What’s the Right Age to Start Shaving Your Legs?
Like most people, I remember my first kiss. But I just happen remember the first time I shaved my legs better. I was in seventh grade, and my mom had forbidden me to do it until I was “older,” which was code for “more coordinated.” She was worried I couldn’t handle a razor.
Needless to say, I didn’t listen. I thought hairless legs would finally make me beautiful. Besides, how bad could a nick be? So one day, home alone after school, I went for it. Initially, I rubbed my calves with the handle end of the razor—a very bad sign, in hindsight. And soon after, I cut myself badly enough that I almost fainted. To add insult to (literal) injury, I called the guy I had a crush on for comfort afterward—one of many reasons we never dated.
This is all to say that leg hair can be a powerful motivator, and that removing leg hair, whether you’re shaving or waxing, can be painful (emotionally as well as physically). So how do you know when to start shaving your legs? Below, we gathered perspectives from women of all ages, including a teen, a guidance counselor, and a mom.
Is Your Kid Ready?
Some questions to consider before you hand over the razor.
Does your kid feel awkward about her leg hair?
Some kids may want to start shaving their legs to feel more grown up, but others may be feeling self-conscious about their changing bodies. “If your legs are super, super hairy and you're very self-conscious about it, then maybe you should [start shaving],” said guidance counselor and mom Lora Alexander-Flaherty.
Lauren Pedecone, a middle-school English teacher and mom, agreed. In fact, most of our interviewees agreed that while it’s important for kids to love their bodies, they don’t have to love their leg hair, especially during middle school, which can be a particularly awkward time.
Is her leg hair often on display?
Lifestyle can be an important factor to consider when deciding if it’s time to start shaving. “If she plays sports or often has bare legs, then [leg hair] may be more noticeable,” Lauren said. Kids who live in warm climates may find it practical to start earlier, as will those who are into activities like cheerleading or gymnastics.
Is shaving the best option for her needs?
Nataliya Dilay, the waxing specialist at Salon Envy in Chicago, recommends waxing instead of shaving for vacations and other short periods of bare-leg time. Waxing may be more expensive than shaving, but it requires less upkeep, which may be appropriate for a young woman who’s not ready to commit to shaving every day or every other day.
Does your kid know how to shave properly?
Regardless of age, most children will need to be shown how to use a razor safely, but they may also need some advice on choosing the right razor. editor Lisa Farver started shaving her legs at 14 because her classmates were teasing her “all the time.” And for a while, she shaved on the sly with her dad’s razor. “He was not happy about that,” she said.
It’s also important that kids know the right products to use for skincare, both during and after shaving. Nataliya prefers shaving cream over soap and recommends “exfoliation when your hair starts growing back to prevent ingrown hair.”
Does she know that not shaving her legs is an option, too?
When Lisa thinks back to her first time shaving, she wishes she had understood “how little shaving your legs has to do with becoming a ‘grownup’ or becoming a ‘woman’ or feeling ‘beautiful.’”
“Maybe share with your child that there are plenty of women who don't shave their legs and armpits,” she said. “[Today] I have more leg hair and armpit hair than a lot of the men I know, and I feel much more secure in myself than I did when I was 14.”
So What’s the Right Age to Start Shaving?
Lauren recommends starting in middle school—ages 12, 13, or 14. “Kids start to worry and pay attention to the social aspects of their lives much more at this age.”
High-school senior Lily Binkus thinks between 12 and 14 is ideal. “But if it can be put off, I would put it off for as long as possible.”
Lora recommends 15 or 16, while getting ready for a special occasion, like a dance. Although she notes that another great time to start is “never!”
Nataliya’s daughter start shaving around 14. It’s an age when other kids are awkward enough to point out your hair. “Someone can be like, ‘Oh, your legs are hairy,’” she said.
Photo illustration by Mark Mills, Groupon
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