Smooth Operator: Six Steps to the Perfect Shave

A nice tutorial on how to shave. 

Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

Each year, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show makes the world a trying place for women to live. After hours of televised strutting and several online photo articles dedicated to smooth, airbrush-tanned everything, you couldn’t feel more like a hairy Sasquatch degenerate.

The solution for those lucky few is expensive, excruciating waxings and laser hair removal supplemented with a generous side order of Photoshop, but that kind of price tag is out of the ordinary woman’s reach. How can we dissatisfied masses, armed only with our pretty pink razors, ever possibly shave ourselves as smooth as a photoshopped Victoria’s Secret model?

Prepare your arsenal, ladies! The perfect, painless shave requires:

  • A clean, sharp razor.
  • Shaving foam/gel.
  • Time. The faster you shave, the more toilet papered wounds you’ll be nursing afterwards, and that doesn’t look good in a skirt.

There are only so many hours in a day, but the experts at Venus Razors recommend shaving at night when possible; while you sleep your legs swell slightly, so shaving during your morning shower can result in a 5 o’clock shadow later on.



A nice, invigorating skin scrub is just what the doctor ordered, lifting up the last layers of dead skin cells standing between you and the closest, smoothest shave of your life. It also softens the coarser hairs that are more likely to return as unsightly razor bumps.

Personal preference reigns as to what you lather up with. In a pinch even your soap will do, though the chances of razor burn are higher than with foams or gels. Foam, while effective, tends to dry out the skin more than gel. Gels are also usually clear, which makes it easier to see where you’ve missed a spot (or two). I personally recommend Completely Bare Moisturizing No-Shave Gel, which can be bought at Target.

Choose your weapon.

Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

A single-blade disposable razor is fine, but a razor with 4-5 blades will get the job done much more quickly and smoothly. The practical woman’s budget rarely allows for razors to be thrown away after 3 uses as recommended, but never attempt more than 10 close shaves with the same razor.

(And throw away that miserable old thing with the rust-spotted blade lurking in the shadowy underbelly of your shower. There is no room for a tetanus shot in your busy schedule.)

Don't go with the flow.

Here’s where personal preference refutes “medical” advice. Experts claim that we should be shaving down the leg in order to decrease the possibility of razor burn, ingrown hair, and cuts.

However, results just won’t be as sleek as shaving from the ankles up. You may spend the whole time praying to the ancient gods that the next pass doesn’t slice your leg open, but shaving against the grain gets faster, smoother results.

Smooth things over.


Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

Illustrations and feature illustration by Meagan Guild.

The only people who should be using aftershave are manly men in razor commercials; the alcohol in most aftershaves can dry out your skin, particularly if it’s sensitive. A fragrance-free lotion is the best go-to solution (but don’t tell Bath & Body Works or they won’t bring Cucumber Melon back next summer).

If fragrance-free isn’t your style, some companies produce scented creams and liquids that are a little more lady-friendly when it comes to moisturizing and soothing freshly shaved areas.

Epilator Girl recommends Nivea for Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm as a top post-shave contender—it’s unscented, alcohol-free and, more importantly, inexpensive.

Follow up!

This is an optional step, but I like to apply Completely Bare Hair Growth Inhibitor when the greasy lotion feeling has faded away. In a perfect world, the hair you just shaved away will grow back more slowly and be less coarse, though don’t expect results after the first application. It could take up to 3 weeks for any noticeable change.

It’s not the only product out there that promises delayed hair growth, but use with caution. And as a general rule: if it promises to “tingle” or “tighten,” it has no business being anywhere delicate.  

Your chance to take to the catwalk this year has unfortunately come and gone, but you've got a full year to practice your technique. Get slick, ladies.