Multitasking gets a bad rap these days. Maybe I shouldn’t scarf down a Clif bar…
Soft, smooth legs are essential for summer. And while many people swear by waxes, it’s more expensive and way too painful for me to endure just to get silky legs. I will stick to my razors as long as they make them!
Next time you’re getting ready for a shave, remember these tips and tricks to make shaving your legs a breeze.
10 Mistakes You’re Making Shaving Your Legs
If you’re like me, there probably were a few times when you got out of the shower and started to put your moisturizer on, only to wonder if you’d even shaved your legs. You remember shaving, but you still feel prickly when you get done. Grr!
Or what about the dreaded razor burn? Nothing like those little red bumps on your legs to ruin your new outfit. Whether it was a dull razor or not enough shave cream, we’ve all been there!
Getting that close shave isn’t always easy, but there are some ways to make it a little easier. With the right tools and methods, you can correct these mistakes and avoid cuts, bumps, and irritation.
1. Forgetting to exfoliate
Use a salt scrub before hopping in the shower to lift the hairs and prep your skin. Getting rid of dead skin cells also prevents gunk from getting into your razor.
Just note that exfoliating can be hard on skin, so make sure and do it gently, so you don’t stir up skin inflammation, and then wait a few minutes before shaving. Also, I don’t recommend doing it after you shave—moisturizing is best [source].
2. Shaving as soon as you get in the shower
Moisten the skin for at least 3 minutes before applying your shave cream. Heat helps to soften the hair and relax hair follicles. Hydrating the hair shaft before shaving causes it to swell and prevents the sharp edges that end up causing razor bumps [source], so shaving your legs last is your best bet.
3. Not changing your razor
Shaving is naturally hard on skin. Not only are nicks and cuts par for the course, but open, damaged hair follicles are a hotbed for bacteria. To prevent infection, irritation, and inflammation, switch out your razor blade regularly. It becomes an old, dull, and potentially infectious razor blade after about 10 shaves.
4. Using water to shave
Ever wonder why men lather up a good shave cream before busting out the razor? You’ll notice a difference when using a good homemade shaving cream rather than just water. It makes the whole process so much easier on skin! You’ll get fewer nicks and cuts, and it’s extra moisturizing, which is just what skin needs when shaving.
The only time I get razor burn is when I’m in a hurry and try to shave with just water. And boy, do I regret it later!
5. Using the wrong shaving technique
I wish someone had told me this earlier, but it’s all about technique! Here are a few shaving tips for the smoothest legs imaginable:
Avoid shaving the same area too much. Shaving the same area over and over just leads to irritation [source].
Be careful over thin-skin areas like the ankles, backs of knees, and shins. These are extra prone to cuts and bumps.
Stay warm. Shaving over goosebumps makes for an uneven surface where cutting each hair is complicated.
Let up on the pressure. Shaving with too much pressure causes skin irritation [source]. Try to keep it light and gentle.
6. Shaving in the wrong direction
If you have sensitive skin, try shaving your legs in downward strokes with the grain. Shaving against the grain causes the sharp tip of the cut hair to retract into the follicle—a set-up for forming ingrown hairs [source].
7. Using the wrong moisturizer
A simple body oil is perfect for applying post-shave for soothing skin and locking in moisture [source]. Try adding 6–10 drops of anti-inflammatory sandalwood essential oil to an ounce of light oil, like grapeseed or sweet almond, for a quick aftershave balm.
Wait at least 30 minutes before applying scented lotions, deodorants, or sunscreen. Some lotions can make the sting worse, so try a natural razor burn remedy like a cooled black tea bag, aloe vera gel, or a simple cucumber lotion. Your skin is very sensitive after shaving, so it’s important to leave the skin alone for a bit.
8. Not letting your razor dry
Letting your razor dry out between showers does a couple of things. For starters, it keeps bacteria from taking up residence between the blades. Second, sitting in water dulls and oxidizes (rusts!) the razor, making it more prone to cause irritation.
Rinse your razor well and carefully dry it off with a clean, dry towel after every use. Then put it somewhere out of the way where it won’t get splashed and will be dry for next time.
Picking at ingrown hairs can quickly lead to an infection and scarring. Use an ingrown hair scrub to gently exfoliate and help loosen the trapped hair.
For the occasional bump that begins to itch, to keep you from scratching and making it worse, you can apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment for 1–2 days to minimize inflammation. But it’s best to explore natural remedies for preventing ingrown hairs if they become a regular problem.
10. Shaving every day
Shaving every day isn’t necessary. Usually, the hair doesn’t grow back that fast, and shaving removes a layer of skin cells each and every time, which takes a toll on your skin.
Shaving less often has also been associated with a decrease in ingrown hairs [source]. For most, it’s better to shave once or twice a week during pool season and even less often during the winter.
Troubleshooting Tips for Shaving
Why does my skin sting after shaving?
Razor burn is most often caused by dry shaving or using an old razor. Many of the tips we mentioned earlier, such as replacing your razor often, letting the warm water soften skin, and using a moisture-rich shaving cream, can help prevent razor burn.
Will applying body oil after shaving clog my pores?
Will shaving make my tan fade faster?
Nope, that’s an old wives’ tale. Tanning takes place in the deeper layers of skin, so even if shaving removes the outermost layer of skin cells, the layers underneath will still retain some color.
Is it okay to shave without water if I‘m in a hurry?
Dry shaving is okay in a pinch—so don’t make it a habit. Shaving without water is a surefire way to end up with ingrown hairs [source], razor burn, and a heckuva lot of nicks.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.