Now granted, I have always been blessed with good legs. Long and shapely, but also skin wise. Growing as tall as fast as I did could've done terrible things to my skin but it didn't. For the most part**, I don't get stretch marks or cellulite, thank you genetics. I have a varicose vein or 4 but whatever - that's why someone invented lasers. TBH they are on the back of my legs where I can't see them and for the most part they don't bother me that much. Nobody has screamed on the street in horror when I walk by in shorts, so I think I'm good.
What it has taken me years, nay decades to master is the art of shaving my legs. I got the coarse body hair from my Dad's side of the family, and since he wasn't a big leg shaver he never felt the need to pass down any wisdom. I spent years fumbling along, slicing myself to ribbons, suffering razor burn, folliculitis and eczema, with nothing but the tricks I learned at Jewish summer camp in the communal showers from other hairy eastern european girls to get me through. I didn't get that there was a better way, or even a different way.
It was in college, from a boyfriend of Italian descent, that I learned to steam the pores open first. Watching him do it to his face, and to warm up the razor was a revelation. By the time I got to those communal showers the water was tepid at best, so the idea of the addition of heat was revelatory. That was the first big change, and it was a game changer in many ways but still I struggled.
I tried every fancy blade and strip, only learning later that those things were irritating me with whatever sticky, soapish substance they contained. I was told to use a fresh blade every time I shaved. With the exorbitant cost of razor blades that was a luxury out of my reach.
And then, I mastered it. It happened almost by accident. I was to a certain extent starting with a blank canvas because the hair on my legs also fell out during chemo - but since that caused me months of suffering wicked folliculitis it hardly felt like a blessing. But it was during that time I really started to understand hair follicles; how sensitive they are, how they behave, how I could work with them instead of against them towards my goals of smooth legs.
Armed with this and my growing knowledge of skin, and facing a shower without shaving cream I stumbled upon the answer. Coconut oil. Yes, I know - I love me some of that stuff. So of course I had it in the shower, and I thought to myself "Well, you know you're not allergic to it, and it's antibacterial and whatnot (re: folliculitis aka an infection of irritated hair follicles) so why the eff not?" And so I did it. It was a revelation. It changed my shaving game.
Right around the same time I signed me and the man up for Dollar Shave Club. Suddenly we had more razor heads than I knew what to do with. Not a new one every single time (how wasteful?!) but once a week for $6? I could do that. Lo and behold, the problems started to fade away. Moreover, I enjoyed the silky glide of the oil and the razor together. It felt good. It smelled good. My legs felt good afterwards. I had finally figured out how to do it.
So here it is in simple list form, from someone who has struggled but struggles no longer.
HOW TO SHAVE YOUR LEGS
1. Apply heat. Warm up your pores (steam or warm water - not gonna lie sometimes I just use the sink) and then - and this is crucial - turn the water up super hot and heat up the blade. Continue to do this throughout so you're using a warm blade the whole time.
2. Apply oil. My oil of choice is coconut, but I will also sub in for olive or almond in a pinch. The trick is to dampen the skin you're shaving first and use enough oil to almost create a lather. This is not the time to be subtle, you really want to make sure the blade doesn't tug on your skin.
3. Use a fresh razor. I'm a Dollar Shave Club 4x girl, which is $6 a month and totes worth not getting razor burned or infected.
4. Shave with awareness. You are scraping a blade on your skin, now is not the time to be doing complicated math in your head or whatever. I shave up because that's what I do, but some people believe you should shave in the direction hair grows, so if you can do that I doubt it makes things worse.
5. Moisturize. For me this means more coconut oil when I'm done.
6. Spot treat issues. For infected follicles or ingrowns, a warm compress with vinegar works wonders for me. For bruises I am a diehard arnica gel fan. The ones you can see in the pictures are a result of the torture bands they use at barre class.
That's it. I can't believe it took me so long to figure this out, but here it is. No fancy products needed, although I was sorely tempted by this one because it's so pretty.
**I did get stretch marks on my chest during my tissue expansion but I treated them with these and they went away...