6 Ways You’re Probably Shaving Your Legs All Wrong

Updated: Jul. 20, 2020

What's the best way to shave your legs? Dermatologists weigh in on how to banish cuts and razor burn when you are shaving your legs.

How to shave your legs

If laser hair removal is out of your price range, and the pain of waxing is a no-go, you might be shaving to remove excess body hair. Even if you’ve been shaving forever, you might be guilty of these shaving mistakes, according to dermatologists. Here’s what you’re doing wrong—and what to do instead.

blue razor
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You don’t replace your razor often enough

Two signs will tell you if you need to replace your razor blade. Either the blades on your razor will look dull, or the moisturizing strip at the top will have faded. If you shave with a blunt razor you are more susceptible to cutting yourself. Plus, old razors can carry bacteria, which can lead to infection. As a general rule, you should use your razor about 10 times before you replace the blade. “Using a low-quality razor…forces you to overstroke the same area multiple times, a common compensating behavior that can cause irritation,” says dermatologist Jody Levine, MD.

woman applying cream to legs
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You never exfoliate

Exfoliating regularly is key to preventing ingrown hairs. Exfoliating sloughs off old dead skin cells, which “speeds up cell renewal, enabling new healthy skin cells to grow,” say integrative medicine physician Frank Lipman, MD. Dead skin cells can cause ingrown hairs and could dull your razor, so exfoliate once or twice a week in between shaves. (Find out about the skin care myths dermatologists wish you’d stop believing.)

water pouring from shower head

You shave as soon as you get into the shower

It’s best to leave shaving as the very last step of your shower routine, otherwise, you’re making a huge showering mistake. As you stand in the shower, the warm water will soften the hair, open up the hair follicles, and keep the skin warm and moist. This will make sure you have a closer shave, and will in turn help prevent razor burn along with dead skin cells that could dull your razor blade, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.


You use soap

Yes, it’s an extra item to by for your routine but it’s worth it if you shave your legs regularly. Bar soap doesn’t provide enough of a barrier between the blade and your skin, plus it can clog the blades. Shaving cream or gel is your best option here, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. There are many different options to play around until you find one you like. Run out of shaving cream? Even a hair conditioner is a better alternative to regular soap or dry shaving which could cause irritation.

woman using pink razor
Lana K/shutterstock

You shave too quickly

Especially when you have a fresh blade, it’s important to use extra-slow strokes to avoid nicks. Be particularly careful around your knees and ankles. This will help you get a closer shave and ensure that you don’t miss any spots, too. (Check out these other 17 tips dermatologists follow themselves.)

Two pink women's disposable razors on wooden table.

You use a single blade disposable razor

Razor blades work like this: The first blade is designed to lift the hair, and each subsequent blade is intended to cut the hair lower and lower on the hair shaft, giving you the closest shave possible. So for the smoothest legs, it’s best to use a four- or five-blade razor. Next, check out why you should shave at night instead of in the morning.