Hair removal for pre-teen children
The appearance of body hair, under the arms, on the legs and in the pubic area, is one of the first signs of puberty. Some kids may have body hair as young as seven or eight.
But what does a parent do? The dilemma described time and again on the Mumsnet Talk boards is that if pre-teens do have body hair and want to remove it, it's usually because they're being teased about it at school - or they're worried that they soon will be.
And however feminist-minded you are, and however much we all know that body hair is natural and not something to worry about, we also know how important for our children not to feel 'different'.
So, try to see things from your child's point of view. What it comes down to is that if it's bothering her (and it usually is girls in this situation) then you need to address it. A brisk "it doesn't matter" probably isn't the right response.
By the same token, Mumsnetters generally agree that if body hair isn't bothering your child, the best thing is to ignore it unless they raise it as an issue.
So don't rush in with the Veet as soon as you see the first wisps in your daughter's armpits: it's something you need to help her with only when she feels it's an issue, although you might need to be on the lookout for signs of self-consciousness.
Can hair removal cause health problems?
Hair removal isn't without its drawbacks - and they're not just ideological. Over the past few years, there's been a 'war on body hair' driven by (yep, you guessed it) companies keen to make a killing out of selling hair-removal products to teenagers and 20-somethings who have been persuaded that pubic hair is somehow distasteful and best done away with. The industry is now worth billions of pounds in Britain.
But hair removal can be problematic: it can irritate and inflame hair follicles, leaving microscopic wounds that are an ideal site for infection.
So if you're going to help your child learn how to do hair removal, you should be sure to also teach her about the risks, as well as the fact that body hair has its uses, like protecting us against bacteria.
What method of hair removal is best for pre-teens?
Some Mumsnetters reckon shaving is best, while others say hair removal creams are best for this age group. If your daughter is concerned about her body hair, the best thing is to talk to her about the different methods and see which she feels most comfortable about - maybe she'd like to try both and then decide. However, waxing generally isn't a good idea for girls in this age group, and salons won't treat children this young.
Tips for safe body hair removal
- Make sure she only shaves when she has plenty of time - rushing will increase the risk of nicking her skin, which is very painful
- Suggest she shaves her underarms using a mirror rather than tying herself in knots trying to see what she's doing
- Advise shaving her legs in the bath, using gel or soap on her skin, as this will be most comfortable
- Tell her to shave her legs in upward strokes, starting at the bottom of her leg near the ankle and going against the hair growth
- Suggest a body moisturiser after hair removal, which will help with the dryness that shaving can make skin prone to.
What Mumsnetters say about body hair removal for pre-teens
- If she WANTS to do it, then she is probably old enough. Your baby is growing up. Portofino
- I was bullied during PE lessons for having hairy legs at that age because my mum wouldn't let me shave them. It was awful, and I was so mortified. Show your daughter how to do it carefully and properly. There is no harm. gnocci
- For hair removal, I'd suggest the Ladyshave razor, which is cheap and easy to use. It also means they do it in their own rooms and don't hog the bathroom! My daughter was 14 and a half before that that wasn't a smooth enough shave for her. Theas18
- I'd be wary of using chemical creams on young skin. A battery shaver is probably safest. Thegreenfliesareonme
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