Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Shaving Those Wiry Whiskers When You Are Visually Impaired or Blind

Shaving cream and razorSome people might consider shaving to be a grooming task that is hazardous for men who are blind or visually impaired. People might feel that having a sighted person to handle shaving duties would be a safer option. But with daily practice the shaving skills required don’t have to necessarily rely on vision only. Additionally, learning basic safety techniques and paying closer attention to the sense of touch, a visually impaired or blind man can learn to effectively shave with little harm or injury. Below are some useful tools that men can use to have a successful shaving experience. But ladies don’t disregard this blog post because some of these same tools can be used for shaving your legs, bikini and underarms too.

Picture of razor to chinBegin by determining the areas that require shaving. Use your sense of touch, and explore your face feeling for hairy stubble. If you’ve had sight previously and like to stand in front of a mirror when you shave, continue to do so. It can feel more comfortable and natural to use a mirror, even when it’s difficult to see. Or you can also use a magnifying mirror with an adjustable arm to enlarge the image of your face and head.

To get comfortable and build confidence practice first with an empty razor or with the electric razor turned off. An electric razor is a good option for men with vision loss, but you can also continue to use a safety razor. Use your hand that is not holding the razor as a “guide hand” to explore the area you are about to shave. Use your free hand to guide the razor. The guide hand can also draw the skin tight, which allows the hairs to stand up straight for a closer shave. You can also use your free hand as a guide for repositioning the razor when you make a new stroke.

Once you have practiced and feel comfortable with your technique, it is time to actually shave your face. Collect all of your shaving supplies beforehand. They should include a razor, shaving cream or lotion, after-shave, a washcloth, and a towel. Once you have gathered your supplies, wash the area to be shaved with soap and water then pat dry. This will soften your hair or whiskers, which makes it easier to shave cleanly and safely. Use shaving cream or lotion if you use a safety razor. It will protect your skin and help you better locate the areas you’ve already shaved.

Picture of razor to cheekOne way to begin is to place the index finger of your guide hand at the base of a sideburn, which can act as a “landmark.” Bring the hand holding the razor up to meet the guide finger. Shave downward at an angle over the cheekbone, from the sideburn line toward the chin. Use your index finger as a guide. If you wear eyeglasses, use the earpiece as a “landmark.” For the best coverage, use overlapping strokes and shave the area a second time at a 90-degree angle to the original strokes. In areas where your beard is heavier, such as the chin and neck, shave against the grain of the whiskers. In areas where the skin is more sensitive, such as the cheeks and upper lip, use downward strokes and shave with the grain of the whiskers. Shave one side of your face at a time, which helps you keep track of the areas you’ve shaved.

To protect moles and skin blemishes, place your fingertip over the area and shave around it. When you’re done, use your fingertips to check one more time for unshaved areas. Check your ears and the tip of your nose for excess shaving cream. Shape your beard or sideburns with a beard trimmer to help maintain a desired contour or straight line. Use the hand that is not holding the trimmer as a guide to explore and precede the area you are about to trim. Ask your barber to touch up the outline of your beard or sideburns when you get a haircut and correct any small errors you may have made.

So how do you shave those wiry whiskers? Do you have tips or techniques that you use as a visually impaired or blind man that have helped you to have a successful shaving experience? Share your suggestions in the comment section below.

Editor’s note: This post was written with the assistance from the Personal Self-Care Section on the AFB VisionAware website.