When I first realised I needed to shave my face I was mortified. I kept asking my husband if he thought I was less feminine, if he was going to see me as less attractive and ultimately I was worried he would leave me. However, these doubts, as real as they were, were also shallow as hell. Our marriage wasn’t built on my five o’clock shadow or my Magnum PI moustache – No it was built on love and understanding.
Shaving is a global trend in women’s beauty. Many women across the globe shave regardless of any medical conditions they may have. They shave to exfoliate or to create a smooth canvas for makeup application. Bottom line – you aren’t alone!
It always seemed weird to me that as women we are shown (or told) how to shave our legs, armpits, bikini and arms but there is no guidance on shaving our faces or other parts of our body that from time to time will become a little fuzzy. Hirsutism (excessive hair growth) is one of the most common complaints of women with PCOS, of course in a perfect world we would all be able to afford laser hair removal or weekly bouts of electrolysis but the reality is for most of us our hair grows on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. We don’t have the luxury of going a day without some form of hair removal.
Firstly, I want to put it out there that I fully admire those women who embrace the facial hair and rock out with their beard out, more power to you. I am not that confident within myself and I personally would end up looking like a stand in for Chewbacca.
Lifestyle changes to consider
Before I jump into the guide, I want to talk a little bit about why pcos causes excessive hair growth and some of the things you can change in your lifestyle to help reduce the amount of hair growth.
Excessive hair growth is down to increased levels of testosterone being produced by the ovaries. So how do you decrease your testosterone levels? Insulin is key in this area by controlling our insulin levels we control the amount of free testosterone floating around in the body thereby decreasing the amount of hair growth we experience.
Avoid dairy and meat if possible. If you are on my blog I have a sneaking suspicion this doesn’t apply to you but if you are a vegetarian currently transitioning I hope this gives you the little nudge you are looking for. You see, dairy contains insulin growth factor – 1 (IGF-1) which mimics insulin in your body and is associated with higher levels of testosterone. Many women who struggle with hormonal acne see an improvement within a week of giving up dairy.
Drink more tea. Simply put spearmint tea has been shown in small scale studies to improve testosterone levels in women with pcos. The study only lasted 30 days but the theory behind the study is that if spearmint tea slows down production of testosterone it will also eventually slow down excess hair growth.
If you read my blog you know I love tea so I can recommend this spearmint tea from amazon and one of the first reviews says that it is great for pcos.
Other hair removal techniques include waxing, plucking and threading. I have tried all of these methods and for me shaving is still the most convenient and cost-effective. However, here are a couple of my personal recommendations if you do want to try out other hair removal techniques.
Facial Hair Epilator
Now I wont lie to you, these things hurt like a mother but the results speak for themselves. They work like a giant hair trapping spring. You fold the wand into a U shape and then move it in a upwards direction whilst rotating the handles. It is very similar to threading.
There are many different facial epilators and they mostly do the same thing but here is my favourite:
Laser Hair Removal at Home
If you want to get laser hair removal but dont want to be spending excessive amounts of money on every session then you could try an at home laser hair removal system. I always have visions of James Bond strapped to a table anytime I hear the word laser and I must admit when I first got my laser hair removal device, I did pretend I was an extra on Star Trek but that is another story for another time. Depending on your budget you could get an IPL system with all bells and whistles like the Philips Lumea Prestige, however if, like me, you aren’t flush with cash then you can opt for a slightly cheaper mid range model.
I suggest going with the Qmele IPL system
I have never enjoyed the thought of some pouring hot wax onto me, placing a strip of cloth on said wax and then tearing it off. Call me crazy but it just doesn’t seem like a fun time. If you are so inclined to have your hair pulled out via this method then I recommend going to a reputable salon. So many things can go wrong with waxing at home such as burning yourself, having an allergic reaction or just not have the courage to pull off the cloth and walking around with wax stuck to your top lip.
How to shave like a Cyster
Well here’s what you came for so lets get right to it. Follows these easy Cyster approved steps to ensure a smooth shave without irritation.
Step 1 – Cleanse
Moisture is the key to shaving any part of your body. Moisture softens the hairs and works with the shaving oil to provide a slick surface for the razor to glide over. To open the follicles I use a steamer but you can just use a hot flannel or towel. Place the towel on your face for a few seconds to allow the steam to penetrate the follicles. Next take your favourite face-wash and wash away any makeup, dirt or oils that have accumulated on your skin. If you are travelling and dont have time to steam your face just place your razor in hot water whilst you are putting the shaving oil on your face.
Step 2 – Pre-Shave Oil
Don’t rush to be putting that shaving foam on your face just yet. This is just like any other beauty regime it takes time and care. You want to use a good quality pre-shaving oil and really get used to including this step in your regime. Why use a pre shave oil? Pre shave oils are made up of three separate components. First is the carrier oil, which in most pre shave oils is castor oil. Castor oil is used because it provides great lubrication on the skin, allowing the razor to glide over the hairs without causing too much damage to the skin. The second component is normally another oil. This could be another carrier oil like grapeseed or it may be a moisturising oil such as jojoba or argan. Last but not least is the essential oil which adds fragrance. Most essential oils also come with their own benefits. Apply a few drops of pre shave oil to the skin and allow the oil to soak in for a few seconds. You can easily make your own DIY shave oil like this recipe on Rubies and Radishes. If you don’t have time to make your own then I suggest Fair Squared Shaving Oil for Women.
Optional Step 3 – Shaving Foam
Once you have applied the oil you can begin the shave. The oil should provide enough lubrication to allow you to shave but you may have to keep reapplying the oil to ensure you dont cut yourself. You can choose to use a shaving foam after you have put the oil on your skin. I recommend doing this and it is what I do. Make sure the shaving foam you are using is high quality and the ingredients are as natural as can be. Here are my two recommendations for shaving foam. One is a foam and one is a cream. Both use natural ingredients, are paraben and sls, cruelty free and vegan. The first is by the Falls River Company and is a foam free shaving cream for sensitive skin and the second is by UP ROAR and is a sls and paraben free lightweight shaving foam. To apply the foam lather it up in your hands and then using gentle circular motions make sure you cover all the areas you want to shave. It doesn’t have to be a thick coating but make sure the hair is coated.
Step 4- Shaving
So you have lubricated, moistened and prepped your skin. Now you are ready to take that razor to your skin. Razors made for men are the best option here, they are made to be sharp and precise. I personally use a Gillette Mach 3 as it gives the closest shave I have ever had and leaves my skin feeling soft. You could also use a double edged safety razor if you are feeling brave but I just feel like Sweeney Todd when I am wielding one of those bad boys. Contrary to popular belief more blades on a razor do not do a better job. In fact they are more likely to damage your skin, so I suggest sticking to a 2 or 3 blade razor.
I always start by shaving my cheeks first and under my chin. I like to leave the oil and foam on my chin and moustache area as long as possible to really soften up the hairs as they can be stubborn. Shave with the grain to prevent ingrown hairs and a nasty shaving rash which will just let everybody know you just shaved your face. Use light, short and gentle strokes dont press the blade into the skin let it skim the surface taking the only the hairs with it and not your face. Be sure to also pull the skin as taut as possible.
Side Note – Razor Care
Get used to looking after your razor. Dull blades can cause razor burn and skin irritation. Never clean your razor with a towel or toothbrush and always wash it in hot water and store it in an upright position. Never ever use the same razor for different body parts as it can lead to cross contamination, ewwww.
Step 5 – Rinse and Tone
Your skin should feel soft and luxurious to the touch but we aren’t done yet. Don’t be alarmed but you have just taken a layer of skin off of your face. No no no it’s ok you dont look like an extra from the Walking Dead but we do need to close those pores to tighten up the skin, lock in moisture and prevent dirt getting into the follicles. First run your fingers over your face to make sure you haven’t missed anything then when you are happy rinse your face with cool running water. Pat your face dry with a clean towel and use your favourite toner to further remove any debris that is left from the shave. Rose water is brilliant for toning the skin and is extremely hydrating which aids in the skins healing process.
Step 6 – Moisturise
The final, most important step to bring everything together is to moisturise. Shaving acts like exfoliation in the sense that the razor removes the top layer of skin cells exposing the unprotected layer underneath. To aid in healing the skin hydration is the key. Take your normal moisturiser and apply it to your freshly cleansed, oiled, shaved and toned face.
Now you know how to shave like a Cyster. For more Cysters Guides why not subscribe to the Vegan Cyster to keep up to date with everything that is happening on the blog.