As any dermatologist will tell you, shaving in the right direction is not only the most effective way to remove unwanted hair, but it also prevents issues like skin irritation and ingrown hairs. Zeichner suggests shaving in single strokes in the direction of the hair growth. "Shaving against the grain may give a closer shave, but can increase your risk of developing an ingrown," he says. "Rinse the razor blades every 2-3 strokes to remove any debris from the blades."
Additionally, be wary not to tap the blades against the skin or tub, as it not only dulls razor but damages the polymers on the blades that allow them to cut hair effectively.
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Shave only when necessary
If you're on a beach vacation you'll probably want to shave daily, but this shouldn't be your normal regimen. Shaving too often doesn't allow your skin the time it needs to recover from the harsh blade, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., board-certified NYC dermatologist, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of Skin Rules.
Jaliman also advises her patients to shave towards the end of their shower when the hairs are hydrated. "Using warm water during your shower allows the pores to be wide open for close, clean shaves that minimize skin irritation and ingrown hairs," she says. "The steam causes pores to relax and skin to soften, allowing the blade to move seamlessly across your skin."
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Don't forget about aftercare
When you break down the act of shaving—an interaction between the razor, hair and skin—you start to realize how harsh the process is. For this reason, how you treat the skin after shaving can significantly impact healing and whether you will develop ingrown hairs. "While the skin feels smooth to touch, at the microscopic levels, it is full of peak and valleys, which may become disrupted from the shaving process," Zeichner explains. "When the skin barrier becomes damaged, it may lead to inflammation that can increase your risk of developing ingrown hairs." After shaving, he recommends applying a protective post-shave moisturizer. He suggests opting for a light and easy formula, like Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Lotion ($8) or L'Occitane Shea Butter Light Comforting Cream ($29), that won't leave you feeling greasy.
Only use a single- or double-blade razor
You might think the more blades the better, but dermatologists warn that the more blades a razor has the more likely you'll experience irritation. "Multiple blades cause the hair to lift and cut the hair underneath the skin," Lily Talakoub, M.D., Dermatologist at McLean Dermatology tells us. "When it is under the skin and it grows out, the hair can get stuck." Reach for a blade that has fewer than two blades to reduce your chances of ingrown hairs.
You know the importance of exfoliating your face to get rid of the dead cells that leave skin looking dull. But it's also important to exfoliate the skin on your body, especially areas you shave. "This clears away dead skin and leaves you ready to eliminate unwanted hairs," Jaliman explains. She recommends exfoliating with a slightly abrasive cloth or a machine like the Clarisonic that vibrates the skin to get rid of the dead cells on the surface.