Disposable razors are part of most peoples day to day lives. But hundreds of millions are sent to landfill each year in the UK alone, adding to the mountains of plastic waste that could take hundreds of years to break down. Yes they are not completely single use, but they are not used for long before they are thrown away. Theoretically although the handles can’t be recycled, the blades can, but realistically the majority of people put the whole thing in the bin.

But what is the alternative? Some of you may brave stopping the shave altogether, for some of us that may be a step too far.

Reusable razors have recently stepped up the rankings in terms of popularity. Are they safe? Are they truly eco? Are they worth while? Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions.

What do we mean by reusable razors? Disposable razors are sold as a whole unit. The blade comes already attached and you throw away the whole thing when the blade starts to get blunt. Nearly all disposables are made with a plastic handle. Reusables have a handle that you can keep long term, with a removable blade. So you only throw the blade away when you need to use a new one, not the whole thing. They are also known as safety razors.

Are they more eco friendly than disposables? Yes! In many ways. They are better for the planet as there is less waste full stop, and when they do get to the end of their lives (in many many years if you look after them well) then they are usually made from metal or wood which is far better to dispose or recycle than disposable plastic handles.

You can get a number of different styles. For true planet friendliness find a safety razor that doesn’t have blades encased in a plastic holder, and ideally blades that are made of stainless steel as these are the easiest to recycle once you are finished with them.

Are they safe? When I first came across safety razors I have to admit I was a little bit concerned. Images of barber shops cut throat razors came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised then when I got to try my first reusable razor. It looked very similar to the disposables I was used to, just in metal and with a slightly bigger instruction leaflet. After reading many reviews I was also concerned about the ability for me to nick my skin (I am well known for being accident prone!) but with a little practise I can honestly say that I probably catch myself less now than I did before.

Do they give as good a shave as disposables? This answer is an easy yes. Once you have the hang of them (it’s worth watching a couple of tips videos on Youtube) then they are fantastic. The double edge razors tend to give less issues to those with sensitive skin as they don’t pull up the hair in quite the same way as multi bladed disposables. They tend to give less irritation and dramatically reduces the risk of ingrown hairs. Bearing this in mind, it does mean they don’t cut the hair under the epidermis layer (good for healthy hair follicles), but for some this may feel like a slightly less close shave and you may end up wanting to shave slightly more frequently.

Do you need any other specific equipment to use with them? The only extra you will need is some good shaving soap or cream. Many zero waste stores will be able to provide you with a soap bar and wooden handed brush, there is no need to buy aerosol based shaving creams.

Are they worth the investment? Quality eco friendly safety razors can be found online for anything between £15-£30 but if looked after the razor itself could last you 10 years plus. Replacement double edge blades are anything from 25p-£2. When you consider the amount you already spend on disposable razors, there is very little in it from a monetary point of view. However, making this small change in your life could save hundreds of needless pieces of plastic waste heading towards landfill.

In our opinion yes, the initial investment is definitely worthwhile. Or like me you could add to a wish list for Christmas and get more excited about opening a razor as a gift than you probably should!

Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot