As a beauty editor, it is my solemn duty to go into every teeny boutique selling off-the-beaten-track makeup. I made this rule up, but I live by it, and it has only served me well (outside of lost time, but is it lost? or is it gained in the unnecessary but cute products I find along the way? I’m going with that one). Which is how a few weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of a shelf of razors in a Manhattan K-beauty store, laying eyes upon the $3 Shiseido blade that would completely change my feelings about foundation. I grabbed it on a whim, because they were cute and beauty is the one thing I’m adventurous in.
You’ve probably seen a handful of Facebook videos lately about women shaving their faces. Thanks to YouTube and Instagram, and treatments like dermaplaning (which is similar to shaving your face but actually features a scalpel for more intense exfoliation), facial hair removal has finally become something no longer discussed behind closed doors with our waxers.
As odd as it may seem in our culture of “the man gets the 18-blade razor and the woman shaves only her lower body in front of a waterfall,” women shaving their faces is an ancient beauty practice that traces back thousands of years, says Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of the K-beauty line Peach & Lily. Asia was one of the first places to pick up on the modern movement, Yoon says, due to what she refers to as the Asian “skin-first philosophy“—the belief is that it doesn’t matter whether shaving is stereotypically a “guy” thing, if it works, it works. That said, Yoon says she’s noticed that face shaving is now even more popular in the U.S. than in Asia. (We in the States have a storied history with the practice too. Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor also shaved to make their faces look smoother.)
I’ve never had anything explicitly against base makeup; it’s just that prior to my newfound ritual, my skin would laugh in its own face. I’ve got combination skin (meaning my cheeks are dry and my T-zone is oily), so whenever I put on foundation, it either separates into a flaky mess or sweats off after an hour. Retinol, moisturizing, and being a mild acid fanatic has helped, but only when I started shaving did I understand how good foundation/life could be.
If you want to get a truly professional, up close and personal shave, celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin recommends using a cleanser first to dry out your skin a little, which makes your hair and dead skin easier to remove. Next I put on sweet almond oil to help the blade glide more easily. I prefer this to other face oils because it’s a thin enough consistency that you can still see what you’re doing, but you can also pull a Huda Beauty and grab some Barbasol. The most important thing is to gently swipe your razor down, in the direction of your hair’s growth, Patinkin says—otherwise, ingrown hairs might follow.
Armed and ready, I started with the white-blond dusting that’s been on my upper lip for approximately forever. I’ve plucked (hurt like a mofo, never again) and I’ve trimmed (tedious and short-lived), and neither were ideal. But against all the odds, swishing this tiny razor made getting rid of my facial hair fun—and fast; I was done in under a minute. After seeing the little wisps collect on the blade, I went power mad. Living on the edge, I did my whole face just for the thrill.
Two minutes later I wiped the razor off with a tissue. You can also rub it down with alcohol or toss it, depending on how rule-abiding you are (I haven’t done either, and haven’t had a problem). Each time I’ve been set for about two weeks. The old wives tales aren’t true: The hair doesn’t grow back thicker or darker, and there’s no stubble situation—just a fine layer that gradually reappears on my face.
Until then, the result is silky smooth, bright skin. Little known fact: Dermatologists say shaving is the reason men rarely get acne on their jawlines—they’re removing dead skin cells along with their stubble, so it doesn’t build up and cause trouble.
But most important, without peach fuzz my foundation goes on with an Instagram vlogger finish, that impossible goal. You don’t know what you’ve got (peach fuzz; lackluster foundation) until it’s gone—and in this case, I’m never going back.
–I Didn’t Shave for an Entire Month, and Now I’m Re-Thinking This Whole Body Hair Thing
–I Tried That Viral ‘Vagina Highlighter,’ and Honestly I Don’t Hate It
–Jessica Simpson’s Leg Hair Instagram Is Refreshingly Normal