Skin that feels smooth as silk is always welcome, but legs that are speckled with razor burn and unsightly bumps? Not so much. Luckily, the all-too-common problem is easily avoided by removing a few practices from your weekly routine. Keep these six dermatologist-approved tips in tow to keep your skin glowing, soft and smooth for days.
Don’t: Dry Shave
You may have never given it a second thought, but New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, explains that the order in which you shave is just as important as the razor you use to shave with. “It’s important to shave toward the end of the shower, so your skin is well-hydrated and soft.” Plus, if you take warm showers, heat softens stubble and opens up pores, resulting in an extra-close shave.
Do: Get Back Into Shaving Cream
If the first thought that pops into your head when you think of shaving cream is your grandfather or an old Barbasol commercial, it’s time to look past it. West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD, says one of the most common reasons for razor burn is skipping shaving gel in the shower, or using too little of it. “This increases the friction on the skin and creates a rash is irritation and can be quite uncomfortable.” Look for one with skin-loving essentials while keeping synthetics to a minimum.
Do: Skip the Soap
Not only can soaps and body washes contain ingredients that can congest your razor blades and make them dull, but Dr. Day says they can also have commonly irritating qualities for your skin, too. “If you run out of soap, try using conditioner,” she suggests, saying it’s a good second option to shaving cream, as they both contain skin-smoothing ingredients like vitamin E, which is ideal for a smooth, bump-free shave.
Don’t: Bargain Shop for Blades
Dr. Beer explains that using razors that aren’t totally sharp creates a lot of friction and unevenness on the skin, which then creates a friction that can burn and irritate. “An easy way to avoid this is to change out your razors frequently and use high-quality blades.” Once your razor gets dull, Dr. Beer suggests changing it out for a fresh one.
Do: Sanitize Your Razors
According to Dr. Beer, another way that we get ourselves into trouble when shaving is by using blades that haven’t been cleaned—no matter how new they may be. “This can lead to infections, and a lot of bumps and pustules.” A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to cleaning your razor is rinsing it under hot water every two or three strokes, thoroughly cleansing it after you’re finished using it and properly storing it (completely dried and away from any humidity) until you need it next.
Do: Remember to Repurchase
As silly as it sounds, setting a reminder in your phone to buy a new set of razors at the store isn’t a bad idea. “Just one dull spot on the razor is all it takes to nick, cut and leave razor burn all over your skin,” Dr. Day says. Or, consider a subscription service like Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s that does all of the hard work for you.
Do: Rely on the Right Treatment
If you do end up with razor burn or irritation, be sure to treat it the right way. “Treating razor burns usually involves some cortisone cream,” Dr. Beer explains, adding that over-the-counter creams can usually suffice, but depending on how bad the burn is, you may need to visit your dermatologist. “Bad infections require more intense treatment, like a prescription-strength oral antibiotic from your doctor.”