For those truly dedicated to natural living, shaving can be a foreign and out-of-place concept. Those women and men preferring to go completely natural, sport their body and facial hair proudly. However, the societal norm, at least in western cultures, is to perform some regular hair-removal grooming. While hair removal as a grooming tradition has been around for over 6,000 years, the methods and tools for doing so have changed substantially. Thanks to modern technology the process of hair removal has become somewhat of personal hygiene afterthought.
Unfortunately, with improvements in the technology, there have been significant downsides in both consumer cost and environmental impact.
For instance, did you know that the most popular five blade razors include a markup of over 4,000%?
Furthermore, most consumers remain unaware that—per EPA estimates—some 2 billion razors are dumped into landfills annually. That makes the cartridge razor the most wasteful bathroom product on the market.
Why We Shave with Cartridges
Image source: By Joe Haupt from USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
Luckily, the solution to the negative cost and environmental impact of the cartridge razor already exists. In fact, it has existed since King Camp Gillette patented the first safety razor in 1921. The double edge safety razor has been a worldwide shaving staple since then, but as patents expired, so did the competitive advantage, forcing Gillette to double-down and create newer, more advanced razor systems to maintain its control grip on the market.
With each subsequent patented feature advancement, the price increased, and the consuming public was marketed a new razor that included vibrating heads, head sensors and simply one more blade that would help in making the shave better. In short, we shave with cartridges because we have been sold that cartridge razor shaving is a much better shave experience.
Switching to a Safety Razor
The cost and environmental savings of ditching a cartridge-based razor solution are immediately evident. For instance, if purchased in large quantities, high-quality double edge safety razor blades can be had for $0.10 or less each. Last five or six quality shaves means that someone using more traditional shaving methods would be looking at a monthly shave cost of less than $1.
In addition, shaving with a safety razor means you can recycle every one of your double-edge safety razor blades. Imagine the significant environmental impact if every American were so conscious. We would save 2 billion razors from being dumped into landfills every year.
Other, not-so-obvious reasons also make switching more palatable include:
- Cartridge razors more readily produce razor bumps, razor burn and ingrown hairs. Because multiple blades mean more scrapes against the skin and often hairs cut below the skin-line, cartridge razor shavers are more prone to have razor burn, ingrown hair and razor bumps. This can be especially egregious on those with thick, course and curly hair.
- Cartridge razors are a one-size-fits-all solution. Using a double edge safety razor allows wet shavers to customize the length of the hair more readily. For instance, if you plan on shaving daily with a safety razor, a single pass shave will likely do, which means only a single blade crossed the sensitive areas of the face, not the six blades on your more popular cartridge razors.
Admittedly, there is a bit more of an upfront investment when it comes to making the switch to a safety razor from a cartridge razor, but the long-term impact on the quality of the shave, the environmental impact and the savings in your pocketbook cannot be undersold.
Safety Razors for Women
Fortunately, safety razor shaving is also not just for men. Women are finally coming to grips with the benefits of using what was traditionally thought of as a man’s shaving tool for shaving legs, underarms and bikini areas. Yes, shaving this was does have more of a learning curve than the standard cartridge razor, but it has the same benefits irrespective of gender.
We shave more expensively and wastefully because we were told by marketers that shaving with more advanced technology was a better solution to the status quo. But, at some point consumers have begun to wise-up to the fact that shaving this way is a waste of personal and environmental resources. As this occurs, many more shavers are finding the solution is as simple as reverting back to a tradition that started nearly 100 years ago with the first introduction of the safety razor.
Do you consider the environmental impact of the shaving methods you use?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.