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Trying to reconcile a desire for smooth, hairless skin with an eco-conscious lifestyle can be, well, challenging.

Most razors are designed for convenience, which is why billions of disposable plastic razors and refill cartridges end up in the nearest landfill every year. In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated the number at 2 billion, and it’s likely only gone up since then.

The good news is that eco-friendly razors are out there. And once you get the hang of these so-called safety razors, not only are you upping your environmental game by a long shot, but you’re also getting seriously smooth skin.

Read on for all the benefits of eco-friendly razors, a round-up of the best options out there, and a few helpful best practices.

The eco-friendly razor isn’t just low waste. With its built-to-last metal handles, it’s truly zero waste. All you’re replacing is the metal blade itself.

While not all municipal recycling programs accept blades tossed straight into the recycle bin, many companies have a workaround for that. Some, like Hanni and Leaf Shave offer a blade bin — a little metal tin with a slot for inserting used blades — that many recycling programs will accept. And there’s always TerraCycle, a robust recycling program that accepts all kinds of hard-to-recycle items, including used blades and traditional disposable razors.

The sustainability angle is a big selling point, but what about performance? Spoiler alert: Safety razors offer a superior shave. Your skin is left incredibly smooth, but it’s not just hair that’s missing — it’s the burn.

Advertising and marketing campaigns have taught us that more blades are better, but if you’ve ever experienced irritation and chronic ingrown hairs, you might already suspect that that isn’t the case.

When a razor has more than one blade, it’s using a lift-and-cut method. The first blade actually lifts the hair, while the second (and third and fourth and fifth) slices the hair off. The result is a close shave, sure, but also a greater likelihood of ingrown hairs. Plus, the more blades you have, the more friction you create. And friction means irritation (i.e., razor burn).

A single blade, on the other hand, works on the surface of the skin to cut hair. You still get a super close shave, but it comes without the same risk of ingrown hair and general irritation. This is because the single blade creates far less friction.

A general lack of irritation can also be credited to how you use a safety razor. Those metal handles, often made of chrome or stainless steel, are noticeably weighty — far heavier than a disposable plastic version. That’s intentional; the idea is to let the weight of the razor do the work for you.

Instead of applying pressure and shaving the same area again and again, a safety razor requires a much more delicate touch. There is a learning curve, but the reward is skin so smooth it feels freshly waxed, with none of the drawbacks of that more painful hair removal method. The kids call it “dolphin skin,” and the hype is real.

Clearly, eco-friendly razors have a lot going for them. Still, there are a few drawbacks:

  • Higher price point. Right out of the gate, you’ll pay a lot more for your eco-friendly razor. Depending on the brand, you can spend over $100 for the razor and a few blades, so it’s definitely an investment. On the plus side, refills tend to be cheaper than traditional disposable cartridges. Over the long run, you’ll save money with a safety razor.
  • Checked luggage only. If you’re a committed carry-on traveler, fair warning. According to a 2018 blog post from the Transportation Security Administration, safety razor blades must be stored in checked luggage.
  • No rushing. If you’re used to racing through your shaving routine, you’ll need to slow it way down to avoid nicking yourself. The key is short, ultra-gentle strokes.
  • Requires maintenance. Keeping your razor in good shape probably isn’t top of mind if you plan to toss it in a few days anyway. But a safety razor is meant to stick around, so you’ll want to look after it with a little more care. If your razor doesn’t come with a stand, so it’s upright for drying in the shower, wipe it down (carefully) with a towel and stash it somewhere safe.

A note on editorial testing

Sifting through product descriptions and customer reviews can be overwhelming. We’re here to make researching products easier.

In some cases, that means having our writers and editors test products to see how they perform in real life. In others, we rely on crowdsourcing reviewer feedback from retail sites.

For this review, our writer tested one of the razors herself in order to bring you her first-hand review. She also scoured customer reviews for other razors to decide which products deserve a spot on the list.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20–$50
  • $$$ = over $50
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Best eco-friendly razor overall

Hanni The Weighted Razor

  • Price: $$
  • What’s included: razor, five blades, silicone travel cap

From the design to the accessories, Hanni is doing everything right.

The Weighted Razor has a 5-inch grooved handle made of powder coated metal. It comes in three colors, with a butterfly mechanism holding the wafer-thin blade firmly in place.

Twist the bottom of the razor, and the top opens for swapping out blades. Each blade comes wrapped in paper, and the old ones go straight into the razor bin. Zero waste, remember?

I’ll be honest — I was frankly scared to test this thing out. The heft of it in my hand was a little intimidating, along with the double-sided blade at the top. Decades of shaving experience had me automatically pushing too hard, and my first pass left a nick. I eased up on the pressure, and suddenly, I could see what all the excitement was about.

In addition to the quality of the handle and the thoughtful blade bin, there’s Shave Pillow, a truly brilliant shaving cream in stick form. It glides on like deodorant for the hands-down best dry shave ever. Zero hair, zero irritation, and a great amount of hydration.

Hanni sells a starter set for everything you need to start shaving sustainably, including the Shave Pillow. Now that I’ve tried it, I’ll never be without it.

Best eco-friendly razor for sensitive skin

OUI the People The Single

  • Price: $$$
  • What’s included: razor, 10 blades

Available in rose gold and limited edition matte black, The Single is a decidedly stylish safety razor.

It’s also incredibly well-made. Each razor is engineered and manufactured in Germany specifically for sensitive skin, which involves considerations of the angle, weight, balance, and length.

What’s more, the company has a limited availability each month. It’s a sign of the workmanship going into the product, for sure.

The company’s commitment to sustainability extends to packaging — each razor comes in 100 percent paperboard.

The reviews on this one are stellar. Roughly 92 percent of more than 550 reviews rave about the incredible shave, even on sensitive skin.

Most traditional eco-friendly razor

Leaf Shave The Leaf Razor

  • Price: $$$
  • What’s included: razor, 10 blades

If you love everything about a good disposable razor but the environmental toll, you’re in luck. The Leaf Razor is a plastic-free razor with all the bells and whistles you know and love.

You have the option of loading up to three blades, which is pretty unique, and the pivoting head makes shaving fast and easy. Embedded magnets make it a snap to load new blades properly.

The Leaf has a long, grooved handle, and you can pay extra for a silicone sleeve if you’re worried about it getting slippery. It comes with plastic-free packaging and carbon-neutral shipping. Plus, the Leaf is compatible with any standard safety razor blade.

There are close to 2,700 overwhelmingly positive reviews, and customers are falling over themselves to praise the great shave they get.

Best eco-friendly razor for small places

Leaf Shave The Twig Razor

  • Price: $$$
  • What’s included: razor, five blades

The Twig Razor is The Leaf Razor’s little sibling: a true safety razor that can tackle head-to-toe shaving but works especially well on smaller places, like the bikini line or underarms.

At half the size of the standard safety razor, it’s a maneuverable option for precision shaving.

It shares the same magnetic blade catch feature as The Leaf Razor, along with a twist-to-open design for simplicity.

Best eco-friendly razor for the price

EcoRoots Safety Razor

  • Price: $$
  • What’s included: razor, five blades

The EcoRoots Razor has all the benefits of a well-made safety razor, plus it helps the planet and it’s stylish. With a chic rose gold color, it looks great in the bathroom, and it’s more affordable than other options on this list. Plus, this razor is made of entirely recyclable zinc alloy and stainless steel.

Reviewers say it’s easy to keep the razor clean, and changing the blades is a cinch.

Bonus points: For every razor sale, EcoRoots donates a portion of proceeds to the Ocean Conservancy.

Best eco-friendly razor for beginners

Rockwell Razors 6C

  • Price: $$
  • What’s included: razor, five blades

If it’s possible to improve on the safety razor, Rockwell Razors is doing it.

The Rockwell 6C double-edge safety razor comes with six shave settings, so it’s an excellent choice for beginners. Just switch the plates in the handle to adjust the angle of the blade for the precise amount of exposure to your hair and skin.

Different sizes accommodate sensitive skin, fine facial hair, stubble, and coarse or curly hair. According to Rockwell Razors, the design reduces the possibility of nicks and cuts, even for beginners.

The Rockwell 6C comes in three finishes, and it’s compatible with any brand of double-edged blades.

Best drugstore eco-friendly razor

Gillette Planet KIND Starter Kit

  • Price: $
  • What’s included: razor, eight blades

When we’re talking about disposable razors, Gillette is top of the list. But the brand’s Planet KIND line is designed far more eco-consciously.

This is a traditional five-blade razor, so you won’t get all the perks of the safety razor. But if speedy shaving is your thing, and you want something you can easily pick up at the drugstore, this is a reasonable option.

The razor handle is made with 60% percent recycled plastic, and both the handle and the blades can be completely recycled through TerraCycle. Gillette will even supply a free shipping label, so you can collect a bunch of used blades and send them directly to TerraCycle.

The packaging is all recyclable, as well.

Best bamboo eco-friendly razor

Public Goods Bamboo Razor Handle

  • Price: $
  • What’s included: razor (blades sold separately)

Public Goods offers another alternative to the metal safety razor, and this one is plastic-free. The version is a refillable bamboo handle that pairs with the brand’s three-blade cartridges.

If you go this route, you’ll want to investigate recycling old blade cartridges with TerraCycle, but at least you’ll have an elegant, sturdy handle that’s nicely balanced.

Reviewers are impressed with the quality for the price and the clean shave they get.

Getting the hang of the safety razor definitely takes some practice. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • No pressure. This is probably the most important thing to get right. Safety razors are designed with balanced heft, and that weight does all the heavy lifting for you. Apply pressure the way you would with a traditional plastic razor, and you’ll likely cut yourself.
  • Angle it properly. You might be used to holding your old plastic razor pretty parallel to your skin, but that won’t work with a safety razor. Tilt the blade, so it’s at a roughly 30-degree angle to your skin, and you’ll be rewarded with smooth skin.
  • Take it slow. You can’t rush a shave with a safety razor. Use short, light, gentle strokes, and be mindful about the process. This is self-care in action, and a little focus here is worth your time.
  • Use some kind of cream, lather, or oil. Suds up before you start shaving. The point is to avoid irritation, remember?
  • Put it away properly. When you’re done shaving, pat the razor dry and store it somewhere safe.

If you’re looking for ways to minimize your impact on the planet, you don’t have to give up shaving to do your part. A safety razor is an investment, but with a little patience, you’ll be a pro in no time. Enjoy smoother, less irritated skin and give the landfills a break.

Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at