Feature Archive

Getting a Close Shave

Experts share tips about the best way for men and women to shave off unwanted hair.

By Star Lawrence
WebMD Feature
Reviewed ByMichael Smith,MD

The average man has more than 25,000 hairs as hard as copper wire coming out of his face and spends 3,000 hours in his lifetime shaving them off. The Egyptians were the first to bathe several times a day and remove body hair, sometimes with a clam shell (what is the Egyptian word for "ouch?")

At first, the Romans thought this was gross and the lack of body hair was a deformity; then they too began to scrape it off. The practice became so accepted, members of "unbarbered" societies became known as barbarians.

Now, both men and women like to remove hair from various bodily areas.

Shaving Tips for Men

Roxanne Griego, administrator and director of the Arizona Board of Barbers, has been a barber for 32 years and followed her father and grandfather into the profession.

The first step in shaving, she tells WebMD, is to prepare the surface of the skin.

"You want to remove the hair while preserving the skin's integrity," she says. "Massaging in the cream or shaving soap plumps up the muscle called the erector pilli, which pushes the hair up, kind of like gooseflesh. This also releases skin-softening oils from underneath the skin.

"What you want," she continues, "is to push the hair up and soften it so you can cut it off in one cold snap."