What To Know Before You Start Shaving Your Face

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
A few years ago, I started shaving my face every three weeks. The results have been fantastic. Contrary to popular opinion, face shaving is not just for men. It’s actually an up-and-coming skin-care treatment trend among women, and I am a big advocate of it for multiple reasons. For one thing, it removes peach fuzz, which allows for seamless foundation application, and it also helps prevent clogged pores and breakouts. Many people are under the impression that shaving causes hair to grow back thicker and darker, but this is not the case. The hair that comes in after shaving may feel slightly different than it did before that first shave, but it is neither coarser nor thicker. Using a facial or eyebrow razor over the face is really just another form of exfoliation. When dead cells fall into the pore lining, oil and bacteria can get trapped, and this is when breakouts and clogged bumps can occur. When the blade glides over the skin, it removes the dead cells to instantly reveal smoother, glowing skin and a peach-fuzz-free face.
For women in their 40s (like me), the slow decrease of estrogen in our bodies can cause an increase in facial hair, but shaving can keep that hair growth in check. Any product you put on the skin directly after shaving (ideally a high-potency specialty serum for your skin type) will absorb into the skin more effectively. All of these benefits are similar to a popular professional treatment called dermaplaning, yet they are achievable at home. Before you get started, though, you should be aware of a few risks. First, be aware that if you already exfoliate often (with a sonic brush or an exfoliating scrub or acid), your skin might not be able to handle shaving, too.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
And as beneficial as exfoliating is, too much can damage your skin’s moisture barrier, causing redness, dryness, and inflammation. There is also a small risk of ingrown hairs, especially for those with darker hair. Lastly, there is a chance of nicking the skin if you aren’t careful. Be sure to use gentle pressure and move slowly to eliminate the risk. For obvious reasons, it’s best not to talk while shaving and to keep your face as still as possible. If you do decide to try shaving your face, there are a few things to keep in mind. Pre-shave, you’ll want to wash your face thoroughly with a sulfate-free cleanser. If you have sensitive skin, apply a thin layer of shaving gel or cream all over your face to eliminate friction. Also, you must use a facial-specific razor, such as the L'Occitane Cade Plisson. Do not just grab a new cartridge for the razor you use to shave your legs and/or armpits. Hold the razor at a 45-degree angle and use short, downward strokes. Avoid areas where there is inflamed, pustular acne, as shaving can cut an opening in the blemish and cause more irritation. For best results, only use a razor three times before tossing it. Depending on how much facial hair you have, you may shave your face as little as once a month or up to one to two times per week.
Post-shave, you’ll want to apply a hydrating, soothing moisturizer to keep dry skin at bay. Do not exfoliate immediately after shaving, as skin will be more sensitive than it typically is. Practice good tool maintenance and always wash the razor with soap and water — or dip it in rubbing alcohol — after each use. While shaving your face may seem like an intimidating addition to your skin-care routine, it's actually pretty easy and can help you in your quest for smoother, hair-free, and glowing skin.

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