How to shave your legs—5 tips for the best results

Ready for silky-smooth skin? Start with this refresher on how to shave your legs

Woman in bathroom using a razor and shaving foam to shave her leg
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It might feel like you've forgotten how to shave your legs, especially if you’ve been leaving them untouched and covered by loungewear over the past year. But there's no need to fear the prospect of slipping into shorts and sundresses—take time to reacquaint yourself with the best way to shave your legs, and you'll not only achieve silky-smooth skin, but increase your daily wardrobe options at the same time! 

If you feel like you need a recap, you won't be alone. Plenty of us frequently ask what’s the best way to get a close shave without causing razor burn and irritation? And how do you know if shaving is the right choice after all?  

“Shaving isn’t a long-term solution, but it is simple and accessible,” explains Monica Michel, M.D., founder of the medical aesthetics practice SOMA MD in British Columbia, Canada. 

Dr. Michel notes that other options such as laser hair removal and waxing might offer longer-lasting results, but they’re best left to the professionals. Shaving is a quick and affordable alternative. And, if done properly, it can still leave you with soft, smooth skin that you’ll want to show off.

So while facial hair removal is slightly more complicated, these tips will help you get a leg up on perfecting your leg-shaving routine at home.

How to shave your legs: the essentials 

1. Use a fresh, high-quality razor blade

When it comes to understanding how to shave your legs for the best results, one of the first rules is this: check your tools are up to scratch. 

If you can’t remember the last time you used your razor, or you’ve been using the same blade one for a while, it’s high time you toss it in the trash. 

Because razor blades get dull quickly, the American Academy of Dermatology Association says you should change blades after about five to seven uses. This is the best way to minimize the risk of irritation to prevent razor burn, and ensure the closest shave.

When shopping for a replacement, choose one of the best razors for women. “Invest in a high-quality razor, not single-blade disposables, and replace your razor blade frequently,” suggests Dr. Michel. In the same way that it's important to choose the best skincare devices for specific skin concerns, choosing the best razor you can buy is vital for looking after your skin.

woman sitting in a bathroom shaving her legs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Exfoliate before you shave

Use a loofah, bristle brush, or body scrub to exfoliate your legs before shaving. This way, you’ll avoid ingrown hairs, which can occur when dead skin cells get trapped in the hair follicles. Sloughing off dead skin cells also means you can shave as close as possible to the base of each hair, which will offer better results.

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

If there’s one thing to remember about how to shave your legs, it’s this: “never dry shave,” says Dr. Michel. Putting a dry razor blade against dry skin is like dragging nails on a chalkboard; it’s not a great sensation, and it’ll make your legs more prone to razor burn, ingrown hairs, and irritation. 

Instead, keep your skin hydrated before, during, and after you shave your legs. Before you start to shave, you should saturate your legs with warm water to open up the hair follicles and soften the skin.

“To ensure you’re shaving properly, be sure to use a moisturizing shaving cream,” Dr. Michel advises. Shaving cream or gel acts as a protective layer on your skin’s surface, preventing friction and ensuring the razor blades glide along smoothly. 

Finally, Dr. Michel adds that it's important to “take care of your skin afterwards with a scent-free moisturizer. This will help combat razor burn.” Plus it will keep your skin looking and feeling incredibly smooth.

4. Go against the grain—literally

The rules about how to shave your legs are a little different to other parts of the body—in more sensitive areas, such as underarms or bikini lines, shaving in the direction that your hair grows can help you avoid issues such as ingrown hairs and razor burn. But when shaving your legs, it’s more efficient to do the opposite. Specifically, shave your legs against the grain (direction that your hairs grow). The skin on your legs is more taut and resilient than other more sensitive areas, so you’re less likely to notice irritation.

Shaving against the direction of your leg hair’s growth will give you the closest shave and best results. This means carefully bringing the razor upward across your leg, from ankle to knee, without applying much pressure.

Pay attention to how your leg hair grows, though, as this will affect how you shave your legs. You might notice some areas, like the back of your leg, feature horizontal hair growth instead. In those spots, turn the razor sideways or diagonally to keep the blades going against the grain. 

Either way, move the razor in long, steady passes up your leg. Before you switch to another area, run your hand along your leg to see if you missed any prickly patches.

When it’s time to remove the stubble around your ankles and kneecaps, bend your ankles or knees to make the skin taut—this is the best way to prevent any accidental nicks and scratches.

In the same way that it's good to know which body hairs you should and shouldn't pluck, knowing the direction to shave in will make your hair removal as clean and comfortable a process as possible.

5. Keep your razor clean

While shaving, rinse your razor off continuously to remove excess hair and shaving cream or gel. Do this between every pass to be sure you’re not shaving with clogged blades—these can cause a less-than-perfect finish (clearly not the aim when considering how to shave your legs for the best results).

When you’ve finished shaving your legs, give your razor one final rinse. Use water pressure or the corner of a towel to dislodge any stubborn bits of hair—never your fingers, as you could cut yourself. 

Store your razor in a dry place until it’s time to do it all again. And, in the meantime, get out there and show a little leg!

woman&home thanks Dr. Monica Michel of SOMA MD for her time and expertise.