I love the ease of summer dressing…throw a dress over my head and I’m done. I deeply appreciated this ease when I was very pregnant with my second child for most of the summer. I wore no maternity clothes — just easy, breezy (stretchy) dresses that effortlessly accommodated my spherical stomach, and still looked great once my son was “on the outside”. What a pleasure.
All. The. Shaving.
What was not a pleasure? All. The. Shaving. Made necessary by wearing dresses every day. So time-consuming, and with the astronomical price of razor blades, expensive! I also had to deal with my underarms: when I shaved every day the skin got so raw and irritated I had to gird my loins and say a prayer before applying deodorant. I made it my mission to shave so effectively that I could skip a day. Now, I’m just talking legs and underarms here; the bikini area should be waxed or lasered in my opinion. Here’s how I’m able to skip a shave…may these tips bring you smooth sailing, too!
Exfoliate First…But Gently!
I am a well-know exfoliating enthusiast. And getting rid of any dead skin will certainly yield a closer shave. However! Shaving itself is very exfoliating, so you don’t want to run a razor over skin you just scrubbed like the dickens. It can lead to major redness and irritation…and it sure won’t tickle (I speak from experience here). A gentle body scrub applied with a light touch, or cleaning with an exfoliating body towel should do the trick.
Don’t Shave First Thing in the Morning
I know this is tough, as most of us shower — and therefore shave — in the AM. But as you sleep, your legs swell slightly, which can cause hair to retreat back into the follicle. Know how your face can look puffy first thing in the morning? Same goes for your gams. Shaving in the afternoon or at night will allow you to get a closer shave, so if you can postpone your shave until later in the day, do.
Don’t Shave Your Legs as Soon as You Get in the Shower
Understandably, you want to get your morning routine underway, but it really is best to hang out in the shower or bath for about 10 minutes before you start shaving. This will soften the hair and open up follicles. But don’t wait too long! Your skin will start to wrinkle and swell, and it’ll then be harder to get a close shave. Also, water temperature is important! It should be warm; if it’s too chilly the hair won’t soften up and if it’s too hot it can dry out skin. Make the shower warm yet comfortable and you should be okay.
Are You Really Using Bar Soap to Shave?!
No matter how big a hurry you may be in, skip the temptation to shave with just water or with a soap or shower gel. Soap doesn’t create enough lubrication for your razor to glide easily over skin, which can lead to more cuts. Lather up your legs with a moisturizing shaving cream (I prefer creams to gels or foams, but it’s a matter of personal preference) to avoid nicks and cuts and to get a closer shave. In a pinch, hair conditioner will do just as good a job…in fact, we’ve been told by a very reputable source that Philip Kingsley Elasticizer makes a great shave cream! Though you don’t want to borrow your guy’s razor (see my last bullet point), you can borrow his shaving cream. I love shaving with Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream — it smells fantastic, gives me a close shave and never leaves my skin dry.
What’s the Best Direction to Shave?
If you have the time, shave down your leg before you shave up. On your first pass, shave in the direction your hair grows (down the leg). Why? While shaving against the grain may get you a closer shave, it also increases the possibility of irritation, nicks, and cuts. Once your hairs are already very short, and the skin is warm and lubricated, going against the direction of hair growth is safer. Reapply your shave cream and shave again — against the direction of the hair growth. *ALSO*, rinse your razor after every run! It doesn’t matter how many blades that thing has; if they’re all clogged with hair, it can give a close shave. I like to blast mine with running water, rather than just shake it under water, as this really gets rid of any buildup.
Underarm Hair Grows in Every Direction!
You want to go over the area from several different angles. I apply my shave cream with my opposite hand (you want to be able to get a good grip with your other hand), and then use the hand of the arm I’m shaving under to pull the skin taut. Bend your arm and pull up right above where the hair starts growing. It sounds trickier than it is, and actually makes a huge difference in getting a close shave.
Are You Really Using Those One-blade Disposable Razors?!
You’re a big girl now, use a big girl razor. A single blade razor is fine in a pinch, like if you’re staying in a hotel and forgot to pack your razor, but for everyday use take my advice and invest in a five-blade razor. I LOVE Gillette Venus, especially the ones with the Olay moisturizing strip built in. They provide the smoothest results, letting you navigate tricky areas like your knees and ankles without nicking yourself. Those single-blade disposables are likelier to drag against the skin, and don’t give you nearly as close of a shave.
You’re Using Your Razor Blade HOW MANY Times?
Listen, I get it. Every time I buy razor blades I wonder when Hattori Hanzo became CEO of Gillette. Why…HOW are they $4 a pop?! But a nice razor is useless if you don’t change the cartridge at the first sign of dullness. For me this is usually about five to seven shaves. Old blades are not only less effective, but also more likely to cause bumps/redness and trap bacteria, which can potentially cause infections.
Don’t Shave with Your Guy’s Razor…
Unless you’re looking for a bathroom bloodbath. A lot of women think using a men’s razor is more effective, and it is, if you’re shaving a man’s face. A man’s razor is not designed to navigate a woman’s body, and the handle is completely inadequate — it’s too skinny and not rubbery enough — for the amount of water and lather a woman needs to shave her body in the shower. This makes it easy to lose your grip and cut yourself but GOOD. Steer clear.
After Your Shower
Show skin some extra love with an alcohol-free lotion. Emma Hardie Body Butter is fantastic! As much as I LOVE body oil, I try not to put it on freshly-shaved skin — I find it can lead to bumps. A nice lotion will help to lock in moisture and add a nice sheen to skin — perfect for the short shorts of summertime!
Do you have any sharp shaving wisdom? Please share in the comments below!
By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack