Experts cut to the heart of one big puberty question: “When should you let your child start shaving?”

By Kyleigh Leddy
Updated August 06, 2020

It's a question all parents ask at some point: When should boys and girls start shaving? We spoke with experts to break down the basics.

Get the timing down.

There is no set age for boys and girls to start shaving. Depending on genetics, personal preference, and a multitude of other cultural and physical factors, tweens vary. However, during puberty, the quality of hair generally changes, becoming coarser, thicker, and more noticeable. As this happens, you may find your kid becoming self-conscious and asking questions about hair removal. This is a good time to begin broaching some open conversations.

Ease into the subject gently.

As a general rule, it’s best to wait until your tween brings up wanting to shave before you make any suggestions. If you’re worried they may be bullied because of excess body or facial hair, you can subtly and kindly suggest the idea. Otherwise, they’ll come to you when they’re ready. With the sensitive subject of physical appearance, it’s essential that your kid first and foremost feels loved and supported rather than embarrassed or self-conscious. And when they do ask about shaving, be receptive to helping. Try relating your own personal experiences, saying something like, “I remember the first time I shaved. I was so nervous.” Explaining your hesitations, mistakes, or fears will make them feel less alone about their own.

Ask questions.

If you think your kid is too young to start shaving, ask them why they want to. Your tween may think of shaving as a rite of passage, but it’s not something they really want to do. Frankly discussing the unnecessary societal pressures can be reassuring and help your kid reflect on how best to go about their decision. Or they could be struggling with deeper insecurities, and talking about shaving can segue into a larger chat about their feelings. At the same time, keep in mind that if you simply tell your tween no, they may go behind your back and be less inclined to turn to you in the future.

Understand the challenges of their age.

The tween years are riddled with self-doubt, identity concerns, and peer pressure. If hair removal helps your kid gain more confidence, it’s best to take a step back and let them make their own choices. Their body is changing in many ways right now, and these changes may be embarrassing or even intimidating. As long as you review proper technique and remind them that there’s nothing wrong with body hair, shaving can help your tween gain a sense of control and independence. Also be sure to discuss basic safety tips, such as avoiding nicks and cuts, using shaving gel, changing the blade frequently, and moving the razor in the direction that the hair is growing in to prevent ingrown hairs.

Sources: Parents advisor Jody Alpert Levine, M.D., director of dermatology at Plastic Surgery & Dermatology, in New York City; Cara Natterson, M.D., founder of Worry Proof Consulting and author of the Care & Keeping of You series.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's September 2020 issue as “How to Talk Honestly About Shaving.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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