What is shaving?
Using an electric razor or razor to remove hair from the body or face.
What does shaving do?
How long does shaving last?
The effects last until the hair regrows (days to weeks).
How do I stay safe?
Do not share razors with other people.
Sharing razors is a method of transmission of hepatitis C. People can be infected with hepatitis C without realising it or having any noticeable symptoms, but it can cause serious liver problems later on if left untreated. You can read more hepatitis on the NHS website.
How do I shave?
Shaving is the simplest method to remove large amounts of body or facial hair.
There are four main types of tool used for shaving:
“safety” razors are normally disposable (thrown away after the blades become blunted), though razors where the blades can be sharpened and/or replaced are still available. These razors are known as “safety” razors to distinguish them from old-fashioned “straight”/“cut-throat” razors which have an unguarded blade. Shaving with a safety razor requires using shaving foam/gel and water.
You need to be at least 18 to buy a razor blade, unless it’s the kind that comes embedded in a handle and no more than 2mm of the blade can be exposed.
electric razors (often just called a “shaver”) come with either rotary or oscillating blades. Electric razors have the advantage of being able to be used on dry skin without shaving foam or water.
clippers shave hair short but not completely down to the root. Clippers come with attachments that allow you to set the length of hair you want, from grade 12 (nearly 4cm) down to grade 1 (3mm). Each grade means 3 millimetres.
straight razors require significant expertise to sharpen and use and are now uncommon.
How do I avoid skin irritation when I shave?
Shaving can cause considerable irritation to the skin.
The first kind of irritation comes from friction against the skin, and can be reduced by:
- lubricating the skin to reduce friction, using shaving gel/ foam/cream or shaving soap
- making sure the skin is wet for at least two minutes before shaving so that the hair absorbs water and softened, reducing the amount of force that needs to be used when shaving
- washing and/or exfoliating the skin to remove any built up dead skin or grease on it to ensure hairs are released from the skin and standing up properly
- using a moisturiser after shaving to reduce skin irritation 1
Longer term irritation to the skin can also be caused by ingrown hairs (sometimes called razor bumps) caused by shaving. Often, these are hairs that have been cut below the surface of the skin, leaving a sharp end which has pierced the side of the follicle as the hair has grown. In people with curly hair, hairs which have grown out of the skin surface can also curl back and pierce the skin. This problem can be reduced by:
- shaving in the same direction as the hair grows
- shaving in as few strokes as possible
- rinsing after every stroke
- ensuring that only sharp razor blades are used
You can read more about ingrown hairs and how to prevent them on the NHS website.
If you are finding it difficult to avoid ingrown hairs, an alternative to shaving that may help is using depilatory cream instead of shaving.
How much will it cost?
You can purchase safety razors from supermarkets, high street chemists, and online. Razors are available for as low a price as 10p per razor, with more expensive brands costing up to £2 per razor.
Electric razors and clippers can be purchased from department stores, larger supermarkets with an electronics section, many branches of Boots, or online retailers. Prices vary significantly, from as low as £10 to over £100.
- 1.Draelos, ZD (2012) “Male skin and ingredients relevant to male skin care.” British Journal of Dermatology, 166(s1), pp. 13–16. Link
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