Razor use requires care, skill

October 31, 2008|By LISA PREJEAN

The vibrant print of a student's shoes caught my eye. The checkerboard design was unusual and stylish. What a versatile choice for a teenager.

As I was walking back to my desk, I noticed a vertical inch-long scab on the student's ankle. Ouch.

I cringed and a shiver ran up my spine. Leg-shaving cuts always are painful, but ones on the ankle? Those really smart.

When I was a teen, I had a hard time learning how to shave my legs. Always busy, always wanting to get to the next task, I shaved too quickly. I rarely had a scab-free ankle. Even now I'm too hasty. My husband says he'd never let me shave his face after seeing how fast I fly across my limbs.

I'm thinking more about leg shaving lately because my 9-year-old insists that she is ready for the blade. I'm not so sure about that, but she informs me that some of her classmates are doing it, so she must be ready, too.


(Besides, some of the boys have made comments about her hairy legs. Gasp! Of course, her father wants to know why the boys are looking at her legs, but that's another column.)

After I reminded her that we don't do something just because everybody else is doing it, I turned to the Internet for help. I'm sure there's another mom out there hanging her wash to dry who will meet me at the fence. That's how these things used to be done, right?

Because I write for a newspaper, I have the advantage of tapping into the sources available through Profnet, a network of experts who answer questions posed by journalists. I figure if this question is being asked in my household, it's probably being considered in other families, too. We might as well take advantage of all the resources available to us.

I requested a response to these questions: "When should a girl start shaving her legs? What is the best way to teach your daughter how to do this? What safety tips should be shared?"

I thought a marketing representative from a shaving cream company would jump at the chance, but of the 25,000 experts who are available to answer questions, two responded.

One of those responses came from Natalie Caine of Empty Nest Support Services (at Caine says she remembers that her daughter, a recent college graduate, asked the same questions about shaving when she was 11.

Caine was preoccupied with work projects and told her daughter she could start shaving as long as she promised never to shave and talk on the phone at the same time. Now she laughs at that advice, and she encourages parents to keep things in perspective. If your daughter is asking, she's probably ready to start learning how to shave, Caine says.

Gary Burris of Tec Laboratories Inc. (at cautions parents to help their children avoid infections that could occur from shaving. His company makes skin care and wound care products.

Burris suggests these steps to prevent infection:

  • Wash the area you are shaving with soap and water.

  • Don't share razors or towels with anyone - even a brother, sister or parent.

  • Choose a good lubricating gel to help avoid nicks or cuts.

  • Treat and cover any nicks or cuts.

    I guess that includes ankle cuts. Why we even run the razor across our ankles is beyond me. How much visible hair grows there, anyway?

    Perhaps I can avoid that issue and persuade my daughter to shave above the ankle and below the knee. It's worth a try anyway.

    Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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