I don’t know about you, but getting a close shave after showering sometimes feels like a once in a lifetime thing for me. Little did I know there is an actual science to the perfect shave, from how to prep to what direction to shave in. Here, dermatologists share the common mistakes made while shaving — as well as the best ways to fix 'em.
“Women make many mistakes when shaving that can lead to razor bumps, irritation and inflammation,” says Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., and after chatting with the derms, I realized that I am guilty of every single one of them, particularly because I don’t take my time with it. I’m the one most likely to run a razor down my legs in five minutes before I need to leave, skipping crucial steps like exfoliating or not even putting on shaving cream. But from what I learned, it’s not doing me any favors for my skin. Instead I’m on the fast-track to razor burn and ingrown hairs — yuck!
These shaving tips apply to nixing hair on every body part from legs to your hoo-ha. And top of getting dermatologists’ opinions, I included the products to help you get your closest, smoothest shave you can possibly get. Follow these expert-advised tips and you’ll become obsessed with how smooth your legs will feel, trust me.
Mistake #1: Using The Wrong Razor
Think twice before throwing the first pack of razors you see in your shopping cart. "The razor does matter," says Nussbaum. Usually a razor with two to three blades is the sweet spot for a close, smooth shave. "A razor with more than three blades cuts the hair too short and can contribute to ingrown hairs and folliculitis," adds Christopher O’Connell, M.D. Miami-based cosmetic dermatologist. If you're looking a razor, try the Gillette Venus Original Women's Razor or the Panasonic Ladies Electric Shaver, which both have three blades to give you a smooth shave without tugging the skin.
Mistake #2: You Use An Old Razor Blade
The lifespan of a disposable razor is very short. You actually should be tossing them every two weeks says Dr. O'Connell. "Old razors are dull and contaminated with old skin cells and with bacteria," says Dr. O'Connell. "This can contribute to unwanted irritation and to acne breakouts such as folliculitis." This is where buying in bulk comes in handy. These disposable Venus razors come in a pack of three, and each have three blades and a touch of aloe to moisturize your skin as you shave. Another good buy? The Schick Xtreme 3 Disposable Razors, which come in a pack of eight and have a triple blade flex design to get into all those hard-to-reach places.
Mistake #3: Not Exfoliating Before You Shave
"Women tend to forget that exfoliating the legs prior to razor use will remove the dead skin cells, allowing easier gliding and better hair removal," says Dr. Nussbaum. "It also dramatically decrease razor bumps and ingrown hairs." She recommends the Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care Botanical Buffing Beads because it moisturizes and cleanses while shedding the dead skin cells. If you're prone to ingrown hairs, try a natural scrub like Indie Lee Coconut Citrus Scrub that minimizes irritation. Plus, it smells delicious!
Mistake #4: Not Using Shaving Lotion To Lubricate Your Skin
We've all done it. It's super easy to just run a razor through your legs without using shaving cream, but water and soapy suds aren't enough. "It is essential to have a smooth gliding surface for the razor, which is why a shave cream or gel is so important," says Dr. Nussbaum. A shaving cream like this one from EOS is made with shea butter and aloe so it won't dry out your skin like some lathering options do. While some women love using conditioner as a substitute, it can get messy, adds Dr. O'Connell. "For someone who wants that thicker emollient feel of a conditioner in their shaving cream I like SheaMoisture Shave Butter Créme," he explains. "I think it’s a better option than your typical hair conditioner and its a little more user friendly."
Mistake #5: Shaving Too Fast or Too Frequently
"Women tend to rush shaving rather than using smooth, even strokes," explains Dr. Nussbaum. "They also tend to apply too much pressure, which creates an uneven surface for the blade causing razor bumps and irritation." If you're prone to ingrown hairs, Dr. O'Connell suggests using an exfoliating moisturizer like Excipial Urea Hydrating Healing Lotion to treat them. Shaving too much can also lead to razor burn says Dr. O'Connell. To prevent it, use a gentle shaving cream or gel such as Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel.
Mistake #6: Not Moisturizing Properly
"It is essential to moisturize immediately out of the shower to lock in the moisture and reduce inflammation from shaving," says Dr. Nussbaum. She suggests using Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil or Aveeno Eczema Therapy to intensely hydrate and calm the skin.
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Images: Venus (2); Amazon (10)