Shaving has started to seem like a well and truly old-fashioned way to remove unwanted hair. Other, newer, more technological hair removal methods and products seem to build their marketing around the perils of stubble, razor rash, cuts, bumps, redness, irritation. It can almost feel like shaving is the “wrong” thing to do.
But is there any rule about how often you should shave your legs? Is shaving every day bad? Does it cause damage to your skin and hair? Or is it all propaganda to sell more at-home IPL devices and waxing kits?
Let’s take a closer look at the way shaving actually affects you and your body and if shaving every day is an issue.
How Long Does Shaving Last?
How often you’ll need to shave depends on the individual, their genetics, and their general rate of hair growth.
For some people (to their dismay), a clean shave will only last a day. By the next morning, the hairs will start to appear above the skin’s surface. This is true for a lot of men, who have to shave their facial hair daily. It’s also true for women when legs feel spiky before the day is even out.
If you have finer or slower-growing hair, you may find the smooth effect of shaving will last 3 to 4 days. If your hairs are light and fine enough, you may be lucky to get away with a week of the hairs starting to regrow, but not being visible or noticeable from a distance.
Another factor in determining how often should you shave your legs is your personal preference as to how smooth and silky you like them to be.
Side Effects of Shaving Legs? Is It Bad For Skin?
When you shave, the razor blade traverses the skin’s surface, severing the hair at skin level. The root of the hair is left within the follicle, just below the surface, which is why shaving is very much a temporary fix.
Side effects that can occur from shaving include:
- Ingrown hairs (where the razor pulls or twists the hair, causing it to grow in the wrong direction)
- Razor rash
- Dryness and/or itchiness
How can you avoid the side effects of shaving?
Many of these issues can be avoided by making sure you heed the following –
- Use razor blades that are clean and sharp and replace regularly
- Use a razor with multiple blades, which balance the pressure across the skin
- Exfoliate legs before shaving, and moisturize afterward
- Shave against the direction of the hair growth
- Shave while the skin is wet, and use shaving-specific foams or gels.
Should You Shave Your Thighs?
A common shaving myth is that you shouldn’t shave above the knee. This one is quite bizarre. It may have come from the notion that there are important blood vessels there, but it’s unlikely a razor is going to sever your femoral artery!
It may also have come from old-fashioned ideas of conservatism, implying that shaved thighs mean short skirts. Either way, it’s just an old wives’ tale.
It’s perfectly okay to shave your thighs – the question is whether you need to. Hair above the knee tends to be sparser and finer. If you’re fair or get a lot of sunlight on your legs, you may find that it’s barely noticeable enough to bother with. If you do decide to shave them, remember to take care around the knees (ideally shave with them bent), and always shave against the direction of hair growth.
When Should You Shave?
Whether your hair removal routine occurs in the morning or the evening, the best time to shave is always after or during a bath or shower. Hair that’s been soaked for a few minutes will be softer and easier to cut.
Does Shaving Every Day Make your Hair Grow Back Thicker or Faster?
The answer to this is no, but with a caveat! A study undertaken way back in 1928 debunked this widely believed myth.
Your first reaction might be, ‘but my hair looks thicker and darker!’ or, ‘my hair seems to grow much faster since I started shaving’. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
When a hair is shaved, it’s tip is severed. This means the new hair coming through has a blunt end, making it look thicker. Further to this, new hairs have not yet been exposed to sunlight, so they may well appear darker when they come back through.
The full growth cycle for a hair takes around 1 month. After a week or two, grown-out hair will start to look lighter, finer, and more flexible. If you stop shaving completely, after a month or so, your hair will return to the natural state it used to appear in before you first started!
Products That Can Help You Shave Your Legs
Exfoliating the skin really is the holy grail of good shaving. Dead skin cells are the number one cause of blockages, and when you shave, you can force them back into your pores where they get trapped and cause irritation. Exfoliating provides a clear path for the razor blade to glide across your skin. If you find body scrubs harsh, opt for a loofah or flannel for more gentle exfoliation.
Shaving Gels or Foams
Many of us are guilty of a “whatever’s in the shower” mentality when it comes to shaving, using things like shampoo or shower gel to lather up. But this is a no-no if you want healthy, irritation-free skin. You might think that shaving foam is a bit of a con or an unnecessary extra purchase, but unlike shampoos and soaps, it’s specifically formulated to reduce friction.
Reducing friction between the skin and the razor blade reduces the risk of irritation. It also protects your razor blades, ensuring they stay sharp.
Oils and Moisturisers
Even with reduced friction, the contact of a razor blade against the skin can cause dryness. Putting that moisture back in is key to soothing the skin post-shave, and avoiding the recurrence of pore-clogging dead skin cells.
If you have particularly sensitive skin, look for moisturizers that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as tea tree, aloe vera, chamomile, or vitamin E.
Top tip: rinse your skin with cold water after shaving to seal your pores, and wait 30 minutes for your skin to settle before applying moisturiser.
Last but not least, razor blades are one of those things where quality matters. The sharper they are, the less they’ll drag your hairs and cause pulling, twisting, and general irritation.
Choosing a razor with 3 or 4 blades helps with this too. If you suffer from inflammation (usually manifesting as red bumps across the skin) after shaving, try sanitizing your blade with rubbing alcohol before you start to get rid of any bacteria.
In short, there is nothing inherently “bad” about shaving every day. We’ve seen that it doesn’t make your hair grow back thicker or darker – a fear most women who shave I’m sure have had.
However, shaving every day could leave you more open to some of the side effects of shaving we’ve mentioned above such as nicks, cuts and irritation. For a good shaving experience, just remember is to prep your skin before and care for it afterward.