There are few things as gratifying as feeling the smooth, soft skin of your body after you’ve just shaved — and few things as annoying as the scratchy stubble that rubs against you when you cross your legs or graze your skin. Of course, that’s not to say that body hair has to be removed, especially because you can’t claim to be all about natural health if you don’t acknowledge that body hair is both purposeful and nothing to be ashamed of. But if you want smooth, hairless skin, the dream is to make your shave last longer without prickles.
The good news is the shaving industry has come a long way in the last decade. Products and razors are being made more thoughtfully. Consumers have choices when it comes to in-store or online direct-to-consumer shaving products. And it’s no longer simply a choice between a rigid no-frills blade and one with a 4-inch soap bar attached to it. Even so, post-shave prickliness still exists!
There are options aside from shaving if you want to get rid of body hair, such as waxing or laser hair removal. But these can be irritating, time-consuming, and expensive — all of which bring you back to the basics of a shower, soap, and a blade. There are some solid ways to get a close shave with your razor that’ll keep your skin feeling smooth. Read on for tips and products that’ll help give you a long-lasting shave without that prickly feeling afterwards.
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1. Exfoliate Your Skin
The closer you can get to the root, the longer your shave will last, but if you’ve got dead skin blocking your razor, you’ll end up with prickly hairs in no time. Exfoliating is an obvious solution to this, but, as Dr. Anar Mikailov, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of KP Away explains, you need to be careful with the timing. “Avoid exfoliating right before you shave,” he tells Bustle. Exfoliation causes inflammation, and so does shaving — so when you do both too close together, the skin gets “a double hit,” he says, which will result in irritation.
2. Shave As The Last Step In The Shower
When you’re in the shower, shaving should be the absolute last thing you do before you hop out and dry off. The more time your skin has in the shower, the more the steam and water will help prep it for hair removal. “Warm water will relax the hair follicles and moisten the skin,” Mikailov says, which ultimately means a smoother shave. “The razor will be able to slide with minimal friction, which in effect leads to less irritation,” he adds. In other words: You’ll be better able to avoid the inflammation that causes post-shave prickliness.
3. Use A Shaving Foam Or Gel
Choosing a shaving foam, gel, cream, or mousse comes down to your preferences more than anything else. These are preferable for those who want to see the pathways of their progress. These products tend to be more visually obvious so you’re less likely to miss a spot.
4. Consider A Shaving Oil
You could also use shaving oil, which is a great choice if you want extra hydration. Just note that — while it’s a good option for some — these can be harder to see on your skin, create a slippery surface, and require a wait time between application and shaving, says Mikailov.
Shaving oils may also be preferable for people who want to pare down the ingredients in their personal care products. Typically, these are squalane and jojoba oil-based since “[these ingredients] are the closest oils to replicate natural human skin sebum,” Mikailov says.
5. Try An Electric Shaver
You don’t have to use a standard razor for your shave. According to Mikailov, an electric shaver is an excellent option for people with longer and/or thicker hairs. The current class of e-shavers are aerodynamically shaped and created to help avoid irritation or any chances of nicking — but Mikailov says that also means forfeiting the closeness you’d get from shaving with a manual razor.
6. Use A Thick Moisturizer
Moisturizing both before and after you shave will keep your skin smooth, hydrated, and not so prickly. When shopping for a post-shave moisturizer, Mikailov says the product should be emollient (or thick), fast-absorbing, unscented, and contain plain ingredients. Because of the inflammation your body goes through during the shaving process, steering clear of chemical exfoliating ingredients (say AHAs or BHAs) and fragrance can help bypass the irritation that can cause bumpy and prickly skin.
7. Pick An Efficient Blade
A dull razor means less control, a higher chance of cutting yourself, and the inability to get a close shave. “A good, smooth shave starts with a great high-quality razor blade,” Mikailov says. Depending on your comfort level this can be a safety (single-blade) razor or a less daunting multi-blade razor. Generally speaking, Mikailov recommends switching to a new blade after four to six uses depending on the thickness of your hair. You can also stock up on a razor blade sharpener to keep your go-to stick primed for use.
8. Try At Home Laser Hair Removal
If you are willing to spend more time and money on your hair-removal techniques, there’s another at-home option that will help you achieve a less prickly shave: an at-home laser hair removal kit. Although it was once a treatment only available at a professional practitioner’s office, there are now a plethora of tools that let you do it on yourself.
These home laser hair removal products are on the pricier end of shaving products, usually costing somewhere between $200 and $500. But an in-office treatment can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 per session depending on the area and severity of treatment. The main goal of laser hair removal, however, is to prevent the regrowth of hair over time — which means a more permanent solution to prickliness. So the benefit might outweigh the initial cost if this is your end goal.
9. Use An Epilator
Another alternative tool is an epilator. Like laser, “epilating has a much better long-term hair removal effect,” Mikailov says. With an epilator device, your results will fall in between what you’d get from waxing and plucking. While you move the tool around the hairy areas of your body, it grabs and removes hairs from the root.
10. Shave With The Grain
There are two things to keep in mind when shaving with a razor if you want to avoid stubble. Shaving with the grain, i.e. in the direction your hair grows, will minimize your chances of irritation, razor burn, or shaving bumps. That said, “shaving against the grain does allow for the closest shave possible,” Mikailov tells Bustle.
11. Get Rid Of Razor Bumps For Next Time
Getting rid of or minimizing the razor bumps and irritation you experience from a shave can help ensure smooth sailing the next time you pick up a blade. If the bumpiness and irritation is a longstanding problem, Mikailov recommends heading straight to a dermatologist. Otherwise, he advises remembering to moisturize regularly and find time to exfoliate in between shaves. And, thanks to the rise of body serums and body-focused skin care, there are daily products and treatments that can be used to help give you the best, smoothest skin ever — that actually lasts.
Evans, R.L. (2020). The impact of different hair-removal behaviours on the biophysical and biochemical characteristics of female axillary skin. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12648
Tang, S-C. (2018). Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017965/
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