How to Shave Legs Properly: 9 Expert-Approved Steps and Essential Tools

Shaving your legs may seem like a routine task, but even seasoned shavers can encounter common issues like ingrown hairs, nicks, and razor burn. Surprisingly, proper leg shaving techniques are rarely discussed, leaving many to fend for themselves. As warmer weather approaches and you bring out your favorite summer dresses and bikinis, it’s the perfect time for our helpful guide on achieving a successful shave.

Common shaving mistakes, such as dry shaving, using harsh soap instead of shaving cream, or persisting with a dull and dirty razor, need to be abandoned for good. Whether you prefer the best razors for women, electric shavers, or bikini trimmers, our guide has you covered.

Are There Side Effects to Improper Leg Shaving?

Shaving your legs incorrectly can lead to various side effects, ranging from mild irritation to serious infections caused by bacteria-laden blades.

  1. Irritation: Itchy or bumpy skin often results from using old, dull blades or an irritating shaving cream. Switching to a shave cream designed for sensitive skin and using a clean razor can help. If bumps persist, soothe the area by applying a warm washcloth and follow up with an unscented, ultra-gentle body lotion like Doctor Rogers Restore Body Cream.
  2. Infection: Old blades not only provide an ineffective shave but also increase the risk of cuts and ingrown hairs. Additionally, the bacteria on used blades can lead to painful infections. To maintain hygiene, change your blades every two weeks or sooner and store your razor outside the humid shower. For extra cleanliness, swipe a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol down the blades after each use.
  3. Scarring: Deep nicks and severe razor burn can result in permanent scars if left untreated. Minimize the risk of scarring by using a shaving cream or oil, a clean and sharp razor, and promptly treating cuts or burns with an antibacterial ointment.


How much time does it take to shave your legs?

We’re all busy, and no one enjoys hair removal, so the temptation to speed up the process is understandable. However, rushing through shaving is not recommended for the sake of your skin’s safety. Taking your time ensures a smoother experience and reduces the chances of missing spots.

If you’re in a hurry, it’s advised to focus on shaving below the knee only, following a tradition that dates back to the era of The Golden Girls.

How often you should shave your legs

It’s entirely up to your personal preference. Whether you prefer letting your hair grow a bit or maintaining smooth legs every few days, the choice is yours.

Supplies You Need

Before you start shaving, gather your supplies before getting into the shower. It’s crucial to keep your razor away from the shower environment to prevent bacterial growth. You only need a razor to shave, but exfoliating before, using a shave gel during, and moisturizing afterward can contribute to healthier skin during the process.

For pre-shave, consider using a body wash or body polish for exfoliation, which not only removes dead skin cells but also prevents ingrown hairs.

During shaving, choose a razor that suits you, whether it’s a single-blade safety razor or a multi-blade razor. Ensure the razor is clean and sharp. A safety razor, particularly a single-blade option, is great for sensitive skin, minimizing razor burns and ingrown hairs. Multi-blade razors with a flexible head are also an option.

Use shaving cream for a smoother experience. If you run out, a silky body wash or conditioner can work in a pinch. Some recommended shaving creams include Fur’s Shave Cream and Oui The People’s Sugarcoat, a unique gel-to-milky oil.

After shaving, apply body oil or lotion to moisturize the shaved areas, preventing ingrown hairs.

How to Shave Legs Properly: A Comprehensive Guide for All Experience Levels

This guide is here to help both beginners and seasoned pros achieve the perfect leg shave. We’ll walk you through the process, focusing on shaving in the shower or bath, as it’s considered the most effective method by experts.

Step 1: Exfoliate

To achieve the best and closest shave, start by exfoliating with a gentle body polish. According to experts like Young, this step lifts dead skin cells from the surface, allowing the razor to get close to the hair root. For a smooth shave without razor bumps, exfoliate before and a day or two after shaving.

For maximum effectiveness, apply the body polish on dry skin before entering the shower. Once inside, stand away from the water, letting a few droplets moisten the skin for added slip as you massage. Gradually incorporate small amounts of water while massaging for a spa-level exfoliating treatment.

Step 2: Keep It Clean

If you choose to skip exfoliation, no worries; it’s optional. However, cleansing the body and legs before shaving is non-negotiable. A clean canvas ensures that the razor targets hairs without getting clogged by layers of moisturizer and dead skin cells.

Opt for an effective, non-irritating body cleanser like Nécessaire Body Wash. This product, enriched with vitamins and oils, nourishes and soothes the skin while providing a thorough cleanse. Apply the gel onto damp skin, away from the water, to fully enjoy the benefits of the lathering soap.

For those prone to ingrown hairs and without overly sensitive skin, consider using an exfoliating body wash with salicylic or glycolic acid. The Kosas Good Body Skin wash, featuring exfoliating AHAs and fruit enzymes, can unclog pores and combat blemishes.

Step 3: Enjoy a Steamy Shower

It is recommended to shave at the end of your shower when your skin is warm and soft. Take about 10 minutes to warm up your skin, but steer clear of hot water, as it can dry out your skin.

Use this time to indulge in treatments you often put off, like applying a deep conditioning mask or a face mask. Wet your razor during this time; some, like Flamingo’s Razor, are designed to be water-activated, providing added protection from irritation.

Step 4: Use Shaving Cream or Oil

Don’t be tempted to rush through by simply wetting your legs and running a razor over them. Shaving cream is crucial. It adds moisture to the skin, but more importantly, it creates a smooth surface for a successful shave.

Use shaving cream, oil, or a creamy body wash that is very slippery to make it easier for the razor to slide gently over the skin. This creates a cushion between the razor and your skin, and shaving cream helps you see where you’ve shaved.

Step 5: Grab a Clean Razor

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a new blade after five to seven shaves or, as a general rule, every two weeks. Inspect your razor after each shower and dispose of blades showing excessive gunk before the two-week mark.

Store your razor away from the shower to prevent bacterial growth in the humid environment. Clean the blades after each use with hot water or a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol for a bacteria-free razor.

Step 6: Go Against the Grain (or Follow It, If You’re Sensitive)

When it comes to the direction of shaving, Dr. Rogers advises going against the grain for the closest shave. If your hair grows toward your toes, shave upwards toward your head.

However, be aware of your hair pattern, as it may grow in different directions. If you have sensitive skin, consider shaving only in the direction your hair grows to reduce the risk of irritation and nicks. Adjust the angle of the razor carefully if your hair grows in opposing ways.

Step 7: Shave with Precision and Care

When learning how to shave your legs, proper technique is often overlooked. The speed, pressure, and strokes matter more than you might realize.

For effective strokes, slow and steady wins the race. Shaving in long, even strokes is the key. Take, for example, the technique employed by Young.

Placing her right leg on the edge of the bathtub, she applies shaving oil and begins shaving upward from the ankles, paying extra attention to bony areas. The process involves long, even strokes up to the knee and all around the leg until completion. Repeat the same sequence on the left leg.

If shaving above the knee, start on the right leg and work in long strokes from the knee to the thigh, then switch to the left leg. Beginners, especially those new to safety razors, can start with shorter strokes until they gain confidence.

Don’t push down hard with the razor. Gentle pressure is key to avoiding nicks. Safety razors are designed to apply the right amount of pressure naturally due to their weight. Hold the razor gently and move it over the legs without pressing.

Step 8: Rinse and Repeat

While it might seem tedious, rinsing your razor between each stroke is worthwhile. After every stroke, stop and rinse the blades to wash away shave gel and hair. If hairs stick in the blades, running the razor under the showerhead may help.

If hairs get jammed between the blades, patting the razor on a towel or dipping it in a glass of hot water can dislodge them. Keeping the blades clean between each stroke is essential. Once satisfied with your shave, rinse your legs under cool water.

Step 9: Moisturize After Shower

Post-shave, follow up with an oil or moisturizer to keep your skin healthy and prevent ingrown hairs, according to Young. Applying your body oil or moisturizer to damp skin is recommended, as it seals in more moisture.

For extra hydration, try layering a body lotion and a body oil. Massage the body cream onto damp skin, then apply a generous layer of body oil.

This combination allows the lotion to penetrate deeper into the skin while the oil provides a hydration barrier. Although it may take a bit longer than your usual moisturizing routine, it’s well worth the effort.

How to Achieve Smooth Legs Without a Razor

If you’re looking for smooth legs but want to skip the razor, you’ve got alternatives:

  1. Waxing: While not suitable for everyone, waxing provides long-lasting results, up to four weeks. Flamingo’s affordable Body Wax Kit offers an easy-to-use solution with helpful tips for even the finest hairs.
  2. Electric Trimmer: For those with coarse or thick hair, consider using one of the best electric razors or trimmers for women. These tools are gentle, allowing you to remove hair without the risk of ingrowns and razor burn. Meridian’s The Trimmer provides a foolproof and nick-free experience, though it may not deliver as smooth a shave as a traditional razor.
  3. Hair Removal Device: Laser hair removal is a more permanent solution that may require a significant investment. However, there are at-home devices like Currentbody’s Jovs Venus Pro. This tool not only removes unwanted hair but also boosts collagen in the skin. It’s a hand-held device with six treatment attachments for various body parts, providing a lifetime of treatments. This IPL device can painlessly treat the legs in about 15 minutes, and users typically start noticing reduced hair growth around six weeks.

In summary, taking your time, choosing the right products, and following a pre-shave and post-shave routine contribute to a better and safer shaving experience for your legs.

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