7 Common Leg-Shaving Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
Between razor bumps, ingrown hairs and overall irritation, the path to soft and smooth legs is anything but simple. So is there is a right way to shave your legs and if there is, how do you do it? To answer our questions, we consulted with two board-certified dermatologists, Dendy Engelman, M.D., and Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D. They gave us the lowdown on seven common mistakes women make when shaving their legs — and offer tips on how to avoid them.
Shaving Mistake #1: Skipping Shaving Cream or Gel
We get it. Dry shaving is a lifesaver when you’re getting ready to go out and realize that you missed a spot. But, this potentially faster option has some serious downsides to consider. “Dry shaving is more likely to lead to razor burn, cuts and ingrown hairs,” says Dr. Robinson.
How to fix it: “If you’re not shaving with shaving cream or gel (which you should be!), you should at least shave with water,” says Dr. Engelman. This could help to reduce the chances of irritation that might occur when dry shaving.
Shaving Mistake #2: Using the Razor in Different Directions
In hopes of getting the closest shave possible, you’re probably going back and forth between shaving in the direction of your hair growth and against it. According to Dr. Engelman, “If you shave in many different directions, you increase the chances of razor bumps, irritation and even ingrown hairs because of the angle the hair was shaved off.”
How to fix it: You have two options. You can shave in the direction that your hair grows for a safer shave or you can shave against the grain for a closer shave. While the latter option does give a more precise finish, know that shaving against the grain tugs at the hair, which pulls it away from the skin before cutting it off and can then lead to an increased risk of irritation and ingrown hairs, explains Dr. Robinson.
Shaving Mistake #3: Using an Old Blade
Of all shaving mistakes, this one rounds out our top three. “A dull razor is more likely to cut you than a new, sharper razor,” says Dr. Engelman. Not to mention, according to Dr. Robinson, using a dull blade tugs at the hair follicle, causing inflammation and increasing the chances of razor bumps. What she finds most concerning, however, is the bacteria and dead skin cells that fester in an old razor. Eck.
How to fix it: Change your blade every three to five uses and store it in an open, dry area after every use.
Shaving Mistake #4: Dry Skin
If you’re experiencing irritation post-shave and have no idea why, it probably has to do with the lack of moisture in your skin before shaving. “It’s important to condition your skin before shaving to soften the hair and the hair follicle, so that when a razor goes across the skin, there is less irritation,” says Dr. Engelman.
How to fix it: Moisturize using an oil-free, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free moisturizer like the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion to keep the pores open and clean.
Shaving Mistake #5: Exfoliating After You Shave
While exfoliating after you shave does give your skin a soft and smooth finish, it can actually be considered counterproductive because shaving in and of itself is a form of exfoliation.
How to fix it: Exfoliate right before you hit the shower to remove any dirt and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, which will help the hair come out to skin that is as clean as possible. Exfoliating before also helps keep pores from getting clogged, explains Dr. Robinson.
Shaving Mistake #6: Doing It Right When You Get in the Shower
Shaving can be time consuming, which is why many people (us included) like to get it done as soon as we get in the shower. Unfortunately, doing so can cause more harm than good because you’re not allowing your body hair the chance to soften up in the warm water.
How to fix it: Shave towards the end of your shower. Pro tip: “Apply your hair conditioner or hair mask to your hair and shave while it sinks in to kill two birds with one stone,” says Dr. Robinson.
Shaving Mistake #7: Skipping Necessary Post-Shaving Care
Just because your legs are baby soft doesn’t mean it’s okay to skip out on some necessary after-care. What you do after you shave is super important if you want to maintain beautiful, smooth legs that are free of any hair (and bumps!).
How to fix it: Dr. Engelman recommends the “soak and grease” method, which is when you apply an in-shower oil and let it soak for about 20 minutes and then immediately follow with lotion. “Applying oil and lotion on wet skin will allow the product to lock in moisture by trapping some of the water on the skin,” she says. The key here is to keep your skin moisturized in between shaves so that your hair remains flexible and grows out easily, which will ensure an easier removal process and beautiful results the next time you shave.