8 Mistakes You're Making When You Shave Your Legs

It's such a basic fact of human female existence, and yet so misunderstood. 

Cyle Suesz

1. Shaving your legs as soon as you hop into the shower

Understandably, you want to get your morning routine underway, but experts advise hanging out in the shower or bath for about 15 minutes before you start shaving—this will soften the hair and open up follicles. Any longer, though, and your skin will wrinkle and swell, making it harder to score a close shave.

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2. Doing it first thing in the morning

Shaving at night will leave your legs smoother. As you sleep, your legs swell slightly, which can make hair retreat back into its follicles. 

3. Not using anything to lather up (or worse, using bar soap)

No matter how in a hurry you may be, skip the temptation to shave "dry." Lather up your legs with a moisturizing shaving cream to make sure the razor glides easily over your skin, and you'll avoid nicks and cuts. In a pinch, hair conditioner will do just as good a job. But skip the bar soap: "It doesn't create enough lubrication for a razor to slide easily against your skin, which can up the odds of cuts," dermatologist Ellen Gendler, M.D., told Good Housekeeping.

4. Using those single-blade disposable razors

This is fine once in awhile, like if you're staying in a hotel, but for everyday use it's best to invest in a four- or five-blade razor. They provide the smoothest results, letting you navigate tricky areas like your knees and ankles. "Single-blade disposables are likelier to drag against the skin," says cosmetic dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D.

5. Not replacing your razor blade often enough

You may have bought yourself a nice razor, but it won't do you any good if you don't change your blade at the first sign of dullness (usually, about five to 10 shaves). Old blades are not only ineffective, but more likely to cause bumps and redness and trap bacteria, which can potentially cause infections.

6. Shaving up the leg before you shave down the leg

On your first pass, only shave in the direction your hair grows (down the leg), and if you have very sensitive skin, don't shave upward at all. While going "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 much safer. "If you'd still like a closer shave, reapply the gel and shave again—against the direction of the hair growth," says Schultz. 

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7. Not preventing or treating razor burn

Close shaving can result in ingrown hairs, and untreated razor burn can turn into long-term scars. To help prevent those annoying red bumps in the first place, use an exfoliating body scrub twice a week to shed the skin that's trapping hairs. To treat bumps, put a warm compress on the affected area—the heat will relax the hair. After showering, apply lotion to soften the hair, leaving your skin less prone to infections.

8. Shaving with a guy's razor

A lot of women think using a men's razor is more effective, so we tested the market leaders. The three-blade Gillette Mach3 disposable finished in last place, while the refillable three-blade Gillette Mach3 Turbo did just as well as the top women's razors.

You should also check out:

9 Skin Treatments You Can Make Yourself 

What Your Skin Is Trying to Tell You

Your Biggest Laser Hair Removal Questions—Answered!

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