In honor of Father’s Day, we’re running a series on personal care just for men. We kick it off with this post on clean and “green” shaving, by Katie Kelleher and Diane MacEachern.
We love a guy who takes care of his face. Though beards are more “natural,” you can still “go green” if you shave. Here’s how:
Start with the shaver itself – electric, or blade?
An electric shaver uses electricity, but saves money on shaving cream, hot water, as much as $100/yr in throwaway blades, and even more when you factor in the cost of throw-away razors. Plus, an electric razor reduces the amount of trash you toss since you don’t discard empty shaving cream cans every few weeks. A straight razor saves electricity, but requires soap and a dish or shaving cream – – and maybe a lot of band-aids, depending on how skillfully you can pull what amounts to a sharp metal knife across your throat. A disposable razor is, well, disposable. In fact, 2 billion disposable razors are sold every year in the U.S., most of them made from petroleum products that are already in short supply.
Unless you’re traveling and left your reusable razor at home, skip the disposables in favor of a reusable option.
What we suggest (and granted, we only shave our legs and arm pits, not our rosy faces; we do wax our eyebrows, but we don’t really recommend frequent and whole-face waxing for guys…) –
* Rechargeable electric razor – Rechargeables can be expensive to purchase initially, but their long life usually warrants the up front cash outlay. If you recharge them using a solar charger, you reduce the amount of energy they use considerably. Unlike other models, the Braun Pulsonic Shaver contains no cadmium, lead or mercury in its components. Its Smart Plug technology has earned it an Energy Star rating for energy efficiency from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A straight razor uses no energy other than your own, but be careful! Keep a box of band-aids at the ready. In place of shaving cream, many men use a shaving brush and soap in a jar, for a very low cost, low-tech approach. NOTE: You probably can’t take the straight razor on an airplane. If you travel a lot, you will still need an electric razor or a reusable razor with disposable blades.
If you use a reusable razor but disposable blades, consider the Razor Saver. This little gadget sharpens blades so you can extend their life from the normal 5-10 shaves per blade to 130.
If you absoslutely must use a disposable, choose one like Recycline. The handle is made from recycled plastic and can be recycled in any community that allows recycling for #5 plastics.
What about shaving cream?
When picking a cream, read the label. Skip products that contain:
• Synthetic fragrance (which contribute to acne as well as respiratory illnesses; you may see the word “fragrance” or “added fragrance” rather than the specifics, like lemon or pine oil)
• Antibacterial agents (doctors worry we’re building up too much immunity to antibiotics because we overuse antibacterials)
• Parabens (a preservative linked to cancer in people and lab animals)
• Phthalates (classified as a reproductive toxin in the state of California)
(Living Green provides a more extensive list of the chemicals commonly found in conventional shaving cream.)
Also note: Standard shaving creams come in aerosol cans which may be difficult to recycle in some communities. Plus, the cans contain only a small amount of product compared to the size of the container. A greener alternative: a 6 oz. tube of non-aerosol shaving cream, the equivalent of five to ten cans of conventional shaving cream, or soap in a jar and a shaving brush.
* Burt’s Bees Natural Shaving Products can be found at most grocery stores, drug stores, and natural food outlets, as well as a variety of specialty shoppes. Their men’s shaving line includes shaving cream in a tube, after shave lotion, and a travel kit of plant-based cream and lotions formulated especially for guys.
• Anthony Logistics for Men These plant and vitamin-based personal care products include an entire line devoted to shaving needs featuring cleansers, toners, astringents, shave gel and shave cream. The Perfect Shave gift set ($50), includes a travel case with facial cleanser, pre-shave oil, shave cream, after-shave balm, and a grooming card with information and tips.
• Soap for Goodness Sake offers a line of handmade, all-natural shaving soaps and accessories. The bar of shaving soap costs only $4.99; pair it with a cup and brush to avoid using canned shaving cream.
• Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Gel is certified fair trade and USDA organic, comes in five different scents and retails for around $7.99. Purchase through Dr. Bronner’s website or at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores.
• Aubrey-Organics plant-based shaving line includes face scrub, shave cream, and after shave in three scents: City Rhythms, North Woods, and Spice Island. An added bonus: right now, you can save 25% off of any complete shave system when purchased through Aubrey-Organics.com site.
What works for you? Let us know.
Want more info? Start here.