Why are women shaving their faces? Because 'tis the latest beauty fad

  • Sanya Panwar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 18, 2015 19:09 IST

Controversial it may be, but an unorthodox and unusual (may we add very, very unusual) fad is taking the beauty world by fire. It's not yet what we can call mainstream, but it's definitely getting there. Fear not, this revolutionary trend we're talking about, it has nothing to do with bull semen or bird poop.

Let’s break it already: The latest indicator that we might be approaching the end of civilization as we know it, is the news that women’s shaving their faces, just like men, is now a thing.

True: Once upon a time, shaving facial hair was strictly restricted to men, but now a number of women are doing it. Turns out, taking a razor to your face (yes, we’re talking to you ladies), could help your skin stay youthful. Shaving your face is being touted to have amazing anti-ageing benefits: fewer wrinkles, soft skin and - wait for it - less facial hair (obviously).

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We know what you’re thinking: “That’s a load of Boll*cks!”

But recent reports in The Independent and Daily Mail, among others, say an increasing number of women are reaching for the razor when it comes to removing facial hair; with some experts claiming its anti-ageing effects.

"It's definitely a thing," The Independent quoted Alexis Wolfer, editor of The Beauty Bean in as saying in a report.

“Sometimes called ‘dermaplaning’, the process of shaving a woman's face can take place in a professional dermatologist's office or can be a DIY job,” she says.


* Women shaving faces: Is it a good thing?
“It makes sense; shaving is the perfect exfoliation technique,” skin specialist with AMRI Hospital, Prasanjit Bhattacharya tells us. “But for women? Now that depends on a few factors, including her hair growth.”

According to Wolfer, one reason men are thought to get fewer wrinkles is that they're constantly exfoliating their faces every time they shave, literally shaving away the outermost layers of skin and encouraging your skin to create new layers.
What’s more shaving also ‘improves’ complexion’, the beauty experts suggest in The Independent.

“This is because shaving is a form of mechanical exfoliation that removes the dead surface layers of the skin, revealing smooth, soft skin," Bhattacharya says.

But does any woman in the 21st century truly have the time or the inclination to shave her entire face for the sake of slightly softer or fairer skin? Let’s probe that question another day?


* Dermaplaning vs DIY shaving
Some dermatologists and aestheticians in the West are breaking the shaving ‘rules’ and sharing an unorthodox secret to a smooth, fresh face: Dermaplaning.

A top dermatologist at Vibes, Delhi says, "Dermaplaning is a simple physical or mechanical method of exfoliation, which helps to remove dead skin cells and give your face a brighter complexion,

"Since it removes some vellus hair (the (fine) baby hair on your face), it can make the skin feel smoother," she says.

If you feel it is just "a fancy name for running a sharp blade over your face" and want to go the DIY route, use a women's razor with a safety guard (available easily at a chemist near you and online) – not a regular razor. And if it's smooth, soft, wrinkle-free skin you're after – sans stubble – our expert from Vibes recommends using a chemical exfoliating cleanser or moisturiser, containing a Poly Hydroxy acid.

For the DIY method there are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube. In one video, US reality-TV star, Michelle Money says she shaves her face and she’s proud of it. She warns against using your typical razor; instead using a facial razor.

She also cautions: "Shaving for the first time or inconsistently can mechanically irritate the skin as it is not used to it on a regular basis."


* Women in India: Do they wax or shave?
Though shaving your face is typically done by men, it's been said Hollywood sirens Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe both fought their face fuzz with a razor.

Here’s the thing: Facial shaving for women isn’t news until we see and hear women around us doing it too. With its painless and speedy technique for achieving instant smoothness, the razor should be king of hair removal. Instead, many women in India opt for other treatments like threading, waxing and laser. Truth be told, most Indian women consider shaving their faces a taboo.

We did, however, speak to a woman who shaves her jaw line, upper lip, under chin area and even forehead.

JNU student Megha Raja (name changed) who regularly shave her faces, but in secret, says, “I grew up with some hair on my upper-lip (you could call it a mustache). Sure all girls grow up with a patch of light hair on their upper lips (yay hormones), but mine was very noticeable. I was ready to do whatever it took to get rid of my furry friend staring me in the face every morning. I tried threading, waxing, but nothing was it.”

“At the ripe age of 21, I finally opted for hair removal. So, now I shave about 2-3 times a week,” says the 26-year-old.

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* Experts speak: To shave or not to shave?
Plenty of women might consider it daily for their legs or armpits, but should we follow the advice of experts gathered by the Daily Mail and start shaving our faces? Absolutely not, read an article in The Guardian.

Whether you’re shaving to get rid of a slight mustache or shaving your entire face to make it softer, regrowth as the result of a razor – compared with waxing, threading and depilatory creams – is a colossal hazard, read the article that called the anti-ageing claims of shaving your face, nonsense.

“Skin tone makes a difference to how much facial hair is visible. Since, Asian hair is larger in diameter than Caucasian or Afro hair, it’s more resilient. Shaving doesn’t – in any way – affect the keratin cells that create the actual hair,” Anita Bhagwandas wrote in The Guardian.
Dr P Havelia also urges women to step away from the razor.

“Lasers (not shaving, which isn’t anywhere near as effective) are ideal for permanent hair removal, and more effective than shaving,” he says.

“It (shaving) is definitely not your friend,” he continues, adding, “The bottom line is that men and women are biologically programmed to age differently. Shaving can’t change that.”

Men have thicker, more youthful-looking skin because male androgens cause an increase in skin thickness of up to 25%, compared with women, Bhagwandas wrote. Men also produce more sebum, which is oil that keeps the skin moisturised and plumper-looking. Finally, men have a higher density of collagen in their skin than women – which is why women age faster.


* Our verdict
Many women are prepared to go to increasingly extreme lengths to enhance their looks. This new fad of shaving their faces is just another in a bewildering array of beauty treatments currently making their way into salons and our homes.

But, we can’t stress this enough: Do this ONLY if/when you’re truly comfortable and after consulting a professional.

So ladies, will you be shaving your face for that oh-so-young skin? Or does the latest fad make your skin crawl?

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