatments for best results.
Those who opt to do laser will need to undergo treatments for about six months as it is critical to give the hair enough time to grow back in between treatments to continue zapping the follicle to discourage future growth.
Pros to Laser Hair Removal
The best part of doing laser hair removal is that once you are finished with treatments, you will never need to purchase a razor or wax that area of your body again. Throughout the process of getting laser hair removal, you are also not contributing much to plastic pollution as you are not using single-use products.
For those who have sensitive skin, this can rid you of any razor burn or irritation that may occur from shaving the skin frequently. This long-term solution to hair growth has become more and more popular and, as a result, has encouraged more people to step away from their disposable razors.
Cons of Laser Hair Removal
Similar to any other procedure, the results may vary between people. Laser hair removal is most effective on those with lighter skin and darker hair. The machine used looks for contrast, so the more contrast between skin and hair, the better the results you are likely to have from this process.
In addition, there are risks of permanent skin discoloration depending on how your skin reacts to the machine and how your skin tends to scar. Although this procedure does not cause any bleeding, it is not pain-free. The pain level differs by region of the body, and the procedure is finished quickly. However, it is not always painless.
Finishing the course of treatment takes time and therefore, should be done when you are living in one consistent place for a period of time. If treatments are not done consistently or enough times, results will not be as good, and hair growth is likely to return. Lastly, this is a costly hair removal method and may not be a practical choice for everyone.
All salons are different, and all areas of the body are different; however, laser hair removal is generally costly, with the low end being around $200. It is important that before booking with a salon that extensive research is done into the qualifications of employees and the machine being used to ensure you will have a good experience and that you are paying a fair amount.
After initial treatments, there is upkeep. For those with thicker hair, you will need more initial treatments, which is more expensive, and after these are finished, it is common that people need yearly touchups done as hair begins to grow back slightly. Therefore, although the hair removal is pretty permanent, there is sometimes upkeep that needs to happen.
Additional Ways to Remove Hair Sustainably
In addition to choosing a more low-waste option for removing hair, there are a few ways to create an even more sustainable shaving experience. First, the shaving cream used can make a huge impact on how eco-friendly your hair removal process can be.
By choosing a natural and plant-based shaving cream, you will cut back on chemical pollution and unsustainably sourced ingredients. In addition to being conscious of the ingredients going into your shaving cream, pay attention to your packaging. By buying products such as the Lush shaving soap, you can completely rid your shaving cream of any packaging!
It is important to remember that for many, the disposable razor is not the only thing being thrown into the landfill. Oftentimes large containers with shaving cream are non-recyclable and are having just as large of an impact on the planet as the razors. For women, try simply using your bar soap as a soapy lather rather than buying a container of shaving cream.
Alternatively, using a shaving bar soap that is designed specifically to give you a smoother feel than normal soap will. For men, pay attention to the certifications on your shaving cream and aftershave. Elect for products that have not been tested on animals and that have natural and sustainable ingredients.
Look at the product label and if you have never heard of the ingredients and/or cannot pronounce them, it is likely they are chemicals and are not going to better your skin in the long run. By using more natural products, you will have less stinging post-shave and feel more soothed by your products. Plant-based and low-waste shaving creams are a great way to top off your sustainable and low-waste razor.
For those who are buying shaving creams and razors that come in packaging or containers, be sure you are buying products that can be recycled to reduce your footprint. If you are choosing your products based on sustainability, try finding packaging that can be recycled or that is made with post-consumer recycled materials.
By buying packaging that has already been recycled, you are cutting back on the new plastic that is being made and supporting companies that are working to reduce the amount of plastic that is going to landfill each day. If you are planning to recycle your containers, be sure to clean them out and dry them before throwing them into your recycle bin.
If containers are not cleaned and dried, they cannot be recycled, and the entirety of your recycle bin contents will be considered contaminated because of that. This results in all of your recyclable materials going to the landfill. By not properly recycling, we are instead just throwing more and more into landfills.
It is also important that you flip your container over and look at what kind of plastic was used to make the container. If the lid is a different plastic-type from the tube, it is important to separate them so they can be properly recycled. During the recycling process, the different kinds of plastics are not mixed. By separating them ahead of time, you are ensuring your container will be recycled.
Finally, remember that recycling should not be something to rely on and instead should be a last resort. The majority of the items we throw into the recycling never actually get recycled and instead go into the landfill. Therefore, recycling should not be a solution to our problems.
If you can’t find any alternatives such as refilling at a zero-waste shop, using any containers, or using a package-free bar for your shaving cream, it may be necessary to look into packaging that can be recycled. But be extra cautious about recycling the materials properly once they are used up.
For just about everyone, the idea of just not shaving to cut back on plastic waste is not an option. And although shaving less frequently can cut back while also giving your skin a much-needed break, this is not always a practical solution for people. Instead, it is important to find lower waste alternatives to reduce your footprint on the planet.
If you are somebody who is willing to spend a bit more on hair removal and are looking for a more long term solution, turning to something like laser hair removal, waxing, or sugar waxing can be a great option. These will slow the growth of your hair over time and therefore, can be seen as an investment.
These are especially good solutions for body hair and women’s facial hair; however, most men do not see the appeal in waxing or lasering their facial hair. That’s why there are a number of more low waste razor options that will help keep you in your daily routine and cut back on the amount of plastic waste being used in your bathroom.
A safety razor is among the best options for a low waste razor as it produces absolutely no plastic. With primarily metal and bamboo designs for the razor itself, the production of these razors does not use any single-use items. In addition, unlike razors with replaceable heads, safety razor blades are not wrapped in plastic that must be thrown away afterwards.
The blades in the safety razor can be recycled with razor companies or recycled with other metals. This makes them the lowest waste option that is likely to also benefit your skin the most with a closer shave that is less likely to cause any irritation or razor burn. However, if safety razors do not appeal to you and irritation is not a concern, there are a variety of other options.
Using an electric razor can be a great low waste option if you have access to power and do not generally experience irritation from shaving as these razors are not quite as gentle on the skin as other alternatives can be. While these are commonly known for their use by men for their faces, electric razors can be used by anybody on any part of the body!
Finally, remember that apart from the razors we throw away each year, there is a lot more waste produced in the bathroom! As one of the most wasteful rooms in the house, we tend to buy large plastic bottles of lotions, shaving creams, and hair products. Be sure to look into lower waste options for shaving creams to continue being environmentally friendly as you shave.
By looking into shaving bars, you can completely rid your bathroom of shaving cream containers! If that is not a good option for you, look into the recyclable or refillable options near you. Check for zero waste shops in your area where you can refill any containers you already own to upcycle within your own house.