Few things are more frustrating than diligently shaving only to have your hair grow back, unapologetically, in no time. Whether you shave your face or your legs, your armpits or your eyebrows, everyone can agree that shaving is a tricky and tedious task.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent hair from growing back, or at least slow it down a bit. 

In some cases, hair is just plain stubborn. However, proper shaving etiquette combined with the right shaving processes can elevate the quality of your shaves. This will greatly reduce the frequency of the inconvenient drudgery, saving you time and energy. 

Ultimately there are several measures that will assist in keeping unwanted hair from growing back. Using the correct razor, employing the right shaving techniques, and taking the proper steps before and after shaving can all help to stem the tide. 

Understanding How Your Hair Grows

In order to properly address the process of shaving correctly, it is productive to understand the manner in which hair grows. Hair grows from ‘follicles’ which are tiny perforations in your skin. 

Every individual hair begins as a root made of keratin, a protein that also makes up your nails and the top layer of your skin. 

As hair grows, it pushes out above the surface of your skin. Surprisingly, once hair has emerged from the skin, it’s cells are no longer alive, meaning that the hair that you can see and feel is actually composed of dead cells. 

So long as the follicle remains intact, the hair will continue to grow from its root once shaven. 

Hair growth. anagen is the growth phase; catagen is the regressing phase; and telogen, the resting or quiescent phase. Vector diagram

Who shaves?

About 90% of men and 60% of women use shaving as their primary method for hair removal. The Statistic Brain Research Institute found that shaving takes 11 minutes on average. This time really adds up. If you are a daily shaver, you spend nearly three full days shaving every year.  

While it’s great to get faster at shaving, the real time-saver involves cutting down on the frequency of your shaves. This is most easily achieved by using the correct razor and executing proper shaving techniques. 

Conducting Proper Razor Maintenance 

Razors come in all shapes and sizes and range from single-blade to 7-blade utensils depending on your preference. It can be tricky finding the right fit, but razors have been made with vastly different variants for a reason. 

It is important to be considerate of the type of hair that each razor was designed to shave. The angle of the blades is different for razors intended for beards as opposed to razors intended for legs. 

Razors for beards are designed with a more extreme angle. This equips them to adequately shave thick, layered beards and mustaches. Razors like these can actually have a negative effect when used on the legs and often lead to unnecessary cuts.

Razors for legs are designed with a shallower blade angle and rounded edges to more seamlessly navigate the contours of the legs. These razors also employ rounded handles so that they can be gripped from different angles. Additionally, razors for legs are often equipped with their own lubrication.

Regardless of the kind of razor, you decide to use, make sure you are keeping your razor-sharp and fresh. A dull razor is like a dull knife, ineffective and dangerous. It won’t remove hair as proficiently and is far more likely to cause cuts and ingrown hairs. 

It is recommended that you replace your razor every 5 to 7 shaves (source). This number can vary greatly, however, depending on the coarseness of your hair and the frequency of your shaving. 

Shaving The Right Way  

With as often as it’s necessary, shaving can sometimes feel like a mindless task that your body could perform on auto-pilot. While it’s great to develop muscle memory, it is important, when shaving, to be considerate of the contours of your body. 

While shaving downward may be easier and more intuitive, some parts of your body require an upward motion to achieve a close shave. For a consistently clean and even shave, consider using the ‘three pass method.’ 

The three pass method suggests taking three razor passes over the area you wish to shave. Take one pass along the grain of your hair, one across the grain, and finally, one against the grain. The three pass method is great for a close shave, which can help to keep stubble at bay.

For some, shaving everyday is a necessity. Many professionals want to maintain a clean-cut look and for some, short and stubbly hair is itchy and uncomfortable. However, unless absolutely necessary, it could be wise to skip a day or two between shaves to allow your skin to rest. 

Before You Shave 

A successful shave doesn’t just consist of dragging a razor across your skin. It is important to exercise the proper prerequisite steps to ensure that you’re conducting a healthy and effective shaving process. 

Before shaving, ensure that your hair is sufficiently moisturized. A shower is a great way to prime your follicles for a smooth and painless shave. Hair softens in the presence of moisture which allows for a closer and less abrasive shave. 

Exfoliating is another step recommended for a close and quality shave. This process removes dead cells from the surface of your skin, allowing for an easier pass with the razor.

There are a number of different creams and solutions that can aid in the shaving process. Alternatively, some people prefer a ‘dry’ shave. This factor is really up to you and the reactiveness of your skin.

After You Shave

The job isn’t done once you’ve finished with the razor. The most important time for preventing discomfort and preserving healthy skin comes after you’re done shaving. 

Shaving has the tendency to dry out your skin. After a shave, consider applying an alcohol-free gel or cream to moisturize your skin. It is advisable to allow your skin to rest for a period of 20 to 30 minutes before exposing it to alcohol or any other solution that could irritate it. 

To prevent hair from growing back too quickly, consider using a hair-inhibiting cream. These solutions target your hair follicles, weakening its potential for hair growth. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it True That Hair Grows Back Thicker After a Shave?

Contrary to popular belief, shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker, darker, or faster. Hair follicles that have been shaven often have a blunt tip from their interaction with the razor, which can give them the appearance of being thicker. 

Is Waxing a Viable Option as An Alternative To Shaving?

Waxing is effective as a long-term alternative to shaving. Whereas a razor cuts the hair at the surface of your skin, waxing pulls hair out at its root. This method prevents hair from returning for 3 to 6 weeks on average.

Although waxing requires less maintenance, it is more expensive, more painful, and prone to causing ingrown hairs.

Additionally, waxing is not a good option for areas where you may want to grow hair in the future. The process causes hair to grow back more finely and can even permanently stunt hair growth. 

Do Shaving Solutions Have A Negative Effect On The Skin?

Unfortunately, many of the accessible shaving solutions including shaving soap are concocted with over-processed chemicals that can be harmful to your skin. It is important to do your own research and conduct proper trial-and-error tests when finding the right solution for you.