We've all been there: One minute, you're rushing to get ready, and make an impulse-decision to quickly shave, the next, your skin feels hyper-sensitive and irritated, and you immediately regret jumping the gun. If you're curious as to how to avoid sensitive skin after shaving, I turned to a professional dermatologist to get the deets — and I'm not just talking about shaving your legs; this goes for underarms, the bikini line, the face, and/or wherever else you fancy a little hair removal. Nobody has to shave, but if you're someone that wants to, be sure you're approaching the process the right way so as to avoid any potential irritation.
To get the scoop on the world's oldest form of hair removal, I spoke with Deanne Robinson, MD, a dermatologist in Westport, Connecticut, on all things shaving-related. My first ask was why skin gets so sensitive post-shave in the first place, and of course Dr. Robinson had the scoop. "When we shave, we are tugging at the hair follicle, which can cause inflammation while simultaneously exfoliating the skin as a whole," Dr. Robinson explained, adding, "If there are dead skin cells in excess on the skin's surface those two will get 'tugged at' by the razor." She also notes that sometimes, skin can be totally fine during the actual shaving process, and react poorly afterwards as a result of products applied post-shower. "This has to do with what is applied topically after shaving while the pores are open and vulnerable to irritation," says Dr. Robinson.
Is There A Right Time To Shave?
Personally, I've always shaved whenever felt most convenient in my daily routine, but according to Dr. Robinson, there's a proper time and place to do the deed. "I always recommend to shave last in the shower routine," she advises, adding, "The warm water will soften the hair making it less coarse against the razor's pull." If you're the type to end your shower with a cold-water rinse for extra-shiny strands, get your shaving done beforehand, as Dr. Robinson notes warm water is key.
How Often Should I Be Shaving?
At this point, you might be questioning your entire shaving routine, but don't freak out! Next, I asked Dr. Robinson how frequently should someone shave so as not to cause irritation and sensitivity. Her answer? "It depends on the speed of any one individual's hair growth cycle," she insisted. "On average, I'd say to wait at least three weeks for bikini area, two days for underarms and 2 to 3 days for legs," she advised. Noted!
What Products Should I Be Using?
To avoid dead skin buildup messing with your razor, exfoliating pre-shave is key. My personal favorite product for this is the L'Occitane Almond Shower Exfoliating Scrub ($34, loccitane.com), as it gets the job done without being too harsh on my skin, and smells like a dream and a half. When it comes to my razor of choice, the Venus ComfortGlide 3-Blade White Tea Women's Razor ($8, target.com) is a great option with moisturizing bars of soap above and below the blades. A fresh blade is key when preventing sensitive skin, so subscription services like Billie that deliver you new razors as often as you'd like are also fantastic options.
As for shaving cream? Dr. Robinson has some preferences. "I recommend using a shave gel, or even hair conditioner, which can be great at softening the hairs and creating a smooth barrier between the razor and the skin." The Flamingo Foaming Shave Gel ($5, flamingo.com) certainly fits the bill, thanks to its ultra-conditioning formula with aloe vera.
What To Do Once I'm Done Shaving?
As Dr. Robinson said, it's important not to slather on heavy products immediately post-shave, when your pores are especially open and vulnerable. When you are ready to hydrate, though, Nécessaire's The Body Serum ($45, necessaire.com) is a fantastic choice, with ingredients that suit the body and face, including hydrators like hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, as well as replenishers like ceramides and barrier protectors like vitamin B3. Another cool product is the Oui Shave Deep V Bikini Line Sheet Mask ($38 for 5, ouishave.com), a medical grade serum on a biocellulose sheet mask that can be used post-shower to prevent irritation and give skin some extra TLC and hydration.
The proper prep, execution, and aftercare are all key to nailing a great shave, but when all is said and done, it's not that difficult! Don't forget to remember Dr. Robinson's tips and give your bod a little extra love next time you reach for the razor.