More and more women are shaving their faces, and it’s easy to see why: The soft, often practically invisible hairs on many women’s faces can seriously get in the way of smooth makeup application. Both Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor shaved away the “peach fuzz” on their faces to help their makeup blend across their skin more smoothly. Meanwhile, some women may have thicker, darker hair on their faces–either due to genetic factors, or due to a hormonal imbalance–and shaving is often a more low-maintenance, cost-effective option for getting rid of this hair.
Beauty bloggers have even sworn by the exfoliating powers of shaving, which, after all, is basically a more low-key version of dermaplaning. When you slide a razor over your skin, it’s bound to strip away some dead skin cells along with unwanted hairs. These claims aren’t necessarily backed by dermatology, though, so it’s always smart to think twice before accepting them as the truth.
If you do decide to shave your face, it’s important that you do it the safest way possible. If you shave other areas of your body, you’re probably aware of how irritating shaving can be for your skin. Ingrown hairs, skin dryness, and rashes are just a few skin issues that can crop up due to shaving.
How to (Safely) Shave Your Face
1. Start with sanitized equipment: You should absolutely not use the same razor for your face that you use for your body (we hope that this goes without saying). Buy a new razor, and sanitize it between uses to prevent spreading bacteria and risking a skin infection.
2. Test it out on a small patch of skin: Before going all in and shaving large swathes of skin, test out a small patch near your jaw, and wait about a day to make sure that your skin doesn’t react adversely.
3. Use a hot towel for a smoother shave: Prepping your skin with a hot towel can help you to get a closer, smoother shave. It’ll soften the hairs on your face, making them easier to shave off–which will, in turn, reduce any irritation caused by tugging at the hairs.
4. Don’t skimp on shave cream and/or oil: Because the skin on your face is extra-sensitive, you’ll want to make sure that you have an adequate buffer between your razor and your skin. The best way to do this is by applying an oil underneath a layer of shave cream: First, apply a thin layer of non-comedogenic carrier oil (like jojoba oil or sweet almond oil) to your skin. Then apply a layer of shave cream intended for sensitive skin, like eos’ Sensitive Skin Shave Cream ($4.49).
5. Shave with the grain, not against: You should move your razor in downward strokes, not upward ones. Shaving against the grain will increase your risk of causing skin irritation and ingrown hairs.
And finally–while it’s totally cool if you do decide to shave your face–remember that hair is a normal and natural thing! Some of us grow more of it than others, and the amount that you have doesn’t decide how beautiful you are. If you grow more facial hair than other women, and you decide to rock it, we’ll be cheering you along.
Camille Bond is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has interned in the film industry and the publishing industry, as well as for a political campaign. When it comes to the world of beauty and wellness, she loves researching natural skincare brands, concocting DIY recipes, and discovering new mediation techniques!