Girls, are you starting to see hair in places where you've never seen it before? Now that you're reaching puberty, you have an increase in hormones (androgens) that causes darker hair on your legs, under your arms, and around your pubic area to appear. In American culture, many girls start shaving hair on their legs and underarms at this time. Here are some shaving tips just for girls.
When to Start Shaving
There's no set time for girls to begin shaving. You can start shaving when you feel you have enough hair growth on your legs and/or armpits to shave it off. Talk to some women in your family -- perhaps your mother, an older sister who has already started shaving, your favorite aunt, or someone else you trust. Ask them if you are ready to start shaving. If you are, they can teach you how to begin -- safely.
Which Razor to Use for Shaving
To start shaving, you have to find a razor that is safe, effective, and easy to use. Get your dad, mom, or older sibling to take you to a discount store or pharmacy.
You will find two popular types of razors: electric and manual. An electric razor may come with a cord, or in a rechargeable and cordless design. A disposable razor or safety razor can have several blades stacked one on top of the other. It can provide you with a very close shave.
Here are some details about each type of razor:
- Electric razors. Electric razors are convenient. But many models don't shave as closely as disposable razors. If you want to go with an electric razor, select one that will contour to your skin. Some razors are specifically designed for teenage girls. Some electric razors also dispense moisturizers. Be aware that even though you are using an electric razor, it can still irritate the skin. Take the time to find one that's right for you.
- Disposable or safety razors. If you go with a disposable or safety razor, you may also want to buy shaving cream or gel. These help lubricate skin and reduce the risk of nicks and cuts. There are many to choose from. Some even include moisturizers to help keep your skin from drying out. Avoid creams or gels that have alcohol that could irritate skin. Lather acts like a buffer on the skin, so the richer the lather, the less chance you have of cutting yourself. Regular bar soap or liquid shower soap will work, too.
How to Avoid Cuts While Shaving
Here are some safety tips for teen girls who shave with disposable razors:
- Shave in a warm shower or bathtub. Water hydrates and softens the skin, making it easier to shave without getting a nick.
- Splash warm water on your skin (or soak it) for a few minutes before shaving. Then apply generous amounts of a lubricant like shaving cream or bar soap. Allow the cream or gel to soften your skin for five minutes before you start to shave.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth, such as in a downward direction on the leg since leg hair grows down. If not, you can get razor burn if your skin is sensitive.
- While it is common to go with the grain of the hair in your armpits, most girls prefer to shave their legs and bikini area upward, because this provides a closer shave. Just be careful.
- Don't rush. It's important to shave slowly and gently. Let the razor blade do the work. Don't push down too hard with the razor. If you rush, you're likely to cut your skin.
- Change razors frequently. A dull blade can irritate your skin and cause rashes or infections. You can also cut your skin more easily with a dull blade. Also, don't share razors with others.
- Use extra caution around the knee and ankle area. Because of their shape, it is very easy to cut these areas.
- Ask your mom or dad to get you an antiseptic styptic pencil. To use: Dip the white pencil in water, then apply it to nicks or cuts to stop bleeding immediately.
- After thoroughly washing with soap and water, follow your shave with a lotion or moisturizer. This will help keep skin from drying out.
Don't Believe Shaving Myths
Despite what you might have heard, shaving does not make the hair grow back thicker. That's a popular myth. Shaving only removes hair at the surface of the skin. The sharp edge caused by shaving the hair creates the rough "stubble" you can feel on your legs or armpits.
You will probably find that unless you have very thick hair growth, you won't have to shave every day when you first start shaving. Some girls with fairer complexions only shave every few days or once a week. As you get older, your hair will start to come in faster, and you may have to shave more frequently.
What to Do About the Bikini and Pubic Area
Use your discretion when making the right choice for your bikini and pubic areas. Preferences vary among girls and women and among cultures.
You can buy chemical hair removers (depilatories), which are applied directly to the skin and then wiped off a few minutes later. Be careful though! Remember that these hair removers are not necessarily safe to use around the vulva or vaginal area, or bikini line. Also, some people are allergic to the chemicals. Always test a small area of skin first before using these -- even if you're using them on your legs or underarms. Sensitive skin may become irritated with this hair removal option.
Other options for hair removal in the bikini area and elsewhere include shaving, waxing, electrolysis, and laser hair removal. There are also electric and rechargeable razors made specifically for a woman's bikini area.
When to See a Professional for Hair Removal
You can go to a professional for waxing, which involves applying a layer of warm wax to the places you want hair removed. When the technician removes the wax, the trapped hairs are pulled out. Some teens find that waxing is less painful than "plucking" hairs in unwanted areas; others think waxing hurts.
With electrolysis, a technician inserts a fine needle into the hair follicle and applies an electrical current. While electrolysis can permanently remove hair, many teens find it uncomfortable as it irritates the skin. Laser therapy is another method of removing hair in small areas, such as the bikini area. This type of hair removal is expensive, and it may cause scarring. Both of these methods require multiple sessions to permanently end hair growth.