They say practice makes perfect. Well, I’ve been practicing shaving my legs since my mother handed me a two-blade disposable razor at the age of 12 and I still can’t seem to get it completely right, so I’m calling that idiom right now. My calves and upper thighs are silky smooth nearly every single time, but without a doubt, I always miss huge patch of blonde hair on both of my knees. And when I do manage to shave off the stubble? Inevitably, it’ll come out of the shower with those endless-bleeding type of cuts that’ll ruin all your bath towels.
I know I’m not alone. It’s a complaint I hear from my girlfriends as they point out their stray hairs living a full life on the tops of their knees. In general, shaving problems are real. Jessica Simpson famously documented it on her Instagram—and we've BEEN there.
That convinced me to pose the question: Does anyone really know how to shave their knees, or are we all just pretending? And is there a right way to treat that notoriously difficult and weirdly shaped portion of your legs?
Off the bat, this body part by nature is a problem for the act of shaving. "Knees themselves are bony, and have concave and convex areas that can be really small and tricky to navigate," notes Caitlin Orszulak, a Scientist for Venus Research and Development.
On top of that, she mentions that there are added complexities when you’re shaving in the shower, like poor light, and being wet and soapy. Sounds like we're all being set up to lose.
Part—and only part—of the answer is finding a solid razor. Orszulak suggests one that has five blades that are super close together so that you eliminate the chance of your skin getting caught between the blades and then cutting yourself. She also suggests trying a razor with a pivoting head and spring-mounted blades, like Venus refillable razors, or one with a flexiball technology like Venus Swirl ($6; walmart.com), that will adjust well to the different angles of your knees.
Using a shave gel or foam can help you see where you’ve shaved and where you haven’t, as opposed to just using bubbly soap.
Finally, there’s your technique. Lisa Guidi, esthetician, entrepreneur, and CEO/Founder of Erase Spa, suggests using a shower stoop and sitting when you’re shaving. "You should be taking your time to go around the entire knee to ensure you don’t cut yourself and miss a spot," she says, adding that you shouldn’t be pressing down too hard with your razor.
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Orszulak, however, says you can also try the approach of shaving your knees in two different positions—bent and straightened to get as flat of a surface as possible.
Taking small strokes, she suggests starting below the left side of the knee and stroking the razor along the natural curve to the top of it, repeating this technique on the right side. "Next, take a couple of strokes from below to above going right over the knee. Repeat a stroke from left to right if you think you’ve still missed spots," she adds.
Finally, she says you’ll want to shave your knees last so you know the skin is fully hydrated.
At 26 years old, maybe now I can say I’ve mastered shaving my legs.