I was born with the joy of fair, delicate skin. When I go to the beach, I burn and freckle. In the winter, I become a moisturizing zealot and in summer hoarding exuberant amounts of sunscreen is a way of life. And when I shave, rash and razor burn follow me like the plague (which is unfortunate, because I work in gyms where it’s shorts/tank top season year round).
Truth be told, even if your skin isn’t irritated as easily as mine (like a difficult relative at a family reunion), shaving can be a hassle. I’ve known many women who plan their weekly outfits around shaving and non-shaving days. Because let’s face it, whether we’re talking legs, underarms, or the dreaded bikini zone, no one wants to use terms like “razor burn”, “ingrown hairs” or “rash” to describe themselves in a sentence.
Fortunately, there is a better way to navigate your shaving routine. You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive creams, treatments or salon services. By following some of these simple tips, you can enjoy your time at the beach or the gym bump, breakout and hair free!
DON’T SHAVE EVERY DAY
The process of shaving itself takes a toll on your skin. Your razor blade isn’t only skimming away hair, it’s taking away the topmost layer of your skin. Continuously removing it without giving your skin time to recover can not only damage it but increase your skin’s sensitivity as you age. Shaving every day might feel fine when you’re 16 but it can come back to bite you in your 20’s, 30’s and beyond. Give yourself 2-3 recovery days between shaves.
INVEST IN A GOOD RAZOR
It doesn’t require a fortune, but this is one tool to consider an investment. Cheaply made razors often aren’t getting the job done effectively and require double or triple the strokes and effort. Also, don’t necessarily associate ‘more blades’ with ‘better quality’ on a razor. A well made two-bladed razor can work better than a poorly crafted four-blade razor. Experiment with which razors work best for you. (Money-saving tip: look at men’s razors. Sometimes the same basic razor for a woman will be pricier than a man’s due to the extra decorative frills, not quality).
SHAVE IN THE SHOWER
Or tub, if you’re a bath person. Believe it or not, this makes a huge difference. Your skin should be prepped with warm water or steam prior to every shave. Why? It softens the hairs and loosens the skin by opening the pores. This allows you to get a cleaner shave with each stroke because the hairs are able to stand straight up. Tough, downward facing hairs require more strokes and more tugging at the skin (hello irritation).
Before you bust out your razor, take a couple minutes to gently exfoliate your skin with a loofah or sponge. This helps remove dead skin and any substances that could potentially clog pores. (I find it’s particularly helpful in preventing ingrown hairs.)
Ditch the shaving cream
Shaving creams and gels can irritate sensitive skin due to added chemicals, moisturizers and fragrances. Try baby oil; it’s simply mineral oil that lubricates for a smooth shave while moisturizing and protecting against breakouts. Since it’s clear, you can see hair and get a more precise shave without blindly swiping the same spots over and over. I prefer Johnson’s hypoallergenic baby oil because it’s gentle, works well and that big, affordable bottle lasts a long time. Oil won’t clog up your razor any more than creams or gels. As with any time you shave, you should be rinsing and tapping the blades out every 2-3 strokes to preserve your razor and prevent transferring gunk back into your pores.
MOISTURIZE DIRECTLY AFTER
Your skin will already be somewhat moisturized by merely shaving with baby oil. But it never hurts to use a dash more afterward. After you’ve finished, rinse your skin off well and then gently rub a dash more baby oil onto the area you shaved.
AVOID POST-SHOWER GOOSEBUMPS
You probably know the dreaded feeling of stepping out of a warm shower into the cold air: all the hair prickles up suddenly into stubble and your shaving efforts seem lost. It’s no bueno. I personally find that each time this happens, ingrown hairs follow like clockwork. The best way I’ve found to avoid them is by drying off before exiting the shower; it lessens the severity of cool air hitting your steamy skin. Simply hang your towel over the edge shower rod before you get in for easy access when you’re shower is finished.
While you may not be able to prevent having sensitive skin sometimes, you can take steps to prevent irritating it. Since implementing these strategies a few years back, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way my skin reacts after shaving it. Give it a try, and you could begin experiencing the benefits too!
All writing copyright © 2018 Rachel Elise Weems Woods
Images copyright © Bigstockphoto.com