You may be asking yourself, “How to shave? Doesn’t every woman know how to do that?” Well, I’m here to tell you no. You see I’ve been shaving for 16 years. That’s a pretty long time to be doing something, so I ought to be an expert. But I’m not. I’ll have a smooth pair of legs only to look down and my knees are covered by hair. Or I’ll itch an ankle and find one long straggler. Then one day I proclaimed, “Enough is enough! I am going to find out how to shave, dang it!” And so I did. Breezy Mama turned to Naomi Torres, who writes the Guide to Hair Removal for About.com for the 411 on what razor is best, which direction to shave, and how to get the smoothest of smooth skin.
What should we look for in a razor?
Definitely a pivoting head which allows the blade to give with the body’s curves, avoiding unnecessary nicks. Multiple blades help give a closer shave, but should be avoided if you have extremely sensitive skin and easily get irritation or razor rash. The ones with moisturizing strips are okay, but I don’t feel they make the shave or are necessary if you use a good shaving cream or gel. Cartridges with built-in shaving gel, in my opinion, are too expensive for what you get. You could buy a whole can of shaving gel with the extra amount of money it costs to buy 4 cartridges.
The razor cartridges are so expensive, is it the same cost to buy a new razor each time?
I personally don’t like disposables of any brand. I know some people really like the convenience. If they work for you, great. But you can save money by prolonging the life of your razor cartridges. First, don’t use your blade on long hair if you haven’t shaved in a while. Otherwise you’re using your blade as a trimmer and this wears down the razor much sooner than necessary. To get rid of bacteria and dead skin cells that can corrode it before its time, shake off excess water after fully rinsing and clean with alcohol. Don’t store in the shower, but away from water and heat. A tool my assistant Nicole really liked for easily cleaning blades between uses and keeping them sharp is The Razor Pit.
Which brand of razor is best?
How long does a razor last before you need to throw it away?
That depends on how thick your hair is, and how much area you’re shaving each time. So it varies from person to person. You’ll know when it’s time to get a new one or put in a new cartridge when you don’t get a close as a shave or you start to get a little irritation.
Is using a bar of soap just as good as using shaving cream?
Not unless we’re talking about shaving soaps, which work best when lathered up with a shaving brush. Normal moisturizing soap provides some emollients so it’s better than run-of-the-mill deodorant versions as they tend to really dry out skin. But any soap that’s not made for shaving only gives a slight layer of protection. You can probably get away with it if you have fine to medium leg hair. But I would never use regular soap to shave any areas with thick hair, like the bikini or underarms.
Is there a brand of shaving cream that’s best?
I really love The Art of Shaving, which is a high end men’s shaving line. Their shaving creams give an ultra-close shave and fight against ingrown hair and razor burn and can be used with or without a shaving brush. A little goes a long way because they’re super rich and you only need a little bit. They used to have a rose absolute shaving cream for women, but it seems they discontinued it. Their sandalwood scent is very masculine, and I haven’t smelled their lemon, lavender or ocean kelp. But the company does make an unscented shaving cream that won’t leave you smelling like a guy. The Art of Shaving Shaving Creams are pricey, so unless you have money to spare, it might be a good idea to save it only for the bikini zone and underarms.
Should we be shaving up? (top to bottom)?
If you mean with the direction of hair growth or grain, no. Only shave with the hair growth if you have razor burn or it’s the only way you can avoid it. Otherwise, you’ll want to shave against the direction of growth to get a close shave.
What is the correct methodology for shaving legs—lower portion then thigh? Vice versa?
I would take them by sections so you avoid missing any hair. For example, the entire front of the legs and then the back. Sometimes our hair changes directions on us (especially the back of legs), so we need to know which way that section is growing so we can shave against the grain. And I would also shave the thickest hair for last (like the thigh area that’s getting close to the bikini line). This is will give it more time to soften from the heat of the water and steam, and therefore provide a closer and easier shave.
I always seem to have hair left around my knees, no matter how hard I try. Is there a secret to getting that hair?
A lot of women have dry knees or a lot of dead skin cells. I would lightly exfoliate first before shaving. Also try slightly bending your knee so the skin becomes a little more taut. The knee is another area where the hair often changes direction of growth. If the hair isn’t long enough to tell which way it grows, lightly rub your fingers over the area to feel it . . . Let me know if this helps.
Is there a certain methodology for shaving your arms and bikini?
Women tend to have thicker hair in both of these zones which make them more susceptible to razor burn, razor bumps and ingrown hair. These are areas you definitely don’t want to skimp on the quality of your shaving cream/gel or razor (or use one that’s dulling). Don’t shave them when you first jump in the shower, let the hair soften a few minutes. A couple drops of a good pre-shaving oil underneath your gel or cream helps protect the skin so the razor glides instead of pulls. Pulling is more common of thick hair and one of the causes of razor burn. Using a shaving brush also helps lift up the hair so you get a closer shave.
How can we avoid razor bumps?
Some people get confused with the difference between razor bumps and razor rash or burn. Razor rash or burn often can look like little bumps, but are basically irritation that can range from mild to severe. Razor bumps are created when a hair first breaks the skin’s surface, but then turns and grows back into skin. (Ingrown hairs are worse because they never break the skin’s surface but continue growing back into the hair follicle.) Because razor bumps and ingrown hair are very similar, they can be avoided and treated in the same ways. Unless you have irritation, lightly exfoliate before shaving to keep hairs pointing up. Use pre-shaving oil, a good shaving cream or gel and quality razor. Afterwards, rub on a good aftershave that contains little to no alcohol and moisturize skin daily. Keep a bump-fighting product like Tend Skin on hand just in case you start to see bumps.
Any other advice?
Believe it or not, your shaving cream or gel has just as much bearing on the result of your shave and skin’s condition as your razor choice does. In addition to the quality of the shave, sometimes irritation is blamed on the razor when it can be from a high alcohol content drying skin or an allergy from an ingredient like perfumes and dyes in the products being used.
Our shave isn’t complete when rinsing off, we need to moisturize. Choose an un-fragranced lotion or body oil which replaces some of the moisture lost when shaving, keeps skin looking healthy and prevents ingrown hair and razor bumps.
Naomi Torres has been a licensed Cosmetologist since 1995. She has used her license to the full performing hair, nail, skincare, makeup, waxing and massage services in salons and spas. As an accredited educator she has also provided hands-on training in haircutting, skincare, makeup application, waxing and hair removal, and written online classes for fellow licensed beauty professionals. Writing salon and spa newsletters, web content and menu descriptions have been part of her freelance work.
As the Guide to Hair Removal for About.com, part of The New York Times Company, since 2008 she has really honed her skills, knowledge and expertise. She acquires more knowledge daily, along with help from her assistant Nicole Fierro, to help readers navigate through the latest hair removal products and techniques, including how to minimize side effects and ease the pain.
She’s a wife and mother and in her free time she likes to spend time with her family, travel, volunteer, go for walks with her dog Lily and create blends of loose-leaf tea.Pin It