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Teen Girls: Shaving & Waxing

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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Teen Girls: Shaving & Waxing


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Armpit Waxing for a Preteen

Dec 2012

I was just wondering if you allowed your preteen to have her underarms waxed. Is it safe? How do you go about checking that an establishment is clean and safe? Is it true that the hair doesn't grow as quickly, and that it gradually gets thinner? I shave her underarms, but she always has a five-o-clock shadow and she hates it. I'm an 'older' mom of a preteen. The current obsession with hair removal is mystifying to me - Brazilian wax, upper lip waxing, eyebrow threading. I don't know if underarm waxing is the norm now. Thank you. anon


My daughter is almost 13. In my experience they are just beginning to shave their legs, but not their underarms. And I've never heard of kids these ages waxing. And preteen I assume is younger? That seems VERY young for any of this. I wouldn't give her the message that this makes sense by spending money, time, and pain on the issue. Help her deal with it differently.

Why is she so concerned with this I wonder. Perhaps it's worth exploring further. I wouldn't personally worry about safety at a waxing establishment, but I would be concerned at this level of gendered self consciousness at such a young age. anon


Contact Mali at Malimor Spa just off upper Solano Ave (across from Pharmaca). She recently did my 12 year old daughter's first leg wax and made it a very kind, unthreatening experience. I can speak from starting waxing in 5th grade and now being in my 50's. It makes the hair regrow softer and much more sparsely than shaving. I also tried Nair/Neet, but the waxing is longer lasting. Depending on regrowth, you go about every 6 weeks or so. cocosar
I am an Esthetician in Lafayette and I do lots of waxing. I have waxed quite a few pre-teens and teens over the years and armpit waxing is very quick and easy. If this is an issue that is bothering your daughter, this is something that can really help. The waxing process makes the hair grow back finer and softer. Eventually less hair will grow back. Marika
That seems extreme for a pre-teen. Buy her some razors and teach her how to shave her own armpits. There's no reason you need to be doing it for her. Waxing is expensive and can be painful...start with razors and when she's old enough to pay for her own wax treatments (college?) let her decide if she wants to go that route. Mom of 13 yr. old.
I'm sure armpit waxing is quite safe (after all you're not breaking the skin). I never did my pits but I do wax my legs and bikini regularly. The hair definately grows back finer and more slowly over time. Also you don't have to deal with itchy stubble or razor burn. The first few times are a bit uncomfortable but then it gets much easier and almost painless. European Wax Center in El Cerrito Plaza is nice. I think there are coupons on their web site. Smooth and loving it
Shouldn't your daughter shave herself ? Puzzled
This question actually puts me on a 'side' I'm not familiar with - in general I feel quite strongly about discouraging both the constant obsession with being grown up and with young girls' appearances. However: I am also of the belief that despite my strong views on these matters, every child (with their unique maturity level) and every situation must be taken individually.

I would not ever just present a preteen with this option. If, however, a preteen girl were to have more than a passing interest, but a determined focus on it, I would discuss it. If her reasons seem appropriate (rather than trying to 'fix' herself, seeing it as merely another form of self-care or pampering), I would agree to it - with some sort of clause.

Either she would need to help pay or receive it as a gift, so she understands that this is 'pampering', rather than a 'necessary' routine. Seeing as she is still preteen, she may try it once, cry, and never want to do it again - and that's fine! Taking the curiosity and mystery out of it is half the allure, and putting it on a pedestal as something that's ''forbidden'' or is ''too old for her'' could have more negative implications than simply letting it go.

In terms of what we let kids, especially our girls, do to 'be pretty,' I think everything is relative. Anyone who floated the idea of having their 12-year-old daughter undergo plastic surgery would be berated and begged to refrain (rightfully in my opinion!) Yet it has become 100% the norm for preteens to get braces for purely cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, to the point that we don't even think about it anymore, despite the price and physical discomfort.

Most importantly, if you do decide to allow this, look into it ahead of time and find a place you feel comfortable with that has the right vibe. (I.e., not a place that's going to be pushing make-up into her lap or appears to double as an anorexia clinic.)

No matter what you decide, try to keep the conversation and your concerns open with your daughter. Resolving this particular issue is obviously not an end but a beginning to these kind of questions, and now is a great time to set the tone. You want her to be able to come to you, rather than ill-informed peers or fashion/media influence when she has questions, concerns, or insecurities about her body as it changes in puberty. Make it clear to her, whether or not you decide the waxing is okay, that you care about how she feels about herself and that it matters more to you why she wants something than what she wants. Anna


I would not allow the waxing. I would make her watch that gross youtube video of someone lancing a giant boil under a woman's arm. Then, bolster that, with odor eliminating benifits of shaving and explain that stubble feels thicker than new growth, but in fact, is not. Try to keep her low maintenance!

'Tweens and shaving armpits

April 2010

My 11-year-old daughter has started to grow armpit hair and no longer wants to wear anything sleeveless because she is embarrassed. She has talked to me about shaving, but is very nervous about cutting herself. How have others dealt with shaving armpits for the first time? Her legs are not an issue at this time. I am considering an electric razor at first so she will be pretty much guaranteed to not cut herself for the time being. I'm not convinced she will be able to handle a regular razor with comfort due to her extreme nervousness about it all. If you do recommend a regular razor, which would you recommend? Thanks! my little girl is growing up!


My daughter started with and stayed w/the Gillette 3-bladed Venus. I even looked it up and it gets the best rating on one consumers' site for a women's razor (while also stating that most women preferred a ''man's'' razor): http://www.consumersearch.com/womens-shavers/gillette-venus-divine My daughter likes it because she has never cut herself w/it. Just our 2 cents.

I forgot to mention that these blades are very expensive, but seem to last longer than the cheap, generic brands. Elizabeth


I had the same issue with my older one. I started her off with a depilatory cream first, so I could get rid of the hair, but not have her deal with the razor. In a few months, she had worked up courage to try the razor, and I helped her with it the first few times. Soon she had begin doing it on her own. Now my younger one went straight to razors, as she had seen her older sister go through the entire process. Also, I would suggest she do it once or twice week, or as needed initially, so that she does not suffer too much from ingrown hair. Also, make sure to use a good shaving gel to smoothen the skin. Good luck! It is hard to make the transition from childhood to adolescence! Timi
You may want to look into a product called Veet - you pick it up at any Walgreens or CVS. It's a creme hair remover, so your daughter won't have to worry about using a razor. You leave it on for 8 minutes, then use a plastic tool (shaped like a razor w/out the blade) to wipe off the hair. It works pretty well. anon
It's been a number of years now, but we bought a little purple electric razor that can be used in the shower. I think it was by Panasonic. definitely shaves close enough for underarms, and is easy to use and convenient since it is wet/dry. anne
We just encountered the same issue with our 12 year old - It was something we really struggled with for several months, spoke with her about honestly and helped to give her a lot of information so that she could make an informed decision about whether or not she wanted to start doing this. She did decide she wanted to shave her armpits and I would suggest jumping in the shower together - showing her how to do it on yourself and then doing it for her the first time. If it feels weird to be nude you can always wear a bathing suit... Shaving Lessons
My now 14 y/o has more of a problem with leg hair, no armpit hair that worries her. But I'm totally into waxing. Specially for armpits, eyebrows and upper lip hair since the new hair grows softer, the skin remains smooth and ''hairless'' will last her longer. It hurts a bit but she loves the results. Try to introduce her to waxing. If you can do it for her, and she accepts your intervention, it can be a great girl thing for you to share with her. If you don't know how to do it, you may be better off trying to see how a professional does it and learn from that...My daughter and I have ''beauty time'' when we wax whatever needs waxing... I do it for both of us... Best of luck Wax Queen
Mach III is a great razor, very responsive. My girls have never cut themselves with it. Much better than the woman's version, Venus. anon
Visit the Safe Cosmetics Campaign website to evaluate the safety of personal care products you might use (such as hair removal creams). They rank products based on whether they contain potentially toxic ingredients. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com Shosh
Sorry to be responding late to this and hope you see the message. My daughter (now 11) had really hairy legs and pits as she approached her 10th birthday. We bought an electric women's razor and she uses it all the time. It might not be as close of a shave as a regular razor, but it is pretty darned good and very easy for her to use. No worries about cuts or nicks either. We got her the Panasonic Close Curves Wet/Dry shaver. Drugstore.com has a very good selection of electric razors. Do not get her anything called an epilator. Those pull the hairs out and are painful to use.

Daughter wants to shave pubic hair

Sept 2007

My daughter is just beginning to enter puberty and getting the slightest amount of pubic hair. She is insistant that she wants to shave it off. I've been telling her that the hair growth is normal, etc. but she still wants to shave it. I'm really not sure what stand to take on this. After all, it really is just societal norms that have women shaving their pits, but not as much their other areas - bikini waxing aside. I'm tempted to let her do it, but feel a little uneasy about it. Any ideas or past experience? Thanks. anon mom


Let her do it. It'll be SOOOOOO itchy growing back that she'll probably never want to do it again (either that or she'll shave all the time, but that's the chance you'd be taking). Good luck. mother of boys
I don't know how you might convince her but she'd certainly regret shaving. It will make the hairs grow back as prickly bristles and could make the area itchy. And that's not to mention the possibility of ingrown hairs which are unsightly and hurt. If it's really bothering her that much I would recommend a brazilian wax job instead (although the woman administering it might look at you both like you're crazy). At least your daughter will continue to be comfortable after the redness and irritation subside. Honestly, though, I hope you can talk her out of it altogether. A little unwanted hair is part of growing up. She should take a little pride in this event instead. -Anon
As a female pediatrician, I see that shaving all the pubic hair has become the norm for most teenage girls and even some boys(!) As this has become more common, I have seen with it a lot more ingrown hairs and resultant infections. Because pubic hairs are curly, as they grow back after shaving, sometimes they grow inward causing these problems. This often then leads to pain, need for antibiotics, and trips to the doctor which can be very embarrassing for teens at this age. I try to tell my patients that pubic hair is there for a reason, and encourage them to leave it alone, or just shave the bikini line. Besides, at this age no-one is going to see it (hopefully!) Good luck! Can't believe they start this young!
I wouldn't worry about it. I did the same thing when I was that age. It didn't have anything to do with popular culture, I just thought it was weird to suddenly have those hairs there and kinda wanted to look like I had always looked. I was a little worried about growing up too, but I got over that. I never talked to my Mom about it, I just did it. There were also quite a few other girls my age that did the same thing, although I didn't realize it when I started doing it. This was before I knew anything about pubic hair grooming or associated it with sexuality. I don't know if I would even bring it up with her. I would think of it as perfectly normal and just let it go and let her shave it if it makes her feel better. Maybe explain to her that it is completely normal for women to have hair there, that it's a part of growing up, and that it's not unnatural or gross. In fact, you might nonchalantly point out that it will probably be more uncomfortable when it starts to grow back. Just like having your period, it may seem like an inconvenience, but you get used to it. Maybe just encourage her that it is okay for it to be there and that all women eventually get used to it. I don't know how your daughter is, but I think if my Mom had made a big deal out of it, I would have felt very awkward and just done it in private. Your daughter will end up figuring out her own sexual identity anyway and it sounds like she has a good example to follow. If it makes her feel better about an uncomfortable time like puberty, why not? anon
Absolutely not. Not because of any social norms, but if she starts to shave it now, her pubic hair will grow back darker, thicker and more course, i.e. leg hair. I would continue conversations about how it is natural and all humans have pubic hair. One stance I have taken on several occasions is ''You can do it when you are 18.'' Where as they don't realize that you won't be checking everyday, but at this age it seems to work when you just tell them it is non-negotiable and end the conversation. If she tries to bring it up again, remind her this is not something on the negotiation table and change the conversation. She will thank you for it years down the road! Angela
I'm thinking that this is about more than the hair growth. Maybe your daughter is uncomfortable with having a more mature body and all that comes with it. I remember feeling this way. I was very self-conscious and terrified mostly of developing ahead of my peers. I would encourage you to do lots of listening and not assume you know what your daughter may be feeling. I was afraid of embarassing myself and my mother by talking about my fears. I wish she had probed a bit deeper to find out what my real issues were. Sometimes its easier to focus on the physical because its hard, especially for a child, to find the words to talk about their deeper feeling and fears. They don't even have the vocabulary. Good luck to you both. anonymous
Yeee-OWCH!!! You're right about not wanting your daughter to shave herself down there! It'll HURT afterwards, plus she'll feel all itchy & get a rash when the hair grows back & she gets yucky razor stubble. And she's definitely too young for a ''Brazilian wax'' (double-yeee-owch!) But since your daughter feels so embarrassed about it, please do consider buying her a depilatory designed for the ''bikini area,'' show her how to use it safely, & stay with her for the whole process so she doesn't accidentally get lotion on her more tender parts. Otherwise she might get desperate & do something crazy like Nair or borrowing dad's razor. The depilatory will give smooth results & keep the hair from growing back all rough & stubbly. Administering the depilatory every week or two is so much danged work that she'll probably get tired of it on her own & stop doing it as she becomes more comfortable with her body's changes. I imagine this situation must feel utterly alarming for you, but I do think this sort of self-consciousness is totally normal. Lisa
I agree with the posters who say to let your daughter shave. It's her body, it's not permanent and it will make her feel better. If she were in another culture, the hair removal would be automatic. It would be waxed or ''sugared'' off. More liberal than I thought
When I was your daughter's age I shaved my own pubic hair - I must have found my mom's razor somewhere. I recall that when it grew back in, it was pretty itchy and annoying. You might use this as an added argument against doing it...(P.S. reading your post makes me realize that no one was really helping me deal with this stuff as a kid. I'm impressed that your daughter is open to talking with you about it instead of just sneaking off to do it!) anon
Initially I wasn't going to reply, but the other replys were so very negative about this that I thought it would be helpful for you to hear something from the otherside.

First of all, it is great that your daughter is asking your input on this decision. She could have just gone ahead and done it. Since she did ask your opinion, I think you shoudl tell her what you think about it, but try not to do it with a lot of judgement as you dont' want to set up a situation where she won't come back and ask other questions if she suspects your opinion is contrary to her own leaning.

I think that shaving the pubic area has a lot of stigma attached to it. Bikini line aside. I think this is due to comfort/discomfort with the assumptions about sex that go along with presence or lack of pubic hair. Your feelings, and hers are valid. You are her parent and this is one of those times that you get to share your values.

I have shaved or waxed my pubic area at various times and honestly, it isn't that big a deal. In neither case did the hair grow back either thicker or finer. In neither case was it more or less prickly. In neither case did I experience in grown hairs or shaving nicks. The biggest difference is that when you shave you have to do it more frequently, and at first there can be more irritation (red bumps) both of which were easily delt with through the application of hydrocortizone. Personally, compared with dealing with the stray bits of wax, I'd rather shave. (Not to mention the price!) And to be honest... cleaning up when menstruating is a snap when there is no hair to get in the way. no hair down there


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