It’s been years since you first started shaving, but that doesn’t mean you always get it right. Burns, nicks, cuts, and ingrown hairs are super common, regardless of how skilled you are with a razor. Here are the most common mistakes dermatologists see women make—and how to never screw up again.
1. You Don't Lather Up
Dry shaving—ouch. Even though it saves time, it almost always causes little red bumps that last for days. “Shaving cream and gel were designed to help your razor glide gently across your skin without tugging or pulling,” says dermatologist Joel Schlessinger. “Without them, you’re most certainly left with razor burn, cuts, skin damage, and irritation.” Desperate? Even using water is better than nothing at all.
2. You Use Your Disposable Razor for More Than a Week
Yes, we’re serious—you need to toss it once a week if you’re shaving every single day. “Dull blades are more likely to cause razor bumps, irritation, nicks, and cuts, and old blades can harbor bacteria, which can lead to infections,” says Schlessinger. If you want a closer shave with the least amount of irritation, pay close attention to how many days your current razor’s racking up. “A good rule of thumb is if you feel like it’s tugging at your hair or skin, toss it—it’s most definitely a ticking time bomb waiting to irritate,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman.
3. You Shave in the Opposite Direction of Your Hair Growth
True, it might help you get a slightly closer shave, but it'll also cause pain. Plus, the blunt-tipped end of the hairs can grow back into the skin rather than up and out. Holy ingrown hairs. “Especially for those with sensitive skin, it’s better to shave only in the same direction that your hair grows,” says Schlessinger. “If you’re prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs, apply a gel like Gillette Venus Satin Care Shave Gel with a Touch of Olay ($7.45, gillettevenus.com.au), which relieves irritations caused by hair removal techniques like shaving.”
4. You Apply Too Much Pressure
When it comes to how hard you should be pressing the razor blade down on your skin, always remember less is more. “The harder you bear down, the more uneven the skin surface becomes, because you are essentially creating dimples where the blade falls,” says Engelman. Many multi-bladed razors shave below the skin, causing ingrown hairs and infections when you press too hard.
5. You Do It as Fast as You Possibly Can
“You’re more likely to nick yourself, irritate your skin, or miss spots when you’re trying to shave too quickly,” says Engelman. “Instead, you want to carefully use smooth, even strokes to prevent any skin troubles.” If you do slice yourself—even slightly—you’ll probably bleed more than you’d expect, so the best thing to do is place pressure on the area until the bleeding stops. “If you’re running out the door and don’t have time, put a little astringent on it to halt blood flow and rub some antiperspirant on the area,” says Engelman.
6. You Don't Exfoliate Beforehand
To avoid razor bumps, you should use an exfoliator before whipping out that razor. That's because it removes dead skin cells, allowing your razor to glide over areas easier. “I always recommend First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish ($56, sephora.com.au) to all my patients with shaving complaints,” says Engelman. “It not only exfoliates, but it also cleanses and helps moisturise the skin.”
7. You Skip Moisturising Afterwards
“It’s best to moisturise your skin as soon as you step out of the shower,” says Schlessinger, since applying moisturiser while your skin is still damp helps lock everything in. If you skip this step, the top layers of your skin can quickly become dry and dehydrated from the combo of exfoliating and shaving. Engelman also recommends dabbing a hydrating body oil over the area to reduce inflammation and redness. Try Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil ($14.99, priceline.com.au). Heading out? According to Venus Skin Expert Fiona Tuck, hold off on the fragrance. “Wait for at least an hour after skin smoothing before using any heavily fragranced body sprays, deodorants or fake tans to avoid any skin sensitivity or stinging sensations.”