In 2014 at Arizona State University, Breanne Fahs, professor of women and gender studies, offered her female students extra credit if they stopped shaving under their arms for 10 weeks and wrote a journal about the experience. I wish I could say I would have volunteered, but blame it on the patriarchy, blame it on whatever, like most women who have grown up in the western world, I have spent a significant portion of my adult life torturing every single hair on my body.
When it comes to shaving, I have a love-hate relationship with the razor, cutting lots of corners and in the process, my skin. In an attempt to do better, I reached out to the awesome founder and CEO of Oui Shave (the first luxury shaving brand and subscription service for women, by women) Karen Young, to identify 8 of the most common shaving mistakes—and the simple solutions.
Prep your skin.
Before shaving, prep skin and remove dead cells by exfoliating with a washcloth, body scrub or dry brush. A good scrub lifts the hair from the skin, allowing the razor to get as close to the root as possible. Dry shaving might work occasionally, but it’s best to use a product to help the razor glide effortlessly over your skin for some slip.
Use shaving oil not foam.
Opt for a hydrating oil or lotion instead of a shaving foam to act as a barrier between your skin and the blade, allowing for a closer, smoother shave—moisture is key to keeping skin healthy while shaving. Stretch the skin taut while one hand while shaving the bikini area— areas where the skin is soft, like the bikini and underarm, pulling the skin taut creates a tighter, smoother surface for the razor to glide over.
Get skin steamy.
Shave at the end of your shower—a warm shower causes the hair follicles to swell, opening pores and softening the hair, and especially if yours is coarse, is a great way to achieve a smooth, close shave.
Grow your hair out.
Some people experience folliculitis (that's just fancy talk for irritation within the hair follicles) from shaving. If you notice an increase in irritation as your hairs become longer, shaving every day might be a great preventative technique for you.
Shave in the right direction.
You may have heard the old shaving tip: Follow the direction of the hair's growth. But sometimes it's hard to figure out which way each strand is going. So, always glide the blade in a manner that isn't blocking your view, which is typically towards your face.
Treat your skin with a post-shave treatment.
Your skin needs some TLC once you've finished, especially if you're left with a bit of inflammation. Try calming any aggravation with coconut oil which is rich in antioxidants and has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.
Make it last longer.
Choose your razor wisely. While it’s tempting to think that shaving with multiple blades gets you to smoother skin, faster, it’s not the case. Razors with 3+ blades lift the hair with the first, cut with the 2nd, and rake over your skin and cut the hair below skin level with the rest. While this may immediately feel like a great shave, the end result is razor burn and ingrown hairs. Choosing a razor with no more than two blades minimizes your chances of razor burn and ingrown hairs.
Razor burn SOS.
If razor burn or irritation occurs, apply a warm compress to skin immediately. Keep skin moisturized, preferably using an unscented lotion, and avoid shaving for a few days.