When we’re young and first learning to shave our legs, it can take a little practice to perfect your technique, and you may get a few nicks in the process, as well as the dreaded razor burn. Here are the top things you’re doing wrong when shaving your legs — avoid them and get smoother skin than ever.
1. Exfoliating too soon before shaving
Shaving is actually a form of exfoliation, so if you rub your skin too raw and remove all those dead skin cells, it means too much irritation. After scrubbing, the pores on your legs are left more open, which will cause more cuts. Instead, do it at least 48 hours beforehand.
2. Long strokes are key
Short, uneven strokes will get you cut up in no time. Make sure your razor isn’t clogged with hair or shaving cream. Instead, focus on small sections and do long, slow strokes to avoid needing to patch up your leg with toilet paper.
3. Lotions with alcohol
If you’re using a shaving lotion with alcohol, it can dry your skin out further. Our legs are already dry after we shave, and if you’re concerned about what ingredients work best, consider coconut oil or Shea butter to stay hydrated and smooth.
4. Sharing razors
Though it might be convenient, it’s definitely not safe or hygienic. Sharing razors can spread fungi, bacteria, and other gross stuff. With blood present, you can even contract hepatitis B and C. Staph infections are also possible.
5. Old razors
Using an old disposable razor is a no-no! Even if you have one with ejectable blades, replacing those are important as well. When blades get duller, you have to go over certain spots hard, increasing risk of cut. Dull blades also cause razor burn.
6. Shave without a shower
You might think it makes no difference, but shaving mid-shower will allow your legs to absorb moisture better. It’ll prime the follicles and soften them, making the difficult task of shaving much easier.
7. Swimming afterwards
Whether it’s the chlorine in a pool or naturally exfoliating sand underneath your skin, your pores are open and sensitive during shaving, and doing this activity in any setting right after will leave your legs in chaos. Instead, wait a day and you should be in the safe zone.
8. Using soap instead of shaving cream
Shaving dry is the absolute worst thing that you can do, and will quickly cause ingrown hairs, razor burn and cuts. Soap scum will build up on your razor and make it less effective — instead, go for shaving gel — ideally one with aloe vera.
9. Switching directions
Always shave in the same direction. If you don’t, you’ll feel super irritated and have razor bumps for days. Going against the grain causes nicks and also tugs at the hair, whereas going in the same direction is safer. If you do need that close shave just be careful when you’re getting those tricky spots.
10. Not lotioning up afterwards
Just like using a shaving cream or gel with moisturizing ingredients is essential, putting some lotion (or oil) onto your still-damp skin will lock in the water, trapping it in your skin and keeping your hair more flexible.
11. If you’re a woman, using a single-blade men’s razor
Dollar store razors are tempting due to being so budget-friendly, but those single or double blade monstrosities do not work well with the curves of a woman’s body. Instead, opt for more blades — with a 5-blade option from brands like Venus or Schick which will follow your shape a little better and is most likely infused with a moisturizing strip.
12. Applying firm pressure
Pressing hard does not equal a closer shave! In fact, the firmer pressure you apply, the more you traumatize the skin. A lighter touch with newer blades is the way to go. Easy gliding should get the job done.
13. Leaning it on the shower ledge
Try not to keep your razor in a place here it will be constantly soaked in water. It can dull it faster and keep it dirty. After all, it’s basically just sitting in a puddle of still water with dead cells. Try to hang it up somewhere or place it in a less humid area of the bathroom. Yuck.
14. Take better prevention methods
Maintenance is key to stopping razor burn before it happens. When you shave to close, you cause ingrown hairs. To combat this (and long-term scars that can develop from it) use a body wash with exfoliating power, or an additional exfoliating scrub twice a week. This will shed the skin that’s trapping all those pesky hairs. If you do have ingrown hairs or bumps, apply a warm compress to relax the hair.