TO SHAVE, OR NOT TO SHAVE - THIS IS THE QUESTION.
Monday morning, you wake up late! You've slept through the alarm and now panic sets in! That important meeting at the office with a client is now in jeopardy! You throw on your clothes and glance in the mirror. You need to look your best, so a few minutes of personal grooming is worth risking. For a guy, it shouldn't take too long to shave, check the eyebrows, nose hair, and make sure that hairstyle is up to scratch. For a lady, it can be a bit more involved with makeup added into the mix, and to check those legs and underarms!
For society in general, daily grooming involves little more than the neck up. But for a naturist, the entire body is on show! And, while it's true (or should be) that naturists are accepting of all body shapes, sizes and colours, we still like to look our best when in company of others.
But what exactly is "best" when it comes to grooming body hair? What areas, such as pubic areas, back, chest, buttocks, legs, underarms are best to be shaved or left unshaved? Are there any rules or expectations? And if I want to shave certain areas, how do I do that safely? What are the risks? Are the procedures for shaving those sensitive areas any different for males and females?
Interestingly enough, and the Monday morning panic aside, total body grooming is certainly not monopolised by naturists. While it's widely accepted in society that the vast majority of women shave their legs and underarms and groom their pubic hair in some way, men are also becoming increasingly concerned about ensuring their whole body is groomed.
One study on Male Body Image, published by Science Direct in 2008, states the following abstract:
"Although hairlessness is rapidly becoming a component of the ideal male body, little research has examined men's concerns about their body hair or their hair removal practices. Samples of both gay and heterosexual men completed questionnaires that assessed whether they had ever removed their back, buttock or pubic hair, the frequency with which they did so, the methods used and their self-reported reasons for removing this hair, as well as their level of appearance investment. Results indicated that many men, both gay and heterosexual, remove their back, buttock and pubic hair regularly and that their primary reason for doing so is to maintain or improve their appearance. The frequency of hair removal was also associated with the motivational salience component of appearance investment. The findings offer further support to the premise that gay and heterosexual men exhibit similar body image concerns."
Collating the consensus of opinion from multiple internet sites it seems that, for both naturists and non-naturists of both sexes alike, the two main reasons for shaving their body hair are:
1. Aesthetic - "It makes me feel cleaner, looks nicer, feels cooler, and I like the feeling of smooth skin."
2. Sexual - "My partner prefers me shaved."
The three main reasons given for not shaving are:
Steve takes pride in his natural look
1. Aesthetic - "It's more natural. I like my body to be the way it was meant to be. It makes me look more manly/womanly."
2. Convenience - "I'm naturally very hairy and it's too much work going smooth."
3 . Sexual - "My partner likes the natural look."
Rok prefers to remove what little hair grows naturally
Whilst one of the basic tennets of the Naturist Philosophy is to accept and embrace the body you were endowed with, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to body hair grooming. At any naturist venue or environment you will see people who shave various areas of their bodies along with those who prefer to shave or trim. It comes down to what you personally prefer, and no true naturist will criticise you for your choice.
If there is one golden rule about how to wear your body hair, it's "Be consistent!"
For example, if you are naturally very hairy, don't completely shave off just your pubic hair and nothing else! You would look ridiculous! If you want to keep those wild areas under control, go all out with a No.2 comb on a hair trimmer - chest, back, pubics, legs, everywhere.
On the other hand, if you are naturally quite hairless, then shaving those extraneous whispy bits from your pubic area might be a good idea. Consistency!
HOW TO SHAVE
Shaving hair from your body carries risks and it's vital that you do it properly and follow the rules! Otherwise you will likely end up with razor rash, ingrown hair infections, or worse! But follow the correct techniques and you'll have no problems.
Note that the following advice applies to both males and females. The procedure is the same and special care is required when shaving your genital areas.
Before we start, these are the risks that you want to avoid or at least minimise . . .
Razor rash (or razor burn) is a red rash that develops soon after shaving. It is typically tender, itchy, and often feels hot and burning - a little like sunburn. If it does happen, it's usually very temporary and goes away in a day or two. Aloe Vera or Vitamin A ointments are good treatments to relieve razor rash.
Ingrown hairs happen when the hair strand isn't cut cleanly. When it regrows it catches on the skin and curls inward, continuing to grow under the skin. This results in bumps on the skin which can become infected. Left untreated they can grow into serious boil-like sores.
Now . . . first decide whether you want to trim long hair shorter, or to shave right down. Like already mentioned, trimmed hair looks great on some people, and electric hair clippers will do the job quickly and safely. But if you have long hair and want to shave to skin level, use a set of electric clippers first to get the hair short enough for a razor. Long hair will clog a razor up in no time!
So - here are the rules!
1. First, exfoliate the skin where you want to shave to remove dead skin cells. This drastically reduces the likelihood of ingrown hairs , as dead skin cells clog the pores. There are a couple of ways to physically exfoliate. The first involves using a skin care tool, such as a sponge, towel or brush, on your skin to displace and remove dead skin cells. The other method involves using a liquid, gel or scrub with granules like microbeads or sugar to smooth and refine the skin. Talk to your pharmacist about these different methods - one may suit you better than the other.
2. Wash the area with an antibacterial soap or liquid, such as Savlon or Dettol. This will help to get rid of any bacteria on the skin that can get down the pores to cause an infection.
3. Use a good quality shaving cream or gel. This acts as a lubricant to minimise irritation caused by friction.
4. Use a new sharp razor. This is the key to avoiding ingrown hairs. A dull razor won't cut cleanly, leaving the hair prone to catching on skin as it regrows. It also allows you to shave with very little pressure on the skin, and to avoid going over the same area too many times.
5. You can pull the skin slightly tight to get a flatter surface, but don't over-stretch the skin.
6. Shave in the direction that the hair grows - not against the hair. Shaving "against the grain" increases the chances of a rash.
7. Shave with light and short strokes. Don't go over the same bit more than twice at the most. Don't press too hard on the skin. With a new sharp razor you'll likely cause small nicks that will bleed if you apply too much pressure. If you do bleed slightly, cold water will soon stop it.
8. Rinse your blade frequently during the shaving process. A build up of hair and cream in the blades reduces the cutting efficiency.
9. After shaving, rinse your skin with cold water or apply a clean cold washcloth to close pores.
Use short light strokes
10. It's a good idea to apply a medicated moisturiser as an added insurance against ingrown hair and infection.
Shave in the direction of hair growth
A note on shaving your labia or scrotum:
While some of us are fortunate enough to not grow hair on these bits, it's perfectly normal for many people.
The skin on your labia / scrotum is a coarser texture than the skin over your pubic bone, so you want to be extra careful! This is when you just really want to take your time.
Because you might have a harder time getting visibility here, try lifting your leg on a dry, flat, elevated surface to ensure easier access to the area. If you can cope with the confusion of following a mirror image, then a mirror is ideal for a better view at what you're doing.
Try your best to pull that skin flat, but not over-taut - just enough to make a flattish surface to shave so there's no bump.
And, once again, use short, light strokes in the direction of the hair growth. Don't rush! If you do manage to nick yourself, stop the bleeding with cold water and then apply an anti-bacterial cream.
The important thing to remember is that any body grooming at all is your own personal choice. No true Naturist will criticise you whether you decide to shave, just trim down a little, or be completely natural. It's up to you to decide what's best for you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them below.
13 October 2020