The Boots guide on how to shave for women to help skin stay smoother for longer, minus the irritation

Summer is finally here and festivals, weddings and beach breaks are back. But after a couple of years spent in loungewear and lockdowns, if you do choose to remove body hair for the summer, you might be feeling out of touch with how to get a smooth shave for slipping into lighter or more close-fitting clothes.

From razor burn, dry skin, blades and techniques that irritate your skin to razor bumps and ingrown hairs that can throw you off course, our shaving tips for women – and the shaving products to back them up – should put you back on track to smooth summer skin.

If you want to wax at home, our guide to DIY hair removal will help it go smoothly.

Shaving dos

1. Do exfoliate ahead of time

"Regular exfoliation is the best way to prevent ingrowns by removing any built-up skin cells that can trap a growing hair," explains Ruth Flanagan, senior PR & partnerships manager at Flamingo. "Whether you use a physical exfoliator or products with gentle acids in them, exfoliation helps hair grow freely."

Do it the night or morning before and not immediately prior, as sticky scrubs and the residue they leave on skin can clog and dull blades. And in case you were wondering: shaving doesn’t count as exfoliation and dead skin cells can clog the razor blade, potentially causing razor burn. 

2. Do moisturise, moisturise, moisturise 

Skin hydration is key for minimal skin irritation. "Moisturising should be incorporated throughout the routine," advises Ruth. "The key is to use good-quality shave gels that contain emollients to add slip without clogging blades."

And avoid the temptation to reach for shampoo or body wash as a substitute. They can clog and blunt blades and lead to missed hairs, nicks and irritation bumps. 

3. Do shave after showering

"Soaking in the warm water of a shower or bath for a few minutes before shaving opens up the pores and enables the hair to soften, resulting in a closer shave," explains Ruth. 

The result: you’re less likely to feel stubble later that day. Legs can swell overnight, so shaving in the evening is preferable to get a close shave. And avoid a winter hiatus, as this can lead to increased irritation and dry-skin build up when you pick up the razor again.

4. Do go in the right direction

"Always shave against the grain, to reduce the chances of friction and razor rash. If you’re opting for an all-over shave, it’s best to start from the bottom and work your way up, keeping the strokes fairly slow and short to allow for razor glide and more control," says Ruth.

And to trim or not to trim? "Trimming is down to personal choice and depends entirely on the length of the hair you want to remove," adds Ruth. "If you’re focusing on the bikini line, then a quick trim may be helpful for a closer shave."

5. Do remove ingrown hairs safely

"Ingrown hairs are caused by inflammation that happens when hairs try to come out from the skin," explains Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, advanced cosmetic doctor and founder and medical director of the Adonia Medical Clinic

They can occur as a result of shaving in the wrong direction in relation to the direction the hair grows. "When shaving, hairs are cut down at different angles and therefore they don’t grow straight through the skin," says Alice Lightfoot, spa manager at Champneys, Tring. "They can curl over and grow inwards, causing an ingrown hair."

To help, Dr Ejikeme suggests using ingredients, such as salicylic acid, as well as soothing ingredients like glycerin.

"Some ingrown hairs can be more stubborn and so to remove them, exfoliate the area with a scrub or glove, followed by holding a warm flannel, compress or cotton bud over the area for a few minutes," says Alice. 

"This should help release the hair and then you should be able to go in with tweezers to remove. Ensure your tweezers are sterile and you wash them thoroughly after."

Alice also recommends exfoliating between shaving. "This helps release any hairs that have started to grow inwards. Once the hair is released, it’s easy just to tweeze out," she says. 

Shaving don’ts 

1. Don’t forget blade hygiene

"It’s best to rinse every couple of strokes to ensure blades glide over skin and prevent missed hairs, irritation and nicks," says Ruth. "Also, rinse your blades thoroughly post-shave and store the razor upright outside of the shower – not face down – to prevent it from rusting and bacteria or fungal spores growing."

"Everyone’s hair growth and shaving routines are different, but we suggest changing your blade cartridge every six to eight uses."

Follow the golden rule: if you feel tugging or pulling, it’s time to switch blades.

2. Don’t treat pubic hair the same as other hair

"Pubic hair is 'terminal hair', which means it’s thicker and coarser than lighter vellus hairs found on the upper lip or legs," says Ruth. "Terminal hair grows from deeper in the dermis, meaning it is more likely to become ingrown."

Alice adds: "If you suffer with ingrown hairs around the bikini line, be conscious not to wear underwear that is too tight that rubs on the area as it can aggravate."

3. Don’t press too hard

"Using more blades when shaving is better for distributing pressure evenly across the razor and for a smoother shave and a lower risk of cutting yourself," says Ruth. 

"It’s best to shave with short, small strokes to ensure you have control of the handle and to limit any irritation." 

The less pressure the better as it helps keep the skin surface smooth and reduces the probability of cuts. Your razor shouldn’t make a dent in your skin in order to work – if it does it needs changing.

"The knees are notoriously tricky spots. Slightly bend the leg to pull the skin tight before shaving by putting your foot on the side of the bath or toilet bowl," says Ruth.

4. Don’t stick tissue on a cut

It might be what they do on TV, but sticking a piece of tissue on a nick won’t stem the bleeding.

Instead, wash your hands thoroughly and dry them, before cleaning the cut by rinsing it with water. Then, clean around the cut or wound with an antiseptic, making sure not to get any of the antiseptic into the cut. Pat the area dry using a gauze swab or clean tea towel and put on a sterile dressing or plaster.

5. Don’t forget to check the label if you have allergies

"It’s always important to check the labels and ingredients, particularly if you have allergies or sensitive skin," says Ruth. "Also, if you’re pregnant, you need to be mindful of the products you use to ensure they are pregnancy-safe – it’s worth noting that shaving is the most best option for hair removal during this period."

The best shaving products
Body scrubs

Try: Dove Crushed Macadamia & Rice Milk Body Scrub

• Size: 225ml

Created with Dove’s signature ¼ moisturising cream, it nourishes and helps increase skin’s moisture levels as it sloughs away dead skin, thanks to crushed macadamia nuts, prepping skin for a shave.

Try: Champneys Treatments Seaweed & Salt Scrub

• Size: 450g

Enriched with sea minerals for an intensively refreshing experience, apply this scrub using deep, circular movements, followed by a vigorous up and down massage, before rinsing with warm water. It’s like a dip in the ocean, before you’ve even stepped foot on the sand.

Shaving cream

Try: Gillette Satin Care Normal Skin Lavender Touch £3.55

• Size: 200ml

Helps hydrate hairs as it releases a delicate-smelling lather, making it easier and less irritating to get the closest shave possible. This women's shaving gel leaves skin incredibly soft, smooth and protected from any potential shaving irritation.

Post-shaving body moisturiser

Try: Bioderma Atoderm Cream

• Size: 500ml
• Fragrance free

With rich, moisturising ingredients, this formula helps consolidate the structure of the cutaneous barrier, thus curbing the penetration of any potential irritants and helping prevent bumps that can be caused by shaving and skin dryness.

Women’s shaver

Try: Flamingo Razor, Taro & Rose Gold

The ergonomically weighted, rubber-grip handle comes with five blades for a comfortable shave and a flexible hinge for those hard-to-reach areas where the bone is close to the skin’s surface, such as the ankles and knees. The soothing lubricating strip allows you to glide through your shave, adding moisture to skin as you go, for a smooth, fuzz-free finish. 

Pubic hair product

Try: Venus for Pubic Hair, 2-in-1 Cleanser + Shave Gel

• 190ml
• Dermatologist- and gynaecologist-tested
• pH balanced

Designed for the delicate hair and skin of the pubic area, this smart, translucent and soap-free formula allows you to keep an eye on the intimate area as you shave. Made without dyes, fragrances and pH balanced for comfort and minimal irritation, it provides a hygienic glide to your bits as you remove any unwanted hair.

Ingrown hair removal

Try: Boots Tweezers Slanted

The angled tip of these tweezers offers up some welcome precision for removing ingrown hairs hygienically. The best way to resist the temptation to pick with grubby fingers!

Sustainable shaving product

Try: Eco Warrior Moisturising Boys & Girls Shaving Bar – Bergamot & Lime Essential Oils

• Size: 100g
• Cruelty free
• Vegan
• Made in Britain
• Recyclable
• RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil

Simply soak wherever you want to smooth with warm water and spread over for an indulgent lather. With skin- and hair-softening coconut oil and shea butter, this shaving bar is a must for the eco-conscious. The best part? No unnecessary plastics and it’s hand-luggage friendly for holidays.

Looking for products that are better for the planet? Our pick of 20 of the best eco-friendly beauty swaps to try right now can help.