Shaving your legs can be annoying, but shaving your armpits comes with a different set of challenges. Sure, there’s less area to cover, but their hollow shape, awkward location, and surprisingly delicate skin make maneuvering a razor even more of a chore. Factor in how quickly the hair grows back, how noticeable stubble and bumps can be—not to mention the itch-inducing sweat and tank top chaffing that happen post-shave—and you’ll want to start wearing sleeves long before Labor Day. We talked to dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban to get tips on how to get smooth, issue-free pits this summer.
Schedule Your Shave
“Choosing when to shave is just as important as how you shave,” says Dr. Shamban, reminding us that the same mindset applies to our legs and bikini lines, too. If you run your razor under your arms right before you head to the beach or the pool, you’re setting yourself up for itching, burning, chafing—which get only more painful when you add sun, sand, and sweat to the mix. “Make sure to shave the night before any trips to the beach to allow your skin to repair, recover, and heal any razor burn overnight.” And when you do schedule your shave, make sure it's the last thing you do in the shower.
Steal From Your Skincare Routine
Some of the products you’re already using on your face can help you get a more effective shave once you’re in the shower. Before you even pick up your razor, use your favorite facial scrub (we like suki exfoliate foaming cleanser) to slough away dead skin under your arms. Then use your benzoyl peroxide cleanser to wash away any deodorant residue and banish any lingering B.O. “This will help eliminate the bacteria that are contributing to the any odor,” says Dr. Shamban.
Swap the Soap for Something Smoother
Because the skin under your arms is so sensitive, it’s important to use a moisturizing gel or cream when shaving—not a regular soap or body wash, which can dry out your skin. Prep each pit with a creamy product like SAGE & ROW bare shave cream packed with shea butter and vitamin E, or smooth your favorite body oil, like Tata Harper’s over the area to help your razor glide steadily without hitting any snags.
Go in the Right Direction(s)
While the hair on your legs tends to grow in one direction, the hair under your arms grows every which way. To get the job done, Dr. Shamban recommends using a razor with multiple blades and a pivoting head, so you avoid having to go over the same small area of sensitive skin several times with a sharp blade. Raise your arm, pull the skin taut, and shave in every direction—up, down, sideways, against and with the grain—to get the smoothest finish.
Don't Forget to Follow Up
After rinsing in the shower, gently pat (don’t rub!) your pits dry and avoid applying deodorant right away. (And when you do, try using a fragrance-free, solid formula instead something scented.) If hairs seem to sprout up before you've had time to change out your bikini, try swiping a hair-inhibitor like Whish’s Deodorant Swipes, which contain chaparral extract, a natural antioxidant that slows down hair growth. And never underestimate the comfort of loose (read: non-chaffing) cotton clothing—you'll want to take advantage of "sleeveless season" as often as possible!