There are a lot of opinions about the order of things when it comes to your beauty routine — whether it's conditioning before you shampoo or exfoliating in the morning or at night. So I wasn't surprised when my friends started debating the topic of exfoliating and shaving. One claimed she exfoliated before she shaved her legs. The other said she did it after. And me? I told them they were both crazy — that scrubbing the same day you shave is insane because your razor is already doing the exfoliating for you.
Turns out, I was kind of off base. Hey, it's good to get knocked off your high horse sometimes.
According to Rachel Sharoff, a licensed aesthetician at Skintology Skin and Laser Center in NYC, shaving does, in fact, exfoliate skin. "Shaving is a form of physical exfoliation…that imposes constant stress on the skin," she says. "Razor bumps, ingrown hairs, razor burn, and inflammation are just some of the visible signs of trauma that the skin endures when a razor is used." The main culprit is pressing a little too hard with your razor, which people tend to do when they're looking for an extra-close shave.
But it turns out that the secret to a close shave isn't just up to your razor — it's exfoliating before you shave. "It gets rid of all the dead skin cells that could clog up your razor," Sharoff says. Those clogs prevent your razor from getting up close and personal with your legs, which means you wind up pressing harder, causing irritation. See this vicious cycle?
Sharoff says that dry brushing before you shower, or using exfoliating gloves or a cloth in the shower are your best bets. Stay away from salt, sand, or coffee-grind exfoliants on the same day you shave; they can create tiny cuts in your skin, which is already bound to get nicked while you shave.
So, hat in hand, I let friend A know that she was correct in her exfoliate-then-shave routine. And, since picking up this process, I'm happy to report that my legs have never been smoother. Now, only if the weather would warm up a bit so they could actually see the light of day.