If you're anything like me, you reach for an inexpensive disposable razor to conquer all your shaving needs. And again, if you're anything like me, your skin probably suffers the consequences. (I know all too well that itchy, irritated skin is often the hallmark of a cheap razor.)
A little digging quickly uncovered that I've been going at it all wrong. If you've had it with razor burn and ingrown hairs, it may be time to ask yourself if you're making any of these classic shaving mistakes.
YOU DON'T CHANGE THE BLADE OFTEN ENOUGH
How long should you use your razor before changing the blade? According to a 2012 Wall Street Journal report, the answer varies. Some say that drying the blade and soaking it in mineral oil after each use can significantly extend your razor's life. Others insist that regularly replacing the blade is the only way to go.
"We recommend that people change their blades each week for the best shaving experience, and our members agree," says Michael Dubin, co-founder and CEO of Dollar Shave Club. "Before joining DSC, 28 percent of members changed their razor blades once a week. Now 66 percent of members change them once a week."
According to a 2014 Consumer Affairs report, exposure to water is what gradually damages the blade, leaving you with a rougher shave over time.
YOU AREN'T USING ANY PRODUCT
Between creams, foams and gels, we're bombarded with shaving products. Are they really necessary? If you go the cheap route, or (gasp) with nothing all, you'll likely strip your skin of much-needed moisture.
"A great shave prep is a key step," says Dubin, who's a fan of Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter. The product is designed with sensitive skin in mind. "You want something that softens the hair and improves glide."
Whatever you choose, it isn't a bad idea to go with something that goes on clear so that you can actually see the area you're shaving.
What about after-shave? If you go with a high-quality balm made with natural ingredients, it can help soothe and condition just-shaved skin.
YOU'RE USING THE WRONG RAZOR ALTOGETHER
When it comes to choosing a razor, should you go with a twin blade? A four-blade? A six-blade? And is there really any difference between them? Razor companies claim that a higher blade count equals a closer shave because they eliminate more hair. For those with super-sensitive skin, investing in an electric razor may not be a bad idea.(Although the tradeoff is a shave that isn't as close.)
Dubin says that the type of razor you choose is really a personal decision."Sometimes you have to test run a few before you know what works best for you," he says.
He adds that a fresh razor should work for any area (from a woman's legs to a man's face). Even so, some razors are designed to meet specific needs. For example, Philips, makes a specialty model designed for cleaning up the bikini line. If you're tackling armpits, a razor with a swiveling head and multiple blades is probably you're best bet.