Experts agree: it’s best to exfoliate before you shave. “Gentle exfoliation can help [loosen] the free edge of hairs that may be trapped under the skin,” says a board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD “It can give you a smoother shave and reduce the risk of razor bumps or irritation.”
Razor bumps and bumps occur when this free edge of the hair gets stuck in the skin, so it curls down and pushes back into the skin instead, resulting in sore, inflamed, and painful patches. resembling pimples. Those with thicker hair are more likely to get ingrown hairs, but “it’s also more likely to happen if there’s skin coverage where the hair is growing,” says a board-certified dermatologist. Hadley King, MD Exfoliation sloughs off that top layer of excess dead skin cells – without that coverage, you increase the chances of your freshly shaved hair growing freely.
And on a practical level: Your razor will remove hair more easily without a film of dead cells blocking the area.
Both King and Zeichner agree that exfoliating before shaving is always a good idea, no matter what part of the body you’re shaving. Just be aware that more sensitive areas, like the armpits, bikini line, or face, may require more gentle exfoliation methods (which we’ll get to later).