I was quite young when I first asked my mom about shaving to which she replied “We” do not shave. “We” book an appointment at the salon for “sheera“. She also told me that I was too young for “sheera” just yet and in any case “sheera” was quite painful. If you’ve read my Hair Removal post (here) you’ll know that “sheera” is another word for body-sugaring or waxing. I reasoned with her saying that if “sheera” was so painful why couldn’t I just skip it and just start shaving instead to which she replied “We” do not shave. So apparently this “sheera” business in addition to being quite painful was also inevitable.
If you’ve read my Hair Removal post (here) you’ll remember reading Vellus is the proper term for peach fuzz and Terminal is what we call the thicker and darker hair. My mother, wanting to turn me off the whole thing until I was older, said that if I started shaving, the soft, barely visible, light blonde, baby hairs (which we now know as Vellus) would grow back darker, thicker, and courser (which we now know as Terminal). She also told me that after that first shave, if I decided to switch to waxing, it would be much more painful (as opposed to just starting off with waxing) because shaving can change the texture of a child’s hair.
I know now that my mom was just trying to scare me but honestly I still remember this one chick back in middle-school who sported a beard. She didn’t look like the bearded lady or anything like that but she did have visible clumps of thick, long, dark hairs sprouting from her chin. Let’s just call her Zay. I don’t even remember how or why it came up but at one point back in middle-school, Zay had all of us girls gathered around her in a semi-circle and was explaining to us the origins story of her facial hair. She said that as a child she had seen her father shaving his facial hair off and once he had gone, she had picked up his razor and ran it along her chin (just as her father had done) for fun but the hair grew back darker, thicker, and courser and that’s why she has a beard. I’m sure it has to do with her genetic disposition and hormones but basically she shaved off the vellus hair and the hair that grew back was terminal. I’m not sure how much of Zay’s story was true but it made sense (especially in conjunction with what my mother had said).
As for myself, my mom took me to my first body waxing and eyebrow threading appointments once I hit puberty. It was painful but I was excited because it felt like a right of passage so the pain was kinda’ like whatever. It did occur to me on more than one occasion though, that if “sheera” was this excruciatingly painful, as is, I was grateful that I had never touched a razor before, because I couldn’t imagine experiencing a higher level of pain than what I was already experiencing. Unfortunately, what my mom had said about shaving scared me insofar that I never even entertained the idea of shaving until many years later.
Waxing or “sheera” was more than just physical pain. Waxing felt like psychological torture. I matched my appointments to my cycle so I’d go get waxed immediately after “shark week” so knowing the dreaded appointment was coming up, in my head, for that entire week, I was all “dead man walking”. I completely understood why my mother had wanted to put me off the whole thing for as long as possible. I dreaded the whole process of having to book an appointment, having to drive there, and having to wait in line for what seemed like an eternity. Seeing as how “sheera” is basically ripping the hair out by the roots, it’s quite painful and the fact that I was going to be in so much pain gave me anxiety. I wanted to get it over with as quick as possible and be done with it. Once it was over, I’d feel elated, pain already forgotten, practically skipping all the way to my car, taking the scenic (lol) way back home. A month or so after, the whole process would repeat itself, agita, pain, freedom, and so on.
Fed up with the whole process, one day I decided that enough was enough and picked up some pink disposable razors by the brand Schick at the local co-op (cooperative, supermarket, jam3iya). The only reason I chose those over any other brand was because I knew next to nothing about shaving so they seemed just as good as any but mostly because they were pink. I searched the aisle for something to use as a shaving foam/gel but only found some bleaching products, depilatory creams, and Nivea For Men Shaving Foam (because Kuwait -_-). Undeterred even though it blatantly read “For Men” I picked up a can of Nivea Shaving Foam and was on my way.
As soon as my mom gave me her blessing, I got my legs, underarms and bikini-area waxed on the regular. Like any other teen, I was self-conscious about stripping down so I limited the bikini-area waxing to two women (who looked warm, kind, and matronly). They both worked at separate salons so if one happened to be fully-booked, I’d just make an appointment with the other but once I’d picked up the razors I decided to try shaving the bikini area myself. After a few near-mishaps, I came to the conclusion that shaving foam is not as vital for shaving certain areas. Just to clarify, to prevent accidents (read: mutilation) I prefer not to use any shaving foam/gel when shaving the bikini area. You could have a totally different preference and that’s fine too. Personally, I just find it easier.
Seeing as how I didn’t have sensitive skin, I quickly dismissed razor-burn as an urban myth that people only talked about but never actually experienced until I tried implementing dry shaving to my underarm area and experienced the joys of a razor-burn shortly after. I also was introduced to my first ingrown hair. To round out the overall experience, I developed a delightful little rash on my freshly shaved underarm area. The next time I shaved my underarms, I applied the Nivea For Men Shaving Foam and things went way more smoothly, literally. As an added bonus, the shaving foam had a clean unisex (okay fine masculine) scent which I found quite pleasant (way before masculine scents on girly-girls were a “thing”). As for my legs, after getting dressed once I got out of the shower, I’d notice teeny-tiny droplets of blood dotting both legs. Mortified, I’d quickly undress and get back in the shower again to rinse off my legs, all the while willing the little cuts to clot.
The ankle area was another tricky area to shave, especially when in a rush. Somehow I always managed to slice the skin around the ankle area. The blood gushing from a tiny cut creating a mess in the shower was bad enough but the cut itself would sting so bad over the next few days so once I got out of the shower, I’d spray some perfume on my ankle before covering it up with a band-aid. I absolutely hated the dark outline left over when you removed a band-aid. So a few hours later, when I’d replace the band-aid, the sticky outline would drive me so crazy that I couldn’t just cover it up with a fresh band-aid and let it go. I’d cuff my jeans or roll up my pants or whatever I was wearing at the time, jump in the shower (again), and not just rinse but full on exfoliate the offending band-aid’s sticky silhouette resulting in the reopening of the wound.
Over the years, I’ve used all kinds shaving products, from shaving creams to shaving soaps. I’ve used shaving balms and shaving lotions. I’ve used products for women and I’ve used products marketed towards men. I’ve used products for sensitive skin, and other products that claimed to make the skin softer, while others that even proclaimed to minimize hair regrowth. Some of the shaving products I’ve used had a perfume-y scent, while others had a fruit-y scent, while others still were unscented. During emergencies, I’ve even resorted to using shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel, to name a few.
I quickly realized that I had a preference for shaving foam. Unlike soap or gel which you had to mix with water to form a lather, you could apply the foam straight out of the can onto the skin (preferably damp skin), making foam not only easier to work with but also less time-consuming. Another perk of using shaving foam was that you can clearly see where you had already shaved, meaning you didn’t have to go over the same area twice or more, minimizing the chance of razor burn and again also time-saving. I’ll try other products from time to time but my preference is foam and my favorite it the one by Nivea (as evident by the photos).
Even the razors I used were varied by size, shape, or claim. I’ve used razors so tiny and too cute to be of any practical use. Some of the razors I’ve used had wacky paddle-shaped (“ergonomic”) handles, while others had extra-long handles and others still had extra-short handles all promising precision and control. I’ve used razors that had built-in shaving gel. I’ve used razors that had those slime-y strips containing aloe or other soothing ingredients to help the razor “glide”. I’ve used razors that came with their own suction cup so you could hang them on the shower wall. Basically, I’ve used all kinds of razors.
Nothing struck me as particularly note-worthy, until one summer abroad in Europe with my sister and her husband. We’d been vacationing there for several weeks and were down to our last week when I’d run out of disposable razors. Popping my head out of the bathroom door, I yelled for my sis to get me one of her razors when she wrinkled her nose in disgust and told me that she didn’t shave because shaving would make the hair grow back quicker, darker, and thicker. Clearly my mom had used the same line on my older sister. By now, a puddle had formed at my feet but I was intrigued so I asked her how did she usually get rid “unwanted” hair. She said that she made a waxing appointment at a certain salon once a month but used an epilator when traveling. Then she shooed me back in the bathroom so I wouldn’t drip all over the place.
I popped my head back out and asked her to run down to the supermarket to grab me a pack of pink disposable Schick razors that I was so used to but she refused saying we would be going back to Kuwait in a few more days anyway but snuck me a navy blue disposable Gillette razor from her husband’s stash. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was exactly. I’m not sure if it’s the design or the razors themselves but the difference was notable. It was the closest shave I’ve ever had. My legs had never felt or looked this good after shaving before and I’ve been hooked on Gillette’s navy blue disposable razors (for men) ever since. That doesn’t mean that I don’t use other forms of hair removal. I’ll still get a waxing done from time to time or if I know I’m going to be traveling for a long duration of time. I’ll also dabble in other forms of hair removal (but more on that in another posts as this one is dedicated to shaving) but I always make it a point to have a pack of Gillette’s navy blue disposable men’s razors and a can or two of Nivea For Men Shaving Foam on hand at all times!