For adolescents, learning to shave is a rite of passage. For both boys and girls, don't let them just have at it. Protect their precious skin with some simple advice.
Girls and Shaving
Listen up girls and moms – it's time to dispel a major shaving myth. Once you start shaving, your hair does not grow back thicker, Englewood dermatologist Dr. Michele Grodberg says.
"If it seems coarse or denser, it's because you're cutting it off bluntly at the surface when you shave," she says. "So when it grows back, it will feel stubbly and rough."
If the hair is fine and light, there is no need to rush to the razor. But when it is time, here are some tips.
Step one is prepping skin before shaving. Thoroughly wet the area with warm water in the shower or bath for about two minutes, then apply a shaving cream.
Start with a clean, sharp blade and change razors frequently. "Using a disposable razor is fine," Grodberg says, "but because they can get dull and with frequent use attract bacteria, use them only a few times before switching."
Although you might get a closer shave if you go up the leg, or against the grain, shaving with the grain, or down, causes less irritation and fewer ingrown hairs. Always follow up with a good moisturizer to hydrate skin.
Boys and Shaving
When it's time for a young man to shave, just like with girls, start by picking the right razor. Adam Ramos, master barber and owner of Virile Barber & Shop in Waldwick, likes Gillette's Mach3 and Fusion razors and recommends using a new blade about every week.
"The blades get worn out pretty quickly," he says, "and because facial hair is really thick, you want something that's going to give it a clean cut."
To prepare, shower or splash face with warm water, apply shaving cream, then start by shaving with the grain. When you're done, rinse off excess shaving cream with water, then apply a moisturizer. Don't skip that last step. "Shaving is like a serious form of exfoliation," Ramos says. "You're removing so many layers of skin and moisture from your face, you have to replenish it."
Acne and Shaving
The idea of using a razor on a face with acne is not appealing, but it's a fact of life for many teenagers. How to do the least amount of damage and still get a close shave? Ramos suggests not pushing down too hard and, again, shaving with the grain. Afterward, he recommends splashing the face with cold water to help close up the pores and then applying oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizer.
Do's and Don'ts
• Don't shave too closely or push down too hard; it can lead to ingrown hairs (when strands of hair curl back on themselves and grow into the skin), causing red bumps. A good way to prevent ingrown hairs from the bikini area is to exfoliate skin with a loofah about once a week.
• Don't shave over the same area twice, and be sure not to stretch or spread skin when shaving. "You just want to cut hair at the surface," Grodberg says. "If you stretch the skin, you're cutting hair underneath the surface, where ingrown hairs can form.
• Take your time. It's tempting to rush, but rushing can lead to nicks and cuts in the skin and invite bacteria and infection.
Shaving Classes for Teenage Boys
Virile Barber & Shop in Waldwick offers a free class for first-time shavers on the first Monday of every month. Taught by owner Adam Ramos, the class lasts about 45 minutes. For more information, visit virilebarbershop.com.