Shaving 101 - Get Ready for Summer - iVillage Beauty

Shaving is the fastest, easiest, least expensive way to remove body hair -- and except for the occasional minor accident, it's painless. The downside, of course, is that hair grows back quickly, so the bare feeling that shaving provides is only temporary. Shaving cuts only the hair above the surface of the skin, so you need to shave regularly to maintain a smooth surface. And underarm hair grows twice as fast as leg hair; you might need to shave there more often, depending on your rate of growth.

Because hair develops deep inside the follicles, shaving does not alter its size or color (though women often claim it looks and feels thicker after shaving). However, since you cut hair perpendicular to the skin when shaving, the shape of the tip is altered, giving you a feeling of coarse stubble. If the hair is allowed to grow back, it will return to its previous silky state.

The most effective way to shave is in the opposite direction from which hair grows. In places where hair grows in different directions and in hard-to-reach areas (underarms, bikini area), it's helpful to pull the skin slightly, making it more taut and eliminating natural creases and folds.

Let your hair hydrate before shaving -- it's a lot easier to cut when wet and supple. Soaking too long, however, causes the skin to wrinkle and swell slightly, making a close, clean shave more difficult to get.

Use shaving gel or lotion. Though soap is great for cleaning, shaving products help you get a cleaner shave and their moisturizers help hydrate the hair follicles and reduce dryness.

Wait half an hour before using deodorant after shaving your underarms. The chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants can sting your skin, especially if it's the least bit sensitive.

Sometimes it's a good idea to shave at night to help reduce redness. Using a moisturizing shower gel to soften hairs also can help prevent redness and stinging. And for the cleanest shave, always shave in the opposite direction of hair growth.

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