Guest Post: Dr. Laura Burkhart

How old should my daughter be before she starts shaving? It’s a question that many parents have, but hard to find answers too.

This can be a tough decision to make, but its good to have an open and honest conversation with your daughter. There really isn’t a specific age at which girls should start shaving. It is a personal decision dependent on your family’s cultural and personal beliefs. In our American society, girls can start going through puberty as young as 8 or 9. The normal increase in hormones causes the hair underarms and in the pubic region to grow longer and darker which can often lead to feeling self-conscious around peers.

There are several methods of permanent and temporary hair removal, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. We will go through a few of the most popular.

Shaving: The most popular by far and probably the way most people think of hair removal. Shaving is a temporary method that involves both electric and manual razors and the use of either a shaving gel or soap. Most parents and health care providers agree that it is important to make sure your daughter is old enough to safely use a razor before allowing them to start. Advantages to shaving are that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Disadvantages can be that if your not careful, razor cuts and nicks can easily happen, although this can be partly avoided with a good shower gel or cream. Also, hair can grow back 1-3 days later.

Waxing: Most people have heard of waxing which is a temporary technique where hot wax is spread across the skin and ripped off by a cotton strip. Waxing can be done by a professional or at home using a kit. Advantages of waxing are that it not only removes hair but also removes dead skin like exfoliation does. Removal lasts longer than shaving and most people take 3-6 weeks before hair starts growing back. Disadvantages are that can be painful and leave the skin a bit irritated depending on how your body reacts to the wax. Ingrown hairs can be a nuisance with this method, so a good exfoliating routine is key. For teenagers, waxing at home can be tricky especially when trying to get the temperature of the wax right without burning. So if this is a method your daughter and you are considering, it might be better to go a professional first.

Sugaring: This is a similar technique of hair removal to waxing but uses sugaring paste, which is made out of mostly sugar and water. Advantages are that the paste is body temperature, so it avoids potential burning. It has a similar length of time to waxing, with most people having hair regrowth in 3-6 weeks. Disadvantages are that you have to go to a professional, which can be costly and it can be painful for some. Similar to waxing, you can have some ingrown hairs which can be largely be prevented with good exfoliating.

Depilatories: This is a cream or lotion that removes hair from the surface by dissolving the hair and wiping it away. The advantages are that depilatories are relatively inexpensive and available at local drugstores. Some of the disadvantages are that some people with sensitive skin might react to the chemicals as either an allergic reaction or a rash. Hair regrowth is seen in several days to 2 weeks.

Electrolysis: This method involves a professional using a probe in the hair follicle to destroy it. Advantages are that it can have permanent removal for some. Disadvantages are that it is costly and painful. There can also be irritation after the procedure and risk of infection if the equipment isn’t cleaned properly.

Talk to your doctor and see if your teen is on any medications that might make her skin more sensitive as this might affect the method you choose.

So if your daughter is asking about hair removal, don’t freak out! It’s good to have all the information before deciding on a method

Check out Teens Health at Seattle Children’s website for more in-depth information.

Talk with your teen about why she is thinking about it and remember that it is a personal choice that no one should feel pressured into. Many cultures keep body hair as a sign of beauty, so it’s important that you let her know everyone is different and to do what is right for her!