Shaving your body can be super-awkward. Between contorting your body into yogalike positions to get to those hard-to-reach areas (hello, ankles and bikini lines) to deciding between shaving gels or creams, you probably aren’t sure what the heck you’re doing. It’s also one of those grooming practices we don’t have a ton of helpful tutorials to rely on for guidance, and just doing a random online search doesn’t quite cut it either.
On the upside, there are dermatologists and all-around shaving experts who really know their stuff when it comes to not only skin car but keeping you from looking like you went to war with your razor blade and lost. Nicks, cuts, prickly cactus-like stubs — the struggle is real.
If you are completely cool with keeping your body hair this summer, cheers to you! But if you aren’t feeling all the extra hair during the season when skin is in, we have enlisted expert advice to help break down all the do’s and don’ts you need to know before your next at-home shaving session.
Do warm up with a shower or bath
Prepping your skin for shaving is just as important as one would consider applying leave-in conditioner before detangling knotted hair. If you are going to shave during a shower or bath, New York City-based medical esthetician Tamila Deveny recommends shaving toward the end of showering. This helps to warm up and soften your skin. “When your skin is warm, it will give your hair follicles a chance to properly soften, which lowers your risk of irritation,” she says.
Don’t shave against the grain
When it comes to shaving against or with the grain, it can sometimes simply be a matter of preference. However, shaving against the grain disrupts your natural growth pattern and can aggravate the skin more easily. As an alternative to having to think so deeply into which way to go, you can always try a hair growth-inhibiting lotion such as Completely Bare Don’t Grow There Body Moisturizer & Hair Inhibitor to reduce the density of hair growth in certain areas, as well as to protect the skin from inflammation with powerful ingredients such as white willow bark.
Do use a shave gel or cream
If you simply grab the closest bar soap in sight to lather up before shaving, you’re taking a risk that could cause unwanted irritation. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains, “Ingredients in soaps are designed to remove dirt and oil from the skin. On the other hand, proper shave prep products consist of ingredients that are hydrating and slippery to decrease friction when shaving so the blade doesn’t have to work so hard.” Levin’s doctor-approved pick: Skintimate Ultra Sensitive Shave Gel. It’s hydrating, hypoallergenic, and loaded with nourishing ingredients such as sunflower seed oil glyceride.
Don’t press so hard
In this case, the idea of “go hard or go home” does not apply. Ease up a bit on the razor when it comes to hair removal, as pressing too hard can lead to unsightly cuts that you’d have to cover up with bandages. “Unfortunately, the firm pressure is most likely to result in trauma [to the skin] more than anything else,” says Shereene Idriss, MD, of Union Square Dermatology. “If you have a good razor, the blades are sharp enough to get you a close shave without needing the physical push.”
Do have a seat
If you are trying to properly remove hair from your kneecaps or ankles, experts agree that sitting down while doing so is one of your best bets. “Most people try to do some crazy acrobatics in the shower while shaving, which, not to state the obvious, can lead to pretty traumatic experiences,” says Idriss. “I always recommend getting a shower stool that you can sit on while shaving or use as support.”
Don’t skip out on aftercare
“An easy addition to your shave routine that is necessary is moisturizing the skin afterwards,” says Levin. “Shaving causes micro-injuries to the skin, which can result in irritation, burning, redness, and dryness. If you do develop mild irritation, I recommend an over-the counter-gentle cortisone or a petrolatum-based ointment like Aquaphor to soothe inflammation. If hyperpigmentation or dark spots occur as a result of inflammation, sunscreen is 100 percent necessary to prevent further darkening of the skin.”
It’s also vital to exfoliate the skin with a scrub to help clear the shaved areas of anything left behind — especially down below the belt. “Ingrown hairs are inevitable, and the bikini area is prone to them,” says Idriss. “By getting in the habit of exfoliating with a loofah or a scrub, you are less likely to experience the pains of an ingrown hair.”
Do choose the right tools
Thanks to vloggers and celebrities, shaving your face with a disposable razor has gone viral in recent years. However, this might not be the best method of hair removal for your face if you want to avoid irritated and inflamed skin. Instead, you should opt for something designed specifically for this type of hair removal, such as Dermaflash. “Dermaflash was specifically designed for the delicate skin and peach fuzz on a woman’s face,” says Dara Levy, the product’s founder. “It is a first-in-class device that sweeps away dead skin cells, built-up debris, and peach fuzz, and instantly reveals a smooth, radiant, fuzz-free complexion.”
When it comes to the body, it’s better to go with a razor that will do most of the heavy lifting for you. A dull razor is an absolute no-no, as it can cause and make irritation worse. “I recommend my patients to look for a five-bladed razor, like Schick Hydro Silk razor, because this allows for the closest shave with one pass rather than having to shave over the same area multiple times,” says Levin. “The way a five-razor blade works is that the first blade lifts the hair, the second cuts the tip of the hair, the third cuts the hair even shorter, the fourth even more, and the fifth blade cuts the hair as close to the skin as possible.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- This Fitness Blogger Hasn’t Shaved Her Body Hair in Over a Year
- Get the Perfect Summer Shave
- First-Time Hairstylist Cara Delevingne Gave a Woman a Crazy Buzz on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’