Guys, now that you’re hitting puberty, you might notice your facial hair starting to come in. You’ll also start seeing hair grow in places that you’ve never seen hair before -- under your armpits, around your groin, on your belly, and on your chest (maybe even on your back). All the extra hair is the result of hormones called androgens, which kick in at puberty.
Unless you’re the "mountain man" type, it’s probably time to consider shaving your face. In our society, shaving with a razor is the most common way of removing facial hair. Here are some shaving tips just for teen guys:
Shaving Tip 1: When to Start Shaving
First, talk to some men in your family -- perhaps your father, or an older brother who has already started shaving -- and ask them if you are ready. You should start shaving when you decide that you have enough hair growth on your face to actually shave off. You'll notice darker hairs forming on your chin and around your upper lip.
Shaving Tip 2: What Type of Razor to Use
You need to find a razor that is safe and that works well for you. Get your dad, mom, or older sibling to take you to a drugstore or discount store. You’ll find two popular types of razors: electric and manual. An electric razor usually has a cord attached, although many come in a rechargeable, cordless design. A manual or disposable razor usually has several blades stacked one on top of the other, which can provide you with a very clean shave. Here are some details about each type:
- Electric razors. Electric razors are convenient. But many models do not shave as close as the disposable razors. If you select an electric razor, choose one that has flexible heads to conform to the contours of your face. Some electric razors dispense lubricants that help soften and protect your skin. But be aware that an electric razor can still irritate your skin. Take time to find one that’s right for you.
- Disposable razors. If you choose a disposable razor, you will need some type of shaving cream or gel to apply to your face before shaving. These creams and gels lubricate your face and help reduce the risk of nicking or cutting your skin. There are many creams and gels to choose from. Some include moisturizers and vitamins to help keep your face from drying out. Experiment with several creams and gels, especially if you have sensitive skin, to find the one that’s right for your face.
Shaving Tip 3: Prevent Cuts
Truth is, you’ll probably cut your face a few times when you first start shaving; every guy cuts his face at some time. But here are some safety tips on shaving with a disposable or safety razor:
- The best time to shave is after taking a warm bath or shower to make your skin hydrated and soft.
- At the bathroom sink, splash warm water on your face to stimulate your skin before applying shaving cream or gel. This will make it easier for the razor to make contact because the hairs will stick out some.
- Lather up! Apply shaving cream or gel (without alcohol) on your face. The shaving cream or gel produces lather, which helps protect the skin as the razor cuts the hair.
- Go with the grain of your hair, not against it. For most guys, whiskers on the face grow down. So shaving downward on the face removes most of the hair. Shaving against the grain (or upward) can cause rashes or red bumps.
- Don’t rush. It’s very important to shave slowly and gently. Let the razor blade do the work.
- Don’t push down too hard with the razor. If you do, you're likely to cut your face. It’s better to go over a part of the skin twice -- lightly -- than to press down hard. Ouch!
- Use soft, short strokes on your jaw and chin. Again, don’t apply too much pressure.
- Ask your mom or dad to get you an antiseptic styptic pencil. To use: dip the white pencil in water and then apply it to any nicks or cuts to stop bleeding immediately.
- Change razors or blades frequently. A dull blade can irritate your skin and cause rashes. You are also more likely to cut your face with a dull blade.
- After shaving, wash your face with soap and water. Then follow up your shave with a face lotion or moisturizing aftershave product. This will help prevent your skin from drying out. If you’re heading outside, be sure to apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 (higher if you have fair skin).
Despite what you might have heard, shaving daily does not make the hair grow back thicker. But if you have ultrasensitive skin, you might be prone to folliculitis, a bacterial infection, or irritation from the shaving process. These can lead to scarring, so use caution.
Unless you have very thick facial hair, you don’t have to shave every day when you first start shaving. Try to shave the darker hairs that are starting to come in, and wait for the full-face shave. There will be plenty of time for daily shaving when you’re an older teen or young adult.
As you get older, your hair will start to come in much faster, requiring you to shave frequently. Guys who get thick stubble, producing a "shadow" of newer hair growth, often prefer shaving more than once a day.
Remember, everyone is different. Genetics play a big role in how much hair you have. You may know some guys who barely have any facial hair. Maybe they have what’s called “peach fuzz," or light, fine hair all over their face. Likewise, there are many teens who can grow a full beard early in their high school years.
If you do have excess body hair on your back or other areas that you want to get rid of, talk to your doctor. There are processes such as waxing that can remove unwanted hair.