It seems like nearly every corner of life has developed an environmentally conscious option by now.
We can drive electric cars, switch to paperless billing, buy reusable coffee mugs and water bottles, and turn our bottles and cans in at the recycling center (even if our true motivation is the 5-cent refund!).
Yet even still, as most industries tout their eco-friendly innovations with pride, many people are largely unaware that such options exist when it comes to natural hair removal.
There is a startling lack of press on the subject, so don’t feel out of the loop if you haven’t heard about hair removal in an environmentally friendly context before. It’s neither surprising nor a real coincidence; the mega-corporations that make millions from disposable razors would only lose profit from people learning about and turning to eco-friendly alternatives. And what’s more, it seems that people’s main concern when it comes to hair removal is not saving the oceans and the trees, but their own skin!
We’re not judging you!
Hair removal is, quite literally, a sensitive topic.
For most people, deciding which method to choose hinges on price, pain tolerance, and level of permanence. With the fear and anxiety surrounding how painful the process will be, it’s understandable that the average person automatically, maybe even instinctually, prioritizes the simplest, least painful option– even if it means forgetting to check how kind that hair removal method is to the planet.
No matter how you prefer to get silky, smooth skin, there are new techniques, tips, and treatments that get you the same results (or better!) but with a more eco-conscious or natural hair removal approach.
Change is hard and few will deny it, but the fact remains that the old way may not be the best way in terms of hair removal.
For many people, shaving was their first introduction to hair removal and remains their method of choice after years and years. It makes sense, seeing as it can be accomplished quickly, inexpensively, and without ripping or stinging… so long as you avoid nicking the skin.
Even for those that have opted for fancier alternatives like waxing or laser hair removal, the razor is kept as an old stand-by or reserved for larger, less-fussy body parts like the calves. But while shaving, how many of us let the shower head continue to stream down warm water as we balance, one leg on the wall of the tub, trying to glide the razor evenly through patches of shaving cream without nicking the skin? Only to toss the razor, or at least its detachable plastic head, into the trash a few days later at the first signs of rust or dullness.
The shaving process, though seemingly easy and something we’re all quite used to for the most part, is pretty flawed when you think about it.
It’s not just the frequent disposal of plastic razor heads and handles– all of which rely on dangerous chemicals to manufacture and add to our landfills when they’re thrown out. The shaving process is problematic because of how much water it’s often thought to require, the energy needed to heat that water, and the added build-up of shaving cream bottles and the plastic packaging that seals them both.
It’s not a pretty picture when you look closely enough.
Starting Slow: Shaving Adjustments
If this has all come as somewhat of a shock to the system, you can start slow with these easy ways of adjusting your shaving process to limit its impact on the ecosystem:
- Use a razor that has detachable, disposable heads and a handle that can be reused. Then, at the very least, you won’t be throwing away an entire plastic handle each time your blades wear out.
- Shave during a bath to avoid letting the water run excessively while you focus on getting that tricky area behind your knee.
- Shave your legs without using a large amount of water at all. Instead of filling a large tub– and refilling when the water cools off– or taking a shower, rinse your legs (or desired area) for a few seconds and then switch off the water entirely. Lather the area to be shaved with shaving cream or skin protectant of choice and rinse your razor as needed in a cup of warm water.
- Try a razor with one blade instead of the 4 and 5 blade contraptions. A quality straight razor or safety razor will last indefinitely, with only the inexpensive single blades needing occasional replacement. They’re plastic-free and much sharper than many disposable razor brands, which is a benefit but also a warning to use caution when getting used to them!
- To cut down on chemicals and landfill supply, another eco-friendly shaving tip that doesn’t require too much effort or money is giving up store-bought shaving cream for any of these alternatives:
- Zero product – Some skin types manage just fine with a hot towel applied or a bit of hot water to moisten, open the pores, and relax the hairs.
- Coconut Oil or Aloe Vera – Cheap, one-ingredient options that protect the skin and moisturize sans chemicals.
- Homemade Shaving Cream – combining ingredients like olive oil, essential oils, honey, and coconut oil can be the natural shaving cream you never knew you needed. Recipes are easy to find online, or you can try this one!
- Shave less! The best way to cut back on how much water, chemicals, and plastic you’re using is by relying on them less often.
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Committing to Earth Conservation
For those of you that are truly inspired and motivated to take as much impactful action as possible in the war against environmentally harmful hair removal, you might be interested in some of these more complicated natural hair removal conversions:
- Waxing doesn’t require any water, and doesn’t have to require any chemicals. It is usually more expensive than the price of a disposable razor, especially if you’re tackling one of the larger body parts, but has quite a few upsides that may make the cost worth it to you. Besides being more considerate to the environment, the results last longer than shaving. That means no prickly stubble to wake up to, and more time to enjoy smooth skin. Plus, the hair is likely to be finer and easier to remove the next time, when it does eventually grow back. See our recommendations for the best home wax kits here.
- Body sugaring has gained a lot of popularity recently– and for good reason. The technique is actually quite old, dating back to the 1900s. Sugar, lemon, and water– three of the most basic, natural ingredients that most people already keep stocked in their kitchens– are mixed together to form a paste that is then applied and removed like wax. So why not wax? Well, sugaring doesn’t require the same waiting time as waxing, since hair can be sugared off at ⅛ of an inch compared to waxing’s suggested ¼ inch. Plus, at this length hair is most likely still in the growth stage, which means that repeated damage can lead to permanent results. People with sensitive skin types may also appreciate that sugaring only removes the unwanted hairs and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, sparing the important skin layers that waxing or laser can sometimes damage. It also does not have to be heated, so while there is still the sting of pulling out hair follicles, there at least won’t be the added burn of hot wax.