Friday, August 14, 2009

Putting the Saving in Shaving

Listen, y'all. You are being scammed.

I'm talking about shaving today, ignoring other toiletry scams for now. This scam is even named after the shaving mafia. I speak of course about this disposable razor business. If you shave, you are either buying a new plastic razor all the time, or just the razor head, and throwing the old ones in the garbage again and again. Or you use an electric razor, but I don't care about you. Hush now.

When we buy the fancy-handled shaving razor with disposable heads we have bought into a money making scheme first devised by Gillette – the actual man, I mean, King C. Gillette. And it's a pretty good deal, really – you get the handle for cheap and in turn pay buckets for the fancy razors, but are pretty much happy because it seems cheap at the time. Or, you can get out of this trickier scheme by just buying the disposables, still allegedly happy.

But that's not the end of their ploys! The razor companies, in their no-holds-barred competition with one another are constantly devising new ways to get your money. These are the new razor models that come out all the time. Some of these are more useful and alluring than others. I personally think three blades is stupid, but a lather strip is very tempting. However, at the end of the day – or shower – five blades and a lather strip hack up my shapely legs just as well as a single blade razor. The Onion illustrates the absurdity of five blades very well in this article. There is also the cost. For awhile, I was lured by the siren call or the Venus Spa Breeze into paying 12 bucks for a packet or four blades, but this isn't practical, even if you are lathering as you shave.

And here's the biggest problem in my eyes: that's a lot of garbage. Waste, I mean. All that plastic goes into the garbage – just like your money – and more oil and chemicals must be used up and burned to make more while your super badass or super pretty razor head or handle sits underground for like a quadrillion years. Terrible!

Fear not, my friends. I have an answer. It's not the straight razor, so gentleman, please do not cover your necks in fear. It if the tried and true original safety razor model invented by Mr. Gillette himself.

Pssst, it looks like this:

The benefits are plain to see. These razor handles are non-disposable – they are made from sturdy steel, etc. that will last and last. They are easy to keep clean and keep in good shape so there be no need to pitch them. The blade is just that – a single double-edged blade with not a bit of plastic in sight. These blades are cheap (as in, packets of 10 for under five dollars), last longer than the disposables (double-sided!), usually come in minimal packaging, and are far less waste in the landfill. I imagine there are some metal recycling places which will take these stainless steel blades, or you can do what I do and drop them down the slot in your medicine cabinet, which I am told by reliable folks is what that slot is for. Ahem.

Perhaps you are not convinced. Perhaps you are concerned that this type of razor will not give you a good enough shave, that this is not the best a man (or woman) can get. From my experience, this system gives just as good a shave. I have paper-thin skin and still tore my legs up with the most expensive, ergonomically designed ladies razor. The weight of the safety razor gives better control, and once you relearn your shaving technique (which takes about five minutes), you are enjoying smooth skin. And these are the grandaddy of today's safety razors, so there are blade guards to keep you from filleting your face/legs. That in mind, let's not forget the last joy of these razors – they enable us to relive to good old days, when things were made to last and were so much more CLASSY.

There are several reputable companies that still make these uber classy items. You can splurge or go easy on you wallet and still get quality. Try out Derby International,, or Lee's Safety Razors. Here's what I have. The blades can be bought online, and in brick-and-mortar drugstores for ridiculously cheap.

If you are a wimp, and can't let go of your plastic planet-killing shavers, check out the Preserve razor. It comes in two or three blades and is made from PLASTIC YOGURT CUPS. When you're done with the razor, send the handle in postage free and complete the circle of life. I also recommend the Preserve toothbrushes and cutlery!

While you're on a fancy shaving kick, why not try ditching your chemical-filled shaving cream for some planet-friendly lather soap?


  1. I switched to a safety razor more than a year ago, for many of the reasons you mentioned. I particularly enjoy using a good old fashioned shaving brush and mug in the morning to lather up, instead of using an aerosol can.

    My only recommendation is that you stop putting the blades into the slot in the medicine cabinet. Yes, that's what it's designed for, but it means you're filling the wall with razor blades, and when it comes time to patch the drywall or remodel the bathroom, it's not very fun to have to deal with all the blades.

  2. You're probably right about the blades - I rent, and so it won't be me dealing with the blades. What I need is a sharps container!