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People have been removing unwanted hair for as long as they have been making records of themselves. Cave paintings at Lascaux show obviously grown men with no- or short beards. Stone razors with wooden or bone handles have been excavated and carbon dated from the Neolithic period.

In Egypt, 7,000 years ago, upper class men shaved their faces and heads. Razors and tweezers, along with instructions for their use have been excavated from mastabas dating from 4,000BCE. Finely worked obsidian blades were used in Mesopotamia in 3,000BCE, and in Sumeria in 2,800BCE.

Today, 92 percent of North American women (13 years and over) routinely shave their legs. Hardly any did in the 1920s, when  the practice was often associated with chorus line dancers. Both men and women considered it somewhat immoral and risqué.

During World War II, part of the Women's Effort was to make clothes out of less fabric. One result of this was that skirts became much shorter than people were used to. Another part of the Women's War Effort was to always look as beautiful as possible, to keep up the morale of the entire country. At the same time, stockings became very difficult to find, leaving women with the bare skin of their legs showing in public for the first time in their lives. 

During this time, Gillette launched an advertising campaign, telling women that a good way to look beautiful was to "smooth" (women didn't shave, then, they smoothed) away the hair from their underarms and legs.

Many women began routinely shaving at that point. Even during the 1950s, when skirts became much longer again many, if not most North American women continued to shave their legs on a daily basis.

An article printed in the Journal of American Culture in 1982, "Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture," argued that "superfluous" body hair had come to be considered offensive, often smelly, and "defective in character"

Now, if you would like to shave your legs, here is a quick how to for your edification.

My personal choice is to use a Gillette Mach III men's semi disposable razor with hair conditioner.

I chose the Mach III because it looks nice and does the job I want, and the hair conditioner because it is milder than soap and because I always have plenty in my bathroom.

Run the bath with water of the temperature you desire Check your razor is ready for use,   ie. check the sharpness of the blade and replace or sharpen it if it is not very sharp. Put your razor, face cloth and your wetting agent on the edge of the bathtub.

Get in. Relax for a few minutes. Pretend to yourself you are letting the hairs absorb the nice hot water. Live a little.

Now sit with your back against one end of the bath. Put your the heel of the leg you wish to start with on the edge of the bath so that your entire lower leg is out of the water. Pour a small amount of wetting agent into the palm of your clever hand. Smooth the wetting agent over your entire calf and shin from ankle to the lower half of your knee cap.

Remember: It is quite easy to cut yourself along your shin bone and around your ankles if you do not take care.

Rinse your hand thoroughly. Dry it with the facecloth. Pick up your razor and, starting at the ankle*, make a slow, smooth, even stroke up the length of your leg. Lift the razor and wash the hair off in the water. Repeat. Be sure to go from the bottom of the leg upward - this ensures you cut the hair off as close to the surface as possible, eliminating stubble

Lower your first leg into the water. Swoosh water over and around it, to rinse off any loose hairs. Lift it out again and check for missed hair - there will be some. It is easy to miss hair growing around your ankle, at the very back of your calf and around your knee-cap.

Reapply your wetting agent. Use the razor on the missed spots. Rinse again

Now change legs and start over.

When you have finished removing hair from both lower legs, pull the plug, stand up, and turn the shower on, washing all the little yucky bits that were sitting in the water away.

Get out of the bath and pat your legs dry - rubbing them would be very irritating.

If you wish to, put an aftershave lotion on your legs.

Dry shaving is far quicker than wet, but you are likely to have results which are not as good.

You will need

If you have chosen newspaper, spread it out underneath your chair. Put your foot in the place you have chosen for it. Pick up your razor and, starting at the ankle*, make a slow, smooth, even stroke up the length of your leg. Tap the hair out of the razor onto the newspaper of floor after each stroke. Remember that it is quite easy to cut yourself along your shin bone and around your ankles if you do not take care and that it is easy to miss hair growing around your ankle, at the very back of your calf and around your knee-cap.

Repeat on the second leg.

Stand up and brush yourself off onto the newspaper or floor.

Apply the moisturiser to all the skin the razor has passed over.

Either pick up and throw away the newspaper or vacuum the floor.

It has been brought to my attention that shaving advice written for men often says to shave with the hair growth, rather than against it - ie down the keg - in order to minimise skin irritation.

http://www.nd.edu/~ndmag/cohn2f96.html
http://www.heart.net/~krumholz/history.html
http://www.goatfish.net/~goat/hair.html

Sensual Leg Shaving Explained

The unassailable Ms. T has provided us with an admirable introduction to the practice of leg shaving.  As always, her writing is well researched, poignant and draws on a wealth of personal experience in the field.  That said, I thought that it might be useful to expand on one component of leg shaving that is lightly touched upon, and which I feel is rather extraordinary.  To wit the almost orgasmic sensual pleasure that some women experience during the course of sensual leg shaving!

I've had the honor of experiencing the Sensual Leg Shaving phenomenon at close hand on several occasions in the course of my life, and since it involves a level of intimacy that many men never experience with a woman, I feel compelled to comment on it for the sake of posterity.  

Let me say by the way of introduction, that not all women are capable of experiencing Sensual Leg Shaving, and that most of those that do, don't experience it every time they shave.  For some women however, some of the time, the pleasure of a long soaky bubble bath followed by a nice leisurely leg scraping is more fun than sex.   And a whole lot less messy as well.

It's also worth pointing out that the onset of leg shaving ecstasy has only been observed in women who have the luxury of a warm bath, the appropriate "wetting agent," and a sharp razor.  If, in attempting to explore this yourself, you encounter a woman in the midst of Dry shaving, back away slowly, keeping your eyes on the floor until you are out of sight.  Dry shaving is not the same thing at all.

As mentioned above, the optimal conditions for sensual leg shaving generally include a hot bath and a sharp blade.  Other useful conditions may include some Neil Diamond music, and a large pitcher of her favorite umbrella drink (Margarita, Pina Colada, Dark & Stormy etc.).  The temperature of the bathroom is important as well, it should be warm enough to comfortably allow her to remove her clothes, but not so hot as to cause the onset of perspiration.  Women shouldn't sweat, they should glow.

Of course, at this point a critical question arises; how, under these salutary conditions, can a man arrange to be present, if only as an observer.  This is a difficult and subtle question with no single correct answer.  As I mentioned above, I've been privileged on more than one occasion to be allowed to observe a sensual leg shaving, but I can't reliably offer up any formula for the magic except perhaps to note that I've never been "with" a woman for less than five years, and I've been married for over twenty years now.  It's a little speculative, but I'd posit a guess that a deep level of intimacy is involved somehow.  In addition, and this may be capable of being rectified, part of the problem may be that most men don't know to ask their women to let them watch a good sensuous leg shaving.  In leg shaving as in love, if you don't ask, you're probably not going to receive.

So how does a sensual leg shaving proceed?  Well, the general format is as Ms. T has described, warm bath, Mach III, wetting agent, leg hairs absorbing the fat warm vibe of the tub and  the "live a little ," concept hanging like a moist cumulus cloud over the scene.  The pitcher of umbrella drink should be about half empty, and Neil Diamond or some other male-singer-with-a-cute-butt singing about how much he loves her or someone just like her, et cetera.  If she leans her head back on the little shelf at the back of the tub and issues a long sigh with her eyes closed, things are looking good.  Your job as a privileged observer at this point is to keep her glass full and otherwise remain quiet.  She'll start talking when she's ready to.

Once the conversation begins again, keep it light and don't pick any fights.  This is not the time to ask about the dent in the car, or even wonder aloud what's for dinner.  Chit chat and low level gossip are always good, but let her lead the conversation.  You'll find that as she begins to talk again, she will almost autonomically begin to make the preparations for leg shaving.  This is a crucial moment,  if you become too observant and start asking rude questions, all is lost.  Use your peripheral vision, and pretend to fuss with topping off her drink again to pass the time.  What you are about to experience is fascinating, and you may have a hard time maintaining your composure.  Other parts of you may be hard as well, this is a sensual leg shaving after all. 

The detached and objective professionalism with which most women treat leg shaving comes as somewhat of a shock to most men.  After all, to see the very same legs that have roused your hormones into a near froth of testosterone madness be treated so cavalierly is surprising in itself, but to see the flash of surgically sharp steel following every subtle nook and cranny of a shapely female limb rouses all sorts of deep and probably best unelucidated male emotions.  In short, it's a real turn on, so brace yourself.  

The shaving part takes a long time, even though the individual strokes are as quick and clinical as a surgeon stitching up a wound.  During this period, she may not appear to be experiencing the same level of pleasure that you are.  Do not fear, she is getting the benefit and self satisfaction of a job done well, and the best is yet to come.  

Once she has finished, be sure that her glass is filled, and the music is playing, and the bath is still warm, and the cat has been chased off of the sink.  Now stop talking and perhaps even leave the room for a few seconds while she sinks deeply into the warm water of the bath, closes her eyes and lets fly with the sweetest little sighing sound ever heard.  If you recall the lyrical serenity of the Forest God in Princess Mononoke, you'll get some inkling of this special moment.  This part feels so good that she may bite her own lip gently, roll her head back and, generally melt with pleasure like a pool of girl Jell-O.  If she suddenly begins to flush and look embarrassed or shy, well, you can probably guess what just happened!

And that's all I've got to say on that subject.

In Hippie's node Why don't men shave?, she brought up several points about the burden women go through shaving their legs. Sure, some men do it for aerodynamics and biking. While these men may have mad shaving skills, the thought that struck me was that most men (me included) had no clue how to do it. Much for the same reason as not asking for directions while driving, we avoid shaving because we just do not know how. Call me crazy, but I decided to take one for the team and figure it out first hand. Then I would display my results, as well as instructions from the pros.

What went down


With absolutely no experience, I decided to just choose 'logical' methods to go about this. My legs were pretty hairy to begin with, so the process was very time-consuming. I grabbed my Mach 3 razor and hopped in the shower. If there's anything I've learned from shaving my face, dry skin becomes razor-burned skin.

I chose the logical method of going with the grain of my hairs. I figured this was a wise move, because the hairs would not grow inside the skin (ouch). My strokes were short, as a minor flick of the wrist would clog my razor head.

On my right knee, the blade caught just wrong, and the blood seemed to flow endlessly. My knees are bony, so even at the slow (and careful) pace I worked at, the blade showed its deadly character.

I used a can of Barbasol shaving cream, because it was simply what I had to work with. I didn't spread it liberally, as the can was close to empty.

Later that day


As sexy as it felt to put on jeans, school was a nightmare. It was exhilirating moving at times, as it felt like a million fingers rubbing my legs. But my jeans were non-cooperative with this change for most of the day, resulting in a really mean itch.

Enlightenment


My female friends were quite surprised that I had shaved my legs for this simple experiment, and more that I only had one cut to show for my first outing. However, they pointed out the (several) flaws in my job.

The first mistake was going with the grain. You are supposed to make an upward motion with the blade, not downward. It reduces razor-burn, and leaves a better smoothness.

I had the right idea in going in the shower. NEVER (her emphasis) shave dry. But I made the flaw in using a foam while shaving. They recommended that I should use a gel shaving lotion. Or (for the cheap college crowd) you can also use hair conditioner.

They told me that to keep the nice smoothness, you should try to shave twice a week. Also, it is important that you use a sharp blade!

Afterthoughts


My girlfriend (yes, all men can do it, including Joe Straight-Guy) really likes my smooth legs, and that I can relate to the experience ("yeah, the patience required is immense"). I like slipping into pants with interesting fibers, as my legs are feeling new sensations that were normally muted by hair. I think the only problem in the long run will be wearing shorts and swimsuits. Oh well, I guess I'll take comfort in that I'm loved anyway.

So men, as I have now given you all you need to know after careful and scientific testing, there is no excuse not to shave your legs.

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