Smooth Moves: Brush Up on Every Hair Removal Option for Your Legs with This Handy Guide
We all show a little more leg as the days warm up. Whether you prefer to shave or wax, or you want to take the plunge into laser hair removal, here's how to keep your gams fuzz-free longer and your skin healthy and glowing.
For a silky-smooth routine, choose a razor with at least four blades. We like the five-blade Venus Radiant Skin Starter Kit Razor ($40, gillettevenus.com). And if you're prone to ingrowns, shave in the direction of hair growth, says Solana Beach, California, dermatologist Melanie Palm. Then fine-tune your technique with these tips. First, give your skin a good sweep. Dry-brushing whisks away dead-skin buildup around hair follicles, says New York City dermatologist Shereene Idriss, and that equals an easier glide and a closer shave. Try Kate McLeod The Dry Brush ($26, katemcleod.com). It's easy to use; just lightly stroke the bristles in short upward motions from your ankles.
When you're ready to shave, ensure your razor is up to the job. Dull blades aren't just less effective; they can also cause irritation, Dr. Palm says. Click in a new one every two weeks if you shave daily, every three weeks for every other day, or every six weeks if you shave twice weekly, suggests Dr. Idriss. Timing is important, too: Save your shave for the last step in your shower; this gives the warm water and steam time to soften hairs for gentler removal. And use shaving cream (not any old soap), which acts as a buffer, preventing nicks. We like Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel ($5, target.com), formulated for sensitive skin. Take caution as you go to avoid nicks. Slow down at tricky spots like your knees and ankles and the backs of your legs. Prop your foot on a sturdy ledge or stool so you can clearly see every angle, and bend your knee as you shave it to create more surface area and tauter skin, says Dr. Palm.
It takes time to get comfortable waxing on your own, but the benefits are big: The method slows regrowth and thins out the density of hairs over time, says Tempe, Arizona, trichologist William Gaunitz. Make sure your skin is clean and dry, and that hairs are at least a quarter-inch long (like a grain of rice) so the wax can grab onto them. Pull it off in swift strokes (with gusto!), keeping your hand close to your skin to minimize the sting. If your legs are a tall order, do your bikini line and eliminate swimsuit angst. After bravely road-testing a range, we're stuck on these three.
Soft wax strips are user-friendly—just stick them on and peel. The Flamingo Body Wax Kit has post-pull wipes soaked in soothing sweet-almond oil.
Shop Now: Flamingo Body Wax Kit, $10, shopflamingo.com.
We like the quick-drying Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit. You microwave the hard wax until it's thick like honey, spread it on, and tug it off once it cools.
Shop Now: Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit, $24, blissworld.com.
Sugar "wax" is a paste containing sugar, water, and lemon juice that grabs just stubble (no skin). It may take several passes on each spot. Try this option.
Shop Now: Nad's Natural Sugar Wax, $13, amazon.com.
Play the Long Game
To banish stubble for up to 10 years (the dream!), laser hair removal is an option, albeit a pricey one. Each treatment entails up to an hour of topical numbing on a patch of skin, followed by about 30 minutes of heat-and-light therapy to inhibit growth. "Depending on the surface area, the cost can range from $500 to $1,500 per session—and most people need 5 to 10," says Dr. Idriss. Darker skin tones were trickier to treat in the past (the lasers worked by targeting dark hairs visible against light skin), but new technologies are more effective on all complexions. This is also the safest choice for those with varicose veins, who risk injury from waxing and shaving, says New York- and New Jersey- based vein specialist Claudia Rios-Datta.
"Women have the highest rates of melanoma on their legs," says New York City dermatologist Orit Markowitz, so slather on sunscreen every day—not just at the beach. Featherweight MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème SPF 50 is also rich in free-radical-fighting antioxidants.
Shop Now: MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème SPF 50, $30, dermstore.com.
Treat Keratosis Pilaris
If you have keratosis pilaris, try AmLactin Daily Lotion, which contains 12 percent lactic acid, an aid in dissolving those tiny bumps.
Shop Now: AmLactin Daily Lotion, from $16, amazon.com.