Frequent shaving and hard skin


Self-grooming is important for enhancing a personality. But one may always end up with problems like acne, skin tan, dandruff, dry, frizzy hair, etc. A dermatologist provides solutions to your everyday problems on this page. Send your queries to:

Dear Dr Ahsan,
I am 40 years old and I have noticed that frequent shaving has caused my skin to harden. Is there any way that I can keep my skin soft because I work in an office and cannot skip shaving any day?
-Shaheer Asif

Dear Shaheer Asif,
As you have not mentioned your gender I am assuming you are a male, because many females also shave regularly before going to work.
You need to be clear as to whether you are talking about the hardness of the skin or of the hair of your beard. It is a myth that shaving will make the skin or hair hard. If that were the case then the other body parts that are subjected to regular shaving, though not on a daily basis, should also develop a hard skin, but that does not happen. Beard hair are generally harder and tougher and what makes them feel harder is the fact that the shaving blade cuts the hair at an angle thus making their tips beveled and sharper to touch. If the hair were plucked or waxed as is done by the ladies, the new hair growing out of the roots will not be beveled and pointed and therefore would not feel sharper or harder.

This phenomenon is the reason why females believe that shaving makes their hair harder. I am not suggesting that men should also start waxing or plucking their beard hair because that would be painful and also damaging to the face skin considering the size and toughness of the beard hair of men. Having said that, a small percentage of men do wax their beard and chest hair from time to time and they do not complain of a harder skin or hair.

Hardness or softness is just a feeling and a subjective one. It cannot be measured precisely and therefore cannot be objectively evaluated. Men who have hair that are genetically thicker in diameter would be harder, and the cut edges would feel even harder and sharper to touch. Using shaving foam or a gel thoroughly and for a sufficient length of time can soften the hair temporarily and would feel softer, at least for a while. The good old shaving brush would always give you a superior soft shave because it softens the hair more effectively. Use a good quality sharp blade and let it glide softly and gently over the skin. Do not shave against the direction of the hair growth. There is no product that can soften your hair and keep them that way; however, you can keep your skin feeling soft by using a good moisturizer.

Moisturizers have been discussed in an earlier edition of SNI (November 2012) and you can get some guidance through them.
Shaving generally is a traumatic technique as it shaves off the top dead layer of the skin that is important for us, so if you have a choice then keeping a beard is a healthier option.

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