There are many myths about the causes of sensitive skin and what effect shaving may have on this condition. The first ‘truth,’ is that shaving in the right way and with the right razor plays a much bigger role than most women think in helping to keep skin calm and healthy looking. Based on a survey of US dermatologists conducted by Gillette Venus, 82% agree that irritation from shaving can be confused with having sensitive skin. Many women, though, continue to believe the skin irritation they experience after shaving is just another manifestation of their sensitive skin and believe there’s little they can do about it. Often women feel shaving less frequently is a solution to eliminating their sensitive skin issues. In many cases, however, it may not be your skin—it may be your razor, because the irritation you experience after shaving is heavily impacted not only by your skin type, but by the way in which you shave or the razor you choose to use.
Here are the top five myths I hear from patients and that Gillette Venus found US women believe about shaving and sensitive skin, and the stark truths you need to know:
#1 Myth: My razor doesn’t matter
“I just have sensitive skin, and no matter what kind of razor I use, I’ll always have skin irritation.”
Having sensitive skin was the most reported reason (61%) US women believe they personally experience irritation after shaving.
It may not be you or your skin—it may be your razor! Not all razors are created equal. 91% of the US dermatologists surveyed agree that the choice of razor used does impact the level of irritation women experience due to shaving. I recommend choosing one that is specifically designed for sensitive skin, with multiple thin blades surrounded by ample lubrication to help with glide. The new Venus Embrace Sensitive includes five curve-hugging blades. They’re spaced closer together to reduce the amount of pressure on each blade versus 2- or 3-bladed razors and creates less skin bulging between the individual blades so you get a close, comfortable shave with virtually no missed hairs.* The blades are also surrounded by a Protective Ribbon of Moisture™ with five times more glide enhancers than the Original 3-bladed Venus, which helps the razor glide effortlessly on the skin.
*versus Original 3-bladed Venus
#2 Myth: Sharp is irritating
“The sharpness of the blades causes irritation, so using dull blades or fewer blades is better.”
I hear this often from my patients, but they don’t realize they’re actually contributing to what they think are symptoms of sensitive skin. Using a low-quality razor—with fewer blades or by replacing them less frequently—forces you to overstroke the same area multiple times, a common compensating behavior that can cause irritation. For their patients who experience skin irritation due to shaving, 78% of US dermatologists surveyed would recommend they avoid shaving with dull blades. Having more blades (and spacing the blades closer together), results in less pressure per blade and the skin bulge is significantly reduced, leading to a smooth, more comfortable shave. The 5 spring-mounted blades on the Venus Embrace Sensitive also allow the razor to stay in close contact with the skin for a closer shave with fewer missed hairs than 2-bladed razors. A razor’s quality is not just in the number of blades, but also the blades’ sharpness and positioning in the cartridge. Using a razor with five sharp blades helps to reduce the need to re-stroke the area you are shaving. However, if you do find that you need to re-stroke an area, using a quality razor with superior blades should help reduce irritation.
#3 Myth: Prep is unnecessary
“Shave gel is just another step that doesn’t benefit my skin or my shave.”
66% of women believe shave prep does not make a difference in whether or not they experience skin irritation.
87% of the US dermatologists surveyed would recommend using a shaving prep for their female patients who experience skin irritation due to shaving. A shave gel is specifically formulated with lubricating agents allowing your razor to glide better over the skin for a smooth shave and to help avoid irritation. It provides a protective layer between the blade and skin and helps to keep the hair soft throughout the shave so the razor can cut hairs more effectively. Gillette Satin Care Ultra Sensitive shave prep is a great place to start.
#4 Myth: Cut down on shaving, cut down on sensitivity and irritation.
“If I shave less often, it will improve my skin and reduce sensitivity and irritation.”
In a survey conducted by Gillette Venus, 56% of US female respondents report they shave less frequently as a result of having skin irritation after shaving.
When skin is dry, it is compromised, and compromised skin is more prone to irritation. Shaving every day with the right razor can help exfoliate dry, dead skin and give you a better foundation for achieving healthy-looking, beautiful skin.
#5 Myth: Press for success
“If I press harder on the blade I’ll get a closer shave”
The closeness of the shave is largely determined by the quality and design of the razor, not by how hard you press. In fact, pushing too hard on your razor is a leading cause of irritation, making the skin bulge up between the blades, which can increase the potential for nicks and cuts. The key to achieving smooth skin with less chance of irritation is to take gentle strokes with a technologically advanced razor, like Venus Embrace Sensitive, because it’s designed to get close without the need for pressure. The razor should do the work, not you.
About the Author
Dr. Jody A Levine
Dr. Jody Levine, internationally renowned celebrity dermatologist, is board certified by the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics and received her M.D. at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Levine is a go-to resource for media influencers, having appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, Fox News, ABC News and in top-tier print publications including W magazine, Elle, Allure, Self, Shape, Marie Claire, New York Magazine and The New York Times. She also sits on the medical advisory board of Parents magazine. Dr. Levine has been designated as one of “The Best People, Places, and Things This Fair City Has to Offer”, by Gotham Magazine, and has been selected for the list of “Super Doctors” in the New York Times Magazine for the last three years. The Consumer’s Research Council of America has named her one of “America’s Top Dermatologists” every year since 2009. Dr. Levine has also written scholarly papers in prestigious journals, including Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Levine, together with her husband, a plastic surgeon, hold a private practice on the Upper East Side, Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC. She resides in New York City with her husband and four children.