In the US alone an estimated 2 billion razors make their way to landfill each year - they’re a complex mix of metals, plastics, rubber and other materials that can’t be recycled. Switching to a safety razor will have a tangible impact on your waste footprint (think of the packaging used for disposables, too) and is also notably cost-effective - each recyclable blade comes to around 20p. Used well, a safety razor can also provide a more calming, smoother and closer shave.
The safety razor takes shaving back to basics - it’s a razor with a heavy metal handle and a single blade sandwiched between two plates, leaving only a fine edge showing. The multiple blades and scented gel pads of disposable razors come with a false sense of security, and you’ve likely still cut yourself with one when the blades have become blunt or you’re in a rush. Lots of the principles to a nick-free shave apply to using a safety razor, too - take your time (especially around trickier areas), don’t apply too much pressure, and keep your blade in good condition.
Done slowly, there can be something oddly soothing and indulgent about a shave. Here are some of our best-practice techniques for incorporating the safety razor into your routine.
1 PREP YOUR SKIN - steam in warm water first to soften your hair follicles, and exfoliate to get rid of any bumps and prevent ingrown hairs. Apply shaving cream, oil or soap - this moisturises and protects, creating a barrier between the blade and your skin. If using oil, wash your hands after applying to maintain a good grip of your razor.
2 TAKE IT SLOW - this applies for whatever you’re shaving with. You’re more likely to nick your skin if you’re in a hurry, and there’s something soothing to be enjoyed in the satisfaction of gliding the razor over your skin.
3 DON’T APPLY PRESSURE - YOKU safety razors are made from chrome and therefore have a natural, calming weight to them. All you need to do is glide the razor over your skin and use the pressure of the razor’s weight - don’t press down yourself. You want to position the razor at a 20-30 degree angle, unlike the flat-to-the-skin approach with a disposable.
4 GO WITH THE DIRECTION OF GROWTH - at least to start. It’s going against the grain that can cause razor burn and irritation, and on sensitive areas like the armpit and bikini line you should go with the grain on your first pass and only against on the second. With more resilient areas like your legs, you can quickly progress to going against the direction of growth from the offset.
5 KEEP YOUR RAZOR CLEAN - After each use, gently unscrew your safety razor head and rinse thoroughly with water — lightly tapping away any hair stuck between the blade and razor. When swapping for a new blade, wash the razor with soap and warm water. You should also rinse your blade every few strokes to remove any trapped hair or soap that might be clogging it up.
6 KEEP YOUR BLADE SHARP - ideally, you should be replacing your blade every 5-7 shaves to avoid razor burn and ingrown hairs. Using a dull razor blade will increase your chances of skin irritation and leave you with patches of hair that haven’t been removed. It also entices you to use more pressure with the dull blade, causing more irritation for the skin. Keep your blade sharp for longer by avoiding leaving it around water - set it on a dry cloth in between uses.
You can explore the full range of YOKU safety razors here.