Times have changed since I wrote this post 5 years ago.
It used to be the “norm” that girls started shaving as soon as they hit middle school. Sometimes sooner if they were involved in team sports like cheering.
While it’s still a topic of tween and teen girls everywhere, opinions on if and when should girls start shaving are debatable.
The traditional thought was that leg hair on girls, and armpit hair for that matter was not appropriate. That it was reserved for men, was unclean and distasteful.
Now in the era of my body my choice, it stands to reason that it should be her choice and only her choice.
Maybe you believe that maybe you don’t. Either way, you’re here.
Which means maybe you’re wondering:
- Should she shave her legs? Her armpits?
- Is my tween ready to shave her legs?
- What if she doesn’t want to?
- What to do if she does?
I know it’s hard. I was there too.
Some of the early milestones were easier.
First steps, first tooth.
Sure they had their challenges, but those just happen. Now it seems every one of them requires a decision on our part.
Are they ready?
But the really hard part is, are we?
Now those milestones come so fast… phones, social media, dating, driving, jobs.
We not only wonder about how ready our tweens and teenagers are, we wonder how ready we are but also how
some, many come with life-altering consequences.
Thankfully, when should girls start shaving isn’t one of those…hopefully, lol.
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I remember being in 7th grade before shaving my legs. It wasn’t pretty. Nicked knees and ankles. Having to keep up with it once it got started.Of course, we all begged to start shaving. Get our first bra. What were we thinking?Another inconvenience of being a woman. Yet as I’ve said before, “still beats being a man”. Besides some boys shave too.But another milestone of puberty ushering in one more step away from being a little girl.
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Something gained. Something lost.
But my daughter is only in the 5th grade.
When I was in the 5th grade it was just another grade sandwiched in elementary school. Nothing really remarkable in terms of development.
For her it’s different. 5th grade is at the middle school. Crazy right?
She rides the bus not only with kids who for me would have been Jr. High kids, she rides with kids from the high school.
I was worried about that at first. She is super tiny and only just turned 11.
However, at this point, I’ve determined the K-4 bus was actually worse. The language and topics are adult level.
For real. I won’t even put on this blog the things they say. And I swear on here!
On this bus, she says the high school kids are all just quiet with their phones and earbuds. Cool, let’s keep it that way.
Yet, the fact that she’s in middle school kinda changes things.
Her schoolmates are older. They’re bigger. In some cases, they’re meaner.
While that shouldn’t be her problem. Unfortunately, it is. She has to see these kids every day. Use the locker room. Navigate the halls with them. And navigate the tween and teen years among them.
So while some days I think none of that matters. It does.
Kids have always looked to their peers to measure themselves. But now the measuring stick seems different.
Magazines, when we were teens, talked about makeup and hairstyles, not sex and looking hot. These teen mags read like Cosmo.
Add YouTube, Tik-Tok, Instagram, and even just tv shows that are supposed to be geared for their age. And it’s a whole new world for them. One they are thrown into much sooner, whether we like it or not.
*This post has had a few upgrades (she’s in the 9th grade now, there was no Tik-Tok when she was in 5th grade)
So what does all of this have to do with shaving her legs?
A lot actually. Do we let her shave and suddenly she’s possibly noticed as more “sexualized” than the other girls? Or do we let it go only to find her standing out as the only girl who has hairy legs?
It’s not like it’s her armpits. That would be easy. Armpit hair has to go. She doesn’t have that yet. (my personal opinion).
Is she even ready to handle a razor?
Her knife skills are okay, but … We all know it takes years of practice to get a nice shave. After 33 years of shaving, I still get into the sunlight and spot areas that didn’t come out so good. 😉
So how do you decide if she’s ready to shave?
Ask yourself these questions?
- Is her leg hair dark or light?
- Is it long and noticeable?
- Has she begun mentioning it to you?
Ask your tween these questions?
- Are other girls in her class, especially gym class, shaving?
- Has anyone commented on her leg hair?
- Does her leg hair make her uncomfortable about her body image?
Bringing up these types of topics makes many girls uncomfortable.
While I do realize that body shaming and body image issues are real.
I do believe that having conversations about real-life situations teaches all kids no matter the age that some conversations are awkward, but in the context of speaking with your family who loves you and isn’t trying to hurt you shouldn’t be problematic.
Teaching them to avoid conversations and feelings does not help them in the long run.
While no one should make her feel shameful if she doesn’t shave, and going along to fit in isn’t what we want them to do, choosing to shave or not has to be up to them.
She may shave at first just to fit in and then get more comfortable stopping when she matures a bit and can step into her own a bit more.
My daughter, now 15, shaved back in 5th grade while a cheerleader. She shaves in the summer and during volleyball but otherwise just does it here and there.
As teenagers, now, it’s so much more accepted. When I was in school, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t shave.
So when should girls start shaving?
Only if it is beginning to bother her. And only her.
If she wants to then it’s time to get out the razor.
Teaching Your Tween Girl to Shave
Get a razor, like this one, and shaving cream or gel. Gels designed for women seem to be significantly thicker and stay on better while learning. They feel better too.
While sitting on the edge of the tub, or in it if your daughter is comfortable, show her step-by-step using yourself as an example.
If you’re a single dad, you can still guide her by having her in a bathing suit or shorts on the side of the tub.
If this is overly awkward, consider asking the mom of one of her friends or a female family member.
Techniques and Tips from the shaving expert -that’s YOU!
Teenage girls should learn:
- when and how to use shave cream
- how to handle the razor safely
- cleaning and storing a razor
- cleaning up after shaving
- what to do when they cut themselves
- when to change the blade on their razor
- how to take care of their skin now that they’re shaving
- when it’s appropriate to start shaving regularly
- what to do about skin reactions like razor burn and in-grown hairs
When and How to Use Shaving Cream
- Never dry shave or use soap
- Wet skin first, warm water especially in the shower will soften hair
- Good shaving cream or gel applied liberally will help protect sensitive skin from razor burn
How to Handle a Razor Safely
- Always go against the growth of hair to prevent in-grown hair and razor burn
- Slow going is key to safety and a good shave
- Navigating around knees and ankles takes patience and practice
- Never share razors
Cleaning and Storing a Razor
- Always clean it well after shaving so it isn’t clogged with hair
- Shaving gels are particularly prone to clogging the razor
- Always dry it when done to avoid rusting
Cleaning Up After Shaving
As moms, we often see the remnants of grooming in sinks and showers. Reminding them to be respectful of others gets them in the habit of tidying up.
- Always clean up any loose hair
- Rinse the sink or shower of hair and shaving cream
What to Do When They Cut Themselves Shaving
First-time and experienced shavers alike will at some point nick themselves. It’s important to know what to do.
- Press a warm washcloth against the cut for 30 seconds, until bleeding slows or stops. Warm water will help clean the cut and slow blood loss.
- Apply a witch-hazel-based toner or other alcohol-free aftershave to disinfect the wound.
- Apply topical anti-bacterial or vaseline to keep germs out
When to Change the Blade on a Razor
- A sharp razor is less likely to cut
- After 4-5 uses a blade will become dull and are more likely to nick the skin
- Always inspect the razor before shaving, replace if it has any rust
How to Take Care of Their Skin Now that They’re Shaving
- Sharp blades and even worse dull ones can wear off the outermost layer of skin.
- Wait to moisturize for a few hours to avoid irritation.
- Never shave right before a pedicure. The pores are too open and will invite infection or irritation.
Consider sharing some of your worst shaving moments AFTER her first try.
It’s yet another moment of comradery to share in as women.
It will help her gain the confidence to know it’s not that easy and with learning, screw-ups happen.
But I definitely recommend after…you wouldn’t want to scare her out of trying. LOL
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What do you think about tweens shaving? Comment below!
Monday 15th of April 2019
Hi, why is there no turning back? Hair can become hippie like (something against hippies? Kidding, but there are of all kinds, I know :)) or bigfootish, not because of shaving but of hormones and growing up that I know, the immediate effect is because of the blunt cut. Maybe you just mean it will hardly ever come back exactly as soft as that of one who never shave, but not really noticeably so :), just a bit rougher in my experience. I say this as a boy/man who, since some time started shaving beyond the clavicle aka, some other zones of my body, like shoulders mainly, underarms. But that's completely a choice and so should be for girls I thing, I mean shaving is great if one, man or woman, likes the look, but we should let her know there's nothing wrong with her body. Some stop shaving https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/8-things-that-happened-to-my-body-after-i-stopped-shaving/ no matter how hair might become after shaving :), which is great.
Tuesday 16th of April 2019
Hi Antonymous, Yes people should do what feels right for them. No shaming here, just advice to direct parents if and when their girls are ready. For MY daughter, her leg hair is currently soft, lays down and is close to her skin color. I know that once she starts shaving it will then be thicker, more coarse and turn black against her very white skin, hence my comment of "no going back". While I don't think everyone has to go with the flow of what everyone else does, middle school can be a tough time for kids to fit in. It will be up to her to decide when she's ready. Thanks for commenting.
Monday 25th of March 2019
With so many options available in the market, it's so hard to choose one. But Thanks for the Tips/Suggestions.
Tuesday 26th of March 2019
Hi Edward, You're welcome! There really are quite a few options available to choose from for shaving needs these days.
Monday 25th of February 2019
I took the plunge the other night and shaved my daughters legs. She’s been talking about it for almost a year and her leg hair was long, dark, and noticeable. Plus, kids can be a holes. SO, I did it. I used an electric shaver instead of a bladed one. That freaks me out! Plus, she’s only 10! But, since I did it I know we have to continue. Do I stick with the electric shaver or do I buy her some sensitive skin hair or do I just buy a razor and hope for the best?!
Tuesday 26th of February 2019
Hi Blair, That's a good question. I never thought about using an electric shaver. That's a great way to get them used to shaving to start. If it worked well, why not stick with it for now. Because like you said, kids are most def a holes. And with only being 10 she can try it and get used to having a routine for herself and transition to a regular razor later. As for the nair, you'd also have to wait for it to get long again since it only works on longer hair, but if you go that route, now's the time since it's winter. Thanks for commenting :)
Tuesday 11th of December 2018
Hey Harold, Thanks, glad you liked it.
Wednesday 24th of October 2018
Oh this struck a nerve! My daughter is 10 and already worried about her leg hair... She doesn't start secondary school until next year, but I'm sure she may start her period early, on top of everything else!
Thursday 25th of October 2018
Hi Ritu, It starts so early! We still haven't taken the plunge on shaving yet, but we talk about it frequently. It's about to be winter so we're putting it off a bit longer, lol. You never know when she'll start...Be sure to read How to Make Her an Awesome First Period Survival Kit so you can be ready. Thanks for commenting 😊