Unless you’re living under a rock-like formation of microplastics that washed up on shore, you’re aware that plastic is a big issue many folks are working hard to eliminate from their lives. While I have personally taken on this noble endeavour alongside countless other zero-waste warriors, there’s another good reason to get rid of plastic in your daily life: plastic sucks!
Seriously, how fun is shaving with a plastic razor? They certainly don’t feel luxurious. Would you eat at a five-star restaurant with plastic cutlery? I certainly hope not, and just like that high-end meal, your beautiful face (or whatever else you need to shave) deserves better. These are my top 5 items to replace the cheap plastic junk in your shaving routine for a better shave and a healthier planet.
1. Safety Razor & Double Edge Blades
Back in 1904, when King Gillette invented the safety razor, plastic wasn’t even a thing yet. The double-edge razor offered a far safer & easier option than an old-timey straight razor while maintaining the spectacular quality of shave they’re known for. Since then, safety razors have only gotten better and contain no more plastic than they did 120 years ago. A basic safety razor will last decades, possibly lifetimes, and many blade brands are packaged in recyclable cardboard and paper. Plastic begone!
Hoxton makes a wide range of safety razors that are good to get started with. Their size, weight, and price are all pretty approachable for someone just making the switch, and I love their black knurled and rose gold options. While they require a little more effort than the modern plastic razors, they’re pretty easy to use. Simply heat your skin & hair, apply something slick to help the razor glide, and drag the blade gently across your skin. To learn more about the process, check out our article on getting started with a safety razor.
While these razors are an excellent way to start, they will eventually give up the ghost. It takes a long time, but you may want a sturdier razor if you’re clumsy like me. While higher-end stainless steel razors can be more costly, they’re rugged enough to practically last forever. Rockwell is a Canadian company making some sturdy beginner-friendly razors with their 6S model, while Karve shaving co. has an attractive brass option that is equally sturdy.
2. Shaving Soap in Wooden Bowl
While you can technically use a wide range of products for shaving lubrication, it makes a big difference to use something actually designed for shaving, especially when a 300-year-old British apothecary formulates it. Those old-timey guys who shaved with straight razors would first whip up a lather of shaving soap from an ornate wooden bowl, another tradition that’s barely changed since.
I love shaving soap for a few reasons: First, it smells great. Fragrances like Arlington and Windsor make you feel like a very classy person, while lavender and sandalwood are more modern, natural options. Secondly, they’re natural! Shaving soaps were invented long before the cosmetics industry we know today, so ingredients tend to be super basic. Finally, the wooden bowls can be refilled endlessly with new pucks of soap (which last me multiple years) or repurposed for salt, spices, or any other cute storage solution around the house. The replacement pucks come packaged in cardboard, so no plastic there!
3. Lather up with a Shaving brush
Okay, I’m about to seem like a hypocrite with the whole plastic thing, but bear with me: shaving brushes are a major game-changer. While their handles are technically plastic, they’re made from high-quality acrylic that lasts decades, much like the loft of hair that makes up their other half. If you buy quality, you’ll need two in your lifetime. While wooden options exist, they always fall apart from moisture much more quickly and produce more garbage.
So why use a brush at all? All those tiny hairs whip up a rich, luxurious lather of your shaving soap by introducing a whole bunch of air and water. This makes for a better experience and helps your shaving soap last way longer than it would otherwise. The bristles exfoliate your skin gently, soften your hairs, making them easier to shave, and lift them into the lather to prevent ingrowns.
Our synthetic shaving brushes are surprisingly sturdy for their price and will fare better being stored in the shower than animal-hair brushes. Still, our silvertip badger brushes provide true luxury if you’re willing to put in a bit more work. Their bristles have enough backbone to whip up a lather and scrub your skin, while the softer hair tips are very gentle on your dermis. Just be sure to dry them well and hang them up after use!
4. Aftershave Balm
Have you ever rushed through a shave, then walked out into the cold winter air? Feels bad, right? This is an exaggerated version of what happens to your skin following a shave. You’ve just dragged a very sharp blade across it, leaving it a bit raw and unprotected. Your skin needs a little help after the shave in the form of an aftershave balm.
A rich, soothing balm helps heal and protect your skin following the shave, giving it everything it needs to recover from the process. They also moisturize, which is something we could all be doing more. I’m partial to Like Grandpa’s aftershave balm as they’re locally made, all-natural, and work super well. Their steel tins can be cleaned and repurposed by a metal recycler. If you fancy something a bit higher-end and easier to recycle, D.R. Harris aftershave milks come in glass bottles and feature incredible scents that you can match to your wooden bowl of shaving soap.
5. Alum Block
Finally, a lesser-known product. Have you ever seen that ancient episode of the Simpsons where Homer teaches Bart to shave? It was back when the show was good; I’m pretty sure it was in black and white and accompanied by ragtime music. Anyways, the punchline is Homer using toilet paper to stop the bleeding from the dozens of nicks that follow the shave.
While using a safety razor, brush, and soap will significantly reduce the number of nicks, they can still happen. Alum is a natural mineral salt that constricts blood vessels and stops bleeding. It’s also the same stuff as that natural deodorant crystal you can find at health food stores, so it doubles nicely as an antiperspirant. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!
I hope this helped you on your plastic-free journey or inspired you to start. Whether you want to save the planet like yours truly or you just want shaving to not suck, getting started with a safety razor is the way to go.
A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.