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Resources for Independent Living with Vision Loss

American Foundation for the Blind® | Reader's Digest Partners for Sight

Shaving Your Face After Vision Loss

Many people consider shaving to be a personal grooming task that is potentially dangerous for someone who is blind or has low vision. In everyday practice, however, many of the skills and techniques involved in shaving do not rely upon vision and may only require basic safety adaptations and closer attention to tactual feedback.

Preparation for Shaving

  • You can determine the areas that require shaving (such as your face, legs, or underarms) or the location of a nick or scratch by using your sense of touch.
  • See Maximizing All of Your Senses for information and exercises that help you learn to create a mental picture of your face and shaving area, as well as use your other senses to increase your confidence and safety when shaving.
  • If you’ve had sight previously and like to stand in front of a mirror when you shave, you can continue to do so. Many people say that it feels more comfortable and natural to use a mirror, even when it’s difficult to see clearly.
  • You can also use a magnifying mirror with an adjustable arm to enlarge the image of your face and head.
    Magnifying Mirror
    Use a magnifying mirror
  • Your basic shaving supplies should include a razor, shaving cream or lotion, after-shave, a washcloth, and a towel.
  • Assemble all of your shaving supplies before you begin. You can gather them on a tray, a washcloth, or a hand towel.
  • Wash the area to be shaved with soap and water and 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.

Selecting Your Razor

  • An electric shaver is an option if you have vision loss, but you can also continue to use a safety razor if that is your preference.
  • Some individuals prefer a wet/dry electric razor because it combines the qualities of a safety razor and an electric razor.
  • Generally, a safety razor provides a closer shave. Always use a sharp or new blade, since dull blades can cause nicks, scratches, and cuts.
  • The choice of razor is up to you and should reflect your personal shaving preferences.
  • If you use an electric shaver, follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and cleaning procedures. You can contact the manufacturer and request instructions in braille or large print, if they are available.

General Shaving Techniques and Adaptations for Men and Women Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

  • First, take time to feel and explore the contours of your face or the area to be shaved.
  • Practice first with an empty razor or with the electric razor turned off.
  • Use your hand that is not holding the razor as a “guide hand” to explore the area you are about to shave.
    Using a guide hand
    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.

Shaving Your Face

  • One 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.
    Using the index finger as a guide
    Use your index finger as a guide
  • As an alternative, use the earpiece of your eyeglasses 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.

Trimming or Shaping Your Beard

  • 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.

Shaving Your Legs or Underarms

  • It’s best to be seated when shaving your legs. A chair also provides orientation and support.
  • The edge of the tub is not a safe seat or sturdy location for supporting a leg when standing to shave.
  • For the best coverage, use overlapping strokes and shave against the grain of the hair.
  • When you’re done, use your fingertips to check one more time for unshaved areas.
  • Check the front and back of your knees and around your ankles for excess shaving cream.

Additional Resources for Personal Care

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