March 25, 2009

A Close Shave

So I was looking at rotary epilators a little while ago--(pauses to wait for imagined screaming to die down)--which for those of you who don't know, are little machines with rotating heads that catch and pull hair from the root. Since I'd still be tweezing if I had the time, I thought the method might be worth trying. A lot of products got tons of rave reviews on merchandising sites. But it only took one person to say that after prolonged use the hair follicles became so damaged from having the shafts ripped out from every angle that they began behaving in all sorts of erratic ways--growing inward, sprouting more than one shaft from each follicle, all sorts of odd and horrifying behaviors. And this was her legs. I didn't need to read the two or three similar experiences to convince me that it wasn't worth the chance of trying it on my face. (If you want to read for yourself: "My epilator horror story", "Help..infected ingrown hair", "Did I permanently 'retard' the hair follicles?", and Mantaray's second reply on this page of "Which to buy".)

But it's discouraging. Especially when you get so enthusiastic reading someone saying, "I wish I'd discovered this years ago!" I want to be able to claim that. I want life to be easier. A lot of these rave reviewers willingly claimed they used it on their face. (Where are all these ladies? Are they just not that bothered by their facial hair and remove it sans the disgust and self pity? I want to know their secret.) So I decided that instead of risking trying something completely new, I might as well just try to further improve what already works for me (to a certain degree).

It is time to perfect face shaving for womankind. Or at least, this woman.

There are a ton of how-to pages on shaving for men. Every razor or shaving cream site has an FAQ of some kind. But a hirsute woman can't always follow all those directions. For instance, the recommendation of an aftershave, astringent or otherwise? A woman's face is different. Mine in particular cannot handle that kind of treatment. I get dry, I get irritated, and I break out like a smallpox victim. Or the admonition to only shave with the hair growth, not against it, to reduce irritation? Bah, humbug! The shave's not close enough, not for me. Sure, the presence of hair is visibly reduced by doing it that way, but shaving against the hair growth, with my skin as taught as I can stretch it, is the only way to look and feel my smoothest, for at least a fraction of the day. There is just no other option. Irritation be damned.

Now, with as much research as I've done on razors, I've found a few recommendations from men for each other. And on shaving lubricants (creams, gels, oils) I've found a few recommendations from women for each other's legs, many of them from comments on an entry on Beauty Addict. Not much for those of us lurking on the fringes, wondering what to try for our more sensitive areas above the belly button.

I'm starting with shave preparations. I'd love to look into different razors, but the ones I use, Schick's Xtreme3 Comfort Plus for women, are already the most economical and effective I've found. Sure they're disposable, which means more waste to the landfill, but razors with replacable cartridges certainly aren't easier on the bank. I'm aware of some economical options such as safety razors or even straight razors, but I'm a coward and my purse strings are tight(ish) right now.

One of the interesting theories I read about shaving mediums is that the more they lather, the more drying it is for the skin. (I found it here while following a recommendation I read for preparations by King of Shaves.) All one really needs is a layer between the skin and the blade, apparently. I don't know if that's true; heck, it always felt like a luxury to be able to shave with foam from a can rather than soap lathered with a shower puff. There's got to be a reason why you can find more foaming gel in any hair removal section than shaving oils or creams. It must be popular somehow. Regardless of what is fact and what is fiction, I think it's all about finding out what's right for yourself.

I'm in the midst of my first experiment: shaving my left leg as I usually do, with the lather from glycerin soap; versus shaving my right leg with something else--right now, baby oil. There were loads of other mediums women swore by, like cheap hair conditioner, canola oil, plain water (are they nuts?!) If I can be convinced that there are more pleasant shaving preparations than foam that care for my skin, I'll start trying things on my face.

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Anyone have any shaving products that work for them? I'll add them to my list of things to try.

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