IF and how you choose to get rid of your body hair is entirely up to you.
But if a razor is your tool of choice, chances are you're hanging onto yours for WAY too long.
Reusing the handy little blades for months on end until they get blunt and rusty can actually have some pretty grim consequences, according to dermatologist and Dove expert, Dr Cristina Soma.
The expert said most people cling on to their razors for much longer than health experts recommend.
Dr Soma's advice on the matter might surprise you: she recommended you switch yours out every five to seven shaves.
Yep, she said shaves – not months.
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The dermatologist added: “The frequency of change also depends on other factors, such as how frequently and how many areas you shave, your hair thickness and type, the quality of your blade, and whether you are good at washing it off afterwards and looking after your blade.”
Most of our razors are clogged up with skin cells, soap and hair debris, with the blades starting to go rusty.
Though the blades are dull and coated in grime, you're actually more likely to cut yourself than with a new one, according to Dr Soma – and you're less likely to get a smooth close shave.
The bacteria accumulating on your razor over time can also have some nasty consequences.
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“Using a dull razor blade can result in shaving rash and bumps, ingrown hairs, and inflamed or traumatised skin. More seriously, it can result in cuts and possibly lead to infections,” the dermatologist said.
Dr Soma said using old razors can result in any number of infections.
The bacteria growing on your blade can also result in skin irritation in your underarms, or anywhere else you're choosing to shave, such as your pubic region or legs.
“The most common form of infection would be a bacterial skin infection, with symptoms including redness, swelling, pain or pus," the dermatologist explained.
Pretty grim, right?
She said this would be treated with an antibiotic ointment.
2. Ingrown hairs
According to Dr Tim Clayton, consultant dermatologist at Pall Mall Medical in Manchester, your razor should normally glide over your hair.
If you feel some resistance and tugging, this probably means its blunted and it could cause skin irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs.
These in turn can lead to bacterial infections, hyperpigmentation and a type of raised scar called a keloid.
If you see bits of rust starting to creep across your blade, it's high time you stop using it, Dr Clayton warned.
The bacteria on rusty razors could actually cause tetanus, a serious and life threatening infection.
Aside from switching out your blade when you notice orange bits on it, it's also a good idea to keep on top of your tetanus jabs to avoid getting ill, the dermatologist advised.
How to go about shaving safely
Dr Soma said: “To really care for your underarms, you need to change your razor frequently, use a shaving cream or gel, shave in the direction of hair growth and rinse the blade thoroughly, then store it in a clean, dry place.
“Furthermore, the underarm area is very delicate, so take care in choosing a deodorant that supports the skin barrier."
And if you're worried about the cost of changing your razor so frequently, the dermatologist advised thinking about your relationship with body hair.
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“There is no hygiene benefit to shaving your body hair. What you choose to do is completely up to you,” says Soma.
“Increasingly, we are seeing more acceptance and diversity in what people do with their hair, and from a medical standpoint, as long as you’re doing it in a hygienic and safe way, carry on.”
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