A Close Shave With Beauty

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Timeless beauties like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were said to be fans of shaving and apparently, the geishas owed their porcelain loveliness to it as well. But would you be brave enough to shave your face?
Faye Remedios finds out that several women are indeed willing to do this in the quest to get a smooth, stunning visage

While by no means a new trend, face shaving for women has gotten a pretty bad rep over the ages. From fears of hair growing back coarser to the dangers of cutting your face, it seems that apart from a few loyalists, most women steer clear of shaving their face. But recently, this method seems to have garnered staunch followers, who claim that they owe their younger-looking skin to it. With celebs, beauty bloggers and facialists jumping onto the bandwagon, we get experts to decode the art of face shaving.


Virginia Holmes, co-owner and co-founder, Fat Mu, which offers makeup courses, advises asking yourself why before grabbing hold of a razor. For those who would rather avoid the pain and hassle of face waxing or threading sessions, face shaving could be worth looking into. But you need to be aware that once you start shaving your face, you need to maintain it. “I recommend face shaving only for fine, fuzzy hair. If someone has thick, dark hair, I would recommend laser hair removal, as just a few sessions provide long-term hair reduction,” says Dr Apratim Goel, dermatologist and laser surgeon, Cutis Skin Studio, Mumbai.


Possibly the biggest myth doing the rounds as far as shaving your face is concerned is, hair that’s shaved will grow back thick. This longstanding tall tale simply isn’t true—the colour, pace of growth or thickness of hair cannot be altered by a razor; only chemical processes or hormones can affect that. “The reason hair appears thicker after shaving is because all the hair grows back at once. Also, hair is thicker at the shaft and gradually tapers towards the end. So shaven hair appears thicker,” explains Dr Goel.


There’s a school of thought which claims that men look younger for longer since they shave daily, which exfoliates their skin. Is this an added benefit to shaving? “It is true that shaving works to exfoliate the skin, thus providing an anti-ageing benefit, so there is no need for additional exfoliation, except on the nose. After shaving, the products that you apply also get absorbed better, and this helps rejuvenate the skin. Naturally, this makes you look younger and helps skin look healthier,” explains Dr Goel.


Dr Kiran Lohia, dermatologist, Lumiere Dermatology Clinic, New Delhi, suggests using a cleanser with salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid to prevent ingrowths. Apply a gel or moisturiser prior to shaving, as this will prevent post-shaving skin irritation or friction. “Your skin should be dry when you shave, so pat some lotion on and allow it to be absorbed first. Then shave and moisturise again or use aloe vera gel on the face,” she says. Avoid using exfoliants or alcohol-based products or peels on the skin soon after shaving.


“Use a sharp blade, and shave in the direction of the hair growth. This will prevent ingrowth. Pull the skin taut, then start shaving downward in short strokes. Also, try to limit the number of passes to prevent irritation. Hold the razor at a 45° angle, and don’t press down too hard,” cautions Dr Lohia.


As for how often you should shave, Dr Goel says, “It depends on the hair growth. However, in case there are no hormonal imbalances, once in four to six weeks is fine. But if hair grows faster in certain areas, you can shave only those.” Keep longer gaps between shaves if your skin is sensitive or turns reddish. You can shave more often, but not more than once a week, advises Dr Lohia.


Dr Goel advises trying special ladies’ razors that have multiple blades and are infused with gel technology. These are quite safe and ensure that there is no danger of cuts. They also have disposable tips that can be changed after five to six shaves. Dr Lohia says that alternatively, you can also make do with a men’s razor, as long as it’s curved, to prevent nicks and scrapes. “You can use it while the blade is sharp, but once it becomes blunt, make sure you change it,” she cautions. Don’t use the same razor you use on your body. Keep them separate to avoid infection.


If you are looking for more intense results, Virginia suggests opting for dermaplaning, which is quite different from shaving at home. Dermaplaning uses a specialised scalpel, held at a 45° angle to the face, to remove the superficial layer of dead skin cells. The goal is to remove skin, not hair, thus this method is best left to professionals.