For the last few years, I've mainly removed hair from my legs via waxing or epilating. It just seemed the most effective route as a dark-haired, fair-skinned, Scottish-gened lass.
But, as I might have mentioned before, I have a compulsion to skin-pick, and my poor legs have taken the brunt. They're covered in scars from years of picking at ingrown hairs and furiously scratching irritated bumps. And while I love ripping my leg hair out at the root just as much as the next person, it can leave the skin even more susceptible to irritation and infection.
So this winter, I decided to take a break and let my skin heal for once. I decided to stick to shaving only when I had a desire for smooth skin. I mean, it's tights season, and I'm single, so they don't really need all that much tending to, but still, sometimes I want silkiness underneath my flannel pyjamas!
For the task, I knew that any old shiny, pink, plastic, weirdly-scented razor wouldn't do. I've found in my past that the razors with all the padding and pivoting for my "feminine curves" did a crappy job. I always got the best results with a sturdy single- or double-bladed (at most) razor. Less blades and no pivoting around = closer to the skin, and a closer shave.
This is evidenced most in the system that is the Van der Hagen Safety Razor Shave Set.
Everything in this kit works towards a purpose, and that purpose is this: smooth skin from an ultra-close shave. Sure, when you look at the set you're probably thinking, Um, hello, that's for a dude. And yeah, that's their target market. But I figure anything that is good enough for a fancy man's face is going to be just as great for my gams. All the pampering that a Don Draper-type is putting into getting a smooth chin? Why not put that pampering towards my knees?!
The set comes with a stand to hold the included chrome-plated brass safety razor and badger hair shave brush, along with a ceramic apothecary mug for the brand's (also included) super-soothing cake of shave soap (packed with shea, mango and cocoa butters) and a pack of five stainless steel, ice-tempered, Teflon coated double-edged razor blades (so advanced!).
My first time loading a blade into the razor, I definitely got a little nervous. That thing was sharp, and I knew I was one klutzy move away from dropping it on a major artery and dying in my bathtub, unshaven legs and all. Turns out, though, that putting in a fresh blade is incredibly easy. You just twist the bottom of the razor's handle until the top pops opens like a butterfly's wings, drop in the blade, and twist it back closed. And once it's in there, it is locked. I mean, it's called a safety razor. The safety is real.
Once the razor was ready, it was time for soaping up my legs with the cake soap and brush. I wet the brush, as I had seen my dad do a million times before when I was a little kid (I was so jealous! I wanted a beard!), and swirled it into the soap until I created a bubbly lather.
Then, I started applying the soap to my skin with the brush, using circular motions. The brush helps exfoliate and gently nudge any ingrown hairs from their resting place so they're ready to be properly shorn. The soap is also incredibly gentle and softens not only your skin but the hair, which is great for beardy dudes or girls with a winter season's worth of leg hair.
It's always recommended to shave first in the direction of hair growth, as it's known to prevent ingrown hairs. Sometimes shaving against the grain can push hairs back into the skin which, ugh, is so annoying. So shaving with the grain I did, and once I'd done my entire leg, it was time to get down to serious business.
This is where I just want to reiterate that it's called a "safety razor" for a reason. Seriously, you'd have to be blindfolded and furious to nick yourself with this puppy. It somehow manages to glide over the skin but still get as close as possible to get you smooth, smooth, smoooooth.
Basically, I'm swayed to the fancy safety razor side. While the initial set might set you back a bit (it is pricey, though a similar set by the brand, with a different stand, can be found on Amazon and other sites for about $30) all you really have to replace are the blades (which can be purchased at most pharmacies and online for around $5 to $8 for 10--how much does one typical lady razor go for these days?) and, after a few months the soap, which honestly could be replaced with any ol' gentle soap you prefer.
Once my legs were shaved, I hopped out of the tub and slathered on my favourite post-bath lotion, Lush's Dream Cream. Its gentle and crazily hydrating formula ensures razor bumps are unheard of. Or I guess, unfelt and unseen of?
Finally, to complete my transformation to fancy lady who cat burgles from fancy men, I spray on a bit of MCMC Fragrances' DUDE No. 1 All-Natural Cologne. It's a unisex scent with notes of cedarwood, sandalwood and vetiver that brings me everything I like about the best men's fragrances out there, but tempers the overwhelming guy-ness of it all with Moroccan rose and pink peppercorn. It's masculine without being butch, feminine without being sweet. It simply smells good, clean and fresh, and anyone of any gender identification can get behind that, right?
Have I convinced you to cross over to the boys' side? And on a semi-related note, are you as annoyed as I am with cartoon moustaches being on everything? Ugh.