12 Shaving Tips To Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Tips for a Smooth Shave for Curly or Coarse Leg Hair

A young woman shaving her legs
Shaving against the grain gives you a closer shave, but you should shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid ingrown hairs. Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Shaving is a quick and inexpensive method for hair removal but it can pose problems for African Americans and others with darker skin or with curly or coarse hair. Shaving cuts hair at the surface and can cause irritated skin and ingrown hairs. In addition to ingrown hairs, improper shaving techniques can lead to dark pores and dark spots on the skin.

Shaving Tips to Prevent Strawberry Legs

Here are a few tips to help you achieve a smooth shave without skin irritation and the formation of ingrown hairs.

1. Don’t Shave First Thing in the Morning

Legs can be puffy due to reduced circulation and blood flow. Do a few stretches, or sun salutations or simply move around for about 15 minute to get your system going.

2. Shave After a Bath or Shower

  • In the bath:

Bathe with warm (not hot) water so that hair can be easily removed from the root when the pores are open. Bathing softens hair and makes it easier to cut. Soak for only 2 -3 minutes and no more than 10. If you soak too long, the skin will begin to wrinkle and swell, making it more difficult to shave.

  • In the shower:

A quick shower might be your best bet if you plan to shave, that way you won’t be tempted to soak too long. The steam from the shower will open up the pores and soften the hair for a better shave. Again, don’t use hot water on your skin, which will be too drying.

3. Exfoliate to Remove Dead Skin and Blockage

Exfoliation helps reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

It unclogs pores by removing excess sebum, dirt and grime on the skin. Regular exfoliation will help ingrown hairs grow out of the hair follicle instead of curling back into the skin and help loosen any hairs that might get trapped beneath dead skin. Dead skin can also clog razors and lead to an uneven shave.

If you are a regular shaver, you only need to exfoliate once a week. This is to avoid irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. Shaving in itself actually exfoliates the skin.

4. Pick the Right Shaver and Features

Use a multiple blade razor; with helpful features like spring-mounted blades, ergonomic handles, and things that protect the skin while lifting hairs, like moisturizing strips. A disposable razor like the Gillette Venus Embrace is a great option. Buy on Amazon.com.

5. Don’t Shave With a Dull Blade

This can cause the razor to drag on the skin and cause irritation.

6. Always Use a Fresh, Clean Razor on Clean Skin.

If you shave regularly, it will probably need to be replaced after 5-6 uses. You can also tell if your razor needs to be replaced if finding yourself applying too much pressure in order to get a close shave. With a good razor and shave cream, you needn’t press too hard.

7. Use Shaving Gel or Cream

Always use a shaving gel or cream. Never shave dry skin. A shaving gel or cream will help the blade glide along the skin and reduce irritation and nicks. Irritated and inflamed skin can lead to blockage of the hair follicle leading to ingrown hairs.

Shaving cream and gel also helps skin retain moisture as you shave.

Which should you use?

Gels are better at helping the blade glide along the skin as you shave. Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel is a great option for sensitive skin and also helps prevent razor burn. Buy on Amazon.com.

Creams are great to use if you need extra moisture. Skintimates makes a great moisturizing shaving cream that leaves legs smooth and soft. Buy on Amazon.com.

8. In Which Direction Should You Shave?

Shave gently in the direction of hair growth to avoid ingrown hair. Hair on the leg usually grows downward.

Shaving against the grain does give a closer shave, but when you shave too close as hair grows back, it can curl back, breaking the skin surface and become an ingrown, causing an infection in the follicle, redness and inflammation. Shave with light pressure, with long, gentle strokes, taking your time to avoid nicks and scrapes.

Post Shave Tips

9. Clean Razor While Shaving

Rinse the razor often while shaving for a cleaner and more even shave.

10. Apply Moisturizer

Rinse skin thoroughly to remove shaving gel or cream. Then apply moisturizer within five minutes after shaving to seal in water. The moisturizer should have soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients, nothing with potential irritants. Opt for aloe vera or shea butter.

11. Use Natural Disinfectants to Treat Ingrown Hairs

If you have ingrown hairs, you can use olive, almond, or jojoba oil directly on the effected areas. Also use natural disinfectants like tea tree oil or lavender essential oil to help reduce inflammation.

12. Remember Post Shave Care For Your Razor

Rinse and air-dry your razor. Don’t dry with a towel or tissue, which will damage the blade.