Dear Andrea:

I'm seeing someone who has a bad combination of fast-growing hair and sensitive skin. He has stubble an hour after shaving, but he can't shave every day. After he spends the night, my face peels for days. When he goes down on me, the sensation is distracting and painful, which pretty much ruins it for me. I've mentioned it to him (surprisingly, no one else ever had!), and he does everything he can to avoid hurting me, but I'm still suffering. Right now we just see each other occasionally, but I really like him. Does this one factor mean that we aren't compatible in the long run? Can anything be done?


Itchy Loves Scratchy

Dear Itchy:

I can't promise this can be solved, but it can certainly be mitigated. Since he's only recently been made aware that there even is a problem, one wonders if he's actually tried to do anything about it. Is he the "I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas" type, or just young and slackery and literally a bit scruffy? Does he think shaving begins and ends with a disposable razor and a can of foam, and that the only alternative is a terrible little terrier beard? I hope so, actually, because then one of my ideas still has a chance of working.

Young men are often reluctant to fuss with their bodies, and, to be fair, a shower, a toothbrush, and a fresh shirt are all it really takes to render oneself kissable, if not, say, hireable. Many women even find a bit of scruff kind of (or wildly) sexy, and too much male primping and polishing a distinct turnoff. I often wondered, for instance, what the wives and girlfriends on Queer Eye really thought about having to share bathroom space with two moisturizers, a scrub, cuticle cream, sunless tanner, leave-in conditioner, and hair product, the insistently masculine packaging of which could not disguise the fact that they were all basically makeup for boys. I know how I'd feel, but the one time I confessed to a personal lack of attraction to fancy, flyless panties for men (manties) in the column, I got whined at for weeks. By men in panties. But I digress.

It is possible — not definite, but possible — that he could indeed shave every day if he used a product made for supersensitive skin, and this is a common enough problem that there are plenty such items on the market. The first one I found contains vitamin E and "a special dermatological lubricant." I wondered about that lubricant, since the first thing I thought of for you was "boyfriend needs silicone." I'd never thought about silicone and shaving before, I don't think, but I've been extolling silicone lube for so long — it's just the slipperiest, unfrictioniest stuff out there, plus it's hypoallergenic and makes your hair shiny — how could it not help smooth over your difficulties? Sure enough, a search on "silicone shaving cream" brought up a slew of products. Buy him some (unscented, of course). He also needs either a good razor or a huge bag of very bad razors, although I'm not sure I can countenance the carbon footprint left by disposables. By far the sexiest solution, of course, is a straight razor, but not everyone welcomes the gift of edged weapons.

Finally, I have a suggestion for your second problem, secondary razor burn. This won't work for the kissing part, and it's perhaps not immediately appealing, but do bear with me: if the silicone does not sufficiently soften the bristles, try a barrier. If you're not worrying about disease transmission, said barrier needn't be anything serious — silky underwear will do. Not ideal, perhaps, but thin, slippery fabric does transmit sensation well and doesn't cut off all other sensory input-output, either. And anything's better than a dental dam.

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