By Chloé Taylor
If you’re anything like me, you’ve just about had it with long pants. Ottawa winters are harsh and this one seemed to last forever, but now that summer is just around the corner it’s time to roll up those cuffs and bare your lovely legs. So what does a girl do after spending six months with her gams bound up in tights, jeans and the dreaded dress slacks? Shave! Or wax or sugar or depilate or laser or thread or… something. What works best for you?
I’m an obsessive shaver. I don’t know why, but I have had an aversion to my own leg hair since it started to sprout at puberty. Maybe my problem started in Grade 7 gym class (as did so many of my problems), where the differences between our budding bodies were displayed in shorts and T-shirts while we were pitted against each other in a co-ed, competitive environment. At age 13, I borrowed my mother’s pink Bic razors and scraped off the offending fuzz on my calves and shins. I already stood a good four inches taller than the oldest boy in my class and there was no way I was going to be hairier than him too.
I have tried several methods of hair removal and asked around about others. I bought something called an Epilady in the 80s. It was a rubber covered metal spring, somehow electrified, that you run gently over your legs. Basically, it was a pink electrified power-plucker and hurt like the blazes. My mother kept it and uses it to this day, claiming that eventually the hair just stopped growing back. I couldn’t wait for eventually. Waiting is my issue with waxing and sugaring and any other removal system that involves allowing your leg hair to grow in before removing it. I can’t. I hate it. It’s got to go, right now. Out comes the razor again.
So, being such an obsessive shaver, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. I shave daily, so I have learned to save my skin from being scraped and sliced. I used to get angry red bumps on the backs of my thighs from shaving and really suffered from them when I tried waxing, but those pesky in-grown hairs can be avoided with the right preparation. Here are some of my tried and true shaving tips:
1) Exfoliate: Using a gentle exfoliating cloth, loofah or scrubby sponge in the shower in combination with an exfoliating body wash really helps avoid the bumpies. I do this before I shave every single time. Dead skin gets sloughed off and hair follicles stand up in the warm water, making them easier to remove.
2) Hair Conditioner: Shaving cream irritates my skin, leading to more post-shaving bumps, so some years ago I tried using a bit of diluted hair conditioner instead. I found that my legs are smoother after shaving and I get less nicks and cuts. I just squidge a bit out of my hair as I’m shaving.
3) Sharp Blade: If you find yourself having to run your razor over the same spot several times to get a smooth shave, it’s time to replace the blade. It’s harder on your skin to be scraped over and over, and the hair may grow back with a duller end, causing the dreaded red bumps.
4) Multiple Blades or disposables? I like to use a razor with three or four blades and a pivoting head. I’ve used my fiancé’s Gillette Mach 3 (shh, don’t tell him!), or one of many brands of multiple blades. Disposable razors really mangle my skin and I find the re-growth harsh too. Unfortunately you may have to mortgage your house to buy a package of blades, but it doesn’t pay to be thrifty with razors.
5) Moisturize: Right after shaving while your legs are still wet, slather on the moisture. For sensitive skin, try a natural, unscented cream. Lately I’ve been using coconut oil, which smells yummy and leaves skin shimmery and soft.
Bring on the short shorts!