When you have a date with your razor, get the most out of it (minus annoying stubble and bumps) with these tips from Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, and Josh Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Save Shaving for Last
“The longer you’re in the shower, the more time your skin and hair have to soften up so it’s easier to shave,” Bowe says. So wash your hair and face before grabbing your razor to ensure your hair has reached optimal shaving conditions.
To get the closest shave, Bowe recommends exfoliating first to remove dead skin cells that could clog your razor and cause razor burn. Lather up with a multitasking body wash that also exfoliates, like St. Ives Purifying Sea Salt Scrub ($3.19, walgreens.com). This will also help to prevent ingrown hairs.
Use Shaving Cream
Shaving gel or cream might mean an extra step (as opposed to just using body wash), but Zeichner says it’s worth it “to further soften the hair and skin, moisturize, and allow the blade to glide smoothly across skin.” Bowe also explains that “shaving on dry skin leads to more dryness and irritation,” and recommends staying away from a shaving cream with alcohol or fragrance if you have sensitive skin. Try Kiss My Face 4-in-1 Moisture Shave ($7, drugstore.com).
Skip Over Ingrown Hairs
You might think that shaving over your ingrown hairs will help them heal, but Bowe says it only irritates the follicle further. She recommends shaving around the inflamed hairs until they clear up. Can’t seem to kick them? Try dabbing on Fur Oil ($39, furyou.com). Specifically made for hair down there, it uses grapeseed and jojoba oils to soften and condition hair, tea tree oil to help keep pores clear, and clary sage seed oil to soothe and reduce inflammation.
Shave Both Ways
“Start by shaving in the same direction your hair grows, then shave up, against the grain,” Bowe says. “This method will allow the hair to grow back with a pointed tip so it looks thinner and feels smoother than a blunt edge.”
To prevent your razor from developing build-up and rusting, both Bowe and Zeichner recommend rinsing it thoroughly and patting dry after every use.
Always Follow With a Moisturizer
“You’re literally scraping off that first layer of skin and moisture with a blade when you shave, so you have to make sure you replenish that afterwards,” Zeichner says. Bowe likes using sunflower or coconut oil as a natural hydrater.
We all know we’re supposed to change our razor blades now and then, but exactly how often should you do it? “If there is any pulling or tension while shaving then the blades are dull and should be replaced,” Zeichner says. Schick Hydro Silk for Women Refill Cartridges ($16, drugstore.com) come with a little hanger attached so you can hang them in your shower for quick changes. The golden rule: every two to three weeks, depending on how often you shave.