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Shaving 101

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The truth about shaving, whether it is of legs, underarms, nether parts, or face, is that most people simply don’t know HOW! There is too much bad information given, when any at all is given, and too much about shaving is picked up visually from really bad sources.


Men have hardly a clue, for the most part. If Dad shows them anything, it is usually about not cutting one’s throat. Also, how to hydrate the area is glossed over in favor of shaving product.


Women, sadly, have even less information and most of that is bad. If they are informed at all (too many have no instruction whatsoever), it is bad information. The basics are pretty simple but don’t seem to be passed on with any consistency.


When you see a woman on TV, shilling for the latest instrument of hirsute destruction, what do you see her doing? You see her drawing a sharp blade UP her leg, toward the knee, usually on the top of the shin, on the first pass. This is the absolute worst method possible. It is an invitation to mayhem, with scrapes, bloodletting galore, and a sure-fire way to ruin whatever fun one was intending to have later.


Even when women do this, get bad (if not awful) results, and hurt for days afterward from the cuts and scabs and such, what do they do? Next time, they do it again! Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they also continue to shave areas like the knee cap, the ankle, and the base of the tendon near the heel. A bad idea, all in all.


Now, I will lay it out for you, step by step. Like all good advice, it starts with hydrate!


Step One—Add Water
It matters not whether you are male or female, old or young, hirsute or blonde with light coverage, the same rules apply. The main one concerns water. USE A LOT!


No matter what body part, get it wet. Keep it wet. Wet it some more. Then, after you have had water in some form, whether hot or cold or somewhere in-between, on the area to be shaved for at least two minutes, put a shaving aid on the area OVER the water.


This can be a gel, a lotion, a cream, or any of a hundred different variations. Pick something which does NOT burn when it gets into a cut. Pick something that will enhance the lubricating process. I use various things, depending on my mood and what I want to smell. What they all have in common is they are lubricants which work WITH water. Some so-called shaving aids seem dry, thick and drive the water away from the skin. Not a good thing, overall.


Traditional shaving creams (of the Barbisol variety) must be mixed with water in the hand to be effective. If you spread it over face, for example, to look like a Santa Beard, it will look fetching but will not really enhance the shaving experience. If these are used on the legs and underarms, they will work fine with water but not thickly like miniature clouds.


Ideally, you should put enough on to cover the area thinly, and to actually be able to see the object of your razor (you know, hair) through the lubricant. You can always add more.


Step Two—With the Grain
Hair is lazy. It succumbs to gravity and generally grows DOWN! Your first stroke with the razor should be in that direction as well as the second and sometimes the third. You should go over the area until it is pretty smooth and you feel you are no longer accomplishing anything with the razor in that direction. Doesn’t matter what part we are talking about. Go WITH the hair to start.


If it gets dry, add water. If needed, add more lubricant. Get it as smooth as possible before the first stroke in the other direction. This will save you a ton of grief over the years. Why? Physics.


Even a safety razor with more blades than the Jets and Sharks combined succumbs to physics and gravity. If you start with the hair standing thickly, there will be resistance. This will cause the head of the razor to dip toward the skin. It can cut, even if it is supposed to be “safe.”


Safety razors were called such because they replaced straight razors. This doesn’t mean you can’t skin yourself with one, it just means you are going to have to work harder at it to do damage. After a couple of passes over each portion, then run your hand in the opposite direction to see how smooth it really is.


There will be patches of really silky consistency and others resembling Johnson Grass. The Johnson Grass areas, take another swipe or two before reversing direction. Do this for us all. There are blood banks begging because of reversing the razor too quickly. Do it for humanity.


Note to Self – Don’t Press Down with the Razor! 


Even the cheapest disposable razor these days is aerodynamically designed to do its job with a minimum of muss and fuss. It may be the cheap plastic version but all the science is still there.


It will do the job with an absolute minimum of pressure. It will, if laid flat on the skin of the face, leg or underarm, take the hair off with ease. The angle of the blades is set. All you have to do is apply them to a lubricated surface. If you press down, you will cut yourself, whether you are going with or against the grain. Too much pressure will hurt.


If you started off okay but suddenly have to press down to get any hair off your body, you need to either change blades or get a new disposable. While I can shave my face maybe three or four times with the same razor, many women cannot get more than one shave of the legs out of a new blade. I know one woman who uses one new blade for each leg.


Step Three—Finish!
Now, reverse field and go against the grain, gently, to get the maximum smoothness from your shave. Be sure and re-lubricate and don’t get carried away with the pressure. The blade, if sharp, will do the job. If not sharp, it will cut you. Ask your butcher about dull knives. They do the most damage.


Does this sound time consuming? Not as much time as will be needed patching you up, try to get the bleeding to stop so you can wear the white sundress or the hose and the high heels. This is one of those instances where if you take your time and do it right the first time, you actually save a lot of time and grief.


Avoid any bony areas (knees, ankles, tendons) altogether. If you have unsightly hair here, I would encourage you to either go for a depilatory or wax for these areas. Scar tissue over these areas is simply not attractive.


While it is easier to pull a razor toward you than push it away from you, it can be done and will pay off. If you shave in the shower, just be patient. Find a way to sit. Too much bad can happen.


The other good thing about this, other than the smooth unmarred skin, is ingrown hairs.

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