How Shaving Affects Your Skin
For both girls and boys, shaving marks a rite of passage into the elusive and alluring world of adulthood. But adulthood isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be, and shaving is no exception. While shaving is the preferred hair removal method of most people and is certainly an easy fix for getting rid of unwanted hair, it can quickly wreak havoc on your skin.
Skin Dryness and Irritation
The term Stratum Corneum might sound like a mouthful, but this part of your skin plays a key role in skin health. It’s the outermost layer of skin, but shaving can strip it away. This layer of skin helps keep moisture in, but when shaving disrupts it, you can end up with dry, peely skin. Regular shaving can also lead to excessive exfoliation of the skin, and this can cause skin irritation, redness, and near-constant peeling.
Razor Burn and Ingrown Hairs
In a poll conducted by the International Dermal Institute, 79 percent of respondents said they had at least one skin problem associated with shaving. Razor burn and ingrown hairs are almost inevitable when you shave. The reason for this is pretty simple: shaving cuts your hair off a the top of your skin, leaving a sharp edge. It’s easy for this sharp edge to end up embedded in the outer layer of skin as your hair grows back. This can give way to razor burn and nasty shaving bumps.
Everyone’s skin is different. Some people only end up with a few razor bumps. But others find themselves positively covered in those ugly little harbingers of doom. Once you get razor bumps, you can start a vicious cycle with your skin. Shaving over the razor bump further irritates the skin, leading to more skin problems, but leaving the skin unshaven can cause itching as the hair grows back. Consequently, an episode of razor burn frequently means you’re going to be stuck with razor burn for a while.
People with fair skin are particularly prone to an especially troubling kind of skin irritation. As your outer layer of skin is repeatedly damaged by the hair, this layer of skin can become peely and thick. As a result, you end up with more ingrown hairs. For some people, the hairs are visible just under the surface of the skin, and are particularly pronounced in people with fair skin and dark hair. The only way to make this “under the skin hair” go away is to completely stop shaving or to remove it at its root via waxing or a more permanent hair removal strategy.
Sharp Hair and Stubble
You might have heard that shaving your hair causes it to grow back thicker and more quickly. This is a myth. So what accounts for thick, pointy hair and five o’clock shadow? It’s the process of shaving the hair itself. Hair naturally comes to a slightly rounded point. But when you shave, you’re cutting the hair straight across, thus creating a thicker, sharper end to your hair. Although your hair’s not actually coming in thicker, this harsh edge creates the illusion of thicker, coarser hair. Because the hair is sharper, stubble becomes much more noticeable when you touch your skin.
Of course, not everyone experiences the exact same side effects of shaving. As you age, your skin tends to become more susceptible to damage. People with allergies and sensitive or dry skin are also more vulnerable. While shaving might seem like a great quick fix for removing unwanted hair, it can come with a high price tag for your skin’s health. If you have lots of body hair to remove, it’s typically better to try a safer, more skin-friendly method such as waxing.