How to Prevent and Treat Leg Blackheads Caused by Shaving

Woman shaving legs with shaving cream and razor

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Do you ever notice small, dark spots on your legs after you shave? Turns out they're actually clogged pores, not unlike a blackhead. Sometimes mistaken as dirt, these dark dots resemble the seeds on the skin of strawberries (hence the informal term "strawberry legs") and are more noticeable on some skin types than others.

What are Strawberry Legs?

"Strawberry legs" is a term for clogged pores (blackheads) on the skin of the legs that resemble the seeds of a strawberry.

The dark spots are actually open comedones, a dark semisolid plug of oxidized debris. These open comedones can have excess oil, dirt, or bacteria trapped inside. The blockage of sebum, debris, or bacteria mixes with air and melanin, and the reaction causes the opening to appear dark or black. But luckily you can prevent them from forming by changing the way you shave.

Below, we've rounded up all the tips that truly help. Keep reading to learn more.

How to prevent strawberry legs
Michela Buttignol / Byrdie
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Dry-Brush

Preventing strawberry legs actually starts a day or two before you shave. To help with the exfoliation process, vigorously brush legs with a soft dry brush in circular motions prior to your bath or shower. Then, soak skin in warm water for five to 10 minutes before you shave—this helps to draw out impurities and loosen dead skin cells trapped inside the pores.

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Exfoliate

The first rule of thumb: exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Regular exfoliation helps keep these dark pores at bay, as do proper shaving methods, shaving tools, and a good skincare regimen. It's recommended that you exfoliate your legs on a regular basis with a body scrub that polishes away dead skin cells. One of our favorite body scrubs is the Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Polish ($10) because it gently scrubs away dead skin and leaves your skin feeling soft. 

Since the appearance of dark pores might be because of your shaving technique, the first thing to do is to make sure that you are properly shaving your legs (more on that below).

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Change Your Shaving Technique

  • Shower in warm (not hot) water to soften the hair on your legs. Hot water is very drying, so be sure not to crank the dial on your shower too high.
  • Use a razor that provides a closer shave without forcing the hair to snap back and cause ingrown hairs. We recommend the Billie razors ($9) or the Oui Shave razors ($67).
  • Make sure your razor blades are sharp. Dull blades drag against the skin and increase the chance of the hair curling back into it, causing razor bumps or ingrown hairs.
  • Apply an aloe-based or moisturizing shaving cream or gel, like Billie's The Shave Cream ($8). Next, gently shave in the direction of hair growth (NOT against the grain). Avoid passing over the same area too many times, which will irritate the skin. Also, be careful not to stretch your skin tight while shaving.
  • Pat your skin dry—rubbing can irritate your skin.
  • Apply a fragrance-free cream, moisturizer, or lotion made for aftershave to reduce redness. Some people prefer using a post-shave oil, too, like the Fur Ingrown Concentrate (28). Let the moisturizer absorb into the skin.

If the problem persists, you may want to try switching to a different hair removal method—like waxing—or even laser hair removal.

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