Got 5 o’clock Shadow? Or, (Women’s) Face Shaving For Dummies

Waxing, plucking, threading, trimming, and even depilatories and bleach are all women’s facial hair remedies I grew up reading about in fashion magazines (and/or watching my mom do). These stories were published and republished endlessly, probably because while beards are currently having a hipster moment for men, they have never had a hipster moment for women. (Or have they?) Anyway, the gold standard for body hair removal, shaving, was never, ever mentioned for the face. Imagine my surprise when, moving to Japan in my 30s, I encountered a blog piece talking about women shaving their faces here. Like, not just an upper lip or chin or wherever errant hairs may have sprouted … face shaving the entire face (excluding brows, of course). But … why?

Face Shaving: But Why?

Yes, why on earth would you shave your face? Well, there are a few reasons. First, exfoliation. It’s believed men’s skin ages better in their beardal-region because they are shaving and thus, manually exfoliating that skin on the regular. If you think about shaving your legs, it is generally recommended before using self tanner because it evenly exfoliates the top layer of dried skin cells. So face shaving will, potentially, make you look younger. At the very least, it’ll help keep you from looking like a crusty juggler.

Additionally, face shaving will remove any peach fuzz (or other colored fuzz) that may be hanging out on your face. This will make any makeup you use apply much better. If you’re like me with clear fuzz, it will eliminate the sun glinting off of that hair in the summer, too. Yay.

Face Shaving: But How?

How to shave your face? Well, there are fancy devices you can buy to do this, but what every drugstore, supermarket, and convenience store in Japan sells are these super inexpensive little straight-razor looking things. Sold in three-packs, they should cost just a few bucks. They have guards on them so you aren’t going to maim yourself while face shaving, and you shouldn’t experience any sort of razor burn from them either.

face shaving
Lookie-look, this pack of face razors came with a little freebie! Free-99, yo!

You can use shaving cream if you like, or just a facial cleanser. Spread a bit over your face (make sure your hair is securely out of the way, or you’ll be making yourself a bunch of new layers around your hairline. Then, shave-shave-shave away. It’s not rocket science. It takes maybe a minute, even being super cautious around your brows (seriously, go slow there, unless you like the shaved-off brow look). Rinse, and if you have sensitive skin (or you forgot to change the razor out for a while, ha ha), you can apply a hydrating wash-off mask for a few minutes. Otherwise, you just move on to the rest of your skincare. Easy.

face shaving
Use your cleanser or a shave cream, pick your poison.
Face Shaving: But … Stubble

But Meaghan, won’t I get a 5 o’clock shadow from this? Um … I would say, probably not. Again, my personal experience is with clear facial hair, so I don’t have the same kind of issues like somebody with dark facial hair does. BUT, remember that Japanese women, unlike me, have dark facial hair and they are shaving their faces on the regular (well, let’s not stereotype, I’m sure not all Japanese women do).

This summer, reach for Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+. Now at NORDSTROM.

In fact, this is also offered as an in-spa service in many places (not just Japan). If you’re not wanting to DIY this, or you are looking for more spectacular results, check out dermaplaning.

The post linked above makes a good point: face shaving does not feel good on open, active acne lesions. You might wait for them to clear, or skip the active areas if this affects you. If you have cystic acne on most of your face, I would probably skip face shaving altogether.

So … have you tried face shaving? Would you? Is it a hair removal form you remember seeing from family members growing up?

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