Makeover Monday: Hair Today…

For this week’s Makeover Monday, we’re covering the fascinating topic of leg hair.

(Pauses to allow male readers to rush from the room.)

Confession: I loathe shaving my legs. I often wish I could do as a friend of mine does and go the all-natural route, and I’ve honestly tried that a few times. I make it as far as the stubbly phase and I cave. You see, as much as I dislike shaving, I love having smooth, silky skin more. What can I say, I’m a girly girl.

I’ve tried a few options other than shaving:

The Epilator – fancy gizmo yanks your hair out by the roots. Ouch.

Nads – YOU yank your hair out by the roots. Double Ouch.

Nair – didn’t yank the hair out, but didn’t remove much hair at all. Plus, it stinks.

Smooth Away – you buff the hair off your legs. Save yourself some $$$ and use any extra sandpaper you have laying around the house. Or just go out and rub your legs on your asphalt driveway.

Those are the schemes I’ve tried. Well, the ones I can remember right now. There are other treatments I didn’t try for leg hair removal:

Electrolysis – Basically, they stick an electric current inside your skin and shock the hair into falling out. It’s painful and can leave sores.

Professional Wax Removal – wax and cloth strips are used to yank your hair out by the roots. (Nads, by a professional.)

Sugaring – sort of like wax removal, but sugar and some other gooey bonding agent like honey are used with cloth strips.

Laser Hair removal – It worked for me on other areas, but I didn’t think the mortgage company would float me a second loan just so I could have smooth legs for a few months.

Hmmm….I’m missing something, but I swear it’s not coming to me just now. Sing out in the comments if you tried any others.

As for me, I’m sticking with shaving. It doesn’t take long and it’s inexpensive. Plus, if you approach it with the right attitude (which I rarely do), it is a great way to reaffirm your commitment to take care of your body and look your best.

After years of trial, error, and countless Cosmo articles, I’ve arrived at the following routine, which I highly recommend, at least until you guys present me with something better, and as long as you remember that I’m no cosmetician or any other sort of licensed professional:

1) First, soak or wet your legs with warm water. Don’t just hop in the shower and start whacking away at your legs. Let the heat from the bath or shower warm and soften your skin first.

2) Wash your legs and use an exfoliant (a sugar or salt scrub) to remove dead skin cells. These can clog up your razor and cause nicks, or prevent you from getting a good close shave (thus meaning you’re going to have to repeat this ordeal sooner.)

3) Spread a shave “product” on your legs. You can use one specially formulated for women, if you’d like, but I generally just buy men’s unscented shave cream. It’s cheaper, and I like drawing pictures in the foam. In a pinch, I’ve also used hair conditioner or conditioning shampoo (really handy when traveling!)

4) You’re ready to shave. Your razor of choice is a personal decision, I like the ones that have “lubricating strips” and pivot heads for catching the weird angles around knees and ankles. The most important thing is that you use a razor that’s *fresh* and shows no signs of rust or clogging. (I usually go 2-3 shaves before I change razors.)

5) There are two (or more) schools of thought as to direction of shave stroke. I start at the bottom of the leg and shave upward (against the hair growth), but some folks prefer to shave in the direction of the hair. As I understand it, shaving against the hair growth increases the chances of developing ingrown hairs. In the nearly 40 years I’ve been shaving my legs, this hasn’t been a problem for me, but it might be an issue for you and the rest of us will love you anyway if you want to shave “backwards.”

6) For a closer (and safer shave), pull the skin taut before you apply the razor. I didn’t always do this, and I can really tell a difference. Also, don’t go over an area repeatedly or you’ll risk a good case of razor burn. (I hate that!)

7) Move slowly and rinse your razor frequently, checking it for clogs when you rinse.

8) Splash your legs with water, rinsing well, then brush lightly with a loofah or mesh scrubbie. I remember reading somewhere that you should rinse with cooler water than you washed with, but I’ve never done that. (And yet, I live on.)

9) Apply a moisturizer. I prefer unscented lotion, but I’ve used baby oil on more than a few occasions.

Another random tip I remember reading at some point in the past: a suggestion that we refrain from shaving for the first half hour or so after we wake up, under the theory that our skin is puffy after sleeping and waiting a bit allows it to de-puff (I’m sure they used a technical term) and expose more of the hair shaft. I’m not sure why my brain didn’t discard that tidbit, since I never had any intention of using it. I’m not about to put a sharp object anywhere near my skin until several hours after I’ve gotten up in the morning.

That’s all I have. I think. If you have any shaving tips, products, or ideas, please let us know.

Here’s wishing you all smooth shaving….