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How to Shave Your Back: An Illustrated Guide
Back hair can be an embarrassing issue for hairy guys. Learn how to shave your back all by yourself and achieve a smooth, hair-free back that’s summer-ready.
When it comes to body hair, everyone has their own opinion of what they think is attractive or unattractive on a guy. On the specific topic of back hair, virtually everyone can agree: It isn’t a sexy look.
With summer just around the corner, guys everywhere will soon be taking off their shirts and hitting the beach. If you don’t want multiple people reporting a Sasquatch sighting while you’re on vacation, now is the best time to do something about your out-of-control back hair.
While there are several ways to go about removing unwanted back hair, shaving is one of the least expensive—not to mention, least painful—ways to achieve a smooth, hairless back. Once you get the hang of shaving your back, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start shaving it sooner. If you’re finally ready to do something about your hairy back, this guide will help you do exactly that.
Here are several things you should know about shaving your back:
- While shaving your back with a partner may be easier, doing it yourself is a much less embarrassing option.
- Depending on how much back hair you have, the first time you shave your back may be the most difficult.
- Always remember to use a sharp, clean razor and to moisturize your back to avoid post-shave irritation.
Step One: Get the Right Tools
Let’s face it, asking someone to shave your back is awkward. No matter what relationship you have with your girlfriend, wife, brother or best friend, we can almost guarantee that none of them want to be given the unpleasant task of shaving your back.
Fortunately, they no longer need to. The men’s grooming industry has improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade, providing regular guys with the advanced tools and products they need to finally take charge of their grooming regimens.
In other words, you don’t need anyone to shave your back for you. With the following tools, you can get rid of back hair all on your own, without anyone being the wiser.
- Back Shaver (Razor Blade): A back shaver isn’t your everyday razor blade. Most back shavers look a lot like a fancy backscratcher and are designed to help guys to shave their backs without assistance—no professionals or partners required.
- Electric Back Hair Shaver (Optional): If your back hair is super thick and coarse, you may need to trim it first. The best way to do this is by using an electric back shaver that has the ability to extend so you can reach your back.
- Exfoliating Product: Exfoliating is key to achieving a close shave and preventing painful, ingrown hairs. There are two ways to exfoliate before shaving: a gentle body scrub or a skin care product containing beta-hydroxy acids (more on this below).
- Loofah: A gentle loofah will help you work your exfoliating product into your back.
- Back Lotion Applicator: A back lotion applicator does exactly what it sounds like. With a long reach handle and a sponge-tipped end, back lotion applicators make it easy to apply lotion to your back. If you want to go full-MacGyver by using a kitchen spatula to apply your lotions and shave creams, that might work just as well.
- Shave Cream or Pre-Shave Oil: Although many back shavers are designed to be used dry or wet, we recommend using your back lotion applicator to apply a shave cream or a pre-shave oil to achieve a smooth, blemish-free shave.
Step Two: Trim Your Back Hair
If you’re an extremely hairy guy, you’ll probably need to trim your back hair before you use a razor blade. Attempting to shave long and thick back hair with a tiny razor blade will only clog the blade with hair.
Using a razor on thick, coarse hair can also make your skin irritated from shaving the same spot repeatedly. Trading your hairy back for one that’s covered in red, angry bumps isn’t a whole lot better if you ask us.
Instead, tackle the worst of your back hair with an electric back hair shaver. There are several back hair shavers on the market that feature extendable handles and wide clipper heads for you to achieve smooth shave results.
Step Three: Take a Lukewarm Shower
Once your back hair has been trimmed, your next step is to take a lukewarm shower. The temperature of the water is important for your skin health, so don’t shrug this part off by taking a scorching hot shower.
As much as we all enjoy a hot, relaxing shower, high water temperatures can strip the natural oil from the skin barrier, leaving it dry and irritated. Lukewarm water, on the other hand, is just warm enough to open your pores without drying out the skin.
Showering in lukewarm water will also soften your skin and back hair to minimize micro-cuts caused by your back razor. To allow pores to open fully, spend at least five minutes in your warm shower. This will ensure that your skin is prepped for the next step in the back shaving process.
Step Four: Exfoliate
Exfoliating before shaving is essential to getting a smooth shave. Regular exfoliation helps remove the buildup of dead skin cells and dirt, which can clog your razor blade and cause razor bumps and redness.
There are two ways you can exfoliate before you shave. One is not necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the needs of your skin.
Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Some scrubs can cause irritation when combined with shaving. If you have sensitive skin, consider using your loofah to rub in a skin care product containing a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), such as Salicylic Acid (SA). Known for its powerful, acne-fighting abilities, Salicylic Acid gently exfoliates the skin by loosening up the “glue” that bonds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin.
As an added bonus, Salicylic Acid can also help your bacne (back + acne). In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers compared the effects of Salicylic Acid and Pyruvic Acid and found that SA was more effective at penetrating the skin barrier and reducing oil from the skin (see claim: “A greater therapeutic effect was observed following 30% salicylic peel, which may be associated with…easier penetration through the lipid barriers of the epidermis.”)
How to Apply:
Simply use your loofah to wash your back with a body wash or gel that contains a beta-hydroxy acid and rinse off. Also, remember to clean your loofah regularly. A 1994 study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that natural loofahs are a breeding ground for bacteria (see claim: “Our data show growth enhancement of sterile loofah fragments for numerous gram-negative (Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas, and Klebsiella) and gram-positive (Enterococcus and group B Streptococcus) species…”)
If you use a face scrub product, then you’ll likely be familiar with this method of exfoliation. The only difference is that you need to use a body scrub for your back, as opposed to a product formulated for your face.
How to Apply:
Take your body scrub and squirt a nickel-sized amount into your loofah. With your dominant hand holding the loofah, reach over your shoulder and begin gently rubbing the loofah on your skin in circular motions.
Get as much of your back as you possibly can by switching the loofah to your other hand and finding different angles. Once you’ve gently scrubbed your back, step into your shower’s direct line of water to wash off the remaining scrub. Step out of the shower and pat your body dry before moving on to the next step.
Step Five: Apply Shave Cream and/or Pre-Shave Oil
A good shave cream or pre-shave oil can make or break your shave. Both products will help hydrate your hair follicles, soothe your skin and allow the razor blade to glide effortlessly.
This step is where your back lotion applicator will come in handy. Will you feel silly buying it? Perhaps. Is it worth it? Absolutely, and here’s why: Besides helping you apply shaving products and moisturizers, a back lotion applicator can be used to help you apply sunscreen as well.
We’d say that reducing your risk of skin cancer is well worth the initial embarrassment and the $5 you’ll spend on a back lotion applicator.
If you often struggle with red, irritated skin after shaving, it’s not a bad idea to apply both pre-shave oil and a shave cream. However, if you’re struggling to use your back lotion applicator, you may find it easier to stick to pre-shave oil.
Pre-shave oils usually contain hydrating oils such as coconut, almond and jojoba oil. While you might get sticker shock from some of the higher-priced pre-shave oils, they often outperform the cheaper varieties due to their high-quality ingredients.
How to Apply:
Once you’re out of the shower and skin is relatively dry, apply 7-10 drops of pre-shave oil to your back lotion applicator. Take the applicator and reach over your shoulder to work your pre-shave oil into your back, massaging the area for 20-30 seconds.
Wait a couple of minutes before applying shave cream on top of your pre-shave oil. This will allow your pre-shave oil to sink into your skin.
When choosing a shave cream, look for nourishing and hydrating ingredients that will help counteract the drying effects of shaving. For example, shave creams containing ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Cucumber and Willow Bark Extract can calm irritation and help heal micro-cuts in the skin caused by your razor.
Another ingredient to look for in a shave cream is Glycerin, which is known for its impressive moisturizing abilities. In a 2001 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Glycerin was shown to improve skin barrier function and increase hydration (see claim: “…20% glycerin significantly increased skin corneometer values, indicating an increased hydration.”)
How to Apply:
After you’ve applied pre-shave oil to your back, your shaving cream is ready to go. Apply your shave cream to your back lotion applicator and try your best to cover the area.
If you can’t spread it evenly, don’t worry about it. Your pre-shave oil will likely cover the areas you missed.
Step Six: Shave Back Hair with a Back Shaver
Finally, it’s time to shave your back. You’ve made it this far entirely on your own, so shaving your back by yourself shouldn’t be too intimidating.
This is especially true if you have the right back shaver for the job. Back shavers such as BakBlade make shaving your back incredibly easy to do without a partner.
How to Use:
While your method may differ depending on the specific model of your back shaver, most operate in the same fashion. Unfold your back shaver and lock it into place.
Take your back shaver in your dominant hand, reaching across the front of your body to access the opposite side of your back. Shave your entire side horizontally, pulling the back shaver towards you with each stroke. Hold the back shaver with the opposite hand and repeat on the other side.
Finally, transfer your shaver back to your dominant hand and reach over your shoulder to get the upper part of your back. Once you’ve finished shaving your back, gently wipe away any remaining shave cream with a towel.
Unless you have a partner to help you, shaving with the grain will likely be impossible for most of your back, so don’t stress over it. Most back shavers are designed with this in mind and are fairly forgiving in this regard.
Step Seven: Moisturize Your Skin
After shaving your back, you’re not quite finished yet. The final step is to moisturize your back to seal in hydration and minimize any irritation from shaving.
While your pre-shave oil and shave cream can help restore hydration to the skin, they are mostly wiped away when you shave. A good body lotion is packed with antioxidants and soothing ingredients that lock in moisture for all-day protection and hydration.
How to Apply:
By now, you’re probably a pro at using your back lotion applicator. To apply your body lotion to your back, use the same technique you used to apply your pre-shave oil and shave cream. Gently massage your lotion into the skin and give it a few minutes to sink in before putting on your shirt.
You now have a freshly shaved back that is summer-ready. Best of all, no one had to help you complete this unsexy task. You did it all by yourself.
Now, you can focus on maintaining your back hair as part of your regular grooming routine. Before you show off your hair-free back to the world, remember to apply sunscreen on top of your moisturizer. After that, you should be ready to go shirtless at the pool, the beach or whatever outdoor adventure you have in store.