Is there anything more infuriating (or embarrassing) than shaving your underarms in the morning only to find a 5 o’clock shadow has developed by evening cocktails? While shaving is the fastest, least painful and most affordable hair removal method around, it doesn’t always seem like the most efficient. “Shaving is one of the least traumatic ways to remove unwanted hair, especially under the arms,” says Dr. David E. Bank, author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age and founder and director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “But it only removes hair from the surface of the skin. It doesn’t treat the follicle directly, which is why you have to shave very often and this can cause ingrown hairs and also irritate skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.”
Obviously, there isn’t a woman out there who wouldn’t like to spend less time with a razor in her pit, so we spoke with experts who gave us 7 must-try tips on how to stretch out the time between shaves so we aren’t slaves to our razor this summer.
1. Remove hair as close to the root as possible. You aren’t going to suddenly flick your wrist a little more to the right and remove hair from the root, but the type of razor you choose can make all of the difference, says Dr. Chynna Steele, a cosmetic and medical dermatologist from Atlanta. “Using triple or quadruple blade razors is beneficial because you remove the hair from a deeper level beneath the skin and therefore, it takes longer for the hair to regrow to a level that is visible,” Steele says. Since the armpit is a small area, she recommends a smaller head razor with a triple blade. We love Gillette Venus Simply Venus Disposable Women’s Razor.
2. Don’t shave right before you swim. “Chlorine and salt water can sting freshly shaved skin, which will cause irritation,” Bank says. And, if your armpits are irritated and you run a razor over them, you’re only going to wreak more havoc on your skin.
3. Shave at the tail-end of your shower. I don’t know about you, but I thought I had my shaving routine all figured out. Wash hair, condition it, and then shave while I allow the conditioner to soak in a bit. But Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of the book Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist, says we may not be allowing my underarm hair to become soft enough before removing it. “To get a closer shave it’s always better to shave at the end of a shower when the hairs are hydrated and softer to cut off,” she says.
4. Use a shaving gel instead of cream. I used to think: why spend additional money on a special shaving gel when my husband has this super cheap, foamy cream that’s good enough for his face? But there is a difference between cream and gel when it comes to an area like your underarms. “A foam or cream has more air and is less dense so it effects the glide of the razor across the skin,” Jaliman said. Skintimate SkinTherapy Moisturizing Shave Gel is affordable, made with Vitamin E, lanolin, and Olive butter, making it ideal for dry skin, and smells amazing.
5. Shave the right way. When most women turn 13, they aren’t usually given shaving lessons by their moms. Instead, they purchase the cheapest pink razors they can find at the local drugstore and proceed to do a bloody number of their legs and underarms. In order to get a closer shave, it is crucial to shave against the direction of the hair, says Summer Vasilas, co-founder of Waxing the City. “Shave in an upwards motion, bottom to top and the follow in the opposite direction, top to bottom,” Vasilas said. “Your hair in the underarm grows in multiple directions and this method will ensure a clean shave that lasts longer.” Since the skin beneath our arms is usually loose, it also helps to pull it taut while shaving so you get every single hair as close to the root as possible.
6. Nourish your skin with after-shave treatments. Don’t just shave and forget about your underarms. It’s important to use body lotion to keep your underarms moisturized and to even invest in a quality exfoliating treatment. “Exfoliation is important to help your shave last longer,” said Hibba Kapil, founder of Hibba NYC. “If you are waxing and shaving you might be prone to ingrown hairs that are stuck under the skin surface. When you go in for a wax or if you shave you will miss these hairs and they might pop up a few days later. Now your hair is on an uneven growth cycle and it seems as if your shave/wax didn’t last, but it’s because you missed hairs that were stuck under the skin.” LOOFAH IT by Hibba is a hand-woven cloth made from the Agave plant that removed dead skin and prevents ingrown hairs so your shave lasts longer.
7. Ask your doctor about prescription creams. Vaniqa is a prescription topical cream that drastically slows the rate of hair growth. Although most women usually apply it to their faces, Jaliman says you can ask your doctor about using it under the arms, which will make your shave last longer.