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How Dermatologists Say You Should Be Shaving

June 14, 2023 by VitalSkin Dermatology

woman shaving leg

Shaving is an important daily ritual for both men and women. Given how many of us do it on a regular basis, however, it can be surprising how few people know the correct methods for shaving. Dermatologists recommend the following steps for shaving to help reduce inflammation and ingrown hairs while ensuring as smooth a shave as possible.

Choosing a Razor

To start off, what razor should you use? While it is popular these days to have multiple blades on a razor blade, those with sensitive skin should limit themselves to two or three blades. More blades create more opportunities for irritation. Those with acne who shave their face might want to experiment with electric razors to see if they provide less irritation than disposable blades.

Preparing the Area

You should never shave on dry, unprepared skin. As a first step, you should always wet the skin and hair on the area you are about to shave with warm water. Shaving at the end of a shower or after a shower is a good idea— your skin and hair will be softer and the area will have less oil and fewer dead skin cells, both of which can clog up a razor blade and cause a rougher shave. Lightly exfoliating the area can also prep the skin effectively, especially in sensitive areas.

Applying Shaving Gel or Cream

As your second step, you want to apply a shaving gel or cream to the area. Rub the cream into the skin in a circular motion. When shaving sensitive areas such as the face or bikini line, let the shaving cream sit on the skin for two to three minutes before you begin shaving. If your skin is at all sensitive, look for shaving gels that are designed for sensitive skin.

The Shaving Process

While many people think they will get a smoother shave if they shave against the hair, dermatologists recommend that you always shave in the direction your hair grows. This will help to reduce the chances of developing razor burn, bumps or ingrown hairs. Try to avoid taking a second swipe on any part of the skin that has already had the shaving cream stripped away. If you need to take a second pass, reapply gel or cream as needed.

Shave with short, consistent strokes. After each swipe, make sure to rinse the blades of the razor with warm to hot water to free them of built-up hair, cream, and skin cells. This can also activate the lubricating strips that are part of some disposable razors.

If you are shaving in an area that is aggravated or that has acne, work carefully to avoid nicking the skin or shaving the acne itself. This can aggravate this skin condition and make it worse.

Tips for Shaving Specific Areas

Different areas of the body require specific techniques and considerations to achieve a smooth and irritation-free shave. Here are some tips for shaving specific body areas:


  • Use a sharp, clean razor specifically designed for facial hair.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation.
  • Stretch the skin taut with your free hand to create a smoother surface.
  • Take extra care around sensitive areas, such as the chin, upper lip, and neck.


  • Exfoliate the skin before shaving to remove dead skin cells and prevent ingrown hairs.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize the risk of irritation.
  • Apply gentle pressure and use long, smooth strokes.
  • Rinse the razor frequently to prevent clogging and ensure a closer shave.


  • Apply warm water or a warm compress to the underarms before shaving to soften the hair.
  • Consider using a shaving cream or gel specifically designed for sensitive areas.
  • Shave in multiple directions to catch hairs that may grow in different directions.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly and pat dry gently to prevent irritation.

Bikini Area:

  • Trim long hair before shaving to avoid clogging the razor.
  • Use a sharp, single-blade razor, or consider using an electric razor with a guard.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation.
  • Avoid applying too much pressure to prevent cuts and razor burns.

Post-Shave Care

After completing the shaving process, proper post-shave care is essential to maintain the health and appearance of your skin. Follow these steps to minimize irritation and promote a smooth, refreshed complexion:

  • Rinse with Cool Water: Gently rinse the shaved area with cool water to soothe the skin and close the pores. Cool water helps reduce inflammation and can provide a refreshing sensation after shaving.
  • Apply Aftershave or Soothing Balm: Use an aftershave product or a soothing balm specifically formulated for post-shave care. These products often contain ingredients like aloe vera, witch hazel, or chamomile that help calm and hydrate the skin, reducing redness and irritation.
  • Moisturize: Hydrating the skin is crucial to replenish moisture lost during the shaving process. Choose a moisturizer suitable for your skin type and apply it generously to the shaved area. Look for products with soothing and nourishing ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, or natural oils.
  • Avoid Harsh Products: In the hours following shaving, avoid using harsh skincare products or exfoliants that can further irritate the skin. Give your skin time to recover and opt for gentle, non-irritating formulations.
  • Protect from Sun Exposure: Shaving can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect the freshly shaved skin from UV damage. This step is particularly important when shaving areas exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, or legs.

As part of your ongoing shaving routine, make sure to change your razor blades on a regular basis. Disposable razors should not be used for more than 5 to 7 shaves. Older, worn-out blades are more apt to cause injury and irritation. While many of us like to keep our razors in the shower or on the sink, it is better to always store our razor blades in a dry area so that they can dry completely between shaves. A dry razor is less likely to carry bacteria that can infect the skin.

Shaving Alternatives

While traditional shaving is widely practiced, there are alternative methods for hair removal that may better suit your needs. Consider the following options:

  • Waxing: Waxing removes hair from the root, providing longer-lasting results compared to shaving. It can be done at home or by a professional, but it may be more uncomfortable than shaving.
  • Epilating: Epilators are electrical devices that remove hair by grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out. This method also offers longer-lasting results but can be painful, especially for those with sensitive skin.
  • Electric Shavers: Electric shavers use oscillating or rotating blades to cut the hair at the skin’s surface. They provide a quick and convenient option, often with built-in features for sensitive skin or areas.
  • Hair Removal Creams: Depilatory creams dissolve hair at the skin’s surface, making them easy to wipe away. These products can be effective for large areas but may cause skin irritation in some individuals.
  • Laser Hair Removal: Laser hair removal utilizes concentrated beams of light to target and damage hair follicles, leading to permanent reduction or removal of hair. This method is more costly and requires multiple sessions but can provide long-term results.

When considering alternative methods, it’s important to assess their suitability for your skin type, pain tolerance, and desired duration of hair removal. Consult with a dermatologist or hair removal specialist to determine the best option for you.

Talk With Your Dermatologist

Maintaining healthy and well-cared-for skin is crucial, especially when it comes to shaving. By following the expert advice provided by dermatologists, you can achieve a smoother, irritation-free shave and promote the overall health of your skin. However, if you have specific concerns or skin conditions, it’s always beneficial to seek professional guidance.

At VitalSkin Dermatology, our team of experienced dermatologists is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal skin health. Whether you have questions about your shaving routine, need personalized skincare recommendations, or have concerns about a skin condition, we are here to assist you. Our dermatologists can provide expert insights tailored to your unique needs and help you establish a skincare routine that suits your skin type and concerns.

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