Should You Try Kao Sori Or Face Shaving? | CoolJapan

The idea of kao sori (meaning face shaving in Japanese) may be intimidating at first but once you get to know more about this beauty routine, you’ll find that it isn’t all that bizarre. Kao sori has become a commonplace practice in Japan and is said to be a “long-held secret”. Although we don’t know exactly for how long, it seems it gained popularity in 2004. Kao sori was already very popular and many beauty salons were offering professional face shaving services (done by professional female barbers) by that time.

But even before that, the late Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were said to have shaved their faces as part of their prep. Now, the practice has gained popularity in the mainstream through a method called “dermaplaning” — instead of using an ordinary razor, a professional aesthetician will use a special scalpel-like tool to scrape away facial hair. Some swear by face shaving, while others are wary about it. So should you try kao sori? Here’s what you need to know before you do.

Benefits of kao sori

Girl shaving face

(Photo from: Vika Aleksandrova via Unsplash)

Face shaving can be a tedious task and you may wonder if it’s even worth the effort. To help you decide, here are some benefits of kao sori.

Immediate aesthetic benefits

Just like when you shave your legs, kao sori will give you immediate aesthetic benefits. Your facial skin will feel instantly smoother and softer. Your complexion will also look a little brighter especially if you have a darker-toned peach fuzz. If you’re self-conscious about your facial hair, shaving can also boost your self-image and improve mental health.

Gentle exfoliation

Shaving your face also gives your skin a gentle exfoliation. It will effectively remove any superficial gunk, dead skin cells, and excess sebum. Another benefit is that, unlike using rough exfoliators or harsh chemical exfoliators, shaving facial hair has no downtime and the results are instant.

While there are some personal reports about how shaving your face can be an effective anti-ageing method, there’s still little to no conclusive evidence on this. However, regular exfoliation does help skin cells renew so this may be an effect of exfoliation and not solely a benefit of face shaving.

Deeper penetration of skincare and smooth makeup application

Because shaving your face is an effective way to exfoliate, any skincare immediately applied after will be absorbed well and consequently work better. Kao sori also provides a perfect, smooth canvas for makeup application. Liquid foundation and other cream cosmetics, most especially, may be able to glide more smoothly and adhere better to the skin than before.

Precautions to note before you try

Razor in a jar

(Photo from: Sandi Benedicta via Unsplash)

Although kao sari offers benefits, it’s sadly not for everyone. Before you start shaving your face, read these precautions first.

May cause skin injury and ingrown hair

Our facial skin is more sensitive than that on our leg, so while you can shave the legs in under 10 minutes, facial shaving may require more of your time. If you speed it up and you’re not careful, you run the risk of cutting yourself.

Another thing you need to note is that it may cause ingrown hair. Generally, women’s facial hair are what you call vellus hair and will not grow back thicker nor cause ingrown hair (where hair grows into the skin instead of upwards which can cause irritation and, in some cases, infection). However, some people do have terminal hair on the face which are thicker and more pigmented and these are at risk of becoming an ingrown hair.

May cause irritation for some skin types

If you have acne, it’s best to skip kao sari as shaving the face can cause pimples to erupt or become irritated. Those who have dry and sensitive skin should be wary about trying kao sari too as it can further dry your skin especially if you’re already using retinoids or other skincare with exfoliating properties.

How to do kao sori

Sold on trying kao sori? The first thing you should do is to buy a dedicated razor for your face. It may be economical to use the same razor that you use for your body you shouldn’t because it could potentially cause bacteria transfer from parts of your body (like your toes) to your face.

You can try using a regular razor but some women find that it’s awkward to use for those with high forehead or sculpted cheekbones. As such, it’s best to go with a facial razor or eyebrow shaper because it’s flat and thin; you’ll be able to easily navigate the unique curves of your face. You should also buy a shaving cream for sensitive skin or you can also use a foamy, creamy facial wash like the Senka Perfect Whip. Now you’re ready!

Step 1: Clean skin and add shaving cream

Prep the skin by cleansing with a gentle wash to get rid of any dirt that may penetrate shaved skin. Then, gently apply shaving cream evenly. Don't attempt to skip this step as shaving without any cream may lead to skin damage and irritation.

Step 2: Shave gently

Start with the forehead and make your way down to the temples, nose, cheeks, and finally, chin (note: don’t shave near the eyes). Hold the skin taut with one hand for every shave. Just very gently run along the razor with light strokes. Always clean the razor after each stroke and shave according to the hair grain and never against it to minimise the possibility of skin injury.

Step 3: Apply moisturiser right away

After shaving, apply a fragrance-free, gentle moisturiser right away to prevent dryness. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen the morning after.