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Reporting back from the bathroom

This post may contain more information than you wanted to know about me.  Consider yourself warned.

As you may remember, I've talked about the Preserve razor, Beth's (Fake Plastic Fish) suggestion to try a safety razor, and my time-consuming first attempt at buying a safety razor off of e-Bay.  The safety razor seemed like a lot of work, and a little eco-weirdo, but I liked the old-timey-ness of it and frankly I thought it might be kind of sexy to use a safety razor for legs.  So I kept at it, and found one on e-Bay that some guy had used a couple of times and decided it was too much work.  He threw in some blades, soap, and a badger brush, so the whole shebang was pretty much a steal.  (Plus,  it was a "buy it now" option, which soothed my impatience.)  Anyway.  Girls, LISTEN UP (and dudes too): this is the best thing ever.  Ever. 

Have I ever considered drag on my skin?  Not really.  But this shave tells me that I should have.  The safety razor shave is so clean and comfortable, I never want to go back to crappy plastic blades.  Have I cut myself?  Nope, not once.  (It's called a safety razor.)  Razor burn?  No way.  The delicate underarm and bikini regions?  No prob if you take it slow.  I've gotten rid of some perma-burn that I didn't even know I had...it's probably been plaguing my pits for the last 15 years! 

Do it now!  This guide gives a lot of great info about what razors to buy, how to clean them, what blades/soaps/brushes to use, etc.  (It actually gives waaaaaaaay too much information, and the boys-club tone is really aggravating, but it's a great place to start.  Hopefully some funnier and more industrious eco-blogger chick will start up a ladies' shaving forum - I'll gladly comment.)  I bought an HD Merkur Classic b/c it has a longer handle and it's what people seemed to recommend.  I've been alternating between regular bar soap and some fancy shaving cream in a tube (using the badger brush) when I can luxuriate a little - they both work fine.  The first time you try you'll need to take a little time, just to get the feel of it.  The dude on the shaving site recommends shaving with the growth of the hair on the first pass; I don't really think this is necessary for legs unless you're really hairy or nervous about it.

So here we have this amazing gourmet shaving experience, which will actually turn out to be cheaper in the long run and better for the environment.  Hooray!  As for the straight razor, the option that produces no waste at all (I guess you just sharpen the blade?), I'm thinking it's a little too nuts for the legs.  Maybe I'll try it when my DE (double-edged) razor amortizes to nearly zero?  That'll take a while.

Finally, I promised months ago that I'd follow up on my Keeper experience.  (The Keeper is an enviro-alternative for tampons.)  I wish I was as excited about it as the safety razor, but...I can't give it a two thumbs up (yet?).  For one, the Keeper comes in two sizes, B for "before childbirth" and A for "after childbirth" - can we circulate a petition for T for "tiny"?  The size thing makes installation and de-installation a little harrowing, but once everything's all set, no worries for the rest of the day.   I recently found an online forum for all things eco-menstrual, so I'm thinking I'll try to work up the courage to spend some time reading the brave girls' advice and give the Keeper a few more tries.

Posted on Monday, May 5, 2008 at 10:32PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | Comments23 Comments | References2 References

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Reader Comments (23)

Thanks for the link. The "Lady Gillette" is a great looking razor and would be just the ticket for shaving legs---my niece and my daughter both use one. Here's a photo, which you should click twice for full size.

One thing I would recommend: try using a shaving stick---shaving soap in stick form. You rub it against the grain and then work up the lather with a wet brush. Honeybee Spa has shave sticks in a wide variety of fragrances, and her shea-butter shaving soap is extremely good: great lather and kind to the skin.

I agree: shaving with the grain for the first pass was a directive aimed at shaving their beards. On the legs, it would, I think, be both difficult and unnecessary.

I apologize for the "boy's-club tone." I didn't consider a female audience, which was thoughtless. I'll try revising it. I do include a link to a thread in one of the shaving forums that discusses safety-razor shaving for women, though---it's right toward the end of that post.

May 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeisureguy

Wow, Leisureguy, look at all the additional great tips! That razor is a beauty. To be fair, the majority of the readers of your guide are going to be men, and you still provide a ton of information that is extremely useful to women. Thanks for your thoughtful response to my comments. It is actually the discussion thread that you link to that is the most egregious - the way the manly DE-shaving men talk about their wives/girlfriends is more than a little icky.

The Honeybee products look amazing - I'm always up for some non-chain, high-quality action in my bathroom. Some of my readers are plastic-free, which might present a problem, but these seem a helluva lot better than cans of shaving cream or tiny plastic bottles of shaving lotion.

May 6, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

Oh, yeah. You're right, the shaving forums do descend into guy-parody from time to time. I don't much like that sort of thing---in fact, I'm banned for life from the forum to which I linked. OTOH, sometimes the forums can be extremely helpful. So one must read with caution. Avoid reading threads like the one discussing the use of a man purse---though some like them, many responses seem to be written by 12-year-olds: guys who won't even hold their wife's purse, for example, or guys who own some but are quick to assure us that they never use them. Jeez.)

My daughter, I find, uses Kiss My Face shaving cream in the pump bottle with her Lady Gillette. If you like that sort of thing, I recommend Em's lathering shaving creams (you use a brush to build the lather), which come in a pump bottle in a variety of great fragrances.

Both Em and Honeybee Sue have a range of bath and beauty products, and so far as I can tell, they are all excellent.

May 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeisureguy

Oh: on the Lady Gillette. If you want one, create a favorite search in this section of eBay and one will eventually appear. Before you bid, make sure that you see a photo of the top of the razor (both closed and open) as well as the handle, etc. You can request additional photos if the seller doesn't show those areas.

To clean a vintage razor like that, let it soak in hot (from the tap) water and vinegar (about 3-to-1 or 4-to-1) for an hour or so, then use a nonabrasive cleaner (like Scrubbing Bubbles or Ban Ami) and a toothbrush to do any further cleaning. Then you can pour a little mineral oil down the inside of the handle to lubricate, and it's good to go.

Blades, for guys at least, vary a LOT in quality of experience and ease of use. You might want to try different brands through getting a small sampler pack.

May 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeisureguy

Wow! I'm so glad I decided to post on this...thanks so much for all of your suggestions, Leisureguy!

May 6, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

I haven't tried the Keeper so I can't say for sure, but it took me a couple of months before I got the hang of my Diva. And I love it. Try giving it more than one cycle for sure.

Sheesh it seems like everyone's switching to safety razors these days! I gotta admit, I use my Venus razors for like a year before I switch 'em out, and I have like four blades left. Maybe when I'm finished with those, I'll try out the straight razor.

May 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterarduous

Fantastic Post, Megan!

Your article will be passed around to all of the women who are sick of hearing my revolutionary razor cries of Economy, Ecology, and Enjoyment!

For anyone not interested in battling E-bay, and looking for a brand spanking new Weishi razor and blades for under $20, feel free to visit Retrorazor.com Full disclosure, the site is mine...the reviews in the forums are overwhelmingly positive for the Weishi considering the price!

May 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChadd Bennett

Wow, Chadd - that is a great price! I delete pretty much all of the product sellers/spam/trackbacks who comment on my posts (with a few exceptions), but it's clear you're a one-man-band and really enthusiastic about what you're doing -- for luxury, for the environment, for retro-flavor. Thanks for sharing the info and keep on spreading the word! Good luck -

May 8, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

Sounds like a plan, arduous - let me know how it goes. And I think I'm gonna buy those Retrorazors for my cousins for graduation...

May 8, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

One thought: if you don't like the plastic-encased shave stick, just buy one of the Honeybee Spa pucks of shaving soap and use it like a stick---i.e., rub it against the grain on your wet leg, then build the lather with a brush. It works fine. Those do come in a little plastic wrap, but I imagine that Honeybee Sue would be willing to ship you unwrapped rounds of shaving soap. You can email her at Honeybeespa@att.net. Tell her I sent you. If you buy several pucks, she'll ship them all in the same box so you save on postage---I think I recall that you can get six pucks for the same postage as one. And then, of course, you then have stocking stuffers for Xmas. :)

For a finishing pass, you can try rubbing a few drops of oil on your wet leg and shaving over that---no lather. You can use regular oils---olive oil, almond oil, or the like. See this post for a detailed discussion. After doing the polishing pass, rinse and then rub dry with a towel. A tiny bit of oil remains, but it's very nice.

I'm leery of using glass bottles in the bathroom, because if dropped, glass will break into sharp pieces, whereas plastic will not. But that's just me.

A wonderful oil is the one made by Rituals Skincare---and their aftershave balm (Milk and Honey Lotion) is very nice, too: www.ritualsskincare.com. If you order, tell Linda I sent you. (BTW, if you request it, she does have samples --- I don't think they're necessarily free, but you can test a little before you buy a lot.)

Hope this info is useful. The oil pass really leaves your skin feeling nice and smooth.

May 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeisureguy

You've inspired me to ditch my old disposables and take to my legs and pits with a safety razor! I purchased the Merkur 'Barber Pole' 38C model.

Also, for the Keeper: it's a great idea, but it seems a bit stiff and uncomfortable. Plus, you can't really boil it to sterilize it. I prefer silicone cups and though the Ladycup is my first and only one, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I plan to review that and my safety razor on my blog in the coming month.

May 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandyPandy

Wow, awesome! You'll have to keep me posted. Did you find your LadyCup in the US?

thanks for reading -

May 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

PS: I was curious? What brand of blades are you currently using with your Merkur? How do you like them?

PPS: You'll never have to amortize a Merkur; from what I've read in the forums, most good quality Safety Razors last darn near forever. My razor hasn't even arrived yet and I already suspect that thing's gonna outlive me.

May 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandyPandy

Hmm... that's weird, I posted two comments and only one shows up. Makes the 'PS' part look strange.

Anywho, to recap: Ladycups are not yet available here in the US, so I purchased mine on eBay (the seller is the manufacturer). The small is the smallest and springiest/softest menstrual cup you'll find and therefore the most comfortable. That's not to say mentrual cups are comfortable, not by a long shot, but this one does the least amount of damage.

May 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandyPandy

KEEP trying!! It took me a few days/cycles to fall totally in love with my Diva cup, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

I'm excited to check out this safety razor business...

May 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterashley

Uh-oh, MandyPandy..."not by a long shot" doesn't sound good. Mine really is fine except for the coming-and-going. Maybe something else? I remember Inga Muscio talking about using a natural sponge in her book Cunt.

Maybe I'll try the Diva or LadyCup after a year or so is up -- I usually spend at least $40 a year on tampons, right? They're like $7 a box or something here in NYC.

I'm using Merkur blades. I haven't used any others, so I don't know how they would compare. Funny, I went to The Art of Shaving today - they primarily sell products and super high-end handles and disposable plastic blades - and the salesdude tried to convince me that it was my cream and the brush that is giving me a better shave. He was saying the brush lifts the hair. He also tried to sell me a lot more stuff. Let me know what you find.

Thanks for reading, Ashley!

May 12, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

Well, I've only gone one cycle with the Ladycup and I am rather...er...Asian...so I might actually be the only one having problems. A few more runs and I should be fine, as everyone else on the boards seems to love Ladycup rave about it.

As for blades, I ordered Derby blades, and would like to try Feathers. Those are the two everyone is buzzing about, apparently.

Hmm... retailers like Art of Shaving and Whish don't do much for me. A shave with a badger brush and shave cream/soap will always be better than one with a can of Barbasol, but even hair conditioner protects better than shaving gels/foam. I suspect that it really is the safety razor and blades that make the most difference. I don't much care for wetshaving myself (I'm a die-hard oilshaver).

P.S: you've inspired me to do my own little post about Safety Razors:


May 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandyPandy

My husband has always used a shaving brush and safety razor. When I was hugely pregnant (and couldn't see my legs much less reach them) he shaved my legs for me with his DE. He encouraged me to use one for a smoother shave, and when I read your post, I was further inspired. At first I was slow so I didn't cut my ankles and knees, but I've gotten faster. Now my razor is part of a set online at Lee's Razors. Hopefully more women will give it a try! Here's the link: http://www.leesrazors.com/products/Ultimate-Double-Edge-Setup-for-Her.html

December 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

I had a Keeper for many years, and when it needed to be replaced I went to a Diva Cup - it is sooo much more comfortable! The silicone is much more flexible than the rubber, so it doesn't push against other things, and it seems to form a tighter seal.

Also, I snitch my bf's Merkur classic when I feel like shaving - love it!

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterE

I've used both the Diva Cup and the Keeper and personally prefer the Diva. However, if you've tried one brand and it was uncomfortable I recommend checking out some brand comparisons by size. There's a livejournal community that discusses the different widths and heights, just do a quick google search or look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cup and compare it to your current menstrual cups dimensions. Don't give up right away though, it took me four or so cycles to really get the hang of my keeper.

December 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercynthia

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