How to Avoid Razor Burn when Shaving your Legs
Why does razor burn happen in the first place? Well, razor burn is simply a sign of irritation. Many just deem it as having sensitive skin, but there are many factors that can cause you to experience "the burn".
Think about it for a second. A razor doesn't have a brain, and it doesn't have the smart technology to avoid the skin and only slice the hairs. Each time you run your razor across your skin, you are shaving your skin along with it. More on this later.
I've had a problem with razor burn ever since the beginning of time. I have sensitive skin and my hair is coarse and grows quick. It's the recipe for disaster with a razor. It wasn't until recently I started pinpointing things that could be linked with my frequent irritation.
Here's the story of my life - Day 1 of shaving is baby smooth. Still running pretty good on day 2. Then BAM. Irritation and fine grit sandpaper on day 3. Time to shave again! But wait!? Can't do it, because my skin is inflamed. After waiting for the irritation to subside after a couple of days, I'm left with prickly legs that are in dire need of a shave. All for the vicious circle to start up again.
Now let me go over some of the common mistakes and the solutions.
Your Water Is Too HOT
I bet this is one you've never thought of. I like my water to be as hot as I can tolerate before it burns. But guess what that does? It causes your skin to become sensitive (temporarily) so before you even start shaving, your skin is already red and irritated. Hot water softens the skin, making it easy to slouch off all of the dead skin cells, exposing your new, fresh and sensitive skin cells that lie underneath. It also opens up the pores, which some believe will give them a closer shave. Since we've already established that a razor not only shaves your hair, but your uppermost layer of skin - it all makes sense that using hot water isn't the best when shaving. Another important factor is that hot water actually strips the moisture from your skin, causing your skin to be dry, which will lead to itch and further irritation.
The solution: Use lukewarm water. You want to be comfortable, but you don't want the water to be cold (shaving goosebumps won't get you anywhere either).
We all love exfoliation. Exfoliating the legs with a good scrub or sponge will expose all of those stubborn in-growns/trapped hair follicles and will make your skin feel smooth. But since exfoliation removes the dead skin cells, you are left with squeaky clean skin and fresh, sensitive cells that are lacking the protective barrier you just removed. Your skin is very sensitive and shaving over it will only cause irritation.
The solution: If you are known to have issues with razor burn, keep your exfoliation to the days you are not shaving.
I thought these were genius until I bought a Schick Hyrdro 5 and had the worst razor burn ever. Depending on your skin, many of you can tolerate using five blades but for those of you with sensitive skin, you want to stay far, far away. If in fact, you want to use a razor with four or five blades, here is a piece of advice. Go over each area once, and do not press hard. I can't tell you how many times I went over my legs with a 5-blade razor to ensure the smoothest legs ever. I probably went over each area three times. Multiply that by the blades, that would technically be braising the skin with a blade 15 times. If you're one to one to shave using short, sweeping motions rather long strokes for a close shave - do the math. That is 25 times minimum. Ouch!
The solution: Less blades are better for skin. I use BIC Silky Touch Twin Disposable Razors and go over each area once, and if I must.. twice.
This one should be a no brainer. With dull razors, we have a tendency to press harder on our skin and go over the area many more times than with a new razor. Need I say more?
The solution: Have extra razors on hand. Buy a new pack even before you need one so you'll never use an old razor. Like I mentioned previously, I like buying disposable razors and tossing them after every couple of uses.
Pressing too Hard & Shaving Too Fast
We aren't trying to slice butter folks, so be gentle. Apply as little pressure as you can while still remaining to achieve a clean shave. It takes a little bit of practice, but it's something many of us don't pay attention to when shaving. Also, I don't know why anyone would think running sharp blades across their skin as fast as they can is a good idea. If you're in a rush, please rush a different step of your getting ready process.
The solution: Pay attention to the pressure you're applying when you're shaving. The razor should just be laying on top of the skin, it shouldn't be pressed into the skin. And, try not to rush!
Fragrance in Shave Creams
Although all of the different brands of Skintimate Shave Gels smell great, and they are readily available everywhere - Fragrance in skincare products can irritate sensitive skin, especially if you already suffer with dryness, eczema and other skin issues. It's also good to avoid common irritants such as alcohols, menthol and dyes. You want to look for moisturizing ingredients such as Shea Butter, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E and B5. So flip your products over and examine the labels!
The solution: Skip fragrance all together and try something like Kiss my Face Moisture Shave or Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel. This goes for your shower gel and lotion too! I like using St. Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter Body Wash.
So, let's go over a bad bath scenario and a good one -
Bad Bath Scenario: Turn the water on to the hottest you can tolerate. Let the whole bathroom steam up and enjoy the hot water hitting your body while you wash your body with a fragrance shower gel and abrasive bath sponge, making sure to scrub hard to soften your skin to get the closest shave possible. Then, wash your hair as the hot water continues to shower your body. 20 minutes later, lather up your legs with a fruity shower gel and with your boyfriend's 5-blade razor, shave your legs in short sweeping motions, going over areas numerous times until you don't feel any more stubble. Then, get a couple extra minutes of the smoothing hot water and turn the water off. Rub your body vigorously with your towel and you're good to go! (I feel bad for you in a couple of days.)
Good Bath Scenario: Turn your water on to lukewarm - you want it to be right in the middle. Since lukewarm water doesn't feel as soothing on your body as hot water, this is going to be a quick shower! Let the water hit your body while you wash your hair. Then wash your body (and any shampoo/conditioner residue left behind that can irritate your skin) with your non-fragrance, moisturizing shower gel and non-abrasive wash cloth making sure not to scrub too hard (only exfoliate where you are not shaving). Around five minutes should have passed, giving the hair enough time to soften. Lather up your legs in a non-fragrance shave gel and with your women's 2-blade disposable razor and light pressure, shave the legs in long strokes. Rinse your body with cool water to close your pores and pat your body dry with a towel. Apply a non-fragrance, moisturizing body lotion.
Bottom line is treat the skin on your body the same way you would treat your face, and don't use products on your skin that you wouldn't use on your new-born baby.
If all else fails, you may want to try this wonderful product called Tendskin. It's basically a mixture of alcohol and aspirin, so it will heal/soothe inflammation as well as disinfect the area so you won't get folliculitis or irritation. Aloe Vera also works wonders!