About 60 percent of women experience dryness and irritation after shaving, according to 2013 reports from “Redbook” magazine and Gillette. Red bumps on your legs, a pesky effect that results from in-grown hairs and rough shaves, can really detract from showing off with your latest tube dress or short shorts, but you can overcome them with the right shaving approach. It takes a simple combination of prevention, careful shaving and treatment to make bumps say “bye-bye.”
Time your leg shaving properly. Certain factors make your skin more sensitive, which heightens your chance of post-shave irritation. As a general rule of thumb, shave about a week after your period -- your skin is more irritable just before or during. Avoid shaving if you've recently had a lot of caffeine or alcohol, both of which make for sensitive, bump-susceptible skin.
Soak in a warm -- not hot -- shower for at least a few minutes before shaving your legs to soften your hair. Gently scrub your gams with a loofah and exfoliating soap to open your pores. This lessens your chance of creating ingrown hairs, which in turns lessens your chance of red bumpiness. Do not exfoliate after shaving, as the act of shaving serves as an exfoliant; simply rinse your skin with cool water after you shave.
Switch to a three-blade razor if you rely on a four- or five-bladed model. High-tech razors may actually cause red bumps if you have sensitive skin, as they cut through to your subdermal layer, making way for ingrown hairs. In any case, turn to a razor with an aloe, acai or jojoba moisturizing strip for a smoother shave.
Apply only moderate pressure with your razor and make short, smooth strokes rather than long, sweeping strokes. Long strokes actually increase your chances of irritation, as does pushing the razor into the skin with too much pressure. If you have to push the blade down roughly to cut through hair, replace the blade.
Follow your shave with an application of moisturizing lotion after you get out of the shower and pat your legs dry. Apply a lotion with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as menthol, lactic acid, shea butter, or urea, to reduce the chance of redness.
Avoid shaving with shower gels or shaving creams that contain inflammatory ingredients such as alcohol or fragrance if you have irritable skin. If harsh chemicals are among the first three ingredients on the label, these creams may leave your skin red and bumpy. Likewise, never forgo soothing shaving cream in favor of bar soap, shampoo or other substitutes.
Use a glycolic acid cleanser instead of exfoliating soap before, not after, your shave if you have a history of ingrown hair.
For severe cases of ingrown hairs, turn to an over-the-counter topical cortisone cream to reduce redness.
Visit your dermatologist if you consistently suffer from chronic red bumps after shaving. Likewise, consult your dermatologist before making major changes to your skincare routine.
Dan combines his decade-long experience as a freelance writer and small business owner with hands-on experience in fashion, mixology, media production and more. Previously, he's published with Chron.com, Charlotte's Book, LIVESTRONG, Civilized Life, Hunker, Fortune, Salon.com, Out East Rose, Samsung, USA Today and others.