Help me give sound advice on shaving one's legs
August 17, 2018 8:10 AM   Subscribe

My almost 11-year-old has decided that her leg hair is no longer baby-fine, and she wants to start shaving her legs. Help me help her to do this correctly and with no blood, please.

I did not get, uh, any advice on this when I was in my daughter's situation, and suspect that I have developed incorrect/sub-optimal habits in shaving. I need kid-friendly concrete advice--tutorials, photos, best practices, suggested products--to help me get her on the right track from the start.

Neither of us likes blood. Nair-style products are not an option. It's 90 degrees and she insists on wearing long pants because of her leg hair and ugh, does that make me crazy. At the same time, I dread the idea of seeing my baby cut herself up and she sometimes chooses to make high drama of small injury.

Help? Please?
posted by MonkeyToes to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My little sister had some trouble with shaving initially, so my parents got her a nice electric shaver. It seems virtually impossible to cut yourself with one of those. I think she still uses one and she's 25 now.

Aside from that - I can't specifically recommend any tutorial videos, but that would be the first thing I tried in this situation. I guarantee you there are thousands of them, and watching multiple ones might be more helpful than just watching one highly-recommended one, because it will show you a range of approaches and maybe make it less of a scary prospect.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:14 AM on August 17, 2018 [10 favorites]

I remember reading good advice around that age in The Care and Keeping of You. It was kid oriented, but not patronizing. Covers other good stuff too!

(I didn't even think of YouTube, but that is an amazing idea!)
posted by chatongriffes at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Youtube has you covered. There are tons of great videos out there you and your daughter can watch together. This one has good advice. I recommend the razor they use in the video for first timers (Venus), it's a little more expensive, but much gentler on your skin and less chance for nicks.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:17 AM on August 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

she sometimes chooses to make high drama of small injury

For what it's worth, my daughter can be the same way, but I think there is something -- I hesitate to say empowering, maybe maturing? -- about deciding to shave her legs that made her not nearly as sensitive to the average nicks and cuts.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I use the Schick Intuition razor and I wish-wish-wish it had been around when I was a kid because it's so much easier than normal razors.

Yeah, they're more expensive, but idgaf because they're nice to hold, easy to use, dummy proof, and I think I've cut myself one, maybe 2 times in all the years I've used them, vs an uncountable number using other razors before.

The magic thing about the Intuition is that the actual razor head is encased in the shaving bar, so it soaps you and shaves you in one swipe. No messing with foam, it's great.

Other people will say oh any old thing is fine, use disposable daisies, she just needs to practice, and sure that might work for some people, but my clumsy ass is here telling you now that I wish my furry teenage legs had the Intuition back then so I didn't have to go to school in the morning still bleeding.
posted by phunniemee at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2018 [29 favorites]

Get the Intuition Razors or the Schick Silk Effects They're a bit more expensive but they have fine wire over the blades so it's almost impossible to knick yourself without really actively trying to do so. The Intuition ones even have built in lather so she doesn't even have to lather up first and would be my recommendation to any first time leg shavers, but I think Schick is slightly cheaper if money is an issue.

Look into hair minimizing body lotion for her to use afterwards. It can take a while (think a few months) to really work but can slow down regrowth & what comes back is finer.
posted by wwax at 8:19 AM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Look into hair minimizing body lotion for her to use afterwards.

Thanks, that's a good thought. Specific product suggestions welcome and appreciated. (I tend to err on the side of gentle/dermatologist-recommended lotions.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:28 AM on August 17, 2018

I like the Aveeno positively smooth shaving gel. Aveeno in general does a good job at non-judgy non-stinky body grooming products.

A thing I do when I can is to fill the tub with a couple inches of water and sit down in it to shave my legs. Makes the whole process a million times easier. I have trouble with proprioception and the whole balancing act in the shower combined with my glasses being unusable in there often made leg shaving as a teen far more of an ordeal than it should have been. One day I was lucky enough to be hanging out with a sort of friend and complaining about teen girl stuff and this came up and she said it was easy, just sit down in the tub with a few inches of water, and it was like a freaking revelation of self-care. More light because I can push back the shower curtain, no concern for keeping balance so I have both hands free, getting the backs of my knees is simpler, razor is easier to swish clean, no shower washing off shaving cream before it's been shaved off, etc.

One concern is how high up to shave one's legs. It can definitely be a thing where you're unsure along your thighs and next thing you know you're trying to shave peach fuzz off your butt cheeks like you're just really into being itchy or something. I would suggest to your kid that she put on a pair of shorts ahead of shaving her legs and touch along her thighs where the hem lies (when sitting, as pants ride up) to help her keep that in mind later.
posted by Mizu at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

Just a (possible) bit of reassurance:

When I was a kid, I was too embarrassed to ask my mom if I could shave my leg hair. So I just did it, using her razor and shave gel. It went fine! I didn't cut myself and it wasn't even a safety razor. Of course I didn't get to avoid that conversation - my mom figured it out and we got my own shaving stuff soon after.

So it really might not be a big deal!

Get a safety razor like the Schick, and tell her not to press down with the razor. If she has more visible hair, she feel like she needs to get as close a shave as possible - but pressing down just irritates your skin and makes cuts more likely.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:07 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Make sure she understands that dry shaving to try to save time is NEVER an option! Nope Nope Nope.
posted by bookmammal at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2018 [13 favorites]

Can you literally shave your legs together? Like sit on the side of the tub and go for it? (I wish my mom had done this with me.) The main thing to avoid nicks and cuts I think is to know that you don't need to apply any pressure to the razor--let it glide over the surface. The second thing is not to use a dull razor. That, and the weird idiosyncratic contractions of muscles/movements you'll need to make to get at all the curves. You've got this!

Also tell her that any time you have to shave long leg hair, use short strokes and rinse the razor often. When I shave post-winter, I actually use a new razor for each leg because there's enough leg hair to wear the blades down that fast!
posted by purple_bird at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I highly recommend the Venus razors. You can get the kind where you just change the head so they’re not entirely disposable, which reduces waste. If you don’t mind going the disposable route, Costco sells them in packs of 12 or 14 or something. I don’t think I’ve ever cut myself in 15 years of using them, even where I used them in more, you know, delicate regions than the legs. And half the time I just shave in the shower using soap, which is sort of the optimal condition for cutting your legs.
posted by holborne at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you or she are worried about cuts, just get an electric shaver. It may not give as smooth a shave as a razor, but that doesn't matter for an 11 year old. It's super fast and easy, impossible to hurt yourself and doesn't require any soap or water. (Don't buy a $10 one from the grocery store. I tried that for my daughter and it was a useless piece of crap. I just bought her what should be a better one, but she hasn't tried it yet so I can't say whether I would recommend it or not. I use a 30-year-old electric shaver and it works fine.)
posted by Redstart at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use whatever conditioner I have around that I didn't like / was cheap instead of shave gel - I like not having the foam so I can see what I'm doing and it provides plenty of lubrication.

And it's probably a good idea to proactively get a styptic (to stop any bleeding). Styptic pencils are marketed to face-shavers, I think there are other options too?
posted by momus_window at 10:19 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I use a Norelco electric razor. Sold for man faces, works great on my leg hair. Used regularly, you can get things pretty smooth. For an eleven year old, I bet she could avoid visible leg hair by using it every week or so.

(Does not work well for bikini areas or armpit hair in my case.)

I bought mine for like $20, probably ten years ago. It comes apart easily for cleaning and it’s nearly impossible to cut yourself with it.
posted by ewok_academy at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here to nth Schick Intuition razors - those are what my mom gave me when I started shaving and they are really easy to use and hard to hurt yourself. More expensive, yes, but the built-in lather is really convenient. A few other notes that I'd want if I were shaving for the first time:

1) Point out that the first time will be more challenging than subsequent shaves, because she's starting with more hair, in case she finds it takes forever/is frustrating and wants to give up.
2) If she moves on from built-in lather razors like the intuition, I'd suggest conditioner for a lather - it's cheaper than shaving cream and I find much easier to use and less drying.
3) Try to keep the razor dry when it's not in use, and check for rust before each use - that's one thing that often causes more cuts or irritation for me, when I'm lazy and use a razor that's started rusting.
4) Let her know approximately how often to replace a razor (e.g. a few weeks depending on how much she uses it, or after it starts feeling like a scrape-y, blunt edge), and make it easy for her to tell you when she needs more (or just keep them stocked for her) - I remember feeling embarrassed to ask my mom at first for more razors.
5) She might find her legs feel dryer or itchy after shaving, so encouraging moisturizer afterwards is a good habit as well.
posted by jouir at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Unrelated to specific products, but a huge game changer for me as a teen: if you wear glasses/are very near-sighted and also clumsy (possibly because of growth spurts), don't shave legs and shower simultaneously. Sit on or in the tub to shave. If there's no tub, sit in the shower with a bucket. It's way harder to slip and fall or cut yourself sitting down than standing on one foot.
posted by bagel at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Shave up, from ankle to knee, against the way the hair grows.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:07 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I got my daughter this when she was nine (so last year). She complained of having super hairy legs and it bugged her, and I told her that she sure didn't have to but if she really wanted to, they were her legs and I'd get her a razor. She was adamant, so I got her that razor and some strawberry-scented shaving cream that screamed 'little kid!' and in a surprise absence of overthinking it she started using it and that was that.

If she had asked me I think I would just have demonstrated it on my forearm, or something.

I think that razor might not be the world's most efficient razor, but she's never once cut herself on it and it does the job without screaming, 'Hi, welcome to the world of grown ups, where everything is a gory mess'. There are four blades, I think it would actually be quite hard to cut herself up as opposed to blades of thirty years ago, when it was "two blades, and sorry about your ankles. "
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just realized it's entirely possible that she learned this through the book mentioned above, The Care and Keeping of You, which she has a copy of, and the razor I'm pointing to is also mentioned above, Gillette Venus.

So nth those two things.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:32 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hair minimizing lotion I currently use afterward is from "The Ordinary". Ulta sells one under the "Completely Bare" brand I haven't used but Ulta has a good return policy. Avon used to make a great lotion I cut my leg shaving down from daily to once a week with it, but they stopped selling it, you can sometimes pick up old containers when someone is selling off stock at a garage sale if you're OK with old products.

Whatever brand you pick it can take a while to work as I said, works best on fine hair. It's basically a body lotion with the ingredient in, which varies depending on brand. They are not a super stop all the hair growing ever type solution, which puts some people off, they simply slow it down & thin it out as long as you keep using the lotion. Which may be enough for your daughter at the age she currently is to feel she is doing something to control her leg hair without shaving or to at least mean she doesn't have to shave as often.
posted by wwax at 1:25 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

You're a really cool mom for just going with what your daughter is comfortable doing. Nothing worse than having to sneak around with a Daisy razor (and explaining why the bathroom looks like a crime scene!) As mentioned up-thread, I really wish they had the wire covered ones around when I was that age. It would have saved a lot of Band-Aids and grief.

If cost is an issue, Dollar Shave Club has good razors at a reasonable price. I used my husband's when I was too pregnant to use my very sharp old-school safety razor. I was surprised at how close the shave was and yet I was rarely nicked.

A cautionary note on safety razors - they are a great way to save money, involve no pink tax, offer a better shave with less irritation, and they're better for the environment. But honestly when my daughter is old enough to shave I'll get her something else for safety reasons. Probably plastic and pink. Probably covered in thin wire. My butterfly double-edged safety razor is great but the blades are extremely sharp and there is a steep learning curve to using it, especially for a beginner.
posted by onecircleaday at 2:09 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

i learned this the hard way: don't try to wipe off the hair/extra shaving cream off the razor with your finger because you will definitely cut your finger.
posted by capnsue at 5:31 PM on August 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

Would she consider waxing? Painful at first, but not injury-causing...and the hair really does grow back finer!
posted by leslievictoria at 6:21 PM on August 17, 2018

I’ve been shaving for 25 years, and my 8 year old just pointed out that you don’t have hair behind your knee. So, uh, don’t shave there? It’s the only place I’ve ever cut myself. (Exception: using the cheap disposables and bad of soap that my mother favours).

I’ve never gotten used to shaving cream, I use a bar of olive oil soap. Or regular soap, it’s fine.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:31 PM on August 17, 2018

I don’t recall ever cutting myself shaving my legs, I just use shower gel for lubrication. Tell her not to press down and to make sure the head hasn’t gone blunt but don’t make it more complicated than that because it isn’t.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:21 AM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can you literally shave your legs together? Like sit on the side of the tub and go for it?
Is that not a thing? I mean, I'm a dude, and while it didn't happen for ME, it's pretty common for men to teach their sons to shave side by side like that. I just assumed it was the same for mothers and daughters. Is it not?
posted by uberchet at 10:28 AM on August 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

You might be interested in this ask from a couple of years ago Is shaving your legs difficult.

I'm one of those people who spend about 90 seconds every day shaving my legs and was surprised to learn that for many reasons not everyone uses that approach.
posted by she's not there at 7:34 PM on August 18, 2018

Since most women shave while taking a bath or shower, it's not really a thing. I guess you could put on a swimsuit, but there wouldn't be much room to maneuver with another person in the tub/shower with you.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:03 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

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