Most of us have been shaving our legs since we were teenagers. You’d think by now we’d have perfected how to achieve perfectly smooth legs, but alas this isn’t the case for many of us. Lots can go wrong and there are key details we overlook. It may be a relief to know that there are things you can do to make shaving so much easier on your skin.
Although there isn’t a best way and each person has their shaving tricks and preferences, there are some major things you can consider adding to your routine to avoid red bumps, stubble, razor abrasion, and those dreaded nicks on your legs.
Dos and don'ts of shaving your legs
Yes, shaving can be as easy as just stroking your leg with a razor, but there really is more to it. The list below includes some surprisingly simple steps you can do to get a smooth, non-irritating shave.
Don't shave your legs first when you get in the shower
Using warm (but not hot) water will soften your skin and make shaving your legs (and underarms) far easier. Wash your face, hair, and body first, and save the shaving for the end.
Use an exfoliating body lotion on your legs
We can't stress this enough: using abrasive body scrubs can scrape and tear skin's barrier, causing dryness and increasing the risk of redness and a painful shave. There are far better, gentler ways to exfoliate that also hydrate and completely alleviate flaky, bumpy, and rough-feeling skin. Everything about shaving will be easier from the first time you use a leave-on, completely non-abrasive, skin-smoothing AHA body lotion or BHA body exfoliant.
Avoid using soap to shave your legs
We know just grabbing the bar of soap to lather up seems fast and easy, but it's drying and causes the razor to drag over skin. Instead of soap, use your fragrance-free shampoo or fragrance-free conditioner; the results will be much smoother and your skin will be far less dry, especially in cold winter or arid climates.
You don't necessarily need a separate shaving product for your legs
Like we said, your shampoo or conditioner will do wonders and save you the hassle of buying another product and crowding your shower ledge with yet another container. If you do opt for a separate shaving product, be sure that it does not contain irritating ingredients such as menthol, mint, eucalyptus, citrus, fragrance, or other skin sensitising, redness-causing ingredients.
Experiment with longer versus shorter strokes when shaving legs
Longer strokes, especially when you start at the ankle, can cause nicks if you're not careful. Longer strokes go faster but shorter strokes can be more efficient. Dragging is not advisable, which is hard on skin and doesn't get all the hair.
Rinse your razor between strokes
Built-up gunk (hair, oil, product) in your razor gets in the way of getting a closer shave for smooth legs.
Find the best razor for shaving your legs
Finding the right razor isn't easy and disposable versions are the worst (for your skin and the environment). There are so many options, but because they're expensive, this can take some experimenting. A soft grip and a triple or quadruple blade is really worth trying—they do a much more efficient job.
Replace razor blades frequently
We all know a new razor blade is far riskier for nicks, but a dull blade doesn't shave as well. For added safety, each time you switch out a new blade, be sure to use the lightest pressure and glide it over the leg.
Only use fragrance-free lotion on your legs
If you've ever applied scented moisturisers over freshly shaven skin, you already know how much it instantly hurts, but fragrance (both natural and synthetic) also hurts skin in the long run. A nourishing fragrance-free body cream is one of the kindest things you can do for your skin anywhere on your body. Always remember to apply a broad-spectrum body sunscreen on your legs when you’re wearing shorts or skirts to avoid signs of premature ageing and skin cancer.
Avoid red bumps and razor burn on your legs
All the steps we mentioned above will greatly minimise, even virtually eliminate, any risk of abrasion that can lead to razor bumps on your legs. If you’re taking precautions and post-shave discolourations and bumps still appear, look into using a soothing body serum with 5% niacinamide. This concentration of niacinamide tackles uneven tone and soothes, ultimately helping to prevent discolouration.
We'll close this topic with a bit of myth-busting: Contrary to what many believe, shaving does not change the hair's texture, colour, or affect how often you need to shave. Those factors occur internally due to your inherited genetic traits and the way you shave your legs. Shaving itself has zero impact — so shave worry-free for smooth legs with these tips.
References for this information
Clinics in Podiatric Medicine, July 2016, issue 3, pages 423-440