When it comes to achieving stubble-free skin for summer, salon waxing and in-office laser hair removal treatments are the gold standard. Women often turn to razors and depilatories for a quicker and cheaper home remedy. There are some rules of the stubbly road though. Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that if you're not careful, nixing stubble can become a skin-compromising problem.
Want to avoid razor burn, ingrown hairs, and cuts? The sleek Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor might be designed for men, but, Graf says, because it has five blades and a heavier handle, it gives a super-close crop in fewer passes. "The best time to shave is at the end of a warm shower, when blood vessels are dilated, causing skin to plump and expose the entire base of the hair follicle, " she says. Warm water also softens hair so it doesn't snap, helping prevent ingrown hairs. To avoid blade rust and skin infections, swap out the blade every 5 to 10 shaves.
Shaving every day is fine as long as you keep the skin soft with a moisturizing shave cream.
During the summer, you may be hesitant to slather on a heavy body lotion. But applying moisturizer over freshly shaven, still damp skin will help minimize flakes and razor rash, Graf says.
Using a depilatory isn't as popular as shaving, but it does have its advantages. For starters, you'll get a lower incidence of bumps and ingrown hairs, Graf says. "Plus, hair is removed at a deeper level, allowing a longer time for regrowth." While the hair only needs to be stubble-length to work, a depilatory is best when used sparingly -- every 10 days to two weeks. That's because the formula's chemicals break the bonds that hold hair together and can dry out skin.
Dealing with Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs show up when a hair that is shaved, waxed, or tweezed curls and burrows back into your skin as it grows. This can lead to inflammation, Graf says. Try these quick fixes:
Smooth Move. Hop in the shower and carefully exfoliate the area with a wash cloth or gentle body scrub.
Picky, Picky. If stubborn hairs don't want to come back up on their own, try to avoid picking (which can lead to infections) and see your dermatologist. She can help remove the hair and advise you about laser hair removal, which can resolve stubborn ingrown problems.
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