Look, no one knows you’re reading this, so let’s cut to the chase and be honest here: You have a mustache. And even if it’s just a few stray wisps, sometimes it’s tough to manage. Retinols makes skin extra-sensitive, so waxing and chemically removing a ‘stache is not an option for many wrinkle-prevention enthusiasts. Plucking is time-consuming and not comfortable and can be ill-advised. And while threading is great, your fave threader probably doesn’t live in your apartment. In a pinch, could you just shave it? Excitingly simple answer: Yes.
“Shaving is fine,” says dermatologist Ranella Hirsh, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine. “Most women don’t like it because the results are so ephemeral. That noted, there are many, many women who manage upper-lip hair by shaving, which, for what it’s worth, has the benefit of exfoliation, too. And no, it does not grow back any thicker.”
But in case you’ve wondered about using a blade elsewhere on your face, namely, your brows…keep on plucking, waxing, or threading there: A razor will work, but “the concern with brows is aesthetic—it’s hard to keep a tight shape using a razor,” says Hirsch.
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To shave or not to shave? Plenty of women might consider it daily for their legs, ’pits or pubes, but should we follow the advice of experts gathered by the Daily Mail and start shaving our faces? Absolutely not.
Whether you’re shaving to get rid of a slight ’tache or shaving your entire face to make it softer, regrowth as the result of a razor – compared with waxing, threading and depilatory creams – is a colossal ball-ache. And that’s the issue here: as a beauty editor, ensuring my nails don’t look like chipped micro-daggers, and maintaining my hair, makeup and de-fuzzing routine, is enough beauty admin – more than enough, in fact. Does any woman in the 21st century truly have the time or the inclination to shave her entire face for the sake of slightly softer skin?
In a world that chastises any hint of facial hair in women, having it can be distressing psychologically, which is why some women (in particular, those with polcystic ovary syndrome, which causes hirsutism) already resort to shaving their faces. The use of oral contraceptives to lower the androgen production can help, and creams such as Vaniqa slow down the rate of hair regrowth. Lasers (not IPL, which isn’t anywhere near as effective) are ideal for permanent hair removal, and more effective than shaving.
Skin tone also makes a difference to how much facial hair is visible. Asian hair is larger in diameter than caucasian or afro hair, and it’s more resilient (it has more layers of cuticles, making it stronger and thicker). But it also has a faster regrowth rate, and the myth that it will make your hair grow back thicker and faster persists among south Asians. (It doesn’t – it’s just more blunt at the ends, making it look that way.) Shaving doesn’t – in any way – affect the keratin cells that create the actual hair. Asian women also shed fewer hairs on their bodies than other races, which might make any hirsutism more pronounced.
As for the anti-ageing claims of shaving your face, they’re nonsense. Men have thicker, more youthful-looking skin because male androgens cause an increase in skin thickness of up to 25%, compared with women. Men also produce more sebum, which is oil that keeps the skin moisturised and plumper-looking. Finally, men have a higher density of collagen in their skin than women – which is why women age faster.
The bottom line, then, is that men and women are biologically programmed to age differently. Shaving might exfoliate their skin and supposedly keep it soft, but if you’re already using a washcloth, face brush or exfoliator on top, that’s serious scrubbing already. Shaving is not only inflammatory (causing sensitivity), but it also makes the skin look more papery and thin. Add a five-o’clock shadow to the mix and you’re undeniably causing your skin damage – and that’s ageing. Step away from the razor, ladies – it’s definitely not your friend.
Would You Shave Your Face?
Waxing is regarded as the Holy Grail in hair removal since it yanks each hair follicle straight by its root. But there could be something to the old standby that’s already in your shower: the razor.
Shaving cuts the hair at the surface, instead of pulling the entire strand, so it requires more frequent upkeep. But when you’re tackling smaller areas like the upper lip, chin, and sideburns, you may want to consider subbing in shaving for waxing, says Alicia Barba, a Miami dermatologist from Barba Skin Clinic. It’s quick, convenient, and reduces the risk of potential side effects like ingrown hairs or bad reactions to the hot wax, she says.
But why aren’t we all doing it?
“There’s definitely a stigma associated with shaving your upper lip,” says Rachel Pritzker, a dermatologist at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. “There are a lot of myths associated with shaving.”
For one, contrary to what your mom told you to talk you out of starting to shave your legs in middle school, the hairs won’t grow back thicker, she says. They just appear that way. “A hair normally tapers at the end when it comes off the skin, and when you shave it, you cut it flat so it looks a little darker afterwards,” Pritzker says. “It is a myth that it comes back thicker and darker because you’re not getting deep enough to change the nature of your hair.”
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And even given the blunt nature of the shaved hair, it’s unlikely that it will grow back to be coarse enough to rival your boyfriend’s beard stubble. We have our lack of testosterone to thank for that. “Women don’t have these same hormones and most of the time produce what we call vellus hairs-those fine, fluffy hairs that are on the face,” Pritzker says. If you’ve noticed more rigid, dark facial hair, it could indicate a hormonal imbalance worth getting checked out by a doctor, she says.
To get rid of the vellus hairs in a flash, grab your razor (we like the five-blade Gillette Venus Embrace Sensitive) right after the shower when your skin is warm and moist, Dr. Pritzker says. Apply a gentle cleanser to the facial area to act as a skin-protecting lubricant, Dr. Barba says. “Shaving is basically an intense exfoliation, so you do want a buffer between the skin and the blades,” she says. Try Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, which is loaded with chamomile to reduce the risk of potential redness.
Ready to say goodbye to waxing forever? Not so fast. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shaving the lip,” Pritzker says. “But given the amount of times that you have to shave and the irritation that you might experience with the upper lip, I think waxing is sometimes a better option.”
Though waxing isn’t side effect-free, the very nature of pulling the hair by the root promises longer-lasting results and fewer upkeep sessions overall. Repeated irritation from shaving can build up to cast a shadow on the skin, just like some women experience in their armpits, Pritzker says. This could take years of regularly shaving the area to form, she says, adding that there’s no harm in adopting a multifaceted approach of shaving in between waxing appointments or opting for more permanent laser hair removal.
- By Moira Lawler
I can’t believe I’m putting this out on the Internet. And at the risk of never getting a date ever again in this lifetime, here it goes: I shave my face. (Never thought Caroline Manzo and I would have something in common, but alas!)
To kick things off, no, I don’t stand in front of the mirror with some Barbasol and a Mach3 and get to work. (I know some of you are envisioning a pile of shaving cream on my face.) In fact, no shaving cream is used at all. Let me explain . . .
I grew up with blond lip hair. (I guess you could call it a mustache, but I try to avoid it at all costs.) I was horrified about it. As a teen, I didn’t deal with terrible acne (that came later in life — yay hormones!) but instead was bestowed with a patch of blond hair on my upper lip. Sure, all gals have a little bit of fuzz on their upper lips. No big deal. But it wasn’t peach fuzz — it was very noticeable. And I was ready to do whatever it took to get rid of my furry friend staring me in the face every morning.
I tried every removal process in the book, starting with Nair. I ended up burning my skin, which put my upper lip even more in the spotlight. After banning the pink cream, I tried threading and waxing, only to have my skin break out in pustules. This deterred me from wanting to remove facial hair, so I went ahead and opted to bleach the sucker. Considering it was blond, that didn’t help. At 18, I opted for laser hair removal. It worked okay, but then I went off to college and didn’t finish my sessions, so the hair grew back.
But one day in 2011, at the ripe age of 23, I’m perusing YouTube and see a video from Bachelor in Paradise’s Michelle Money. She’s a cosmetologist and posted a video about shaving her face. Have you seen this woman? She’s stunning. I can’t imagine she deals with any type of beauty crisis, but she and her friends explained why shaving their faces was not only fun, but also necessary, and then they showed a tutorial. Seeing their fuzz scrape right off their faces led me into an online rabbit hole.
I have to say that I disagree with the girls on one thing: if you have facial hair and it doesn’t bother you, get on with your bad self. Removing facial hair isn’t mandatory. For me, it was something I wanted but didn’t think was possible. Was shaving my face an option? Would it grow back black? Am I about to secure the role as a bearded woman on American Horror Story? (Time travel?)
Scouring the Internet, I found that Kate Somerville was a proponent of facial shaving. You mean to tell me that the queen of clear, youthful skin is down with shaving shenanigans? She told Style.com that Elizabeth Taylor’s cosmetic dermatologist disclosed that Elizabeth shaved her face, as did Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra. It makes your makeup go on smoother, gives you a glow, and because it’s a razor, you’re physically exfoliating your skin — great for antiaging! Why do you think men look so youthful as they age? They shave a majority of their lives!
Here’s the thing: Facial shaving for women isn’t news. In fact, dermaplaning is the fancier option that spas offer to help take off a layer of dead skin. In addition to removing those baby hairs, it also helps products absorb into your skin better. It gives you a gorgeous glow and in turn, your fuzz is gone.
Michelle suggested buying a razor called The Tinkle. You have to order them online (and that name is rather embarrassing), so I ventured to Sally Beauty Supply, bought a pack of Touch N Brow razors, and went for it. I shaved my jawline, upper lip, under my chin, and my forehead. I even cleaned up the hair by my ears. And you know what? IT WAS AWESOME. I couldn’t stop touching my face. (I wouldn’t suggest touching your face all the time, but in this case, it was unavoidable.) I get so many compliments on my skin that when I reveal this secret, people go from pure shock to running to the store and buying their own razors.
So . . . questions. I know you have them. I’ll try to cover everything I usually get asked:
1. Does it hurt?
Nope. Not a bit. Just make sure you get the right razor and hold it correctly. (More on that later.)
2. But doesn’t it grow back thicker and darker?
No. Come on now, we know this is a fallacy regarding our legs — same for your face. It doesn’t grow back black or stubbly! It actually comes back blond and soft. The hair on my face was never black or stubbly, thus it will not grow back that way.
3. How often do you have to do this?
I shave once or twice a week, and I don’t mind — it’s a part of my antiaging regimen now.
4. What products do I need?
You need one tool: a razor. I use a single-edge, single-blade razor that has a slope to the head of the razor. The Tinkle (such an unfortunate name) and the Touch N Brow ($5) are great options. If the razor is shaped straight up and down with no curve to the razor head, you risk cutting yourself. Also, some of the facial/eyebrow razors I’ve come across have sharp, blunt edges — so again, look for razors that are curved. Walgreens sells them as well.
5. What about a leg razor?
Honey — no. Don’t use your leg razor. Put down the Venus! I haven’t tried it, and I can guarantee you won’t want to dabble into it, either.
6. So . . . no other products?
Do this on dry skin. No need to wet your skin or use lotion.
7. What’s the technique here?
Pull the skin taut, then start shaving downward on your skin in short strokes. You can’t just drag the razor against your skin — it wouldn’t do anything. Also, hold the razor at a 45-degree angle against the skin. Don’t freak when it looks like you skinned a lamb. You have more hair on your face than you think!
8. Any postshaving tips?
Moisturize afterwards. Shaving means taking a layer of dead skin off your face. It’s exfoliating! Moisturize afterwards so your skin doesn’t get too dry.
I can’t stress this enough: only do this if you’re comfortable. It’s like waxing or any other form of hair removal. You’ll need to maintain it! If you’re under the age of 18, talk to your parent before. These face razors aren’t incredibly sharp, but you’ll want to be safe.
So, take it from me, Caroline Manzo, and Kate Somerville: facial shaving is the new(ish) chemical peel.
4. You’ll be more prone to ingrowns. Yes, shaving your face can have skin-smoothing benefits. But the friction and micro-damage it imparts on the skin can cause pesky ingrown hairs. “Shaving in the same direction in which the hair grows helps prevent irritation,” says Kaulesar of Spruce & Bond. She recommends washing gently with a washcloth, or regularly using your Clarisonic to keep ingrowns at bay. Don’t use in-grown products meant for the bikini line for your face.
More reading: Recipe: A delicious dip that’s also good for your bikini line (not kidding)
5. Shaving at home is not the same as dermaplaning. Dermaplaning, which a lot of women are talking about right now, is an in-office procedure that’s more about exfoliation than shaving. It’s not something you should ever try at home, warns Dr. Daniel Maman, an NYC-based plastic surgeon and assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Dermaplaning uses a specialized scalpel, held at a 45-degree angle to the face, to mechanically remove the superficial layer of dead skin cells,” he explains.
The goal is removing skin, not hair, though that’s often welcome side effect. In addition to trying to navigate facial contours with a very sharp object, “patients themselves will have difficulty judging exactly how deep and how extensive the shaving of superficial dead skin cells should be,” Dr. Maman adds. So leave that to the professionals.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a simpler way to remove patches of facial hair without suffering through painful weekly upper lip waxes—with skin-smoothing benefits as a positive side effect—shaving your face might be worth a try. If the more intense skin-rejuvenating benefits of dermaplaning sounds more like your goal, see a plastic surgeon or derm who performs dermaplaning to see if the procedure is right for you.
Originally published on July 5, 2015. Updated on September 22, 2018.
If your beauty habits are starting to look more like your grandmothers, here’s why. Plus, this buzzy beauty trend is anything but retro.
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Shaving’s no big deal once you get the hang of it. It’s quick, easy, and if you follow the tips below, absolutely painless.
Shaving is simply using a razor to remove the tip of the hair shaft that has grown up through the skin. Razors come in a bunch of different forms. There are standard razors that are either completely disposable or have a disposable blade that needs to be replaced regularly, and there are electric razors.
Using an electric razor can be quick and convenient, but many guys find that it may not give the close and accurate shave that a standard razor can. Although using an electric razor is pretty easy (just turn it on and move it around your face), shaving with a standard razor has a few rules to follow.
When you’re using a standard razor, the most important item you need is a clean, sharp blade (the best razors have at least two blades and a movable head). Try to avoid shaving with a dull or blunt blade. At best, a dull blade will give you an uneven shave and leave you with redness, blotches, and patches of unshaven hair on your face and neck. At worst, a dull blade will remove a fair amount of your skin along with the hair! Don’t be afraid of changing the blade (or the razor, if you’re using the disposable kind) often. You’ll be glad you did.
Shaving scrapes natural oils off your face, so the next most important item is some sort of shaving gel to keep your skin from becoming too dry and reduce friction from the razor. Pick a gel you think sounds good and give it a try. If you choose a mentholated shaving gel, be aware that menthol can sometimes cause a slight reaction with some types of skin and may result in red blotches. If this happens to you, don’t worry. Just switch to a non-mentholated shaving cream.
Cuts and nicks are a part of shaving. They won’t happen to you every time, but they will happen. When you nick or cut yourself, be sure to grab a clean tissue or cloth and apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. If you’ve got a zit or a cut right in the middle of the area you’re going to shave, it’s a good idea to drop the standard razor for a while and use an electric razor or give shaving a break altogether for a few days.
Also, some guys might get ingrown hairs after shaving, in which the hair grows back into the skin. It can pierce the hair follicle, which in turn causes razor bumps. Called folliculitis, this condition can sometimes be handled by using a special safety razor, but this doesn’t always work for every guy. If you experience folliculitis, talk to a dermatologist about the best way to remove your beard and moustache.
How to Shave
Before you begin, be sure to remember to rinse your razor after every few strokes. That way, the razor is cleared of any shaving cream or hair that might clog it up. Also, because the hair on different parts of your face grows in different directions, always try to shave in the direction your hair is growing (shaving against the direction your hair is growing can cause razor burn, redness, and rashes).
Now let’s shave:
- First, wet your face with hot or warm water. This makes the hair on your face softer and opens your skin’s pores, getting you ready for a closer and easier shave. Even better, try to shave right after you get out of the shower.
- Squirt some shaving gel into your hand, then apply it to your face, making sure to cover the sides of your face, chin, mouth area (around your lips), neck, and throat.
- Press the razor to the area you want to shave (it’s a good idea to start with the sides of your face as they’re easy to handle). Use short, slow strokes and remember to move the razor in the direction your hair is growing. Don’t press too hard but don’t be too gentle. Find the right touch by making sure the razor is cutting the hair and not your skin. You’ll know if you’re being too gentle if you only remove the shaving cream and the hair is still there.
- When the sides of your face are finished, move on to the more tricky spots. For areas like your upper lip/moustache area, bottom lip/chin area, and neck/throat area, you’ll have to work a little. Try to stretch your skin a bit to make a flat surface, and glide the razor over those tricky areas.
- When you’re finished, rinse your clean, smooth face with cold water. If you want to, put on some aftershave. Depending on how fast you grow that beard and moustache, repeat the entire process in 1 to 3 days.
Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts
If there’s one single thing for which GQ can be relied upon it is this foundational piece of service: How to shave your face. Closely followed by: How to tie a tie. But who even wears a tie these days anyway?
Depending on your facial hair situation, there are going to be a lot of shaves in your life. Thousands of them. Some will go awry, some will leave you looking simply presidential, and many will land somewhere in between the two. Unless you’re a masochist, then we assume you prefer to look and feel fresh after each shave. So, it’s time to commit yourself the best shaving regimen—one that has your skin’s wellbeing in mind. (And your own reputation too, on a superficial note.)
If you want a close, smooth, and irritation-free shave, you need to remember two things: Go slow, and follow the correct regimen. There are specific products designed for each step of the shave that allow you to steadily prepare the skin, shave smoothly, and then treat the skin afterwards. By taking your time and following these simple commandments, it’s much more likely that you’ll avoid razor burn, ingrown hairs, and irritation.
1. Start with a cleanser and warm water
Before you can do anything else to your face, you need to wash it. This rids the skin and hair of excess oil, gunk, and debris—all stuff that might otherwise get trapped in your razor or irritate the face. And you need to do this with warm water whenever you precede a shave: Warm water relaxes the skin and opens the pores, making it more receptive to a razor blade and less prone to ingrown hairs or razor bumps.
Neutrogena gentle cleanser
Amazon $8.24 Buy Now 2. Use a scrub to smooth the skin
In addition to removing grime with a cleanser, it’s also important to use an exfoliator before a shave. This scrub rids of excess dead skin cells that could otherwise cause razor drag or clog the widely opened pores. Don’t go too rough with it: A gentle scrub will suffice, and your skin needs to withstand a sharp-razor shave in a few minutes.
Murad exfoliating scrub
Amazon $30 Buy Now 3. Use a pre-shave oil to prep the skin and hair
A pre-shave oil conditions the skin and softens the hair, making them both more receptive to a razor blade shave. The oil also creates a nutrient-dense layer over top the skin, so that the blade glides smoothly and with little resistance (also because the hairs are softened).
Brickell pre-shave oil
Amazon $27 Buy Now 4. Apply shave cream in upward motion
When you apply your shave cream, do so in an upward motion, so as to lift the hairs up and away from the face. This results in a smoother, more precise shave overall. The type of shave cream or oil you use is up to you, but we do recommend something that doesn’t lather excessively—in other words, something that doesn’t totally obscure your face and the hairs needing a trim, and ideally something cooling and calming.
Proraso shave cream
Amazon $9.50 Buy Now 5. Use a clean, sharp razor—and shave with the grain
Are you following proper razor hygiene? You need to replace your razor every 6-8 shaves, or every few weeks, whichever comes first. After that, toss the cartridge and replace it with something new. You need something sharp, something smooth, something clean. And on that topic, be sure to rinse your blade with hot water and then store it upright in a cool, dry place, until your next shave. Oh, and it’s fine if it has 3 blades or 5—it’s nominal, to be honest, so long as it’s fresh, sharp, and a reputable brand.
When you do shave, be sure to go in the direction that your hair moves. That is to say, shave in the direction that you can run your hand over it smoothly, instead of feeling the friction of resistance. If you shave forward with it, you lower your chances of ingrown hairs and red bumps due to trapped hairs furled under the surface of the skin.
Harry’s razor with 2 blade refills
Target $9.99 Buy Now 6. Rinse with cold water and apply an after shave
Just as the hot water opened your pores, you need a cold splash at the end of the shave to flush away debris and to tighten the pores so that they shrink to their normal size and help defend from trapped debris and bacteria.
Ditto for applying a post-shave oil, lotion, or balm, to soothe the skin, disinfect it, and create a defensive layer over it all, while you recover from the razor blade.
The Art of Shaving aftershave lotion
Amazon $28.82 Buy Now
As a beauty editor, it is my solemn duty to go into every teeny boutique selling off-the-beaten-track makeup. I made this rule up, but I live by it, and it has only served me well (outside of lost time, but is it lost? or is it gained in the unnecessary but cute products I find along the way? I’m going with that one). Which is how a few weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of a shelf of razors in a Manhattan K-beauty store, laying eyes upon the $3 Shiseido blade that would completely change my feelings about foundation. I grabbed it on a whim, because they were cute and beauty is the one thing I’m adventurous in.
You’ve probably seen a handful of Facebook videos lately about women shaving their faces. Thanks to YouTube and Instagram, and treatments like dermaplaning (which is similar to shaving your face but actually features a scalpel for more intense exfoliation), facial hair removal has finally become something no longer discussed behind closed doors with our waxers.
As odd as it may seem in our culture of “the man gets the 18-blade razor and the woman shaves only her lower body in front of a waterfall,” women shaving their faces is an ancient beauty practice that traces back thousands of years, says Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of the K-beauty line Peach & Lily. Asia was one of the first places to pick up on the modern movement, Yoon says, due to what she refers to as the Asian “skin-first philosophy”—the belief is that it doesn’t matter whether shaving is stereotypically a “guy” thing, if it works, it works. That said, Yoon says she’s noticed that face shaving is now even more popular in the U.S. than in Asia. (We in the States have a storied history with the practice too. Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor also shaved to make their faces look smoother.)
I’ve never had anything explicitly against base makeup; it’s just that prior to my newfound ritual, my skin would laugh in its own face. I’ve got combination skin (meaning my cheeks are dry and my T-zone is oily), so whenever I put on foundation, it either separates into a flaky mess or sweats off after an hour. Retinol, moisturizing, and being a mild acid fanatic has helped, but only when I started shaving did I understand how good foundation/life could be.
If you want to get a truly professional, up close and personal shave, celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin recommends using a cleanser first to dry out your skin a little, which makes your hair and dead skin easier to remove. Next I put on sweet almond oil to help the blade glide more easily. I prefer this to other face oils because it’s a thin enough consistency that you can still see what you’re doing, but you can also pull a Huda Beauty and grab some Barbasol. The most important thing is to gently swipe your razor down, in the direction of your hair’s growth, Patinkin says—otherwise, ingrown hairs might follow.
Armed and ready, I started with the white-blond dusting that’s been on my upper lip for approximately forever. I’ve plucked (hurt like a mofo, never again) and I’ve trimmed (tedious and short-lived), and neither were ideal. But against all the odds, swishing this tiny razor made getting rid of my facial hair fun—and fast; I was done in under a minute. After seeing the little wisps collect on the blade, I went power mad. Living on the edge, I did my whole face just for the thrill.
Two minutes later I wiped the razor off with a tissue. You can also rub it down with alcohol or toss it, depending on how rule-abiding you are (I haven’t done either, and haven’t had a problem). Each time I’ve been set for about two weeks. The old wives tales aren’t true: The hair doesn’t grow back thicker or darker, and there’s no stubble situation—just a fine layer that gradually reappears on my face.
Until then, the result is silky smooth, bright skin. Little known fact: Dermatologists say shaving is the reason men rarely get acne on their jawlines—they’re removing dead skin cells along with their stubble, so it doesn’t build up and cause trouble.
But most important, without peach fuzz my foundation goes on with an Instagram vlogger finish, that impossible goal. You don’t know what you’ve got (peach fuzz; lackluster foundation) until it’s gone—and in this case, I’m never going back.
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