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Shaving Legs & Under Arms

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Beauty & Fitness > Shaving Legs & Under Arms


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Dealing with Leg Hair

June 2006

I need help from other women out there who are very light- skinned and who have thick, dark leg hair. Here's my problem.

I usually shave, but I have to wait until the hair has grown out enough (about a week) in order to avoid lots of razor slices and nicks (this is because, I think, the hairs haven't completely grown thruogh the skin?) So, shaving is what I do once/week, but I hate it. Also, I can't wear shorts/skirts/bathing suit on days 4-7 because my hair is so dark & thick. (Or if I must get into shorts, etc., I go through the scary process of shaving too early and putting up with lots of nicks)

I've tried waxing a few times and it's nice because it lasts longer. Problem? You have to go 4-6 weeks between waxings - again, my thick, dark hair is all over by then and I can't wear shorts/skirts while I'm waiting for the next one.

Should I bleach my hair - seems like a huge pain since I'd have to do it so often. Besides, my hair is so thick it would probably still be quite obvious.

Any ideas that I haven't tried and that don't cost a fortune? And sorry, though I've done it before in my college days, I am definitely no longer willing to let the hair on my legs be. I have succumbed to some of our society's sad, unnatural beauty expectations! (and some people other than me would probably be horrified by my leg hair that rivals most men)

Thanks for your help! Hairy in Berkeley


I had the same problem. If you can swing it financially run to a laser hair removal clinic. I put my treatments on a credit card because I was so desperate to stop the ingrown hair/shaving myself raw cycle. The treatments really, really reduced the amount of leg hair that I have to deal with. Now, there are some blonde hairs that grow in but no more bumps or scary hairs. The treatment works best on light skin with dark hairs. Alernatively, you could be really persistent with exfoliating your legs every other day and shaving on the odd days. TYou could try glycolic acid lotion and see if that helps to dissolve some of the skin over the ingrown hairs. good luck
Have you tried an electric shaver? I use the ''trimmer'' edge of one - it doesn't get your legs perfectly smooth to the touch, but it looks fine for wearing shorts & skirts, and avoids nicks and ingrown hairs. Hates razors
you might try electrolosis, but i've heard it's a bit painful at first. alternatively, you can use those hair removal creams, but they have pretty scary chemicals in them. i think waxing is your best bet, because over time the hair follicles weaken and the hair grows back more slowly, and less coarse. it may be 6-9 months before you see a difference. so, maybe you have to suffer through one more summer and then get regular waxings over the fall and winter to see if it works. make sure to see a good esthetician. hairy there too.
You need to do laser hair removal. You sound like the ideal candidate (light skin and dark hair). Do it...it will change your life...trust me. I shopped around and ended up at The Laser Center of Marin in Corte Madera (www.marinlaser.com). It's not cheap, but it is a long-term answer that is well worth it. Beth
I have the same problem, and the only solution for me has been high-end men's electric shavers. They won't shave quite as close as a razor, and it takes several passes to get all the hairs, but they are gentle enough to use every day. I currently use the Panasonic ES8092 Pro-Curve Pivot Action shaver, and love it. It has a micro-screen covering over the blades, and a pop-up trimmer on the back that is great for the bikini line. It's worth the investment . . . finally I can wear capris and tank tops more than once a week in the summer. If you are really motivated, light skin & dark hair makes you a good candidate for laser hair removal, too. Hate to Wait
I know you said you don't want anything costly, but to me the best solution is getting laser. It will take a year to be completely hairless & you will be burned a little (just for a short time) but it's worth it. If you start now, then next summer you'll be bald in Berkeley Shelly
I feel your pain! I am in the same situation, very light skin (irish/german ancestry) and very dark brown hair and lots of it on my legs all the way from my ankles to my hips. I can only shave once every week or two because I get lots of red bumps and break outs after I shave. Last year I did 3 sessions of laser hair removal on my upper legs and bikini area and there has been much less regrowth. But it is very expensive. I don't have any easy or inexpensive solutions. Laser seems the best if you can afford it. I went to Dr. Brokowski because I was nervous about an inexperienced practioner causing more problems. I was happy with her care and plan on going back hopefully next year when I have more expendable $$. For this year at the beach I usually wear swim shorts instead of an actual bathing suit so I don't have to deal with the bikini area and sometimes just go out there with some stubble and most days I avoid wearing shorts and wear pants. I have noticed, however, as I am now experiencing peri-menopausal phase of life, that there is a slight decrease in the amount of hair on my lower legs. A small victory, but at least it's something. I don't get it. My mom is very fair and you can hardly see the hair on her legs. My dad has dark hair, but never had much hair at all on his legs. Where did this come from? Good luck! a little less hairy
I have lots of dark hair on my legs, and the only thing I've found that works is basically shaving every day. I had electrolysis on the bikini area, which is coarse and would otherwise cause lots of problems. Also, I definitely shave carefully with a sharp razor, and in the opposite direction that the hair grows (eg sideways on the bikini area). you shouldn't really be getting lots of nicks. Oh, unless you're also getting goosebumps in the shower. I have to close the door and window and let the steam build up, because if I get a little chill I end up shaving off goosebumps. You might try different women's razors till you find one that works, and you might try either making sure you've got lots of soap later or use a good shaving cream. And don't ever shave dry. That irritates my skin
What works for me is to use a high quality electric razor 2 or 3 times a week. It only takes about 5 minutes, it's pretty much painless and, visually, you can't see hair. It doesn't, however, eliminate stubbly *feeling* legs, so you'd still probably like to shave as you normally do for smoothness. The key is to use the electric razor in a circular motion (if you have a razor w/ the pivoting heads, there are electric razor's made for leg shaving, but I've found them less effective) and to keep the skin taut in the area you are shaving. You can wear shorts every day if you want!! Molly G
Yes, I have often joked that I am so hairy that Bigfoot was seen taking footage of me. Seriously, I used to be really proud of the fact that I refused to shave my legs, but something about becoming a mom makes one less inclined to subject oneself to public ridicule. My solution: I shave with a standard razor about twice a month, and use an electric razor about every other day. True, the electric razor does not get legs very smooth, but visually they look like they are genuinely shaved. anon
I'm in the same boat and have gone through all the treatments you mentioned. Also tried an epilator, but it was not too successful around the bikini area, and was quite time-consuming on my legs. I've recently been curious about Nair. But I remember from my teens that it was not to be used around the bikini area... I belong to a swim club and I never see nicks or razor burn or hairy bikini areas on my fellow female members. WHAT'S THEIR SECRET?
I too have thick, dark leg hair and pale skin. If I want to keep my legs presentable I shave them every couple of days, and I don't experience nicks and cuts. Maybe you need to get a better razor, change the blades more often, and use more shaving cream or gel. Also just practice your shaving technique--it shouldn't be such a painful experience! Wishing you happy legs-- Another Hirsute Gal

Shaving Legs - what's the best way?

Feb 2004

What\222s the best way to shave my legs - razor, wax, electrolysis? I am in my 40s and have shaved my legs very infrequently -- I have little leg hair, I didn\222t want to become a slave to the razor, until now I have worked at jobs where unshaved legs were not unusual and, most of all, I object to the cultural message that leg hair on a woman is unacceptable. Well, that\222s changed - I still resent the expectation that I will shave but I now have a job that has an unwritten dress code and I am therefore self-conscious about my leg hair. So, I will cave to the norm and shave. I want to know what\222s the most effective way to remove leg hair, one that will not take up too much of my time, cause me undue pain, or cost too much. I still don't understand why women put up with standards of beauty that are so burdensome! Thanks for listening. Irate Hairy


If you are just doing it for appearances, or are blessed w/ having so little hair that it doesn't otherwise bother you, just shave!! All the other options are time consuming & expensive, and although some believe fervently in the waxing option, the electrologists will tell you that it makes future options more limited (e.g., if you wax your bikini area, it will take more electrolysis to get rid of the hair because it changes the follicles). I hate my own leg hair, but have gotten the shaving down to a couple of minutes in the shower every other day. no big deal.
Those new razors work pretty well. Venus for women. Also try hair conditioner instead of shaving cream. Also a bath first softens the hair up. almost nick free
I'm a very hairy woman who doesn't believe anyone should have to remove their hair for a job. I let it all grow out at times, and it's quite a sight. But mostly I prefer to remove it (from legs, feet, toes, fingers, hands. parts of my arms, nipples, chin, and other places too.)

I have tough hair and sensitive skin. Waxing gives me a rash and chemical cremes burn my skin. I can't afford laser hair removal or electrolysis at the moment. Shaving works really well for me though. I actually enjoy shaving, but it took me awhile to figure out the best way. If you have very little hair on your legs, shaving should be pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and you shouldn't have to do it all that often.

Shaving tips:

To avoid ingrown hairs, get some of those scrubbing gloves you can put on in the shower, and scrub your legs before shaving, and every couple of days. The gloves feel really good. You can get them at most drugstores or at whole foods. Also a body lotion with alpha-hydroxy acid does the same thing. Both make your skin feel soft and smooth.

While shaving, make sure you are warm, so you don't get any goose bumps. Goose bumps will catch on the razor and give you a rash.

I shave without shaving cream, under water in the bathtup. Or I use a soap for sensitive skin, without perfume. For the easiest shave, use soap or shaving cream. To avoid skin irritation, unscented soap or cream is best. When you are first getting used to shaving, the tub is best for going slow and seeing what you are doing. Once you get used to it, you might be able to do a good, quick job of it in the shower.

After shaving, rinse really well and use an unscented lotion for sensitive skin, or no lotion at all. Good, cheap after- shave lotions are: 1. Water with a little vinegar in it. 2. Water with an aspirin dissolved in it.

If you are grossed out by hair in the tub, have a bowl of super-hot water next to the tub and rinse the razor in that. Rinse after each stroke. Then dump the hairy water down the toilet.

The Gilette triple-blade razor is great, much better than others I've tried. Definitely notice when the blade is dull, and use a new one. It makes a big difference.

Good luck!! Happy Hairy


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