Our fast-paced society has demanded the development of products that simplify and/or expedite our daily processes. Unfortunately the environment typically takes the insult of inconvenience in return for our convenience. For much of the world's population shaving is a daily task. This task has been made more convenient in recent years by the advent of such products as the disposable razor and aerosol shave creams and gels as well as electric razors. This article explores some alternatives that may be more environmentally friendly than disposable razors and canned creams and gels.
Shaving Soap vs. Shaving Cream/Gel
Shaving creams and gels that come in disposable cans can be replaced by more environmentally-friendly shaving soaps with minimal effort. Shaving soaps have seen a slight resurgence in popularity in recent years due to the expansion of specialty shaving stores like The Art of Shaving. These stores have introduced many younger individuals to classic shaving techniques while simultaneously advancing the technology of the tools and products used for shaving. Despite this resurgence of classic shaving products the shaving aisle in the typical American department store is likely to only contain one or possibly two shaving soaps among the dozens of canned shaving creams and gels. This speaks to the convenience of the canned products and their superior marketing.
Marketing teams have done their job in convincing the public that their products will result in a smoother, less irritating shave. The majority of the public have been swayed by this marketing ploy resulting in millions of disposable shaving products being purchased annually. In contrast the individuals that have been made aware of more environmentally-friendly shaving soaps may be deterred by the cost of these products at specialty stores such as The Art of Shaving. Fortunately, alternatives exist for those individuals that are both on a budget and environmentally conscious.
Today shaving soaps are available in all types, scents and prices. The process of using these soaps is a bit more time consuming than a typical foaming gel or cream from a disposable can, but the results are worth it. Shaving soaps must be worked into a lather since they typically come in a hard form like a bath bar. The lather is formed by wetting the soap in a shaving mug or bowl and using an animal or synthetic hair brush to vigorously work the soap into a lather. This rich lather is then applied to the beard using the brush. The brush works the lather into the beard for a closer, less irritating shave.
Traditional Shaving Kit
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Disposable razors are so ubiquitous that it hardly seems possible that there was ever a time that they did not exist. Unfortunately, disposable razors, like other disposable shaving products have been filling landfills for decades. Fortunately there are options available for those that would like to reduce their environmental impact.
Many individuals have already made the switch to dispoable cartridges. In this instance the buyer purchases a reusable handle and simply tosses the cartridge when the blades become dull. While these are definitely more environmentally-friendly than disposing of both blades and the handle each time, there is still a significant amount of waste produced. In addition these cartridges can become very expensive over time. Many of the better razors may cost as much as $25 for 8 cartridges.
Straight razors are rare in today's society. Their use is almost exclusively the domain of barbers and stylists as well as actors in westerns. This staple of ancient society has been replaced largely due to the learning curve required to master it. Though straight razors are the most environmentally friendly razor option, they require a steady hand, nerves of steel and lots of patience.
Safety razors do a good job of bridging the gap between the convenience of the disposable cartridge and the environmental-friendliness of the straight razor. The disposable portion of these razors is just the blade itself. These blades can be recycled and are very inexpensive to manufacture. It's possible to purchase a package of 10 high-quality blades for less than $5 at many department stores and pharmacies. The initial investment in the handle is more than other disposable razor handles, but the overal cost of ownership is much less. Additionally, these razor handles can often be purchased at antique shops for much less than the price of a new one. Expect a learning curve with these razors as well, but not as much of one as with the straight razors listed above.
If you decide to try some of these products, but don't want to jump in with both feet it is recommended that you begin with the shaving soap. The next time you are in need of shaving cream just go to your local pharmacy or department store and purchase an inexpensive soap and brush to begin your journey into environmental shaving. The other implements can be purchased as needed.
Congratulations on helping to save the environment, while simultaneously experiencing a ritual of manhood in the same fashion as your grandfather.