Body Hair Removal/Technique
This section introduces techniques for shaving different body parts. For shaving the beard with a safety razor, see this comprehensive introduction.
It is generally advised to follow this order when shaving:
- Get face wet with warm water. Right after a shower is best. Do not use water that is too hot, as this can hurt your skin.
- Apply shaving cream or gel. Rub a liberal amount on your face to prevent it from drying (although too much can cause your razor to become clogged).
- Shave your cheeks and neck first and chin last. The hair on your chin is thicker and leaving the shaving lotion on for longer will soften it.
- Shave down on your face and up on your neck (but see below regarding ingrown hair). It may take a while for your hair to get used to this, but it reduces razor burn and makes shaving much easier in the long run.
- It is recommended to wash with cold water to close the pores and reduce potential for infection.
- If you have curly facial hair, use a lotion-based aftershave so as to reduce ingrown hairs.
An alternative approach is recommended for those with sensitive skin, and those prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs:
- Wet face with warm water. Your goal before the blade touches your face is to soften the beard. Some prefer to place a hot towel to on their beard for 30 seconds prior to applying shaving lotion. Others shave right after a shower. Use whatever technique works best for you.
- Massage gel or cream into your beard. Spending a minute or longer doing this will help soften your beard, and give you a more comfortable shave. A bristle brush is a great investment, since it helps lift hairs away from your skin, and exfoliates. Warm the brush with water, and apply gel. Apply to face for a minute or two.
- Shave in the direction that your hairs grow. Do not shave against the grain - this will hurt your face, and is more likely to give you ingrown hairs.
- Rinse with tepid water that is not warm and not cold. Rinsing with water that is too cold will close the pores too soon, collapsing on freshly cut hairs. if it's too warm, you'll leave the pores open longer, allowing follicles to move around.
- Apply a mild aftershave lotion that doesn't have much alcohol content in it.
One method which has been found useful in creating a well-shaped beard:
- Choose a basic shape (see beard styles).
- Comb hair against grain - to try and stand it up from the face.
- Outline the boundary with an electric trimmer (without spacing attachment)- cutting at right angles to skin.
- Choose a thickness for your beard and set the trimmer to this depth.
- Trim body of beard.
- Shave away any non-beard hair - taking care to keep the basic outline.
- Comb beard to lie it flat against the skin.
- Take off trimmer spacer
- Use electric trimmer to round off (or shape) edges of the beard.
- it's often useful to lift the chin and define a horizontal line below the chin to help avoid the undercurl of hair when the beard grows out (or to help hide that chubby chin).
It is important to shave this region with care. The mustache (International English: moustache) area has thinner skin, and thus is more sensitive to nicks and cuts. Make sure not to cut your lips - you don't want to risk an infection.
Sideburns are possibly the easiest part of the face to shave; some find it best to shave there first. Make sure that your face is looking directly at the mirror, so that you can get an even look at how high you are cutting your sideburns. It sometimes helps to line the cut up with a part of your ear. (Note: Considering that many people’s ears are in fact not lined up on their face, it may be better to measure your sideburns against your nose to attain a truly even cut.) An old trick used by many barbers is to put the tip of an index finger under the edge of each sideburn, and to point towards your face and lift your elbows. You might look silly, but the contrast of finger height helps you judge whether your sideburns are even or not...(and you'd rather look a tad silly in private than be publicly embarrassed by uneven facial hair, right?)
One can use a shaving machine and outline it first, after that you can use a straight edge to define it. Waxing may be a better alternative.
A nose hair trimmer is highly recommended to trim nose hair. They're usually quite cheap, and they are very effective. It is a lot easier and safer than using scissors!
To shave your legs effectively and safely it is important to have (if using a safety blade) a relatively new, and sharp razor, to prevent the likelihood of nicks, scrapes and infection and to get the legs wet, and reasonably slippery. Recommend using shaving gel/cream, soap or shampoo and sitting down while shaving, on a chair, or in a bath.
- Lather up the legs so that a sheen of soap covers them.
- Then, starting at the ankle using a small amount of pressure applied with the forefinger shave vertically up to the knee.(This should leave a line of shaved skin, scraping off the soap as well as shaving off the hair.
- Move to one side of this stripe, and repeat step 2, until the entire calf has been shaved. Be careful around the ankle and the shin, which are bony and more vulnerable to cuts.Also remember to every so often rinse the razor to rid it of excess hair.
- While shaving the knee be especially cautious and careful, this is a bony area, and make sure to double check that all hair on the knee has been removed.
- Shave the upper leg, from knee to butt, in the same vertical motion and method as before, making sure the back of the thigh is fully shaved.
Armpit skin is extra soft and sensitive.
While most body parts have hair that grows in a single direction, the armpit is often covered by multi-directional growth. For the smoothest shave draw the razor in both horizontal and vertical paths.
With a safety razor, squat on floor and shave from inside going out. Use soap as lubricant. Do not shave the area near the anus, as it may cause uncomfortable rashes: waxing is a more appropriate choice for the removal of unsightly anal fuzz. (Avoid hot wax, as it may cause anal burn.)
Be gentle on the back. It's surprisingly sensitive to shaving. It may be difficult to shave the area of the upper back by yourself. If you can't get into a reciprocal agreement (shave my back and I'll shave your back, or I'll do the laundry if you shave my back), you may want to consider using the Razorba, essentially a razor on a stick. After some trial and error, you'll find it does get those hard to reach areas.
Use great care when shaving genital areas. Itching will likely occur once the hair begins growing back, so consider waxing the area as an alternative. Using electric trimmers on a low length setting will yield similar aesthetic and tactile results with greater ease and with less itching.
The shaving should be done slowly and gradually. There is no need to rush it. Move the blade slowly and don't attempt to shave extremely close on the first time. Begin with just a close trim, the next time shave the periphery, continuing to remove more over the course of weeks. As with any other part of the body, shaving along the direction of hair growth gives a shave which is not quite as close but which is exponentially less likely to cause rashes, cuts, or ingrown hair. Generally it is advised to shave along the direction of growth several times before attempting the closer against-the-grain cut.
As with all shaving, the skin will become desensitized with repeated shaving, so perseverance will eventually improve the results.
Contrary to some assumptions, shaving the genitals is not likely to make them cooler during the hotter months. Rather, it can actually itch and be more uncomfortable.
Start with a sharp blade that is very unlikely to slip out of your hands. Different parts of the genitals react differently to being shaved. As previously mentioned, it is suggested to shave only with the direction of the hair. Shaving against the grain causes pimples, red spots (burns) and itches when regrowing. To get a closer shave, go across the grain and angled downwards slightly.
Shaving in the shower offers privacy and easy clean-up. Shaving needs to be repeated every 4-7 days depending on comfort and speed of the regrowth. If your shower ever becomes clogged from a build-up of hair call a plumber, or use liquid plumber chemicals to unclog the drain.
If it is the first time attempting pubic shaving or the hair is longer, before beginning with the razor, trim the length of hair with scissors. Doing so avoids clogging the razor and unnecessary pulling of the hair. Standing in the shower with the water not spraying directly on the body (angle it towards the wall), lather the areas to be shaved. Shaving cream provides lather required and holds up better than gel. I have found that using hair conditioner works fabulously and I can achieve a closer shave with it. Don't press as hard or be as aggressive if using conditioner because it makes your skin softer as well which makes it easier to cut if using too much pressure.
Skin in these areas can be rather loose. Where you encounter loose skin, use one hand to pull the skin taut and the other hand to shave. Keep the lather on hand as it will likely wash away during the process. Be careful not to shave without lather as a lubricant.
As the testicles, penis and abdomen are all quite different in shape, pulling the skin taunt and holding the penis in the right position varies on which area is being shaved. Generally, either the penis must be pulled up towards the belly button when shaving the shaft or the skin must be controlled in some way. How far up the abdomen to shave is a matter of personal preference, with some shaving just from the level of the shaft and below and others shaving the entire area to the umbilicus ("belly button").
Once shaved it can take several months for the hair to grow back. It does not grow back any thicker than it was before, as some believe. When growing back, it may appear to be growing back more thickly, but this is an illusion because all the hair is growing back at the same length instead of at staggered lengths.
Despite recommendations to use a very sharp blade, some prefer to use a slightly used multi-blade razor. New razors may tend to leave cuts due to the irregular shape of the skin over the genitals. Some shave against the grain when shaving the shaft of the penis as it is easy to pull the penis up in one direction and the razor down in the other.
Alternatives to shaving include using a non-electric nose-hair trimmer, though the process is time consuming and yields a different look than shaving.
Please be careful.
Start by removing long hair using electric hair clippers. If this is your first time actually seeing your scalp in a while, be sure to use both a hand mirror and your fingers to check for moles, scars and bumps of which you may not be aware- you will need to navigate these areas carefully in the next steps to avoid cuts.
Wet the remaining stubble to soften it, then shave using a safety razor, preferably a double or triple-bladed one. Use shaving cream or soap for lubricant.
Shave by starting in the middle at the front, and take a swathe all the way to the bottom at the back. If you have not shaved before or for several days this may have to be done in stages. Next, move to one side by half the width of the razor and repeat, until the swathe at the side is just above ear-level. Be careful shaving around your ears. At this stage you have shaved your entire head, except for the upper part of your side-burns. Shave those by shaving from your ear in a forward direction. If this is the first time you have shaved your head then stop here for a day to give the skin a rest, and redo this part before continuing the next part.
With practice you can do all that with barely a look in the mirror. Speaking of mirrors, it's not worth the hassle of trying to see the back of your head. It takes too much time to set the mirrors up and learn to use them, and you'll get more cuts trying than if you do without. It's much easier to place the fingertips of your non-razor-holding-hand on the back of your head (out of the way of the blade of course!) - you will find it far simpler to navigate the razor whilst not being able to see it. The first few times get a friend to check if you've missed any patches. The following procedure will enable you be confident that you have not missed any spots.
Shave your entire head using upward strokes. Start just behind one ear at the hair-line and shave upward until you reach the middle of your head. Move the razor toward the back by half the width of the razor and repeat, until you have shaved right around the back of your head to the back of your other ear. Now, carefully, shave upward from each ear. The best technique is to slide the razor down your head, with the razor head in contact but the blades angled away until you reach the top of your ear, then bring the blades into contact with your scalp. This enables you catch the pesky little hairs right by your ear, without making cuts! Every other technique causes cuts, sooner or later.
Now shave around your head, taking horizontal strokes. Start above your ear (right near your crown) and shave around the back of your head and all the way to the front. Move the razor down by half the width of the razor and repeat, until you have shaved right down to your ears. Continue, half a razor-width at a time, from the back of one ear to the back of the other, until you're at collar level. Now repeat in the other direction, from the other ear.
Now, you're finally finished! You have shaved the back of your head in four directions, half a razor width at a time. There cannot be a single whisker left! With a little practice you can do the whole job without using a mirror, in three minutes or less.