Women's pursuit of smooth, hairless skin has been a beauty constant for centuries. Over the years, new methods and dramatic product improvements have been progressively changing the history of hair removal. In 1880, when King Camp Gillette created the first modern day razor for men a revolution was born. Though it took another three decades before a razor specifically marketed for women was launched, but ever since then shaving has been a fashionable mode for quick hair removal among ladies. With inventions like mechanical epilators and laser hair reduction devices the women have been spoilt with choices but shaving still holds its niche among those who want a quick and safe way to get smooth hair free skin on the go especially among girls on a budget and those timorous of pain (say OUCH if you’ve tried waxing).
The custom of using shaving razors has been established as an efficient, painless and cost effective way to loose the body fuzz on the go since its inception, but it seems a lot of prickly questions have also been raised in female minds over the years about the side effects and aftermath of picking up a razor as a long term hair removal choice.
Today I am here as a woman of science and a dermatologist to help restore your confidence in shaving as safe and an up to speed mode of getting rid of unwanted body hair. Lets bust some of these rolling stone gathering a bit of moss myths and uncover the truth behind this fuzz-busting technique called —Shaving.
Myth 1: Shaving body hair makes them grow back darker, coarser & thicker.
Reality: As hair grows from the root to the surface it get tapered and refined during its journey to the surface pushing through the skin and rubbing against the clothing’s. Untouched naturally growing body hair is hence tapered and it lies flat on skin feeling soft and thin. Shaving the hair blunts its ends and makes it stand up and feel thicker. How thick or fine your hair is depends on your individual biochemistry and hormones. Heredity, genes, race, medications, physical and mental stress, and diet can influence these hormones. Only these factors can thus potentially alter the hair root, which lies few millimeters under the skin leading to modification of the nature (color, thickness and length) of the hair. Shaving razors only scrape the surface of the skin making it impossible for them to affect or alter the hair root, which lies deep under the skin.
Myth 2: Shaving causes nicks and burns
Reality: A tool is only as good or bad as the user, if you apply too much pressure the blade can cause nicks or shaving burns for sure. Using a fresh blade each time with a gentle slide and glide technique over a well lathered skin gives the best results with no nicks, cuts or shaving burns. Another tip to keep in mind while shaving is “The Ideal Shave Angle” the razor blade meeting the skin should be at 28-32 degrees to get the smoothest results. Statistics show that most shaving accidents are caused by using dull and/or dirty razor blades, insufficient preparation of the skin and hair before shaving, and using inappropriate equipment /products.
Myth 3: Shaving causes Ingrown hair and folliculitis
Reality: Research has shown that shaving with the grain is the best way to get a comfortable and close shave. Although shaving against the grain ensures that the hair is cut off very close to the skin, but it also dramatically increases the risk of razor bumps and skin irritation. Shaving scrapes hair from the surface of the skin. If your hair is slightly curly and you do a very close shave the hair can get trapped under the skin. Folliculitis only happens if you’re shaving under unhygienic conditions with an old blade harboring dead skin & bacteria.
Myth 4: Shaving causes the skin to become darker in color especially in underarm area
Reality: Shaving only scrapes the surface of the skin, if no extra pressure is applied there is no logical reason for the skin color to change. Some people apply a deodorant or anti-Perspirant immediately post shaving that might lead to irritation and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation happens especially in darker skin type people as an aftermath of irritation of skin caused by the alcohol, perfume or Aluminum chloride in the anti-Perspirant product.
Myth 5: Shaving causes hair to grow faster
Reality: Absolutely not, natural human hair grows 0.35mm per day or 1 cm/month from the root and shaving the surface can’t change that.
Myth 6: Shaving shouldn’t be used on upper lip, face or bikini
Reality: Truth be told history shows us great beauty icons of all times —Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra had one thing in common they all shaved their faces — upper lip included. Using a razor on your skin physically exfoliates your skin — it makes your skin more lustrous helping makeup to go on smoother, gives you a glow, and is great antiaging excercise. Why do you think men look so youthful as they age? They shave a majority of their lives!
Employed properly a razor blade can be used on any area of the body but in certain areas it does require some finesse to do it well. While shaving sensitive areas special care should be employed – wash and lather the area with shaving cream and start with a fresh sharp blade moving at an ideal angle of 28-32 degrees with short precise stokes moving with the grain of hair to avoid nicks and cuts. In bikini area regular exfoliation before and after shaving helps to avoid ingrown hair and bumps. If irritation or ingrown-hair is spotted use an antibiotic cream (Fucidin) twice daily for a quick resolution. Another word of advice keep the razor you use for your pubic area separate from the one you use on your face or armpits.
Myth 7: You can use shaving anyway you want dry or wet with same results