Are you thinking about starting shaving for the first time in your life? That’s an exciting time! One of the great joys of transitioning gender for many trans men is that we get to start shaving. However, there is one little catch: most of us don’t have a father to teach us how to shave. And while it is not rocket science, it is also important to do it right. This guide to shaving for trans men will explain the tools and techniques of shaving for those who are about to start shaving for the very first time.
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What Kind of Facial Hair do Trans Men Have?
One of the consequences of starting testosterone is that you will soon start to grow hair all over your body. All of those hair follicles are already there, on your body. However, it is testosterone that stimulates more of your hair follicles to become active and start producing hairs. It’s fun to grow hair on your face and neck, of course. For me, it was not as much fun having hair grow on my back and butt. However, it’s worth it to have hair on my face!
Facial hair growth varies a lot, with some trans men being able to grow impressive beards, and others having a lot less. I can grow a nice soul patch and a modest beard, but my sideburns are patchy. You cannot know in advance how much facial hair you will have. Although you can get some clues by looking at other men in your family, as there is a strong genetic link. My unimpressive facial hair is much like my father’s and my brother’s.
However, two things are certain: you will definitely have some facial hair growth, and you will definitely have to start shaving.
How Can Trans Men Stimulate More Facial Hair Growth?
Some people think that shaving stimulates facial hair growth, but there is no scientific proof of that. I mean, think about it. To get scientific proof, test subjects would have to shave just one half of their faces for several years! Unless they were an extra in Gotham, this would be super awkward in the workplace! Subjectively, however, I have seen a comparable kind of test: I know many women who started shaving just their lower legs in their teens. Years later, if they stop shaving, they have very hairy lower legs, while their upper legs just have soft, almost invisible hair. To me, this is proof that shaving stimulates hair growth.
Also, it has been my personal experience that shaving seems to stimulate facial hair growth. At the beginning I needed to shave only about once a week, but I shaved every day anyway. Fifteen years on, and I need to shave at least once a day – and sometimes twice to avoid complaints about being bristly when I kiss my wife!
Some transmen use Rogaine to stimulate facial hair growth, but this is not medically recommended. I confess to having done it a bit in the early days, to encourage my hair follicles to wake up and get going. I am convinced that it helped. But I am NOT recommending it, because really, I think it was kind of risky for me to do that. Just wait it out, and your facial hair will grow. And soon, you are going to need that Rogaine to save the hair on your head, anyway!
When Should Trans Men Start Shaving?
Even if you have just started transitioning and still have nothing but peach fuzz on your face, I highly recommend that you start shaving. It is better to have no facial hair than to have soft fuzz. Only boys and women have soft peach fuzz. Adult men have smoothly shaven faces or stubble. So if you want to be read as male, you need to shave off the fuzz! Soft facial fuzz is just a giveaway for a mature trans man who wants to pass.
Also, shaving has benefits. It is thought to stimulate your skin and delay wrinkles. It does this because shaving causes mild exfoliation of dead skin cells, and stimulates blood circulation, which promotes tissue growth and repair. This might be one reason why older men sometimes look younger than similar aged men. You know, like George Clooney. OK, seriously, few of us will ever look like Clooney, but there is reason to believe we can keep looking younger for a longer tie with regular shaving.
Tools for Shaving for Trans Men
The most important thing I have learned over the years is to buy a decent razor. A pink plastic thing intended for your girlfriend’s legs is just not going to be good enough. I use a battery-powered Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, which has five micro-thin blades, and a flex ball handle that responds to the contours of my face. It is light and easy to use, and minimizes the number of times I cut myself.
I find that the quality of my shaving experience is directly linked to the amount of money I spend on the razor. With a good razor you have a more pleasant shave, and are less likely to cut yourself. Also, a razor with no power at all is much more likely to cause cuts, so a battery-powered razor is a good budget-friendly option.
One day I hope to progress to an electric razor. In case my wife ever reads this and is wondering what to get me for Christmas – I have done the research, and notice that there is a great deal on the top-rated Braun Series 7 electric razor right now!
It is tempting to put off replacing your razor blades for as long as possible, because they are quite expensive. But trust me, it is not worth it. Blunt blades cause cuts, so keep those blades razor-sharp!
Techniques for Shaving for Trans Men
The most important thing I learned about shaving over the years is this: never shave after drinking a bottle of wine! Not unless you actually like having cuts all over your face, anyway. Shaving your face and neck requires a steady hand and a bit of skill to do it right.
Apart from that, the technique is pretty straightforward. First, it is always better to start with very clean skin, so start off with a good wash. Also, be sure to heat your skin first, for example, by showering, or by putting a heated towel over your skin.
Next, always use shaving cream, as this softens your whiskers, improves the quality of the shave, and makes it less likely that you will cut yourself or irritate your skin. Personally, I find that a cream or gel works better than a spray foam. It is also easier to find organic, natural shaving creams and gels. If am going to be putting something on my face every day, I prefer a non-toxic, natural substance that is not going to stress and age my skin.
The best product I have found is the Alchemist Sandalwood & Sage Shaving Gel. I tried it because Men’s Journal rated it the best all-natural shaving product. It is not cheap, but it is worth every penny. And you only have to use a tiny amount each day – don’t slather it on!
If the Alchemist Sandalwood & Sage Shaving Gel is too pricey for you, Pacific Shaving Company makes a more budget-friendly shaving cream that uses only natural products.
At the very least, avoid products in a pressurized aerosol can. Nothing natural comes out of those! You can read more about the hazards of shaving products in cans here.
It is preferable to have a mirror where you can watch what you are doing as you shave. Although I admit that these days, I often shave in the shower, because it is quicker and easier. I don’t have a mirror in there.
Next, shave carefully downwards on your face, and shave carefully upwards on your neck. Sticking your tongue into the part of your face that you are shaving helps to create a taut surface for a smoother shave.
Always have access to a bowl of warm water or running water, so you can keep rinsing out your razor blades.
When you think you are done, dip your fingertips in some of the cream on your face and rub them over your skin to check for spots you have missed. I find I often miss spots just to the sides of my mouth. If you find spots that you are really battling with, it is OK to gently shave in the opposite direction, that is, upwards on your face, or downwards on your neck.
Finally, assuming you are using a decent razor, flip it over and use the precision shaver to shave the hairs in hard to reach places, like just under your nose.
When you are done shaving, rinse your razor thoroughly, especially if you share a bathroom. Most people are grossed out by someone else’s hairy razor!
Don’t Forget Your Aftershave!
Finally, apply a good product to your skin. A lot of guys like to use a good aftershave lotion. Personally, I find just after shaving to be an excellent time to moisturize my skin, as the pores are about as open as they are ever going to be. I always use a moisturizer with sun screen, because I don’t want to join the family tradition of getting skin cancer in my sixties. Jack Black makes a great combo after-shave/moisturizer/sun screen.
If you want a more budget-friendly option, you can’t really go wrong with this Neutrogena moisturizer. Neutrogena products are on my short list of products that do not irritate my super-sensitive skin.
Some trans men complain that shaving eventually becomes a chore, but I always enjoy it. Good luck, and enjoy your shaving experiences!
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