A parenting expert cuts to the heart of one big puberty question: “When should you let your daughter start shaving?”

By Rosalind Wiseman

According to a British survey, the average woman spends a whopping 72 days(!) of her life shaving her legs. While you may want to postpone this practically inevitable step of puberty, what age should girls start shaving is an important and common question. While more and more adults are embracing all things au natural, it can be tough to be a junior high girl with more hair than your peers. (This mom decided to allow her daughter to shave at 10. Too soon?)

So when should you let your daughter start shaving and what’s the best way to teach her how to shave her legs?

What Age Should Girls Start Shaving?

This is a classic rite of passage for both of you. And I know it's tempting to say, "No way! Talk to me when you're 14!" But there are two things to keep in mind. 

  1. Most girls your daughter's age have absorbed cultural messages that tell them there are things "wrong" with their body that require fixing. 
  2. Kids need all the help they can get navigating peer pressure. 

So explain to your daughter what's happening with her body because she's probably worried she's the only one going through it. (Find answers to more common parental questions about puberty.) Then discuss the pros and cons of shaving. 

  • Pro: She doesn't get teased. 
  • Con: She changes herself to please others. 

Your job is to help her realize when these decisions come at the price of her personal authenticity. If after all that, she still wants to, I'd compromise by letting her bleach her hair, and at 12 I'd let her shave. In the meantime, keep using body image issues like this one to teach her about making thoughtful choices.