The winter brings cold, dry air, and unfortunately that often translates into dry, itchy winter legs. So, much like your wardrobe changes to reflect the seasons, so should your skin care — especially your shaving routine.
To help you get a leg up (geddit? geddit?) on the seasonal changes soon to affect your stunning skin, we went in search of expert advice and insight on the ultimate winter shaving regimen. Here's what we uncovered about changes you should make now to minimize the effects of harsh winter weather.
1. Skip the long, pre-shave, soaking sessions
Sigh. What's cozier on a chilly winter night than relaxing in a steaming-hot tub of bubbles? I'm not entirely convinced I'd be motivated to shave my legs during the winter without this luxury. Unfortunately these leisurely soaks could make irritation from shaving even more likely. "While a long, hot bath or shower may seem super appealing after braving the cold, it might not be the best thing for your skin," dermatologist Dr. Doris Day told HuffPost Style. "You don't want to wash away the protective oils which help lock moisture in." Stick to the shower, and keep it short (15 minutes or less).
2. Don't skip exfoliation
While it may seem like common sense to not exfoliate skin that's dry and potentially irritated, the reality is quite the contrary. "A common myth is that in the winter skin is too dry to exfoliate. When we are younger, our skin cells turn over every seven to 14 days, but as we age, that process slows down. Just like the body's metabolism slows down, so does our skin, leading to the dull complexion. Using exfoliating products will regenerate healthy, plump cells to create a glowing complexion," says Sarah Eggenberger, beauty expert and vice president of product development at MyChelle Dermaceuticals. Bonus? Exfoliating your legs in the winter helps get rid of razor-clogging dead skin cells, and it can prevent nicks or razor burn by preventing a shave that is too close.
3. Wait until the end of your shower to shave
Sometimes a gal just can't wait to hop in the shower and de-hair. This seems especially true during winter, when some of us tend to stretch shaving sessions a wee bit too far and wind up with legs that are more Sasquatch-y than stubbly. However, you should hang out in the shower or bath for approximately 15 minutes before you lather up your gams. According to Linda Palladino, a senior brand manager at BIC, "The warm humidity increases skin elasticity and softens hair." Less time increases the odds you'll get razor burn, and more time could lead to skin wrinkling and swelling, which makes a close shave far less likely.
4. Shave your legs in the evening
The morning is a logical time for many women to shave their legs, since they're already showering in preparation for the nine-to-five. Still, there's something to be said for shaving your legs at night during the colder, winter months. Experts say doing so will reduce the frequency you have to shave, which in turn means your legs are less likely to dry out even further. The science behind this is simple — overnight when you sleep, your legs swell slightly. By the morning, hair has retreated back into its follicles, meaning you won't get the close shave you need and will wind up shaving more often to compensate.
5. Double down, literally
Winter conditions are a recipe for razor burn, so it's best to tread with caution while shaving. To dramatically reduce your odds of irritation while still getting a super-close shave, go with the grain. Don't feel bad — I've been doing it all wrong too. "Shave first with the grain of the hair," says New York City dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz, host of DermTV.com and creator of BeautyRx. "If you're not sure which way the grain is, take your hand, and whichever way feels smooth without a stubble, then shave in that direction first."
If afterward your legs still aren't as smooth as you'd like, rinse off the first layer of shaving gel or cream, and shave with the grain again. If your gams still aren't as slick as you hoped they'd be, then "and only then" should you shave against the grain.
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