Leg hair grows around 0.18–0.485 millimeters a day, according to modern studies, which has led enough people to dismiss the many things they’ve heard about the dangers of dry shaving and razor burn when they realize they don’t want to go out on the town with stubbly legs. But were our moms right when they taught us not to shave our legs dry? The truth is, there's nothing wrong with dry shaving; especially, if we do it the right way.
Most of us probably know what wet shaving is — it’s likely the way you were taught to shave. Whether in the shower or the tub, when you wet shave, you let your legs soak or get wet before you apply any sort of shaving cream or gel. Once your legs are sufficiently lathered up, most are then taught to shave against the grain of the hair growth for the closest, smoothest shave.
Dry shaving, which is the practice of running a razor over skin without any water, shaving creams, or gels, is often blamed for irritated, red skin and ingrown hairs. But, it is possible to shave without water. There are just some right tips you need to follow.
Can you shave without shaving cream? Yes! But to minimize irritation, you’ll need to follow a few tips:
- Use a fresh razor: If you are going to dry shave, it’s worth it to pull out a new razor. Many believe that a new razor is more likely to cause nicks and cuts, but the opposite is actually true. Dull blades will pull at your skin and your hair and probably require more passes over your skin, likely causing more irritation and redness. And definitely don’t borrow someone else’s razor — doing so can potentially lead to a variety of infections.
- Don’t press hard: Though it may seem like the harder you press, the closer the shave, pressing harder increases your chance for nicks and cuts. Be gentle and smooth, letting the (hopefully new) blade do the work for you.
- Find a substitute for water: If you can find one, creating a barrier between your skin and your blade is helpful. Is there some lotion close by? If you can, use that when you are trying to quickly dry shave your legs.
- Shave with the hair: You may be used to shaving against the grain of your hair. But, when you are dry shaving, this can lead to red bumpy skin and pesky ingrown hairs. Instead, go in the direction of hair growth with long, light, slow strokes. If you are able, pull the skin flat and taut with your free hand while you shave with the other.
- Shave once…don’t repeat: The desire to run the blade over the same area multiple times can be strong, but we recommend that you don’t. Continuous passes over the same area, especially when dry shaving, are likely to lead to skin irritation. If irritation occurs, don’t shave until it has disappeared. If you are using a new razor and following the tips above, one pass should be enough.
- To moisturize or not? If you have a non-scented oil-free moisturizer with you, go ahead and use that. If you don’t, we recommend skipping this step. Scented moisturizers are more likely to cause the razor burn and irritation that dry shaving is often blamed for.
While it is true that dry shaving may not give you as close a shave as wet shaving, it is possible to shave without water and shaving cream. If you think you may have to dry shave (for example, at work or the gym), plan ahead! Throw a new razor and some oil-free moisturizer in your bag ahead of time. Done the right way, a dry shave can safely leave you with the smooth silky skin you’re after.