There's nothing worse than your legs itching like crazy after shaving. Whether it's from dry skin, irritating skin products, or a dull razor, it's nothing a little extra time spent on your skincare routine can't fix. Below, a few tips for beating the itch, post-shave.
Could It Be Your Products?
A high alcohol content in shaving gel or cream or aftershave may dry skin out, causing it to itch or feel tight. Fragrances and other ingredients may be irritating or cause an allergic reaction, ranging from mild to severe.
Choose products containing little to no alcohol if you can. Instead, look for moisturizing and soothing ingredients like aloe vera, natural oils, vitamin E, and glycerin.
If fragrance tends to irritate your skin, opt for fragrance-free products or those with essential oils or natural fragrance. However, we can be allergic or sensitive to any ingredient, man-made or natural. And what causes a reaction for one person may not for another.
Instead of using aftershave to soothe and refresh post-shave, try using cool water (it's gentler). Finish your shower by switching to cold water or splash some on at the sink.
If you prefer an aftershave, choose one with ingredients that fight bacteria to help prevent pimples and ingrown hairs.
Rinse, But Don't Rub
Remaining shaving cream or gel might cause redness, dryness, and itchiness post-shave. Be sure to rinse your skin thoroughly, making sure all traces of product are gone. After coming out of the shower or bath, pat skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing, which can cause further irritation.
Is It Razor Burn?
The dreaded redness after shaving, also called razor rash, is a skin irritation. Redness, burning, soreness, itchiness, and skin that looks scratched are classic signs of razor burn.
However, this is different from other side effects of hair removal. Razor burn shouldn't be confused with ingrown hair, where hair starts growing under the skin.
Never Skip Moisturizing
Shaving exfoliates skin, and we really need to moisturize and protect it afterward. Dry skin often leads to itching. Using a couple drops of pre-shaving oil under shaving cream or gel not only provides moisture power, but helps create another barrier on the skin, allowing the razor to glide instead of tug. Finish off with a moisturizing aftershave lotion, oil, or balm.
Well-hydrated skin will not only feel smoother, it will look it, too. Without moisturizing, skin can become dry and flaky, again, leading to itchiness.
Even between shaving, moisturizing can soften your skin. In areas with thicker hair, like the underarms or bikini zone, hair is more coarse and can poke you until the next shave. A daily dose of lotion or oil might help soften hair a bit, making it less prickly. Or, when you're in the shower, you can also use a little bit of conditioner to soften the hair. Just make sure to rinse it off.
Here's What to Skip
- Hot water. It feels good in the bath or shower, but it depletes skin moisture. Use warm water instead.
- Deodorants and deodorant soaps. Strong bacteria fighters can really strip skin of natural oils and zap moisture. Moisturizing deodorant soaps with natural and essential oils help prevent odor without stripping your skin. Deodorants with cream bases tend to be gentler and provide some ingredients to hydrate and replenish over watery roll-on and spray deodorants, where alcohol is often the first ingredient.
- Bump-fighters. While you may want to reduce skin irritation, bump-fighters tend to exfoliate rather than moisturize. They're great for fighting ingrown hairs and razor bumps, but not so great for soothing skin. Use only as directed or apply less often to fight skin irritation.
- Swimming pools, hot tubs, tanning beds, or a lot of direct sunlight. The high chlorine content in pools and hot tubs, along with the high temperatures, are not skin friendly. Tanning, either by bed or beach, can cause nasty burns not to mention dry, itchy, flaky skin.
- What you're wearing. Hair provides some protection from chafing and rubbing. When it's gone, skin is more susceptible to chafing from clothes that rub against your skin. The friction created from hairless thighs rubbing together when wearing a skirt sans hose (especially when it's hot or humid) can also cause discomfort.
Need to Stop Itching? Try These
- Aloe vera gel. It not only soothes skin, but it helps remove any stinging. Using gel directly from an aloe plant is the best way to go. If not, make sure the store-bought gel you use actually contains aloe vera and not just green coloring. We're partial to Sun Bum's Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Gel, $10.
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant's inner gel mucilage (the part that's used in skincare products) is made up of up to 99.5% water.
- Hydrocortisone cream. This cream is easy to pick up at the drugstore (see this version by Walgreens, $5) and works for most people quickly. It's hydrating, but it also contains medication to help stop any itching ASAP.
Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid, a medicine that reduces inflammation. It's a common anti-inflammatory treatment for skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, and is available both over-the-counter and as a prescription.
- Colloidal oatmeal baths. If your legs or bikini zone are in desperate need of some moisture, opt for a nice soak in an oatmeal bath, which is sure to provide relief. There's a reason why babies with diaper rash and people with chicken pox soak in oatmeal baths. Don't let the fancy name confuse you: It's just ground up oatmeal. You can buy colloidal oatmeal at the store—like Aveeno's Soothing Bath Treatment, $9—or you can make it at home (as long as you follow a recipe).
Colloidal oatmeal is ground oatmeal, which is then placed in a liquid medium for better application.
Zukiewicz-Sobczak WA, Adamczuk P, Wróblewska P, et al. Allergy to selected cosmetic ingredients. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013;30(5):307-310. doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.38360