To shave, or not to shave? That is the question. The idea of women shaving their faces isn't a new one by any means, but like bacne and the gross satisfaction you get from removing a stubborn blackhead, it's one of those taboo beauty rituals that rarely leaves the privacy of your own bathroom, much less gets discussed in public. "Women have shaved their faces for years, we just didn't know or talk about it until recently. A lot of women in the '50s, like the movie stars and starlets, you'll find that they did it," says Stephanie Kaulesar, Specialist Director at hair removal salon Spruce & Bond. "That's actually how the dermaplaning method came into play, which is where a dermatologist takes a scalpel-looking knife and scrapes the surface of your skin as well as your hair."
We spoke to Kaulesar to get her take on the movement, and to bust some myths and misconceptions about hair removal—like the one stating that your strands will grow back thicker and darker if you shave, which, for the record, isn't true. It's an illusion caused by the razor cutting your hair off at its thickest point. "If you look at a hair strand, it's thinner near the end and thicker toward the core," Kaulesar explains. "When it grows normally, it grows to a gradual point, whereas when you shave it, you are cutting it off at a blunt edge."
If a little peach fuzz is something that concerns you, you're probably a good candidate for shaving. "It's something that creates a lot of self-consciousness, so if it makes a woman feel better, then you should do it," she says. "The face is the first thing anyone sees when they look at you, so it alleviates the anxiety for people who are bothered by it." However, shaving your face isn't as simple as picking up your Venus razor and going to town—you'll need to take a lot of care so you don't end up with a marred complexion. And it isn't something you can do 10 minutes before heading out. "Take your time in all aspects, and go over the area once in the direction the hair is growing," she advises. "Avoid anywhere from your cheekbones up, then you get into other areas that can get a little dangerous—and don't touch your eyebrows." Though many mini-facial razors are available on the market, according to Kaulesar, the best tool for the treatment is a men's razor, as it's made to tackle the coarse hair on your guy, but can effectively remove your much-softer texture in one swipe.
Use your favorite shaving cream to prep the area, and if the idea of taking a razor to your complexion intimidates you, start with a test-patch to get the motions down. "If I have a woman in front of me who is horrified at the idea of shaving her face, I just tell her to try a little bit on the side near the jawline so it's not as noticeable, then do a little at a time," says Kaulesar, who advises her clients getting laser hair removal to prep their skin by shaving. "See how the hair grows back, and you'll find that it's not as bad as it seems."
Though you'll be using a guy's razor, you won't want to incorporate aftershave into your routine. Because the product has alcohol in it, the formula can be too drying for your skin. "They typically use the alcohol for sanitizing or disinfecting purposes, but as a woman, it's important to keep the pH of your skin balanced so you avoid breakouts," advises Kaulesar. "I would lean toward using a toner, as you always want to keep your face hydrated."
How often you touch up depends on your natural hair growth cycle, and in addition to the fuzz-free appearance, you'll find that the area will be smoother than the rest of your face, thanks to the mild exfoliation provided by the blades.