It’s funny to see how much my habits and my values have changed since back when I wrote this post about the toiletries I was traveling with at the time. Since then, I’ve made an effort to go environmentally-friendly and disposable-plastic-free with my hair care, my toothcare, and beyond.
Yet for the longest time, I resisted taking the steps to give up my disposable razor head addiction. Y’all, I was a Schick Intuition devotee. But the little plastic razor heads, and all their unbelievably excessive plastic packaging, were just staring at me, filling me with guilt while I tried to enjoy my silky smooth legs.
It’s not a trivial issue to obsess over. A widely circulated figure by Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over two billion razors, just in America, are thrown away each year. Even more wince-worthy, they are not recyclable — municipal recycling programs in the U.S. will not accept them because they are sharp objects made of mixed materials. (This article explains the layered recycling issues with razors in more depth, though recycling is hardly a perfect solution, regardless.) So where do they end up? In landfills, or in the ocean, to live on this planet until the end of time.
It was time for me to make a change.
Short Term: My Leaf Shave Review
Part of my hesitation to change my habits was my fear of the alternatives — I’d read enough zero-waste blog posts about safety razors to know I was terrified of them. Enter Leaf Shave. Based in Connecticut, this sustainable startup offers an awesome alternative with a much shorter learning curve.
Instead of a traditional safety razor, which can be hard to get used to and takes a lot of concentration, Leaf Shave razors offer a pivoting head and the potential for up to three blades. This razor could literally be the last one you ever have to buy! And what an investment. No more guilt, no more throwing away money on expensive disposable razors or razor head refills, no more running to the store to buy them when you realize you’ve run out.
I was tickled when my Leaf Shave arrived packaged as promised; completely plastic-free. In fact, the only waste created at all by your purchase and use of a Leaf Shave is the tiny little steel blades, which some municipalities recycle.
Getting the razor heads in is simple. There’s a little instructional sheet that arrives with your package, or you can watch the videos on their social media for even more guidance. How often you’ll have to change them really depends on how often you shave and how thick your hair is!
So, how did the switch go?
My Intuition with shaving cream built-in was so easy, it literally took seconds to shave. With Leaf Shave, I have slowed down a little, but now that I’m used to it, shaving feels like a breeze again. At first I thought I needed to press harder to get a great shave, but the opposite is true — I needed to loosen up. Full disclosure: I did cut myself twice while getting the hang of things. But it was worth it, seriously!
At first I tried loading the razor with two blades, but three really does the job so much better. Personally, I seem to get about a month plus out of my blades. Recently I read a tip to flip them upside down when they get a little dull to get a few more shaves out of them — how clever! You don’t have to use the official Leaf Shave blades when they run out, either — any ‘ol blades will do.
Rather than buy shaving cream, I just run my solid conditioner over my legs or in my underarms. It allows me to travel lighter, consume more consciously, and fuss with one less product.
The Leaf Shave starter pack includes a razor in the finish of your choice, as well as twenty blades, and is $79. A package that also includes a solid metal stand, a blade disposer, and fifty blades goes for $109. Have sticker shock? Hit pause for a second — remember, this razor comes with a lifetime guarantee. Calculate how much your razor of choice costs for even a year, let alone the environmental costs. This post from an environmental blogger delves into why this is a sound financial investment, and how others pay the price for our addiction to cheap consumer goods.
Yes, Leaf Shave sponsored this post — because I reached out to them about doing so. I really believe in this product and the ethos of having fewer, but better-and-better-for-the-planet things. They’re actually currently developing a travel-friendly straight razor called The Twig that I look forward to trying eventually too. Stay tuned!
Some Questions About Leaf Shave
Can I fly with a Leaf Shave razor and blades in a carry on? According to the TSA, it’s technically a no as far as the blades go. That said, I have seen more than one blogger admit that they tuck the wrapped blades into their consmetic bags and get through with no issue. Bringing the razor itself isn’t a problem, so even if the blades got confiscated, you’d only be out a couple of cents — or you could buy blades upon arrival, anywhere you go.
What do I do with the old blades after changing them? I’ve been using Leaf Shave’s own blade disposal tin. It’s about the size of a tiny altoids box with a slit cut on the top to slip in used blades. I’ve actually been storing the new blades (wrapped in paper) on bottom and the used ones on top, which has been working fine so far. As it holds a couple hundred blade edges, it should last me a few years, at which point I can bring for recycling locally (often accepted with scrap metal drop-off) or mail (in a reused envelope, of course) back to Leaf Shave for recycling.
Do they ship to where I live? They basically ship everywhere — email them if you don’t see your country on their website. Their customer service is notably great.
What color should I get? Majorly important question! The Leaf Shave comes in a few colors — I love the silver, which is so sleek and makes me smile whenever I see it in my shower. The rose gold was super popular, and I often see calls for it on their social media channels, but alas, it has been discontinued due to an issue with the finish fading. Leaf Shave themselves recommend mercury black, which is incidentally the most sustainable finish they have as far as no waste in manufacturing. They also report it’s super scratch resistant and easy to maintain.
Long Term: My Laser Hair Removal Review
So, Leaf Shave is dope. But shaving is still a hassle, and it’s not exactly the most eco-friendly beauty routine even when plastic-free — shaving also uses almost eight thousand gallons of water a year! Eventually, I’d like to do a lot less of it.
Enter laser hair removal at Smooth Reflections in Albany. I have been wanting to get permanent hair removal for years, though a lot of things held me back: my blonde hair, concerns over how “permanent” it really is, the financial investment, and not being in the same place long enough to complete the cycles. Before moving to Thailand, I’d briefly tried a few electrolysis appointments for my underarms and found the process super painful, slow and expensive.
As I’ve shared in previous posts, I really wanted to take advantage of being in one place while home in Albany the past year — it was the perfect time to finally tackle hair removal again. The ideal laser candidate is someone with fair skin and dark hair — and I generally have the opposite. I chose Smooth Reflections specifically because they offer both electrolysis and laser hair removal — I didn’t want someone to make false promises about if my hair was laser-able, and figured they’d be less likely to if I was willing to do electrolysis as well, and they offered that too.
Immediately I knew I didn’t have to worry about Jaclyn being anything but honest with me. However, I was thrilled when she took a look at my hair and told me she thought that I’d be a candidate for laser! (I actually started doing electrolysis on another part of my body with Jaclyn as well, but more on that in a future post.) Not all lasers are created equal, but Jaclyn is highly trained and uses the top-of-the-line Cutera Excel HR Laser. I decided to start with my underarms — they are small, have darker hair, and the hair there always annoyed me the most — it seemed to show up minutes after shaving.
I found the appointments fairly quick and relatively pain-free — underarms and bikini each take about fifteen minutes, while lower legs take thirty or so. In fact, sometimes Jaclyn and I were having so much fun chatting I wished they were a little longer, ha. She grew to become a close friend and I was honored to shoot some new photos, featured in this post, for her social media channels. And I saw results, which made me decide to continue with other body parts.
Now, laser promises hair reduction, which it’s approved by the FDA for, as opposed to total removal. You have to have realistic expectations. A great site my friend who works in an ER for surgical reconstruction turned me on to is Real Self, where you can find thousands of real people’s reviews of various procedures — it gives you a good idea of the reliability and range of results you can expect. (And yes, as my thirtieth birthday approaches, I’ve been doing a LOT of research on there — ha!)
I’ve done five treatments on my my underarms and three on my legs and bikini and definitely have seen my hair growing in thinner and more slowly. But it’s still there for sure — hence the need for a great long-lasting razor! I do plan to continue, however I’ve had to give it a break now that I’ve gotten tan again from my travels.
Treatments are every 4-6 weeks, which can be tricky for travelers to schedule around, and the average person needs 6-10 of them. But the idea of never having to deal with razor burn or post-shave red hair bumps on the beach kinda makes it worth it.
While I was there for my laser hair removal appointments, I also took advantage of the fact that Jaclyn offers laser genesis treatments for face — a non-invasive treatment that works to even skin tones, treat fine lines and wrinkles, and soften acne by stimulating collagen growth to heal and replenish healthy skin tone and texture. It made me feel like I was getting an extra bonus out the time I took to get to the appointments!
Some Questions About Laser Hair Removal
Okay so seriously — does it hurt? Maybe it’s because I was distracted by girl talk, but personally I didn’t find laser bad except around the ankles, and my skin personally was never red or irritated after. In fact, I might ask Jaclyn to turn the laser up for my next appointment! Your period can make it more intense — if you’re concerned, maybe schedule so you don’t hit the week before.
I saw a super cheap deal on Groupon! Should I do it? Buyer beware. Jaclyn told me a lot about the industry and it’s a shame how many businesses use really old, outdated and ineffective lasers. Considering the time and effort investment, I’m glad I payed more to do it right with a dedicated and specialized technician (Jaclyn does nothing but hair removal all day every day!) and state of the line equipment.
How can I prepare for an appointment? You actually need to be clean shaven for laser! In fact, The cleaner the shave you are able to get prior to the appointment the less discomfort you will generally have and the more effective the treatment can be. For electrolysis on the other hand, you need some hair growth.
I only regret that I didn’t listen to my intuition and ditch the Intuition earlier. (See what I did there?) Honestly, this was one of the tougher switches for me to make, initially.
Read next: 8 Ways to Live and Travel Plastic Free
But now that I’ve gotten started with laser and I’m used to my Leaf Shave, I’m thrilled with both. If you’re in the Albany area and thinking about any kind of hair removal or laser treatments, you’d be crazy not to call Jaclyn. If you’re a human who removes body hair, you’ve gotta check out Leaf Shave. I can’t recommend either more highly.
Any questions? Hit me in the comments! And let me know what green products or topics you’d like to see explored next!
This post was brought to you by Leaf Shave. Thanks for giving me the platform to support products and businesses I believe in.
You seriously walk the walk with being sustainable, and I admire it so much! Thank you for always seeking out these options and testing them for us first 🙂
Aw, thank you Dee! Writing these kinds of posts means a lot to me! I want to keep focusing deeper on these topics.
Did you ever try waxing? I really struggled with shaving my underarms due to them being sensitive and me not being able to hit them with a razor everyday. I started waxing years ago and it has definitely made a difference in the amount of hair that grows back!
Ha, after bragging about how the lasers barely bothered me I should probably admit that waxing KILLS ME! That said I’ve only ever done bikini or Brazilian and not underarms — maybe they aren’t that bad! I should try!
Great post, thank you for your effort and the amazing info.
You’re welcome! I hope it help anyone interested in doing the same 🙂
Thanks the post Alex! Your commitment to more sustainable living has really made me look at my own uses so much more. I tend to use a rechargeable electric shaver which does the trick but I’ve been thinking of a laser treatment for more long term effects. I think I’ll look a little mor seriously now after reading this!
Rechargeable sounds pretty sustainable too! I never considered that option 🙂
Thanks for such an informative post and introducing me to Leaf! As a fellow scuba diver, I have also been on a mission to reduce my plastic footprint. My little Venus, individually-wrapped cartridges have been really dragging me down lately. Just as I was wondering what a better solution could possibly be, I stumbled across your wonderful post. I can’t wait to give Leaf a try! Next challenge: dental floss…
Yay! That makes me so happy to read, Lexi. I too have been experimenting with non-plastic dental floss. I’ll let you know when I find one I love (gosh, I miss the plastic picks though, wahhhh).
That would be amazing! I look forward to hearing about your experiments! (Haha, never was one for the picks but I am still addicted to my plastic toothbrush. The bristles are just so much softer. Sigh…)
Will keep you posted! And PS: Just had a blast poking around your blog. What adventures you’ve been on!