Everything You Need to Know About Shaving, Including It’s Gender Neutrality

By: Rawan Khalil

Shaving from beards, armpit hair, leg hair, you name it really. A chore? A choice? We could label it so many things and it really depends on the person talking and their experience. Someone who rarely shaves maybe does not give a shit or maybe they have very light hair or they simply like to embrace their body hair. A person who always shaves may feel better with smooth skin or maybe does it due to societal pressure. We all do things for different reasons. Let us explore shaving in a bit more detail.

I think we can all pretty much agree that today there is an obsession with having silky-smooth skin, and this obsession has been there since the beginning of time really. Pulling, plucking, waxing. People used the most dangerous substances like arsenic and quicklime to remove their hair.

The most evident obsession with hair removal is probably in Ancient Egypt, the ancient Egyptians removed every hair on their body – head to toe. They were obsessed with hygiene and shaving was really an integral part of their daily grooming and hygiene routines. Their practical reasons was that it would keep vermins and lice at bay, it also made sure they are odourless and generally cooler. Around this time, was the first real development of a razor as metalwork was beginning to become a thing, and in Egypt and India there were razors made from copper.

Let’s fast forward to 1915- United States May 1915 Harper’s Bazaar released an Advert featuring a young girl with both her arms ap by her head.

Actually here have a look for yourself:

After this advert, sheer dresses and sleeveless dresses became very popular. Back then, most women used to cover their arms and so this was pretty revolutionary as it was a step in fashion and also in shaving for women. Shaving was not really an issue, because it was not something women chose to show-off.

Anyways let’s skip past the history and dive in to whether or not it’s good to shave (a list of pros and cons if you will).

Before we talk about removing anything, we should ask ourselves why we have it in the first place. The question of why we have hair is one which still remains unanswered with detail, due to the fact that the issue still remains ambiguous and open to further interpretation by science and evolution, however from what we do have now; we have hair cause we are mammals and mammals have hair.

Why do mammals have hair? Because mammals are warm-blooded animals so we maintain our own body heat and so we require a high internal body temperature to survive. If we look at this with evolution in mind: we evolved body hair to keep us warm. Maybe, we do not need it now but that could possibly have been its purpose.

The guardian published an article once saying that we should stop shaving (more specifically pubic hair) as it’s removal results in:

  • Irritation
  • Bacterial pathogens
  • Boils and abscesses
  • Herpes infections

Actually doctors in the United States said that even though incidents of pubic lice has gone down incidents of chlamydia and gonorrhea have gone up, and it was also noted that pubic hair removers actually increase risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Okay this starts off a bit science-y.

Our delicate skin; a layer of hypodermis, then the dermis and then the epidermis (what we can see) all entangled with blood vessels and nerves. The very top layer of the epidermis is called Stratum Corneum which consists which has a lipid barrier, and it relies heavily on the lipid barrier for protection- the lipid barrier from it’s name is a barrier and it basically prevents the entry of chemicals by penetration of your skin to deeper layers of the skin and therefore harms your body, and it also it keeps moisture in skin tissue.

When we do shave we are compromising the lipid barrier and exfoliating it. Beside the rashed and all the physical, tangible side-effects of shaving: razor burns, inflammation, ingrown hair, when we shave a lot we are basically stressing our skin. This can also cause a dehydrated skin condition because the water will easily then escape from the underlying tissue. Also over time, this can cause inflammation and so the early-aging of skin.

On the plus side, shaving removes dead skin on the outermost layer of our skin which might result in acne, as well as, the removal of excessive facial hair reduces itching and again acne. Also, if we tie back to the Ancient Egyptians and their obsession with hair removal; even though it does seem over the top and even though it might seem all crazy, however it is based on some sort of logic and science. Shaving really does maintain personal hygiene and reduces risk of catching lice and other hair ingrown diseases.

And if we are being very true to one another, shaving one’s body/facial hair does evoke a sense of freshness because you are letting your skin breathe without all the layers on top of it which in a sense suffocated your skin.

There is really no wrong way to go. It really is up to what makes you feel best in your own skin. I, would probably like having no hair on my body, I know many guys who like to have a beard and others who cannot stand it. It really is a matter of personal choice and preference.

To be entirely honest, I think what I am trying to get across is do not over do it otherwise you’re really harming your skin and it is the best organ in our body might as well take care of it.

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