Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Medical Shave


Dear Reader

Pardon me for choosing a very mundane topic this time. But someone actually asked me this question: How does a dermatologist shave? 

Since dermatologists are humans and are unlikely to be different from the 7 billion others we have on the planet, I transformed the question into a more acceptable form.

Is there a medical way of shaving?

Shaving
Shaving (Photo credit: Improbable Roach)
I must admit that I never considered a medical shave though I have worked on ‘Medical Facials’, a term the cosmetic dermatology (industry) introduced into the forefront through the back door. Since dermatologist deals with the skin and the hair, the two fundamental components of a shave, I decided to introduce the uninitiated to the art of good ‘medical’ shave!

But before I start, I think I should mention two disclaimers: Since the medical shave involves using pharmaceutical products, please consult your physician to decide whether my medical shave suits your skin. Second, if you are a barber or a cosmetic tycoon thinking of stealing this idea, beware. Creative commons, attribution license apply!

Safety Razor Set - A safety razor, shaving bru...
Safety Razor Set - A safety razor, shaving brush, and mug with shaving soap. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The basics first (Yes, this guide is for professionals and novices): You need access to hot and cold water, good lighting, a decent shaving blade, disinfectants, shaving form, brush, a toner containing salicylic acid, after shave and if possible a steamer. Now you need to procure two things that are not immediately apparent. An exfoliating cream containing alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) at a concentration of 10 to 20%. (Don’t worry, It is not as bad as the sulphuric acid from chemistry lab). You may also need a 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide gel. Check with your spouse, before you approach the chemist. You may find these in your house.

Half an hour before the anticipated shave, apply the AHA cream to the area. This will basically detach dead cell accumulation around hair follicles. Just before the shave, use steam or hot water to soften the hair. Put the shaving blade in warm water with some disinfectant. Apply shaving foam and use the brush in short circular motion. This will not only spread the foam better, but also keep the hair straight and decrease the chances of ingrowth. Keep the shaving foam for at least 10 minutes before you shave to soften the hair properly. You may do other things like brushing your teeth during this time.

Illustration from Shaving Made Easy. How to sh...
Illustration from Shaving Made Easy. How to shave the left side. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Shave in the direction of hair growth in a single uniform action avoiding undue pressure. Multiple passes increases skin irritation and chances of ingrowth. Twin / multiple blade systems offer little advantage. After the shave, wash with cold water or ice to close open pores and to reduce inflammation. Use a salicylic acid containing toner to cleanse and close the pores. Salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory. Apply aftershave only on the neck and under-chin. These are the areas where cuts commonly occur. After-shave will be a good antiseptic to prevent infection. But it is not advisable to use it on the other areas of the face since most of the aftershaves contain photosensitizers that make your skin dull on sun exposure. Use the 2.5% Benzyl peroxide gel after the shave if you have a tendency to get razor bumps.

So that is my ‘Medical Shave’ for you. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want a demonstration video, post a request on my youtube channel here.