In my favorite novel, Gloria (Keith Maillard), the main character views shaving as a purifying ritual. After a particularly horrifying nightmare, she wakes up, pops open a new razor, and draws a hot bath. Clean shaven legs made her feel cleansed and renewed. Given that the novel we set in the 1950s, Gloria’s shaving ritual was likely steeped in pressure to be sexually pure and pristinely feminine.
While these societal pressure still exist, they’re somewhat faded, and I’d like to think that we can rewrite Gloria’s shaving ritual—because sometimes shaving does feel nice and cleansing, but it need not have anything to do with our soul! The following are a few tips to get to best shave of your life—whatever shaving means to you.
Be gentle. Since shaving is a form of exfoliation, exfoliating by another means prior to shaving—or after shaving—can lead to irritated and inflamed skin. If you do experience razor burn despite your best efforts–and even if you don’t–apply a natural emollient like coconut or olive oil—or even aloe—post shower.
Be soft. You don’t have to shell out for a fancy shaving cream to have silky smooth legs—in fact, I suggest you don’t. Conventional shaving creams usually contain preservatives, synthetic fragrance, and unpronounceable ingredients.
While natural shaving creams are certainly healthier for your skin, in my experience, they don’t deliver the same intense moisture and skin-soothing power as coconut oil. (Is there anything coconut oil can’t do?) Slap some on to dampened skin pre-shave and be sure to close the bathroom door–otherwise your cat will come in and try to lick it off!
Be clean. Gloria had something right about shaving—it’s good to replace your razor frequently. Replacing your razor every 1-2 weeks will reduce the likelihood of bacteria build up. While you’re at it, store your razor in a dry area post-shave. Keeping it is a wet puddle beside your soap is a recipe for nasties.
Be sharp. Remember the bit about replacing your razor frequently? Well, it’s also ensures your have a nice, sharp blade. Sharp blades not only give you a cleaner, more precise shave, they also eliminate the need to more aggressively drag the razor against your skin, as you may be inclined to do with a duller blade.
Also, remember to frequently rinse your blade as you shave to keep the blade clear of anything that may get in the way of a perfect shave.
Be contrary. When shaving your legs, you’ll want to shave in the opposite direction of your hair growth—or against the grain. You will get a much closer shave. Since the hair under your arms grows in all directions, shave up, down, and sideways to make sure you hit every angle.
Be joyful. Like any other act of body-care, shaving can be a form of self-care as well. If you do shave, shave for you! Enjoy it!
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Photos: Fred Baby and Todd Ehlers via Flickr.