Last year, one of the world's most superhumanly beautiful women, Cate Blanchett, told us her #1 secret to ageless skin: "Exfoliating," she said. "Look at men in their 40s, and then look at women in their 40s—for men, their skin looks really good because they shave every day."
In mainstream American culture, we don't consider face shaving an anti-aging technique. But Blanchett isn't the only one who recognizes its skincare benefits. In Japan, women shave their faces at home as a part of their regular skincare routines. There, the technique is called kao sori, and it's "as common as tweezing your brows," says Japanese skincare expert and DHC Skincare editor Cynthia Popper. Everyone in Japan does it, from teens to people over 50. "Facial straight razors are found at every drugstore, and kao sori salons are ubiquitous," she says.
In the U.S., where face shaving is thought of as a boys-only endeavor, women often visit the dermatologist's office if they want the same benefits. There, they undergo a procedure called "dermaplaning," where a pro uses a sharp tool to exfoliate the surface of the skin and remove any hairs (aka face shaving).
However, Popper guarantees that American women can benefit from the anti-aging wonders of face shaving at home, just like the boys do. Keep scrolling to learn how regular face shaving can keep your skin youthful for decades, and find out how to do it yourself!
1. It makes way for fresh skin cells.
Just like professional dermaplaning, kao sori is an amazing physical exfoliator. Effectively clearing away dead cells and encouraging the growth of new ones makes the skin look and feel "smooth and soft post-treatment," says Popper.
2. It preps the skin for active ingredients.
"Because the skin has been freshly and thoroughly exfoliated, product efficacy is improved," says Popper. That means after shaving, your anti-aging serums and masks will penetrate more deeply. "Ideal for a multistep J-beauty routine," Popper says.
3. It clears and brightens your complexion.
After kao sori, you should notice an instant brightening effect. "I have combination skin that can look a bit cruddy and congested if I don't exfoliate regularly," Popper says. "Kao sori is a fast, affordable reset."
4. It makes makeup application super smooth.
"Like unbelievably smooth," says Popper. "I love stick foundations and highlighters, and they glide on so evenly after kao sori. The difference is immediately noticeable."
Read on to learn how to start your own kao sori routine!
Popper shaves her face every 10 to 14 days, or two days before a special event, but she says the frequency is different for everyone. "Some models and beauty junkies only do it once every two to three months, but I'm pretty oily, and I really love having a smooth, fuzz-free face," she says. Popular Japanese kao sori salon Beauty Face recommends doing it every three to four weeks.
However often you choose to shave, Popper says to proceed with caution. "Kao sori is no joke—it's a Japanese straight razor to the face," she warns. "When I started, I'd knick myself, especially around the mouth." So it's important to go super slowly, use clean razors, and shave with the right products.
Popper recommends starting your routine by removing your makeup completely with an oil cleanser. For this, she recommends DHC's cult classic Deep Cleansing Oil ($28)
Next, cleanse your face with your favorite water-based face wash until it's as clean as possible. Once your skin is ready, grab a hydrating, foaming cleanser and lather it over your face. This will serve as your shaving cream.
Popper finds her razors at Japanese boutique Daiso, but you can get the same ones on Amazon. There is no single correct way to shave, but Popper recommends doing it in slow upward motions starting at the chin. (Since women's peach fuzz tends to be fairly fine, it's not as important which direction you shave in.)
After each use, Popper recommends thoroughly cleaning your razors with face wash and placing them in a glass of alcohol for a few minutes to sterilize them.
Now that your face is at peak smoothness, you can proceed with your regular skincare routine. In Japan, a toner would invariably come next. We recommend this ginseng-packed pick from Erborian.
Next come your active ingredients by way of sheet mask or serum. Customize your own serum the Japanese way with this genius kit from Skin Inc.
Moisturizer and eye cream come last. This deliciously hydrating Tatcha moisturizer is another Japanese favorite.
Would you shave your face in the name of ageless skin? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!