Shaving first became popular during World War II when nylon stockings were in short supply and bare legs became a trend that has yet to cease.
Today, women are increasingly turning to waxing and some are trying laser hair removal (see how my experience went in my Diary of a Laser Hair Removal Guinea Pig). However, shaving remains the least expensive form of hair removal.
Here are 10 shaving tips and tricks to ensure you're doing it the right way and cutting down on the nicks and irritation so common to shaved skin.
Skin Must Soften Before Shaving
You don't want to shave dry skin. To avoid nicks and cuts, wet your skin and let it soften from the heat and moisture. Shaving is a natural exfoliator and if you try to dry shave, you run the risk of clogging up the razor with dead skin while putting yourself at risk for nicks and razor burn.
Skip the Shaving Creams for Women
There's no need to waste your money on shaving creams formulated especially for women, they are virtually the same as the creams sold for men. (Now if you can just find a scent you can live with). My hands down favorite shaving cream works for both him and her. Kiehl's Close Shavers moisturizes like nothing else I've found. Buy it online.
Apply Baby Oil Before the Shaving Cream
To avoid razor burn in the shower, try this 2-step approach. Slather on baby oil in the tub to soften skin, then apply shaving cream. Since oil and water don't mix, the oil will stubbornly stay on throughout the duration of the shower and you will emerge nick- and razor-burn free with the smoothest softest legs.
If you run out of shaving cream, olive oil is great for shaving legs, according to a guest on the Today Show. Hair conditioner also works great for shaving because it's moisturizing. Shampoo is drying.
What to Look for in a Razor
You are going to have to experiment with razors until you find the perfect one for you. Ask your friends for recommendations and look for a razor with lubricated strips, pivoting heads and spring-mounted multiple blades. I've sampled several types and varieties and was amazed at how different each feels. My favorite? The Gillette Venus razor. Another great bet: Schick Quattro for Women, which has 4 super-thin blades and a pivoting head.
A Dull Razor Leads to Nicks
Be sure to change razors or cartridges on a regular basis; a dull blade can lead to nicks. Also, it's best not to borrow your guy's razor. His hair is coarser and will dull a blade. It's actually best to never use another person's razor because there is a chance you could get Hepatitis C from fresh blood on a razor. It's unlikely, but possible, according to Charles Daniel on About.com (see the article here).
Exfoliate Before Shaving
Be sure to exfoliate your skin before shaving. It gets rid of all the dead skin cells that could clog up your razor, preventing a close shave. There are several ways to exfoliate. You can use exfoliating gloves or a cloth in the shower or dry brush before you shower (never get a wooden brush wet, it will mildew fast). See "How to Exfoliate" for more information.
The Proper Way to Shave
Since your leg hairs grow down, you'll want to start at your ankles and shave up. For your underarms, you'll need to shave in every direction since the hair there grows in at many different angles.
Slather on the Moisturizer Apres-Shave
When finished shaving, apply oil or moisturizer. The skin on your legs has few oil glands and has a tendency for dryness. I like applying extra virgin coconut oil (or baby oil) on my legs after a shower and then toweling off the excess oil.
How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs are caused when the hairs curl back under the skin. Avoid ingrown hairs by exfoliating daily and using a glycolic acid cleanser on affected areas.
If you have a chronic case of ingrown hairs, try Tend Skin, an over-the-counter lotion for ingrown hairs, applying it in the morning and at night. The bumps should disappear within a couple days.
The Body Parts You Should Skip Shaving
Consider opting for waxing, at least on your bikini line and lower legs saving the razor for your underarms and upper legs. You'll find that if you have coarser hair, in time it won't grow back as fast. See Hair Removal: When Should You Shave, Wax, Laser or Tweeze?More hair removal tips: