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Safety Razors vs Disposable Razors: Which is More Eco-Friendly & Efficient?

The resurgence of safety razors over the last ten years has naturally brought a bucket full of comparison articles with it. 

Safety razors vs disposable razors is an argument that is all over the internet and there are tonnes of reasons why one is preferred over the other.

In this article, we’re going to look at safety razors and disposables, focussing on the efficiency of shaving and how eco-friendly they are.

Shaving Sustainably

On the face of it when it comes to shaving, reusable safety razors impact the environment much less than disposable razors do. It's evident in both of the names: reuse or dispose.  

But why are safety razors more eco-friendly than disposable razors? Simply down to the fact that the majority of disposables are made from plastics that cannot be recycled or are extremely difficult to recycle.

A pile of disposable plastic razors

A disposable razor is also a product that is supposed to be disposed of not long after use. Without the guarantee of recyclable materials, many disposable razors end up in landfill and will probably still be there in 100 years time.

Many safety razor suppliers design their products to produce zero waste, including the packaging. And especially if they are purchased from an eco-friendly or plastic-free supplier or shop. Used blades can also easily be recycled with a blade bank and so can the safety razor if it breaks. 

The same can be said of some eco disposable razor manufacturers. You can now get paper disposable razors made from straw, which are biodegradable and the blade can be recycled.

Razors Designed for Women & Men

Whether you're shaving your legs or grooming your beard, the length of the razor handle and the shape of the razor head is paramount to shaving efficiently.

Cheap disposable razors generally have one or two blades housed in a plastic razor head and ridged handle. The head is positioned at an angle so the razor can be used classically (upright) or held upside down for those hard to reach areas.

The average handle length of disposable razors is around 12cm, including the head. This gives inexperienced shavers the confidence to shave, knowing the razor fits perfectly in hand with enough length to it.

Double-edge reusable safety razors, depending on the materials used, have textured or bulbous grips with medium to long handles. Our own three-piece razor is around 11cm long with a slimline head that houses a double-edge razor blade.

The safety razor's slimline head and long handle allows you to shave in sensitive areas that are difficult to reach, with or against the grain. 

Man shaving beard with storm grey Shoreline Shaving razor in the forefront

Science Friction 

While disposable razors can be an extremely convenient way to shave, they can only cope with limited hair and use. The blade(s) in a disposable razor can become dull after a couple of well-worked uses, and this means added friction as it attempts to remove hair.

A dull blade can tug on your hair and pull at your skin, which means you’re more likely to develop razor burn or irritation. If you notice any dulling or rusting of the blade, you should throw it away because it's also likely to carry harmful bacteria.

Double-edge blades within a safety razor are much sharper than blades you'd find in disposable razors. Even well-worked safety razor blades won't dull until the fourth or fifth time of using. 

The longevity of double-edge blades obviously depends on the size of the surface area, as well as care and maintenance. The blades need to be rinsed and air dried after use, and kept away from moist environments like the bathroom if you want them to last.

Safety razors and double-edge blades, due to their sharpness, are also designed to remove hair with one pass of the razor on the skin. This naturally reduces the chance of razor burn, ingrown hairs and irritation.

Mastering the Shaving Technique

Since a double-edge razor is typically sharper and has the two sides to shave with, there is a bit of a learning curve to using one. It's all about mastering your shaving technique at the beginning so you minimise any nicks and cuts. 

If you’re accustomed to using a disposable and make the switch to a safety razor, you will need to take your time and start with short, soft strokes. As the blade is much sharper, you need little to no pressure when shaving with a safety razor.

This is why people opt to shave with a disposable razor, as it's convenient, familiar and easy to use. Safety razors require you to learn and develop a new skill, while concentrating on the task in hand.

Teal safety razor, blade tin and razor stand - Shoreline Shaving

A Razor that Saves You Money in the Long Run

The initial cost of a pack of disposable plastic razors versus buying a handcrafted safety razor can be wildly different. A small pack of disposable razors can go for as little as £2, whereas a safety razor can cost around £15-£20.

Quality handcrafted products are always going to cost more than the cheaper plastic alternatives, but how can purchasing a safety razor save you money in the long run?

With a little care and love, a safety razor is meant to be reused over and over again. It could last you a lifetime. High quality replacement blades will be the only piece of hardware you'll need to purchase once you've made your initial investment.

Depending on how often you shave, one pack of quality double-edge razor blades could potentially last you 2-3 months. Disposable plastic razors are typically designed to be used one time, but can last longer depending on how rigorously they're used.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier in the article, there are numerous pros and cons of shaving with a safety razor or disposable. You just have to decide what's important to you.

If you have patience, enjoy learning new skills, care about plastic pollution and would like to save money in the long run, then a safety razor is for you.

If you're time poor, anxious about shaving with a safety razor and aren't too worried the amount of waste you're creating, then stick to disposables. But please try to find a sustainable alternative like paper razors.

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