You’ve practically been doing it almost your entire life. Chances are you don’t even think about it anymore, you’re so confident in your shaving prowess.
But if you suffer from red bumps after you shave, or you’re not getting the smooth-as-silk results you see on other people, perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy. If you do shaving right, there shouldn’t be an uncomfortable price for smooth skin.
So often we get into the habit of being in a hurry when we shave and cut corners, but the payoff isn’t as great as you would like to think. Read on for tips to get your shaving done the right way.
Exfoliating before shaving clears the way for smooth shaving. It helps to get rid of dead skin cells that could clog up your razor. You can use either a mild scrub or an everyday exfoliant.
Hopefully you know that you shouldn’t be dry shaving. That’s just plain torture! But did you know that you should actually soak your skin for up to three minutes before shaving? “Hydrating the hairs makes them up to 60% easier to cut,” says Anita Sturnham, Venus Ambassador. That’s because soaking will soften the hair and open up the follicles. If you shave at the end of your shower, or just after you get out, your timing is perfect. Your skin will be warm, moist, and free of excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog up your razor blade.
To really do your skin a pampering service, use a moisturizing shave cream designed to absorb into the skin and soften the hair follicles for a more comfortable shave.
To get a good, clean shave, lather is really important. But you don’t want lather from your bar soap, which can dry out your skin. Using soap “doesn’t create enough lubrication for a razor to slide easily against your skin, which can up the odds of cuts,” states dermatologist Ellen Gendler, M.D. Just using whatever’s in the shower can “increase your risk of redness and irritation, and blunt your razor blades,” according to Sturnham.
Grab a good shave cream or conditioner. Cream-based products help to provide moisture, making for a smoother shave. Gels help to reduce friction while shaving, lessening your chances of irritation. If you have very dry or sensitive skin, look for one that says “sensitive skin” on the label.
Use the Right Razor
While convenient, those single-blade disposable razors aren’t doing your shave job or your skin any justice. The right tool is one that is rounded with a pivoting head and a handle with a soft grip. Maneuverability is key when working around places like your chin, knees, and ankles, where the bone is close to the skin surface.
The more blades the better, so you won’t have to go over the same area more than once, increasing your chance of cuts and nicks. “A razor with more blades means that the pressure is distributed across more evenly,” says Adam Boulding of Venus Scientific. “Therefore less pressure is applied to any one spot of skin during the shave, reducing the probability of cuts.”
On top of using the right razor, you should change your blades regularly. A blunt blade increases friction against the skin and makes it more likely you’ll miss hairs. Because there are so many variables that go into how fast you burn through blades, you should pay attention. Sarah Woods, Marketing Director at Edgewell says you should change your blade whenever you start to feel tugging or pulling.That works out to be about once every 10 shaves.
Store your razor and blades upright in an area where it can dry out.
Shaving Technique is Key
With the right tools in place, and your pre-shaving routine done, you’re ready to begin the task.
Always shave in the direction that the hair grows to prevent razor bumps and burns, at least on your first pass. “If you’d still like a closer shave, reapply the gel and shave again – against the direction of hair growth,” Says cosmetic dermatologist, Neal Schultz, M.D. If you have sensitive skin, don’t shave upward at all.
Rinse the razor after each swipe. Once you’re completely finished, make sure that you rinse your skin completely before toweling off. If you can handle cold water, that’s a great way to help to “close” your pores.
Moisture is essential to keep your skin from becoming dry and irritated. Wait until your skin is completely dry before applying a moisturizing cream. Avoid lotions that contain alcohol, as they may cause irritation. Stay away from an exfoliating moisturizer, too, as it may contain alpha-hydroxy acids.
If you have areas of irritation or are prone to trouble after shaving, treat preventatively with a light skin oil designed to decrease inflammation, bumps, itchiness, and rashes. After stepping out of the shower, pat dry, and apply a product like DELTA-5 in a thin layer over the freshly shaved area. DELTA-5 can be used daily if you are dealing with ingrown hairs or razor burn. It has been well-received for its ability to quickly alleviate burns, cuts, scrapes, and nicks. Chances are, though, that if you follow the steps above, you’ll have sexy smooth skin, with no problems.