Hair removal is a personal choice, and I deeply admire the people out there who embrace their natural state. One could argue that now that I’m married and older perhaps I should relax a bit- you know, because no one’s looking, and they definitely ain’t buying- but it turns out that I actually do these things for myself and no one else. I don’t think it’s a form of female oppression, mainly because my hobbies include smashing the patriarchy with suspiciously smooth legs.
Laser hair removal
Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home had everything lasered off, and I thought that I would go down that path too. Turns out it is quite a commitment, both in time, money and pushing pain thresholds. Also, depending on your colouring and hair follicle size and colour, it may not be safe or give you the results you want. It’s also a winter activity, unless you want to spend your summer with your skin covered up. I’m on the fence about this one, but armpits are a good spot to start if you’re looking to dabble- inexpensive, doesn’t hurt and super quick to do.
There is the aspect of skin inflammation after each treatment though, and the itching can get intense. I went through a lot of anti-histamine, paracetamol and ibuprofen to get me through my sessions. So it’s not entirely zero waste, and also proves that I’m a gigantic wuss.
My go to. I use a stainless steel razor that I bought new from Men’s Biz (a shaving supppy store that now have real stores in Melbourne and Sydney)- a Merkur model that based on online reviews was the best for beginners and ladies. Other people have found them second hand, and now they seem to be available everywhere- even Aesop stock one now.
Surprisingly, the learning curve wasn’t steep at all. When I first started I lived in fear of cutting myself and bleeding to death in the shower, but it never happened. Because the razor is heavy, and the blade very sharp, the best way to use it is to not press down into skin, but just to let the razor’s own weight determine the pressure and glide along the skin. I’ve used bulk conditioner, almond/ olive oil and bar soap as shaving creams- and I think my favourite is a good soap lather. I’ve recently started using an alum stone (the same one I use as deodorant) on any nicks or burns to help them heal faster.
If you make sure to dry out the razor between uses, I think one blade can easily last up to a year. At the moment I collect spent blades and keep them in a little tin- apparently you can take them for scrap metal recycling and a big magnet sucks them up, so it’s still safe. Yet to test this out yet, so please tell me if it’s wrong.
The razor also looks so beautiful in my bathroom, and each time I use it it feels like a wonderful ritual. When I bought it it came with at least 20 spare blades, so I suspect I’m set for life. I still have an old plastic razor that is many years old, that I use exclusively for travel- mainly because the idea of trying to get through security check points with a razor blade fills me with dread.
I get my eyebrows shaped and upper lip threaded, and the waste generated is one cotton thread- so not too terrible. It doesn’t hurt but it is something that most people will find weird at first. I’ve been getting my face threaded since my teens, so it’s pretty normal for me. The service is available at a lot of brow bars nowadays, costs about $20-25, and lasts perhaps 6 weeks.
I tweeze in between using gold plated tweezers purchased in Vietnam 10 years ago, that apparently will last a lifetime- and they’re so much more precise than Tweezerman. Also because I’m a cheapskate trying to make my brow threads last 🙂
I still have some wax and resuseable fabric strips from pre-zero waste days, but I use it so rarely. There are lots of recipes available for sugaring, and curiosity and fomo will eventually get the better of me, and I will have to try it. I’m sure the results will be hilarious.
I also used to buy disposable razors specifically to shave my entire face, because a Japanese YouTube blogger once told me to. But let’s not dwell on that too much.