Did someone teach you how to shave your legs? Because we can’t recall anyone giving us an offical rundown on the proper way to do it. Hands up who else has just been slathering shaving cream/body wash/shampoo on their legs and just going for it since day one? Because, SAME.
While there’s a wide selection of hair removal options on the market - such as laser hair removal, waxing and depilatory creams - shaving your legs is undoubtedly the easiest and quickest solution of them all. Plus, it’s way more affordable than other options - you can pick up a razor and shaving cream from almost any supermarket or pharmacy.
The cons? Unfortunately, shaving legs means that regrowth does happen quite quickly, and because hair is cut off at the surface, it can appear thicker. What’s more, shaving your legs can often result in razor burn, nicks and ingrown hairs.
But the good news is that by perfecting your shaving technique (and using the right products), you can easily avoid all of the above and enjoy a closer, smoother shave, as well as happy, irritation-free skin. So, fellow women (and men!), listen up! We spoke to dermal therapist Dr Giulia D'Anna from Dermal Distinction to get the lowdown on the best way to shave legs.
Grab a clean, sharp razor
You only use the best skin care products on your face, so why cheap out when it comes to investing in a good quality razor? Trust us, it can make all the difference. We suggest reaching for one that’s firm and sturdy, with at least three blades. Sensitive skin? Look for a razor with moisture strips like Gillette Venus ComfortGlide Razor in Sugarberry.
Remember, disposable razors are labelled as disposable for a good reason and you probably shouldn’t hang on to it for more than a month. And guys, if it’s rusty, don’t use it (obvs). “Changing blades is important to make sure that you don’t cut yourself, get the closest possible shave, and also don’t miss any hairs. Looking at blades under a microscope shows that each shave causes the blades to blunt,” explains Dr D’Anna.
So how often should you change your razor? “After about 10 shaves, the blades are not in good condition at all, so this would be the perfect time to swap to a new razor,” advises Dr D'Anna.
Apply water and shaving cream
There's nothing worse than being left with rough, bumpy skin after shaving; prepping the area before shaving is a serious must in order to avoid razor burn and irritation. Using shampoo or dry shaving is a big no. “Using shampoo to shave is a common mistake – the pH of shampoo can cause irritation or red bumps to appear,” says Dr D'Anna.
Using the right kind of products made specifically for shaving (such as a quality shaving gel, shaving cream or shaving soap) will help keep your skin moisturised and allow the razor blade to glide over the surface of the skin (we like Dermalogica’s Soothing Shave Cream). Dr D'Anna says, “Begin by wetting the skin, and apply shaving cream. Work it into a lather and let it sit for a minute or two to soften the hair.”
Shave against the direction of hair growth
If you want to know how to shave legs correctly, this is a big one to remember: “To get the closest shave, you need to go against the direction of hair growth, and use a clean sharp razor,” says Dr D'Anna. “Then, starting at the ankle, sweep upwards towards the knee. Every swipe or two, rinse the shave under hot water to release the cut hairs, or the shave will not be clean and you also risk nicking yourself.”
Remember, there’s no need to press hard as this further increases the chance of you cutting yourself. Be gentle and take your time.
Rinse your legs immediately after shaving
This one may seem obvious, but once you’ve shaved your legs make sure you rinse them (cold water is best) and pat them dry, because leaving shaving cream on your legs can clog up your pores and cause irritation. If you notice a shaving rash or have itchy legs post-shave, apply a cold-soaked towel or aloe vera on the area. To help reduce inflammation and avoid those red dots after shaving, you can apply tea tree oil (a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic). We like Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil.
Apply a moisturiser
Dr D’Anna says, “To reduce the chance of ingrown hairs, moisturise your legs every day. There are some great moisturisers that have a small amount of lactic acid in them. This helps to reduce the amount of dead skin cells that sit on the surface of the skin, possibly blocking the hair from popping through the skin.” We recommend NeoStrata Ultra Smoothing Cream 10% AHA.
Another top tip on how to get smooth legs and how to prevent ingrown hairs is to exfoliate. But should you exfoliate before or after shaving? Well, Dr D’Anna says a gentle scrub beforehand is a good idea, as well as regularly exfoliating on the days following your shaving session. “Exfoliating about once a week is a great at allowing the hair to grow through without any problems, and also lets the moisturiser work its magic as it doesn’t need to fight through layers of dead skin cells. I like Organic Nation Black Rice Scrub to do this, and it smells so good too.”
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.