During the warm months, it’s all about breezy dresses and beach days, so you’ll want your skin to be as smooth as possible. But getting rid of unwanted hair isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There’s a reason men and women have different razors, for starters.
“People should choose a hair removal method based on the area of the body and hair type — light, thin hair will respond to hair removal creams, while more-coarse hair may require a razor or waxing,” says New York City–based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. “Keep in mind that shaving is recommended for legs and underarms but not suggested for the bikini area.” As the foolproof methods below prove, going bare doesn’t have to be hard.
Shaving is the quickest, easiest way for ladies to get smooth legs and underarms. But before you reach for that razor, get a new blade — and the right one. “Oftentimes, women are using a dull razor, which causes them to press down on their skin too hard and shave over the same area several times,” says Gillette Venus dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine. “Women think that it’s necessary to press repeatedly on the same area for the perfect shave; when in reality, too much pressure can cause nicks, cuts and irritation. When women are using the right razor, they’ll only need to pass over each area with a light stroke to remove hair properly.”
Another misconception is that using a men’s razor will give women a better shave, but opting for blades designed specially for ladies is your top bet, since they’re created to hug your body’s curves. For the best shave, use fresh blades with a high-quality razor like the Gillette Venus Swirl, which features Flexiball technology to maneuver around tricky spots like knees and ankles.
Despite what you may have heard, shaving doesn’t dry out the skin. It actually does the opposite by exfoliating. Maximize moisture by using a shave gel like Shaveworks Pearl Polish Dual Action Body Oil followed by a moisturizing lotion.
Best face forward
Guys, we know you’ve been shaving for a long time, but it can’t hurt to brush up on the basics. “One of the most common and easily fixable mistakes is to not prepare for your shave,” says Tony Ricco, a master barber with The Art of Shaving. “Everything you do to prepare your hair matters. It only takes a few moments and it can change your shave dramatically.” You’ll want to stock up on the right shaving products. “Choose ones that are moisturizing and provide glide as well as a quality razor that efficiently cuts the hair and doesn’t apply undue pressure to the skin,” advises Ricco. “Some men love the old-school nature of a straight razor, while others prefer the speed and efficiency of a cartridge blade. Both will give a clean, smooth shave — just in different ways.”
Ricco breaks down the steps to a great shave:
STEP 1: Always shave in the shower or afterward because the heat and moisture softens the beard hair. The softer it is, the easier it is to cut.
STEP 2: Apply a pre-shave product, such as Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb Pre-Shave Oil, to place a protective barrier on the skin and further soften hair.
STEP 3: Now it’s time to lather up. How you apply your shaving cream can make the difference between a good and great shave. Use a moisturizing shaving cream like The Art of Shaving’s Shaving Cream with a badger hair shaving brush. This is the best way to mimic a hot-lather machine at home. The brush also helps deliver more heat and water and lightly exfoliates the skin. All of this makes for a smoother shave.
STEP 4: Make sure you are using a clean, sharp blade. No amount of preparation can overcome a dull blade.
STEP 5: Shave with the grain (the same direction your hair grows) on your first go and lather up again; then shave against or across the grain on the second pass. If you frequently experience razor burn, it is important to make sure you know the grain of your hair to minimize any possible shaving aggravation.
STEP 6: Once you are done shaving, rinse off with cold water and pat dry.
STEP 7: Apply an aftershave such as ESPA Men Postshave Rescue to replenish moisture to the skin and keep it feeling healthy.
Have a beard? Nourish it with Proraso Beard Oil to keep it smooth and protected.
“Waxing is best for those with more-coarse hair that tends to grow back fairly quickly, as waxing pulls hair out from the root, leaving a clean, longer-lasting finish,” says Bowe. “While getting waxing treatments done at a trusted salon is the safest option, if you need to wax at home, follow the same tips and protocol that professionals use.”
Nad’s Exfoliating Body Wax Strips do double duty with their exfoliator on the outside and wax on the inside to minimize ingrown hair and leave skin extra smooth. Allow hair to grow out to at least a quarter of an inch long so the wax gets a good grip on the hair, exfoliate the area about a day before waxing to get rid of any dead skin cells and open up the hair follicles, and keep an ingrown hair cream on hand. Waxing is a great option for the bikini line or facial hair.
Have sensitive skin? Tackle peach fuzz with the Brazilian Golden Body Veil, a hair-lightening system for legs, tummy, arms and face.
Though hair removal creams used to have a bad rep for their harsh formulas, they’ve gotten more effective and safe over the years, thanks to hydrating, skin-friendly ingredients. “These creams only dissolve hair on the surface though, so be prepared to have to use them about as frequently as shaving,” says Bowe. “They’re best for eliminating peach fuzz, so you will see your best results on places like your arms or underarms, where hair is less coarse.” Nair Nourish Sprays Away With Japanese Cherry Blossom and Rice Bran Oil is a no-touch spray that works in just four minutes.
Be sure to always do a patch test first on a small area of skin, since there’s the possibility of an allergic reaction. Also, pay attention to the timing: set a timer and don’t leave the cream on for too long to prevent a chemical burn to the skin. To avoid irritation, never apply a product on broken skin and wash your hands thoroughly after application.