This topic falls into the healthier and more environmentally friendly living context rather than allergies. I like to remove the hair from certain parts of my body, I have been slowly making changes to how I remove body hair for some time now, and seem to have found what makes me happy. Tweezers work for some areas, but they are very slow for other areas. Who likes shaving? Men complain it irritates their faces and takes too much time, women complain it makes their legs and armpits itch, and then there are all of the nicks and cuts and stubble…
Don’t get me started on environmental concerns. Razor companies want you to use a clean blade for every shave, either by using a new disposable razor or by changing the replaceable blade and shaving foams come in aerosol containers that are hard to dispose of and harm our ozone layer.
Many years ago, I switched to non-aerosol shaving creams. Creams such as EOS were my favourite, though not the cheapest. They worked just as well and tended to last longer than aerosol cans. Plus the containers were recyclable. Win for the environment! Back then, I wasn’t concerned with the chemical composition of the moisturizing strip or my shaving cream, but I did want to do the best I could for the environment. I have always hated shaving, and shaving was quick, but I still had stubble within two days.
The Clean Break from Shaving
The itchiness was still a problem, though, as well as ingrown hairs on the legs and in the armpits. It took a lot a frustration and laziness over shaving, but I eventually decided to try an epilator. I got a simple one with two speeds and a removable head for cleaning. Though it was painful at first, it gets less painful over time (my ankles are still sensitive!), it lasts longer than shaving, I am no longer using extra water standing in the shower shaving, and I don’t use any shaving cream. I don’t have to wait for my hair to reach a certain length before removing it, and I get fewer ingrown hairs.
The epilator did not work for my armpits. I continued shaving, but the ingrown hairs made it quite painful. I finally decided to give waxing a try. I picked up a hard wax kit, grabbed some popsicle sticks, and got to it! I washed well with soap beforehand, and used rice bran oil as a protective oil and a finishing oil because I already had it in the house and it is noncomedogenic. The first time, I bled. A lot of very well-established roots were being pulled out, and it hurt. The second time it hurt less and didn’t bleed. After that, it took less and less time as I become more experienced, and it hurt less and less.
Fast forward six months, and through my patch test I learned I was also highly allergic to colophony, or rosin, a key component of hair-removal waxes. Although I don’t think any reaction I had was too bad, I did have to get my husband to help me, which took time and arranging. I decided to go back to tweezing my armpits for now. I’m getting faster and faster at it, so it doesn’t take as long as it used to, but it does twist your eyesight a little sometimes. I love that the tweezing lasts quite a while, so I don’t have to do it very often. I haven’t used a razor in about two years.
“Permanent” Hair Removal
I have since looked into laser hair removal and electrolysis. I was shocked to find out that they weren’t actually permanent. They can last a long time, but inevitably you’ll be back to home hair removal, or back for more treatments. Laser hair removal has the added stipulation that it works best on people with dark hair and fair skin. Dark-skinned people can be burnt by the laser, and fair-haired people may not have enough pigment in the hair root to be effectively treated by the laser. Since I’m fair-skinned and fair-haired, that one’s out.
On an adventurous streak, I once tried threading. By myself. I had heard that an experienced threader could do a whole leg in only a couple of minutes. I looked up directions online, gave it a shot…and spent 45 minutes trying to clear a tiny patch on my leg. Ineffectively. I would love to do it again if I could figure out a way to make it work, but right now I do NOT have the skill. Boo.
So what does my husband do? Well, his electric razor has been dying for two years. We replaced the rechargeable batteries once, and then he had to knock the shaver around to get it to keep running. He started talking about what to do next, and he ended up switching over to safety razors. Yes, those old things your grandfather used. They’re making a comeback as men try to reclaim the art of a good shave. They do take some practice to master, but because the blades are dual-edged (and because my husband’s hair is on the finer side) the blades last about five shaves before requiring replacement.
The handle is a one-time purchase (for which there is a VERY wide price range, from $20 to $400 and above) that doesn’t require you to use a specific manufacturer’s blade, and replacement blades cost about 15-35 cents each. You can choose whatever kind of blade gives you the best shave. Because the blade is just a slip of metal rather than plastic and metal combined, it’s slightly more environmentally friendly (though more dangerous) to discard.
As for shaving cream, we looked into a few different options. My allergies mean that he has to use safe products as well, so I looked into homemade shaving solutions. There seem to be two main homemade alternatives: Shaving soap and shaving oil. The downside to the oil is that over time your drain can become clogged. I didn’t have all the ingredients to make my own bar shaving soap from recipes I found, so we chose to try a homemade liquid shaving soap, from this woman. My husband tried it both with honey and with glycerine in place of the honey, and the honey came out the clear winner. I used fractionated coconut oil (the one with just liquid components) to make it, and it requires a *really* good shake/mix before using the first time. I love this stuff because all of the ingredients are shelf-stable, so it’s easy to mix up a decent-sized batch, and you don’t use much for each shave. It rinses easily down the drain thanks to the soap and water-soluble components, it biodegrades, and it keeps my husband happy.
Have you tried anything not listed above? How did it work? Comment below.