A Close Shave: How Male Grooming Changes Can Save The Planet

4 mins

From switching to a safety razor, to choosing synthetic brushes, Louise Emma Clarke shares the ways to ensure your shaving regime is ethical and cruelty-free

It is estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency that 2 billion disposable single-use razors are thrown away every single year. Most can’t be recycled post shave, as the handles are made of plastic and the blades are dangerous to disassemble, which means there are a staggering volume ending up in landfills or making their way to the ocean. And that, of course, is a big problem for both the environment and marine life.

That’s not all, because while the blades of razors may not be tested on animals, other products in the range by the same company could be. And those blades may also contain a moisturising strip made from glycerine; a compound that is often made from animal products.

Furthermore, if you use a shaving brush, you also need to consider whether the hair is synthetic. Most shaving brushes tend to be made from horse hair, but some are made from the hair of badgers, goats, or boars. Going for a brush that is guaranteed synthetic is the only way to ensure you aren’t using the hair of another animal to help remove your own.

shave utensils

Most shaving brushes tend to be made from horse hair, but some are made from the hair of badgers, goats, or boars. Image: iStock

And finally, your shaving cream may not be as ethical or environmentally-friendly as you’d hoped. Shaving foams and creams are made of mostly water, but they can also contain animal-derived glycerine, animal fat, or lanolin derivatives, as well as other unsafe chemicals. Hunting for a product that is cruelty-free and as natural as possible for your skin is an important final step.

Inspired to clean up your (shaving) act? We rounded up three top tips for ethical, cruelty-free shaving.

  1. Switch to a safety razor

Put down that pack of disposable razors and instead, switch to a safety razor. It’s more economical, less wasteful, and more environmentally-friendly too.

Raynor Smith, a shaving expert for the brand TICO (ticoshaving.com) explains: ‘It never ceases to surprise me that we have, in such a short time frame, completely forgotten how our grandfathers and forefathers used to shave. Cheap, overpriced, disposable, ineffective razors that most people have been trained by marketing and grocery store shelves to use are far from what folks like Teddy Roosevelt and James Dean used to reach for when it came time to sharpen up and shave with the grain.’

Not only does a safety razor promise a closer and more effective shave and save you money in the long run, but it is also far better for the environment. Smith continues: ‘All safety razor blades are 100 percent recyclable. All disposable razors are 0 percent recyclable and have petroleum based plastics. When the metal blades are so permanently attached to their plastic cradles, there is no way they can be separated to be recycled.’

Buy: Feather Double Edge Razor (28.75 AED) and Feather Hi Stainless Blades Double Edge (10pcs) (4.50 AED, both Luluwebstore.com)

  1. Make sure your shaving brush is synthetic

Until recently, shaving brushes were always made of animal hair, but it’s now pretty easy to find synthetic brushes when shopping around. This is the biggest change to the shaving brush since it was first manufactured 250 years ago – and it’s great news to fans of ethical grooming.

The good news is that you won’t be sacrificing on quality, as synthetic brushes are soft and offer a certain amount of resistance to raise the beard up and prepare it for shaving. The brushes are also easier to wash and care for, because you won’t lose any hairs whilst cleaning.

The only drawback is that the brushes aren’t as abrasive and won’t exfoliate your skin in the same way that animal hair will but adding a natural, skin-friendly exfoliator to your skincare regime solves this problem. Exfoliate before shaving to slough away dead skin and achieve the closest possible shave.

Buy: The Body Shop Synthetic Shaving Brush (60 AED, Stores Nationwide) and LUSH Ocean Salt Alcohol-Free Scrub (95 AED, Lush.ae)

  1. Pick a natural shaving product
shave

Getting the blade to glide effortlessly and safely across your skin is imperative and until now, your top priority may have been to find a product that encourages the closest and most effective shave.

But what is inside that product matters too and depending on the brand and the ingredients, it may well be tested on animals or contain several products that derive from animals. And unless you are specifically shopping for a natural brand, it is also likely to contain synthetic ingredients that are being absorbed straight into our skin.

With plenty of high quality natural brands available in the UAE, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. From natural creams, to lotions, to foams, to oils, make it your priority to look for shaving products that are labelled organic, natural, and cruelty-free.

Buy: Grown Alchemist Sandalwood & Shave, 170 AED (Greenchicme.com)

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