How to Shave Your Legs Properly, According to Dermatologists

woman holding razor


For some of us, shaving our legs is part of our regular bodycare routine. It's the quickest and most affordable way to remove unwanted hair compared to alternatives like waxing or laser hair removal. But do you actually know how to shave properly? Spoiler: If you're constantly dealing with itchiness, razor burn, ingrown hairs, and nicks, the answer is likely no. But luckily, there are plenty of expert-approved tips and tricks that will help you achieve a smooth, irritation-free shave every time. Ahead, board-certified dermatologists Brendan Camp and Marisa Garshick break down how to shave your legs.

Meet the Expert

  • Brendan Camp, MD, is a double-board–certified assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell New York Presbyterian Medical Center. 
  • Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and a clinical associate professor at Cornell New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
01 of 08

Dampen Your Skin With Warm Water

Dampen your skin with warm water before shaving to help soften the hair and open the pores. Dr. Camp recommends shaving toward the end of your shower because the skin will be more hydrated, which means less risk of skin irritation. 

02 of 08

Apply Shaving Cream or Gel

Whatever you do, never dry shave. Many of Dr. Camp's patients come in with razor burns resulting from shaving without cream or gel. "Shaving on dry skin or with only water can cause skin irritation from the abrasive forces of the razor," he says. A cream or gel helps the razor to glide more easily over the skin, reducing the likelihood of nicks or an uneven shave. Dr. Garshick recommends Eos Shea Butter Shaving Cream ($6) or Aveeno's Therapeutic Shave Gel with Oat for Dry Skin ($4). 

03 of 08

Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth

Our experts recommend shaving in the direction of hair growth. Though many think shaving against the grain may give a closer, smoother shave, this increases the risk of ingrown hairs.

Never shave over a cut or a wound. If you have a skin infection, shaving over the area could slow healing or cause the infection to spread and worsen, says Dr. Camp. He also suggests using a razor with one or two blades, like Gillette SkinGuard ($20) or Hanni The Weighted Razor ($42).

04 of 08

Moisturize After Shaving

Once you’re done shaving, be sure to apply a moisturizer. This step is important as shaving can disrupt the skin barrier, leading to redness and itching if not repaired, says Dr. Camp. Dr. Garshick recommends using a non-comedogenic moisturizer like Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Butter ($24) and LANO 101 Dry Skin Super-Cream ($17).

05 of 08

Avoid Using Harsh Products Post-Shave

If your bodycare routine is usually loaded with acidic or artificially fragranced products, you'll want to refrain from using them right after shaving. These ingredients may cause temporary discomfort, stinging, or irritation after a fresh shave.

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Rinse Your Razor

After shaving, always rinse your razor to remove hair and product buildup. Ensuring the blade is completely clean each time you shave minimizes the chance of irritation and infection. 

07 of 08

Store Your Razor in a Dry Place

Dr. Garshick recommends storing your razor in a cool, dry place as this helps minimize the chance of bacteria buildup. This also reduces the chance of rust and extends the longevity of the blade. 

08 of 08

Change Your Razor Blade Regularly

Dr. Garshick says not replacing the razor blade frequently is the most common shaving mistake she sees with clients. "When the blade becomes dull, it becomes less effective and also may be more likely to contribute to ingrowns and irritation," she says. It is best to replace the blades after every five to seven shaves. 

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