Should you shave against the grain? Although shaving against the grain gives you the closest shave, it comes with a higher risk of irritation such as razor burn, ingrown hairs and "strawberry legs". We talk about the drawbacks of shaving against the grain and why It is best to shave with the grain to avoid these problems. In this blog we offer effective tips to stop itchy legs after shaving.
Have you been shaving wrong?
This could be a real ‘I was today years old when I found out…’ moment, we all know how to shave, it is not rocket science after all. But what if we told you, you have been doing it wrong? Specifically, when it comes to your legs and shaving against the grain! Years of TV commercials, magazine advertising and razor packaging have shown women to shave from the ankle up towards the knee when shaving and we can guarantee that what at least 90% of you are doing because it's what you have been taught, be that subconsciously or directly you will have a memory of seeing someone shave this way.
However, this way of shaving is going against the grain, meaning you are working against the direction of hair growth. Contrary to how young men are taught to shave their face or how male shaving is represented in advertising, take a look for yourself and you will see they will be shown to shave with the grain for a more comfortable shave, so why are women’s legs any different?
It’s true the skin on your face is more delicate and sensitive than that on your legs, but to truly achieve an irritation-free shave, going with the grain is always going to be the safest option.
Here at FFS, we felt it was important to educate women on this matter and attempt to correct decades of misinformation, that is why highlighting the correct way to shave was a key focus in our latest TV commercial, which you can view here.
If you would like to find out more about our TV commercial and why we created it, please read our behind-the-scenes blog.
We understand that some habits are hard to change, and why should you believe us when we tell you the ‘correct’ way to shave when many brands before us have shown the opposite? That’s why we caught up with Award-winning skin expert and cosmetic physician, Dr. Sabika Karim, from SkinMedical.com, Here is what she had to say.
'It is much kinder and softer for your skin to shave in the direction of hair growth, especially more sensitive areas but even on our legs as this is commonplace for people to experience what is dubbed ‘strawberry legs’ which is where hair follicles are left red and inflamed from the action of lifting hairs as you shave when shaving against the hair growth.'
Here's why shaving against the grain can be harmful
Ingrown hairs occur when the hair curls back on itself and grows beneath the skin, causing an annoying tender bump. If you shave in an upwards direction, it lifts the hair and cuts close to the skin, however, because there is some lift it also tugs and pulls at the hair follicle, stretching the hair, this shirt cut then creates a blunt, short end to the hair, and it is easier for this new coarse blunt end to grow back beneath the surface of the skin.
Sensitivity & Increased chance of razor burn
When you drag the razor against the natural direction of hair growth, you pull the hair back and upon itself. Whilst this does create a closer shave, the downsides negate any real benefits. The potential to damage your skin, cause razor burn and discomfort are greatly increased when you shave against the grain, and for those with sensitive skin or prone to ‘strawberry’ legs, this is really something you want to avoid.
Damaged hair follicles
The razor tugs at the hair before cutting it which applies tension to the hair follicle, especially if you do not change your blades frequently and you are shaving with a blunt razor. By tugging on the hair follicle, you will cause irritation and potential inflamed or damaged follicles that can result in small red bumps on your skin, not the smooth shave you were hoping to achieve.
Avoid Those Itchy Legs After Shaving
So how do I get a smooth shave without irritation, we hear you ask…
Just like our new TV ad shows, shave your legs with the direction of hair growth, in most cases this means from the knee to the ankle. This results in minimal to no tugging of the hair follicle, resulting in less chance of in-grown hairs and razor burn. Especially for beginners or those with sensitive skin, we advise shaving this way.
Here are our 7 top tips for perfectly smooth shaved legs.
- 1. Start with an exfoliator, this will help remove dead skin cells that can clog your razor and release any potential ingrown hairs that may have been caused by previous shaves.
- 2. Wet your legs and apply a barrier, we recommend our transparent shave cream as it allows you to see where you need to shave and adds a protective moisture-rich layer
- 3. Apply minimal pressure and let your blade do the work, work in short smooth slow strokes in the direction of hair growth (from knee to ankle), and don’t rush.
- 4. Rinse your blade between strokes.
- 5. After a few downward strokes, if you find you are still not catching all your hairs try a few horizontal strokes across your legs but always avoid upward strokes.
- 6. Always use a sharp blade, ours will last between 4-7 shaves and you can have them delivered to your door at a frequency to suit you, so you can be sure you will always have fresh blades to hand.
- 7. Finish with a post-shave lotion or balm, ours contains soothing shea butter and almond oil to nourish and improve complexion.
For an even more detailed guide on how to get smooth legs see our other blog here called how to shave your legs.