Tips and steps to follow to shave your legs perfectly — for ladies

Woman shaving her leg

There's a good chance you've been shaving your legs for years — maybe decades. But that doesn't mean you've been doing it right this whole time. If you're still tolerating bumps, missed spots and other less-than-ideal results then you are definitely doing it the wrong way. Read on to find out how to shave your legs perfectly, plus discover the most common mistakes we make when we're shaving.

When shaving legs, underarms or bikini area, proper moisturization is a vital first step. Never shave without first moistening dry hair with water, as dry hair is difficult to cut and breaks down the fine edge of a razor blade. A sharp blade is crucial to getting a close, comfortable, irritation-free shave. A razor that scratches or pulls needs a new blade immediately.

Leg-shaving Tips for Women

☛ Moisten skin with water for about three minutes, then apply a thick shaving gel. Water plumps up the hair, making it easier to cut, and the shaving gel helps retain the moisture.

☛ Use long, even strokes without applying excessive pressure. Shave carefully over bony areas like ankles, shins, and knees.

☛ For knees, bend slightly to pull the skin tight before shaving, as a folded skin is difficult to shave.

☛ Stay warm to prevent goosebumps, as any irregularity in the skin surface can complicate shaving.

☛ Wire-wrapped blades help prevent careless nicks and cuts. Don't press too hard! Simply let the blade and handle do the work for you.

☛ Remember to shave in the direction of hair growth. Take your time and shave carefully over sensitive areas. For a closer shave, carefully shave against the grain of hair growth.

After-shave activities: Give your skin 30 minutes off

Skin is at its most sensitive immediately after shaving. To prevent inflammation, let skin rest at least 30 minutes before:

Applying lotions, moisturizers or medications. If you must moisturize immediately following shaving, select a cream formula rather than a lotion, and avoid exfoliating moisturizers that may contain alpha-hydroxy acids.

Going swimming. Freshly shaved skin is vulnerable to the stinging effects of chlorine and saltwater, as well as suntan lotions and sunscreens that contain alcohol.

Steps to follow when shaving

1. Grab a Clean, Sharp Razor

Always use a razor that is dry, sharp and rust-free. Dull blades lead to nicks and cuts, so you want to avoid dull razors at all costs!

2. Wet Your Legs

It's important to soak your legs in the bathtub or shower for a few minutes before you shave. The heat and moisture will help your skin soften, leading to a closer and more comfortable shave.

3. Apply Shaving Cream

Squirt a dollop of shaving cream into your hand and spread a thin, even layer over the surface of your legs.

4. Shave Against the Direction of Hair Growth

Beginning at your ankle, slowly and carefully shave upward (an upward leg shave ensures you're shaving against the direction of hair growth, which provides a closer shave. While it's inadvisable on the bikini line due to potential razor burn, it's perfectly safe on your legs). There's no need to press hard—always be gentle. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to shaving. Take your time to avoid nicks and cuts.

5. Rinse Your Razor

After a few strokes, your razor will be filled with shaving cream. Rinse it off with clean, warm water and continue shaving.

6. Rinse Your Legs

Once you've shaved all the hair on your legs, rinse them off.

7. Make Sure You Shaved Everything

Now that you're legs are rinsed off, run your hands over them to make sure you got all the hairs. If you find any lingering stubble, reapply shaving cream to the spots with hair. Re-shave and rinse them again.

8. Dry Off and Moisturize

After drying off, use a lotion or oil to hydrate your legs. Moisturizing them will help prevent the little red bumps that can sometimes crop up after shaving. Want to slow down hair growth while you're at it? Some studies have suggested that lotion containing soy stunts hair growth on legs. (Sounds good to us!)

Now let's move beyond the basics and find out what shaving mistakes we're making and how to avoid them. Say goodbye to nicks, cuts, dry skin and razor burn—we're all about getting the closest, smoothest, safest shave ever!

Sudsing Up With Soap

For a smooth shave, body wash isn't going to cut it. (And let's not even go near bar soap.) Shave gel, foam, or cream may seem unnecessary, but it's vital to get a close shave and minimize bumps and redness. "Conditioning your skin before shaving will soften the hair and the hair follicle," says NYC dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D.. "That way, there's less irritation when a razor goes across your skin." Shave-specific products typically contain emollients that'll do the trick. If you're in a pinch and find yourself without shaving cream, reach for your conditioner, coconut oil or even olive oil. Avoid shampoo (which will irritate your skin as you shave) and bar soap (which will clog the blades of your razor).

Shaving As Soon As You Get in the Shower

No matter how tropical your shaving gel smells or how fresh your razor blade is, shaving's kind of a drag. So why put off the inevitable and save it for the end of your shower? There's a good reason: "Letting your skin sit in a wet, warm environment allows for your skin and hair to soften," says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a dermatologist in NYC. Softer hair and opened-up follicles (from the steam) make it easier to get a close, clean shave—so you're less likely to feel new stubble later that day.

Thinking More Pressure Makes For a Closer Shave

Less is more when it comes to the amount of pressure you're applying on your razor. You might be tempted to press down hard to get each and every hair, but it's actually making things worse. "The harder you bear down, the more uneven the skin surface becomes, because you're essentially creating dimples where the blade falls," explains Engelman. That makes it prime time for nicks and even missed patches since the razor isn't evenly slicing away the hairs.

Not Exfoliating at All

You might think that when you shave, you can skip your body scrub, which is understandable, considering you're basically scraping off the dead skin cells with your razor. This is wrong, but not entirely so. "Some people think that when you shave you’re also exfoliating your skin, which is technically true," says Engelman. "If you're prone to razor bumps and irritation, you may want to exfoliate the area beforehand to ensure that the hair can come cleanly out." Otherwise, those dead skin cells can clog up the razor blade, which is what causes razor burn, explains Bowe. Exfoliating first essentially creates a clean, even canvas for you to then remove hair.

Exfoliating and shaving are also key for helping with dry, itchy legs in the winter. Dermatologist Ranella Hirsch advises patients to keep shaving regularly, even in the winter, because foregoing shaving can actually make your skin more irritated and dry because the lack of shaving allows more and more dead skin to build up. Exfoliating and shaving also allow your moisturizer to penetrate the skin more effectively.

 Keeping Your Razor in Your Shower

Who knew razors were so high maintenance? "Not only can keeping your razor in a moist environment rust the blades, but it also increases your risk of bacterial or fungal infection," says Bowe. So much nope. After you shave, rinse your razor well with warm water, pat it dry with a towel, and stash it in a spot where it won't get wet. Plus, doing this gives you an opportunity to remove stragglers trapped in the blade—which you should do with a dry blade using a towel or toilet paper (and not, we repeat, not your fingers).

Rushing Through It

It's like a sad law of the universe: Trying to speed through your shave can cause nicks and cuts. If that happens, though, don't bother sticking a piece of tissue on it, which will only stay put for five seconds. "Rinse the area and rub a bit of antiperspirant on it," advises Engelman. "Antiperspirant contains aluminum chloride, which can constrict blood vessels and clot a nick." You could also apply an ice cube or eye drops to the area, both of which constrict the blood vessels and help the nick to clot more quickly. Then, seal it with a balm-like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, which helps protect bigger cuts and keeps them from scabbing over.


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