How To Get The Perfect Shave
Today my loves I am giving you the down and dirty details on what you need to get the smoothest shave of your life. I once told this information to my roommate and she said “Do you feature this at your retreats? Because I would pay an entire retreat fee just to get this information.”
Well lucky for you, this is my diary darlings! I hold no secrets here.
As important as the shave itself is what you do to prepare
What that means is: EXFOLIATE! Exfoliate sister. Gloves, scrubs, whatever it is, using an abrasive (physical) exfoliant does two things.
1. It clears away dead skin cells, leaving skin softer.
2. It lifts the hair up and out of the follicle, therefore getting a closer shave. I like to use a salt or sugar scrub and then remove the scrub using an exfoliating cloth or gloves. Everyone loves a two-fer!
EXFOLIATE my friend. Trust me, your life will change.
Use a product you love to shave with, but use it accordingly
One of the biggest mistakes we make is using too little or too much shaving product. Too much and there is a frothy wall between the razor and the hair, so you are left with a stubbly result. Too little and you are left with razor burn.
You want the razor to have a nice slip over the skin but you still want to feel contact of the blade against the hair. Also, make sure that every few short strokes you RINSE THE RAZOR. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. Think of the razor as being like a lawnmower. If there are clumps of grass stuck to the blade, you are not going to get an even result when you mow the lawn. Similarly, when you have globs of hair and shaving product stuck to the razor, there is no way for the blade to make contact with the base of the hair. Make short strokes, then rinsey rinsey.
Direction: A Science and an Art
Again, the goal in order to get a great shave is for the blade of the razor to make clean and clear contact with the base of the hair. This requires meticulous attention to the direction of hair growth in all areas.
Legs: Hair tends to grow straight down on the shin and outside calf, inner calf and back of the leg it tends to swirl. Again, short strokes will enable you to make sure you are always going against the direction of the hair no matter what kind of labyrinth it’s growth direction is sending you on!
Bikini line/Underarm: this area, as you may have already learned the hard way, is a little more tricky. In addition to multiple spirals of growth direction, just look at that delicate skin the wrong way and you get laden with bumps, irritation and ingrown hairs, as though you’ve been cursed with some sort of plague! Not anymore, stick with me kid.
Do a few strokes of the razor going along with (rather than against) the direction of the hair growth first. This will cut any longer hairs that can catch the razor and make for a more even shave when you are ready to go against the direction of the hair growth.
Pull the skin taught. This will ensure more control and more evenness to the shave. Remember, small strokes for the win. Once you have done one or two gentle strokes going against the direction of hair growth, you may want to apply more shaving product and or/rinse the razor. Ingrown hairs and irritation are as much due to friction over the skin as they are to the razor cutting the hair. The more of a buffer you have, the less likely irritation becomes.
Do one or two passes with the razor over the skin after the shave is complete, going with the direction of hair growth. This causes any wayward hairs to lay down flat rather than stick up, and minimizes the chance of inflammation and ingrown hairs.
razors and aftercare
My favorite razor on earth for legs and underarms is Schick Intuition. It has a moisturizing cushion that follows the razor to provide a softening, smoothing barrier, preventing irritation.
For the bikini line (unless you are doing a minimal shave) the Intuition becomes a little cumbersome, so I go with a classic three blade razor. There are many products on the market today including razors that come in a smaller shape to manage the curves of your bikini area.
For legs, I recommend using a lotion like this one, that is both lightweight and nourishing. For underarms and bikini lines, irritation and ingrown hairs can become an issue so check out the info below.
The Girlfriend's Guide To Ingrowns
There are two types of hairs on the body:
Vellus Hairs, which is the fine fuzz we find on places like the forearms and face
Terminal Hairs, which are the thicker hairs found on the scalp, and in places like the bikini line, underarm, eyebrows and eyelashes.
Terminal hairs are the ones we most often seek to remove and are more prone to becoming ingrown.
What does ingrown really mean? Inside the hair follicle you have a sweat gland, an oil gland, dead skin cells and the hair. When we shave, we are cutting the hair at the follicle opening. What that means is that oil and dead skin cells can settle at the opening, causing the hair as it grows to curl back down into the follicle, becoming "ingrown". Without any oxygen able to get inside the follicle, bacteria grows and we end up with what looks like (and essentially is) a pimple.
So, with that knowledge, the two things we want to eliminate are dead skin cells, oil and bacteria.
Salycilic acid is an ingredient derived from willow bark that works in three ways. It dissolves oil, reduces dead skin cell buildup (acting like little pac-men to eat up debris) and is antibacterial.Look for a post-shaving product that contains .5% - 2% Salycilic Acid.
Tea tree oil (used directly or in a product) helps soothe the skin and kill bacteria.
Avoid products that contain SD alcohol, as they can be irritating to the skin.
Reducing inflammation is also important. Using a soothing product that contains ingredients like lavender, chamomile, calendula, licorice and aloe can help soothe the skin after a shave or wax. Calming down this inflammation prevents swelling of the follicle, which also prevents ingrown hairs.
Avoid excessive friction on the area after shaving (i.e. might not be the best time to wear your full lace boyshort panties on a 100 degree day.)
Try not to “overshave”. The more often you shave the more prone you will be to irritation. This causes the follicle to swell making ingrown more likely to happen.
There you have it folks, my complete guide to getting the perfect shave. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you found it helpful, please share!