There are two kinds of women in the world. Those who shave their body hair, and those who don’t. Those who don’t shave their body hair usually opt to get rid of their unwanted body hair (if they choose to) via various methods of hair removal. But If you are a woman living in India, then I am sure that at least once in your lifetime, you must have heard someone tell you that shaving is so harmful for your skin and that it will only make your hair grow back ten times thicker and that it would make your skin coarse and rough or you would end up with a full beard and mustache like a man. Well I have been shaving my whole body for the last fifteen years using a simple generic razor and my face with a face razor for the last three years and at 30 years of age, I am still waiting for my face and body hair to grow back like Anil Kapoor’s thick lustrous fuzz but to no avail.
Shaving is a term which is more commonly associated with men, especially in India where most women choose to opt for non – blade hair removal procedures such as waxing, threading and chemical hair removing creams. Shaving here is considered ‘dangerous’ in many ways and in this post I am going to bust some myths about shaving which will assure you that shaving your body and face is not dangerous and no it does not make you grow back thicker hair!
So why is it considered dangerous? The answer is simple, years and years of deep rooted misconceptions, commercialization of personal grooming and a little bit of fear and lot of ignorance. I think somewhere this myth also stems from the fact that most beauty salons want their customers to come back for waxing sessions, which is why they tend to scare you about the supposed harmful side effects of shaving. Who wants to lose a customer to a much simpler, cheaper DIY alternative, right? You see hair removal is no rocket science. All you need to do is apply some common sense and go for a method that is suitable to you and your skin type. So am I an anti-waxer ? (See what I did there?)
No, absolutely not. The reason why I don’t choose waxing to remove unwanted body hair is simply because it is painful and my skin becomes really bumpy for atleast two days after waxing. It is not suitable for me. This happened when I was about 16, and tried waxing for the very first time. I still remember how painful that was for me. Which is why I chose shaving instead and it worked beautifully for me.
My mother in law used to be a practicing beautician back in the day and this is perhaps one of the very few things we always disagree about. She is a firm believer in waxing, while I am strongly in favour of shaving. But here’s the catch. Though we have two polar approaches to this, we are both right as both processes are globally used by women to get rid of unwanted hair. She waxes and threads her own face and body and honestly her eyebrow threading skills are on point. I used to get my eyebrows and upper lip threaded by her all the time but ever since the onset of Bell’s Palsy on the right side of my face, threading hurts even more now, which is why I have had to resort to using a facial razor. I still ask her to thread my face now, but not as frequently because that pain really scares the living hell out of me.
Pros and Cons of Shaving –
Shaving is a safe method of hair removal where you are in complete control of your own body and can shave whenever you want and as frequently as you want. And frequency is also one of the major and perhaps one of very few cons of this method. Because shaving only removes your hair which is above your skin, you are basically slicing away the hair from the very surface which starts to grow back almost immediately because the root is still intact and growing. Which is why you will probably have to shave more frequently in order to have squeaky smooth skin. But the whole process is quick. Once you get familiar with your razor, it barely takes minutes. Presently it takes me less than five minutes to shave my entire body, including underarms and bikini area. Other points that can be considered as ‘cons’ are less exfoliation. Unlike waxing which removes dead cells from the surface of the skin apart from uprooting the hair from its follicle, shaving is superficial on the skin and does not remove as many dead skin cells. So you might need a little extra exfoliation with the help of a loofah or body sponge for that smooth feel but its not as much hard work as it sounds. And most importantly, Shaving is inexpensive. All you need is a good quality razor, soap or maybe some shaving cream and you are good to go. More on the actual process later. Some risks of shaving include razor burns, risk of cuts and infection if not done carefully and hygienically. Shaving is a painless method of hair removal. Shaving does not have any significant affect on the re growth of hair. It neither reduces nor escalates hair growth or density. No, it does not magically cause you to grow a coarse beard. One must remember, keeping all issues of equality aside, that men and women are anatomically very different. Also common sense wise, while shaving you are only taking off the hair that is above the surface of your skin. there is no chemical process involved here which will suddenly cause your hair follicles to multiply or produce more hair than there already was. So please be wise and practical.
✓ Safe ✓ Economical ✓ Time Saving ✓ DIY
X Frequent Process X Risk of Cuts and Razor Burns
Pros and Cons of Waxing
Waxing is another safe and very widely used method of hair removal where hot or cold wax is applied to the surface of the skin typically followed by the application of a wax strip which is then pulled in the opposite direction of the growth of hair. Waxing has many benefits : It uproots the hair from its very follicle which ensures you have smooth, hair free skin until the time the hair starts growing on the surface of the skin. While waxing is somewhat of a painful procedure, the uprooting of the follicles also exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells resulting in a much smoother finish. Some people notice a visible reduction in the growth and density of hair after years of waxing. Unlike shaving, waxing is not required almost every other day but only about once or twice a month. However this process has some drawbacks. Firstly its painful, and I for one cannot withstand the pain. It causes my skin to break out and get bumps all over which take two days to subside completely and this is a common reaction for many women. Secondly it is expensive. While some people can do it on their own with practice, most others have to visit a salon or hire a beautician to do it for them. There is also the risk of burns from the hot wax if not used carefully. And finally waxing on the face is speculated to cause sagging of the facial skin over time. While this is not likely to happen on the body, facial skin is much thinner than the rest of the skin on your body so overtime, all that pulling out of hair can cause your skin to sag as you age.
✓ Less frequent Procedure ✓ Exfoliates the skin ✓ Smoother Finish
X Expensive Procedure X Requires a professional X May cause Rashes X Time Consuming
While I personally prefer to shave, I have nothing against waxing and would do it if not for the pain. So if you are in two minds about which hair removal method is best for you, consider the pros and cons of each method and then decide for yourself. At the end of the day, it is about what suits you best.
There are many other hair removal methods like epilators, laser hair removal, etc. There is however one method i am dead against, and that is Hair removal Creams. Speaking from personal experience, I would advise you to stay as far away as possible from those chemical hair removers. They work by basically sitting on top of your skin and slowly melting away the hair from its very root. Now if a cream is capable of melting away hair, imagine what it is capable of doing to your skin.
Hair removal creams contain so many different harmful chemicals which are at risk of causing skin irritation, rash and burns. If you are lucky you wont get any of that but with time your skin will darken permanently. The first time I used a hair removal cream was when I was about 18 and wanted remove hair from my armpits. A few minutes after application, my skin felt like it was burning on the inside. I quickly washed off the cream. It got rid of the hair undoubtedly but also left my skin very irritated and red. A few weeks later I noticed that one of my armpits was much darker than the other and it took me years of care to get rid of the dark patch I had developed with the help of home remedies like applying potato juice or lemon and baking soda. And my skin type is not even sensitive! So if you are using hair removal creams then I am begging you to stop immediately. The long term effects of those are much dangerous than short term ones.
Know your Razor
Before I tell you how to shave it is important to know which razor is best suited for you. And no, you do not need a typical “women’s razor” for this.
Women’s razors are a marketing gimmick so please don’t fall for that. The blades are the same as in men’s razors. A bright pink handle in an attractive package sold at a much higher price does not change the basic function of the blade which is to shave.
Technically it is a worldwide accepted fact that a single blade razor is the best type for the closest shave for the face. Single blade razors create very less blade friction which results in a much closer, smoother shave and the chances of getting a rash or razor burn are very low. But the downside to single blade razors are that the blade needs to be changed frequently which can be challenging as the razor needs to be disassembled and assembled every time. How do I know this? My father uses a single blade razor till today and while I see him spending a few extra minutes changing blades, his face looks so smooth after he shaves it, it almost makes me jealous. What is fascinating is that while he might change the blades ever so often, he has had the same razor for years. Which is what makes single blade razors more sustainable. There are limitations however if you want to use a single blade razor on your body. You have to be very careful. Single blade razors can get a bit challenging for beginners. You will have to practice a lot before you can get more confident and fast. Also, there id the regular changing of the blade which is not very difficult, but the sight a single razor blade between my fingers makes me nervous.
Other razors that are available the market either have interchangeable blade heads, where you keep the body but change the head as it begins to lose its sharpness, or use and throw razors where you throw away the whole thing and start with a new one.
I admit that I started shaving initially with a Women’s razor which for a teenager were proving to be quite expensive and that is because I like many others fell for the lie that was being fed to us that Men’s razors are for men only, because women’s products no matter how basic they maybe are ridiculously marked up. It didn’t take me long to realize that the blades in my brother’s razor were the same as in mine so I bid adieu to my beautiful pink razor and switched to the most basic Gillette Presto which was quite affordable at only fifteen rupees a piece and never looked back again. Presto however is a use and throw razor and it just felt a bit to irresponsible to throw out a piece of metal encased in plastic every two weeks in the trash.
So finally about five years ago I have permanently switched to the Gillette Mach 3 which is one of the best razors available in the Indian Market. It is expensive but is also an investment and has so many benefits : The blade lasts really long, almost 6-8 weeks in my case, The razor handle is ergonomically designed for a good firm grip and the blade head is slightly flexible and glides across the skin so I can be quite fast with confidence and have never cut myself. The three blade razor head gives me a very close and smooth shave and since the blade head is changeable I have retained the body from my very first purchase so the carbon footprint is lower.
To summarize, choose a razor which has a changeable head from a good, reliable brand and is within your budget. Once you startt noticing a significant change is the sharpness of the blade, you’ll know it is time to change.
How to shave your Body Hair
This is the easy part. The difficult part was busting myths. So if you are ready to shave here is step by step guide with video tutorial to help you.
- Make sure your razor is clean, sanitised and rust free. It is always a good idea to soak your razor in a cup of water with a few drops of disinfectant like dettold or Savlon for a couple of minutes before you start.
- Wet the body part you want to shave with water and apply soap and work up lather or better, apply a pea sized amount of hair condiotioner and rub it well, which works best for me. Hair conditioner softens hair which is easier to shave. And because most conditioners contain silicone, they create a slippery surface for your skin to help your razor glide with ease. Or you can simply use shaving cream and work up a good lather
- With a cup of water on stand by, run the razor as close as possible to your skin in the opposite direction of the hair growth. You can either use long strokes in one direction, or shorter, back and forth strokes as show in the video. You will know which strokes work for you once you have done this couple of times. Immerse the razor in the cup of water and tap on the rim of the cup to shake off the hair into the water you just shaved off. Repeat the process until you have shaved all the hair you intended to.
- Wash away the area thoroughly with soap or body wash and apply body lotion to the shaved area. Applying lotion not only soothes the skin, it deeply moisturizes your skin so the hair that grows back does not feel coarse.
- Wash you razor well with water and disinfectant before and after every use and make sure it is completely dry before you store it otherwise the blade could rust. If you shave with a rusty blade, you are at a very high risk of developing skin infections so this is very crucial.
- NEVER ever share your razor with anyone else. This is a cardinal, global rule of hygiene and I cannot stress enough upon it
How to Shave your Face
The techniques of shaving your body hair and facial hair are quite distinct. As I mentioned earlier, the skin on your face is much thinner than the skin on the rest of your body. So it needs to be treated more carefully with special tools, i.e facial razors. So why can’t we simply use men’s shaving razors on our face? Because most women do not have as much facial hair as men do. So a single blade razor used dry on the face without the help of any lubricants or shaving cream is enough for the job.
Facial razors are now easily available everywhere. There are specific razors for just your eyebrows as well but one single blade sturdy razor is fine for the whole face. I bought this from the MINISO store on amazon. These are not very expensive and last very long. Razor maintenance is the same. Always wash your razor well in a solution of disinfectant liquid and water, and pat it dry with a lint-free towel before using it on your face. Post use, wash the razor well under running water, disinfect, dry on a lint-free towel and store. Once again, never share your razors with anyone else.
When shaving your face, take your time and go slow if you are beginner. Stand as close as possible to a mirror as you shave and make sure the room is well lit. Keep a close up mirror nearby to check closely for any left out hair or cuts.
Always wash your face well with a good face wash and make sure your face is completely dry, free from any oil, make up or dirt in order for your razor to be able to do its job smoothly and to avoid any infections.
Once done, wash your face with face wash and apply a soothing cream, gel, or ice on the areas you shaved. This will help reduce any redness or razor burns or cuts that are too tiny for the naked eye. I prefer using Patanjali’s Aloe vera gel. Please watch the video below for a detailed demonstration.
So to conclude this post was not to deter you from your choice of hair removing method. It was simply to familiarize you with shaving, a method almost considered a terrifying taboo given there are many misconceptions around it.