Bump-Free Shaving Techniques

Tips to help you avoid those annoying, itchy bumps when you shave your legs.
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Come summer, shaving is as much a daily rite as brushing our teeth. But that a.m. swipe of the razor can bring an unsightly, uncomfortable extra: itchy bumps. These bumps are actually ingrown hairs, caused when your razor slices off the end of a hair at a sharp or jagged edge. That edge then grows back into the skin (where it should grow out of the skin), causing the bump and itch. You'll usually find that ingrown hairs take a day or two to form. That's because the freshly shaved hair needs a day or two to begin to grow again. Typically, these razor bumps are found in areas where the hair is already wiry and curly, such as the bikini line, the underarms, and for men, the beard. But razor bumps can appear anywhere, even on legs.

Avoiding razor bumps is as simple as establishing good shaving habits. Here, how to shave so you aren't afflicted with ingrown hairs:

  1. Begin with a soak. Allowing the hair you intend to shave to soak in water for a time (either in a bath or in the shower) causes the hair to become softer and more pliable. That translates to a hair that's easily cut with a razor blade and that doesn't have a sharp, jagged edge. Give your hair a good 10 minutes to soften before shaving.
  2. Lather up well. Even the most diligent of us sometimes shave without shaving cream -- but for women prone to ingrown hairs, this is a no-no. Applying a lathering shave cream or gel to to-be-shaved hair further softens it, allowing it to be shorn more gently.
  3. Shave in downward strokes. It may seem counterintuitive, but shaving with the growth grain of your hair instead of against it cuts the hairs at a softer angle, helping to prevent ingrowns. And try to avoid swiping an area more than once with a razor.
  4. Finish with an antiseptic. If you know you're prone to ingrown hairs, consider smoothing a bump-minimizing antiseptic toner over tricky spots. These toners really work to prevent bumps from forming! The beauty world staple: Tend Skin.

Originally published on LHJ.com, May 2005.


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