Summertime always evokes images of smooth, tanned legs as warmer weather brings them out of hiding. As sunshine and shorter hemlines encourage women to keep legs smooth, some image-conscious members of the male population wonder-- what about leg shaving for men?
Hair removal has become a dominant presence in the global economy, with an estimated value of 4.01 billion in 2019 and a revenue projection of 4.94 billion by 2027. While these numbers have historically been dominated by a female demographic, demand for male grooming products has clearly been on the rise in recent years.
Have you been curious about shaving your legs?
Are you wondering if this could be the next male grooming trend?
Keep reading to learn more about the masculine tradition of leg shaving, and what the benefits could be for you.
The Tradition of Leg Shaving
Many of us associate leg shaving with more feminine rituals. It's hard to remember a time when male grooming would have been more common than female body hair removal.
Interestingly, men have been shaving their legs for a lot longer than women. Leg shaving has been a historically masculine ritual. Ancient Egyptian men often removed all body hair as a sign of class and nobility.
While Ancient Greek women shaved their bodies as a form of femininity, this practice went dormant in most cultures for many years. It wasn't until the 1920s and the evolution of "femininity" by which this opinion was revived. Suddenly, leg shaving was associated with shorter hemlines and revealing bathing suits.
Around the turn of the 20th Century, men (mostly male swimmers, bicycle racers, and some male non-racers) started shaving their legs again-- this time for performance. This became a lasting practice that is still performed by male athletes worldwide.
Benefits of Leg Shaving for Men
Many men already participate in hair removal and leg shaving. They find a few key benefits of the practice, and can't help but enjoy the feeling of their skin after taking a razor to their unwanted body hair.
Are you worried that your preference is too unusual or unmasculine for you to take seriously? Don't worry about that! According to a recent poll, more than 33% of male respondents admitted to trimming the hair on their legs---15% of poll respondents even stated that they shave their legs completely!
Reasons for leg shaving may vary, but these are the most common for men.
Plenty of modern men choose to shave or "manscape" in order to maintain their preferred appearance. Many romantic partners find this look to be attractive and support the preference.
Some men with dense or dark leg hair feel more confident in shorts and swimming suits if they've shaved beforehand. This is a personal preference that may even vary depending on the season!
Shaving down coarse or dense body hair can help you to show off the leg muscles that you've worked so hard for. It's easier to see muscle definition without a thick mess of hair covering the surface!
Many premiere athletes have normalized the practice of body hair removal. Pro swimmers, cyclists, triathletes, and bodybuilders all traditionally shave their body hair-- including their legs.
Shaving has been known to decrease active drag as well as increase efficiency in a swimmer's stroke. Drag is a type of force that resists the forward motion of a body moving through a fluid. In some studies, distance per stroke increased by 5% in the swimmers that shaved their legs.
For cyclists and triathletes, clean-shaven legs can make removing bandages, wraps, velcro, and supports a lot easier. It can also be psychological. Some cyclists have reported feeling "slower" if they had not shaved prior to a race.
In bodybuilding, removing leg hair is necessary for show day, as one's physique and muscle definition must be clearly visible to the judges.
For all athletes, recovery tools and deep tissue work may be easier without additional body hair.
Wound Healing and Skin Care
Often, bandages and topical treatments will need to be applied to a wound or painful part of the leg. Leg shaving may speed up the healing process or allow easier access for treatment. Remember-- it's better to apply an ointment directly to the affected area rather than over the surrounding leg hair!
If your injury or condition requires wraps or bandages, shaving the hair prior to bandage application will minimize the painful burns and tears that accompany removing adhesive from skin. If you're not interested in experimenting with what waxing feels like, we highly recommend shaving prior to wrapping up!
Tattoo Preparation and Display
Excess hair can impede visibility to the artwork you paid so much to have designed and tattooed onto your calf, ankle, or thigh. Plenty of men shave all or sections of their leg in order to enhance the look of their body art. Others will need to shave prior to any new sessions.
If this is your preference, you'll need to make sure that your tattoo is completely healed before starting a shaving or trimming ritual. Accidentally cutting or opening up your tattoo with a razor will be a painful and devastating event. While healing time can vary, most experts recommend 5-10 days of healing time before you take a razor or electric trimmer to the area again.
How to Shave Leg Hair
You will need to consider your hair type, thickness, and desired outcome before selecting the right shaving method. For some, a full, close shave will work best for their style and practical needs (aesthetics, athletics, tattooing, wound, and skincare). For others, simply trimming down the thickness will suffice!
We'll walk you through the two methods below.
With a full shave, the key is to implement a proper preparation and recovery routine to avoid small cuts, bumps, or razor burn. You'll complete the process in five thorough steps:
- Preparing the skin
- Trimming any necessary thickness with an electric trimmer
- Lathering up a protective barrier
- Shaving close to the skin with a sharp razor
- Soothing the skin
First, you'll need to prepare the skin. Because dead skin cells can inhibit a close shave, softening the skin with a hot shower or bath and exfoliating with the right cleanser or exfoliating brush will help soften the hair and open your pores.
If you've never shaved your legs before or let your hair grow a little wild for a while, you might need to trim the hair down to a level that your razor can handle. Remember-- a clogged razor is a useless razor! To trim, use an electric trimmer to get the hair down to the shortest length possible.
Once you've prepped the skin and hair for a close razor shave, you'll need to lather up a high-quality soap or shaving cream to protect the skin barrier and allow the blade to glide smoothly over the skin surface. Skipping this step may result in a bloody, irritated leg-- not worth it!
Shaving with a high-quality razor will also do a lot to ensure that you limit skin irritation and maximize the closest shave possible. Once you get to this main step, you'll want to ensure you shave:
- In the direction your hair grows for sensitive skin
- In an upward motion for a closer shave
- In long, straight strokes, and avoid pressing down too hard
- Rinse off the blade with each use
Following the shaving process, you must remember to soothe the skin barrier with a gentle lotion or cream. This can help you avoid any lingering irritation or dry skin.
Most will need to run a razor over the area every other day, and moisturize daily.
Just a Trim
If you do not need a close shave but instead prefer to tidy up the thickness of your hair, trimming may be a better option for you. By purchasing a pair of clippers with accessories (something we encourage all men to own for grooming purposes), you can choose the right trimmer head for your preferred length.
If you're sticking to just a trim, we recommend trimming down to half an inch. Anything below half an inch may feel itchy, prickly, and rough if you do not follow with a close razor shave.
There are two kinds of electric shavers: dry and wet electric shavers.
The most common type is the dry electric shaver, which allows you to perform a quick once-over on your legs at any time.
To trim your leg hair with an electric trimmer, you'll want to follow similar steps as a razor shave.
- Exfoliate or prepare your legs with hot water
- Dry the legs so the dry electric trimmer can glide over the surface smoothly
- Turn the device on and hover in an upward direction-- from your ankle to your thighs
- Repeat as many times as needed to achieve an even, consistent trim
- Rinse or clean with a towel
- Follow with a gentle moisturizer
You can try sticking to a trimming schedule of once a week to start. If you feel like you need to increase the frequency, remain mindful of the length. Always follow up with daily moisturizer-- even if you aren't using a razor.
Avoid Ingrown Hairs
Next to the maintenance, ingrown hairs may be the most painful aspect of leg shaving. Luckily, it's very normal and easy to prevent.
An ingrown hair is a shaved hair that grows back into the skin, resulting in an inflamed follicle and an unsightly cyst. These painful, inflamed bumps are often filled with skin oils and pus and can be difficult to treat.
There are standard shaving recommendations that can be implemented in order to avoid ingrown hairs. These include:
- Properly exfoliating to get rid of the dead skin that can trap hairs and turn them into those painful bumps
- Use the sharpest razor possible to avoid an uneven shave
- Use warm water or hot towels to open the pores
- Shave with the grain if you are prone to ingrown hairs
Ingrown hairs tend to be more common with those who have coarse hair. If you have thick, dense leg hair, you'll want to be very mindful of the steps you are taking to prepare, shave and treat the skin after shaving.
Pros and Cons of Leg Shaving
Still wondering if this is the right routine for you? There are certainly both pros and cons to committing to a shaving ritual.
The pros include:
- Aesthetics and sex appeal
- The ability to enhance your athletic performance
- Easier to treat certain injuries and skin conditions that require monitoring or topical treatment
- Tattoo display
There may be cons to consider, as well. Cons of shaving for men include:
- Significant maintenance and upkeep required
- Cost of shaving supplies
- May irritate the skin
Remember-- there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to if or how you decide to shave. Body hair grooming--or manscaping-- is an extremely personal decision.
Try Something New
Clearly, leg shaving for men is a tradition that has been around for some time. If you have a desire to enhance your grooming routine or to even just see what it's like, we recommend that you pick up the right shaving tools and give it a try.
What's the worst that can happen? It will always grow back!
Are you interested in cleaning up your look? Start by purchasing the right product for the job. Browse our inventory of body grooming systems and full kits. Start shaving, in any season.