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Tips on Shaving for a Triathlon: For the Men! 
A list of tips and techniques on shaving for your next triathlon - for the men!

Hazen Kent - Tri-Newbies Online

After writing the somewhat lighthearted article “ The Real Reason’s Tri Guys Shave” I have received continuous mail on some of the specifics that were not included in the original article. Some of these include the use of clippers, waxing, the use of foam hair removers, and the physical effects of such methods.

So let’s not waste any time and get right to it! The following will include some tips and techniques on shaving for your next triathlon...ummm...for the men!

The First Time You Shave…

For a male who has never shaved his legs, arms and/or chest, the act of shaving, at least initially may not seem like a daunting task…that is until the process is actually undertaken. And it really can be tedious and messy. However, if you follow a few simple steps, the process can be rather easy.

I am going to assume that the reader is a male who has never shaved. Ladies, I am not being chauvinistic here, it’s just most of you have been keeping your legs silky smooth for many, many years. And Guys, in keeping with this ritual, the reason ladies seem to complete this task in a matter of a few minutes a couple times per week while showering or bathing, is because…

They are consistent.

For guys who want to maintain shaved legs for year-around training purposes (especially cyclists training in the south where year-round outdoor training is a reality) than the process of shaving can be as easy as it appears to our female partners. (But I have a feeling, as easy as I make it sound, even the ladies get tired of shaving due to time constraints.)

So once again, I will assume that you are a guy and have never shaved and you have a fairly thick mat of hair on your legs, arms and chest.

You must determine if there really is a need to shave.

The sport of Triathlon is an event made up of three separate sports: swimming, cycling and running. And of these, only two warrant the shaving of body hair: swimming and cycling.

Swimmers have been shaving body hair for many, many years. And do so once or twice a year in preparation for a major swimming event. The benefits are two-fold…physical and psychological: physically, shaving or removing body hair enhances ones speed in the water by reducing the resistance or drag existing hair may cause. Psychologically, shaving gives the swimmer a slippery feeling in the water.

  Cyclists are also known for having shaved legs. And of all the reasons I have heard why cyclists shave their legs, the one that makes the most sense to me is for medicinal/healing purposes. There is no dirty or oily hair to get into road rash abrasions…should your body ever come into contact with the asphalt. And if you are putting a lot of mileage on your bike, the chances of falling are increased. And I am not talking about being hit by a car. You can fall from loose gravel on the road, potholes, not getting your feet out of the pedals fast enough, and even hitting the cyclist’s wheel in front of you while in a pace line.

And if you decide to stick with the sport of triathlon, you will certainly be putting plenty of miles on your bike, so in the warmer months, I suggest you keep your legs shaved. And if you shave them once or twice a week, you will find that this ritual really doesn’t take that long. Cyclists typically shave the exposed part of the leg basically from the knees down. For triathletes who race in a Tri Brief, many will keep their legs shaved up to the swim suit line mainly for aesthetic reasons.

Now, some of you may not want to keep your legs shaved until race time…and that is fine also. If you do go this route, you will need to plan ahead especially if you wait until the night before a race. It will probably take an hour or two to complete the process.

Time to Shave.

First of all, I suggest you purchase some clippers. There are generally two types on the market. Standard clippers for cutting hair and smaller ones for “sideburns and mustaches.”

The larger clippers have a wider cutting surface and will take off more hair per pass, but can be bulky when trying to clip in tight areas…behind the knees and around the ankles.

The smaller clippers with a narrower cutting surface will not take that much longer and will allow you to get those hard to reach areas.

So, spread out a big towel and a chair, park yourself in front of your favorite Ironman tape, and start clipping your hair:

The Legs - clip the leg hair up to the swim suit line.

The Arms - When cutting your arm hair, do not cut the under portion of the arm (from your wrist to your arm pit). If you are not wearing a wetsuit or you are wearing a sleeveless wetsuit, the hair under the entire arm is important in order to maintain a feel for the water (an old “swimmers belief”). Don’t cut it. Also, you may not want to cut your underarm hair…It can sting like crazy…

The Chest - And the chest hair is no different.

The clippers really save a lot of time.

Get out the Blades and Cream

Now comes the time to get down to shaving.

Shaving this much hair can be messy so I do suggest you do this in the shower or tub. You can fill a bucket with warm water and continue watching the tube, but the water will get cold, the towel will get wet, and it really can be uncomfortable. So go take a nice relaxing warm shower or bath and shave.

The warm water will keep the hair soft and cut down on the post shaving rashes.

Now guys…remember…BE CAREFUL IN THE SHOWER!  Make sure you have some type of non-skid surface on the shower floor. You will be putting more weight on one leg or the other and you do not want to slip. So again, please…be careful, do not be in a hurry, and KEEP YOUR BALANCE.

Use a Twin Bladed Razor

My father still uses a double edge razor…Not a twin, a double edge. You know the kind that you screw open from the bottom and then drop in the two-sided razor blade you buy in a box. Thus you are shaving with one or a single edge. Insane! He’s a stickler for tradition!

If you happen to dig one out of your old sundry drawer or your dad’s old shaving kit…leave it there! If you are not skilled at using a single edged razor, than you can hack yourself up pretty good. I suggest you get a twin bladed razor, and the disposable types are just fine. Also, find the type with the little button that allows you to clean the blades while in use. I think Schick makes these. Now, that does not mean a you can’t hack yourself up with a twin bladed razor either…because you can, and if you don’t take your time, and pay attention you are liable to take a chunk of skin off your leg without even feeling it.  But after a few minutes…you will feel it!

It is really important to be patient. Just because you have learned to fly through the act of shaving your face, doesn’t mean you can do the same with your legs, arms and chest. At least in the beginning. So for now, take baby steps…you will eventually develop a feel for all of this.

This is another reason why you should not wait too late in the evening before the race. The initial shaving experience may take a while.

Get some good “sensitive skin” shaving cream.

Using your favorite shaving cream is fine. I like to use one made for “sensitive skin.” At least until you get pretty skilled. In a pinch, I have even used a bar of soap. But only when I have been consistent and the hair on my legs has only a couple days of growth.

Post Shaving Heeby Jeebies!

Once you have finished shaving…be prepared.

You will feel weird…

When you crawl into bed…the sheets will feel weird.

Your clothes will feel weird…

I must admit, even after some 20 years of performing this ritual (this includes my swimming years), I have never gotten used to the feeling.

As soon as you get out of the shower and dry off, apply some lotion to your legs, arms and chest.  And keep doing this as the hair grows out. It will help cut down on the ingrown hairs…but be prepared…you may encounter a few.

And as the hair grows back, you will start to itch like crazy…

The lotion might help…but itching goes with the territory…there is no cure…

…unless you keep shaving.

The Use of Wax

Some guys have written asking about the use of wax for removing body hair.

First a little history (my wife owns a Day Spa…I swear!):

Waxing is the process of removing body hair by spreading the melted wax over a particular area (about a 2” wide by 4” long) then covering the waxed area with a thin sheet of paper…after a few seconds, the wax dries and the paper is yanked off removing the hair.

Sounds comforting, doesn’t it? 

Think of it like yanking off a two day old Band-Aid.

Same idea.

And yes, it can hurt like hell. And the longer the hair, the greater the pain. But, an experienced esthetician (waxing, facials, pedicures, etc.) will be able to make the process as painless as possible. 

So why wax?

Basically, waxing removes the entire hair, including the hair follicle. The theory is, the more you perform this treatment, the more distorted the follicle becomes eventually retarding any hair growth at all.  But, it won’t happen with one treatment.  My wife has repeat-customers all summer long who come regularly for waxing (Thank heavens!)

And hey, if it works for the women, why not for the men.


Well, yes…to and extent.  Just remember guys, women do not show up for the service with a thick mat of hair on their legs. Therefore performing this task on a male could be pretty darn painful. So if this is something you are considering, I do suggest you clip your hair first.

The other concern with waxing is cost and time. A typical leg wax for two legs in an experienced shop is around $50.  A chest and back wax may be about $50.  Throw in the arms for another $20 and you have just spent $120 dollars to “shave” your body!” And gentleman, it will grow back, and faster than you would think…and I don’t care what anyone says…it can hurt!

Most women, who come into our shop, wax specific areas on a regular basis to match Bikini lines and other summer/beach apparel. And we do get male clients who come in to have their back waxed. But basically, performing the task on a triathlete would be ridiculously expensive and did I say PAINFUL!

I tried it once…the pores on my legs swelled, I looked like I had a rash and I didn’t go outside for two days. And within a week, the hairs started growing back. And even though it was free for me, the pain and time spent does not compare to the10 minutes it takes to shave my legs in the shower.

Nair and Other Hair Removal Lotions/Products.

I think all of these products work. But guys if you want the most effective results, you really must pre-clip your hair. Just don’t spread it over your thick matted leg hair and expect immediate results.

And again, cost is a concern here. A bottle of hair removal lotion may be about $3 and you may go through several to get the necessary results.

And more importantly, you really need to be careful regarding your skin and how it may react to certain lotions.

The bottom line:

All the newer, faster, supposedly “pain-free” methods and products have found their spot in the “hair removal” industry, but for some reason, women seem to still favor razors and cream…


Because it is simple, faster, cheaper and…


Just remember guys, if you do use a razor and shaving cream…TAKE YOUR TIME and BE CAREFUL.  You will get used to it, just as you did shaving your face.

Good luck.


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