are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Everything you need to know about shaving your legs (but were afraid to ask)

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Despite the title of this blog, I don’t plan on spending a great deal of attention to the minute details of “my shaved legs”. Regardless, I feel the need to give some tips to the future leg shavers out there, specifically people like me – men.

I will skip over the “to shave or not to shave” argument, because if you want to get serious about cycling, you have to shave your legs. There is no argument. I am right, you are wrong. Is that understood?

Good, now on to the how to.

What you will need:

Hair Clippers or Beard Trimmer.
Shaving Cream.
After shave lotion (optional).

Step 1. The Buzz Cut.

If you’re lucky, you will have some hair clippers in the house. This is where all those years shaving your head will come in handy. Take your hair clippers (a beard trimmer will suffice, but it will just take a little longer) and proceed to shave off the hair on your legs. This will save you some blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention several razors.

Now, many a hairy legged virgin has asked “how high do you go”? I believe the pros go all the way to the top, so they look like they’re wearing wool briefs. I’m guessing that’s because professional cyclists receive daily massages during stage races, and there’s nothing a masseuse likes better than a pair of clean shaved legs.

I learned this the hard way. Back in the day, at a stage race in Vermont, I went to the ski-lodge, which was the race’s HQ. Some enterprising masseurs set up shop, and you could get yourself a 10$ massage, or a 20$ massage. I spoiled myself with the 20$ job, after placing 3rd on the second stage. Jean, the masseuse, was this old, balding Hippy, with a bandanna and a scraggly gray beard, who looked like his diet consisted entirely of tofu. Basically a skeleton with a beard. He clearly knew the ins-and-outs of cycling massage. He worked his magic on my sore legs, but berated me the entire time because I had 5 days worth of stubble. I suppose that would grow old quick, rudbbing your hands raw on some lowly Cat3 racer's legs. When I went back the next day, he looked at his scabby hands, and passed me on to some guy who looked like a body builder gone to seed, who had no idea how to massage a cyclist's legs. Now that was a waste of money.

I digress. Back to the Buzz Cut. Some people work the wool briefs look, some work the wool boxers, and only shave up to where there bike shorts go. It’s your choice.

Step 2. The preparation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a dry shaver. I need to shower before I shave my face, and I need to shower before I shave my legs.

These days, after watching countless episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I know enough to use a facial scrub before shaving my face. While I’ve been tempted to try that with my legs, I don’t. Too expensive. But hey, some people out there like spending 100$ for a carbon fiber water bottle cage that's 5 grams lighter than an aluminum one, so maybe you'd like to try a facial scrub to soften your 'leg beard'. If you do, then there's the economy route: Nivea for Men Energizing facial scrub, or... if you really want to get fancy, you can use Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub. Personally I love Kiehl's, but I save it for my ruggedly handsome face.

OK, next step - take my shower, and soften the hairs. If you have the time and a bath, then that’s really the way to go. Nothing better than soaking your legs in a bath, then shaving your legs lying down. Nice!

Step 3. The shave.

If you know how to shave your face, then you should have an idea about shaving your legs.

The key here is patience.

Apply shaving cream, and break out the razor. I usually use a double bladed disposable, because (as should be clear by now) I’m too cheap to waste a Gillette Mach 3 razor on my legs. If you’re shaving for the first time, make sure it’s a fresh razor.

A brief note on shaving cream. I use your standard, foamy, shaving cream, i.e. nothing special. Perhaps you prefer shaving gel, it will work just as well. What I wouldn’t suggest is using something high end, like Kiehl’s Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream. It’s the only thing I use on my face, but there’s just too much real estate to cover on your legs. You’d be wasting a fine product, but it’s your money, do what you want with it.

Back to shaving.

I break down the task into three zones: shaving below the knee; above the knee; and on/behind the knee.

Below the knee is straightforward, but you should exercise some caution around the ankle, and on your Achilles tendon. Those areas are prone to nicks. Also be careful when you shave the front of your shin. If you rush, you could scrape it like a carrot.

Above the knee goes quite quickly, since there are no bones sticking out, so the only thing that slows you down is the need to rinse your razor after every stroke, to get ride of the stubble/hair.

The most difficult area is the knee. Take your time. Shaving the kneecap is a bit like shaving your chin. You have to work it from a few angles. Behind the kneecap is tricky because of the tendons. I relax my legs, and work away, slowly. Once again: do not forget to regularly rinse the razor.

The 4th (optional) zone, if you choose to go the ‘hairy briefs’ route, should be done every so gently, ever so slowly, because there’s nothing worse than razor burn around your own personal “Green Zone”.

Step 4. Rinse off excess shaving cream, towel dry, and if you’re feeling really, really fancy, throw some aftershave cream on your legs.

I hope this has answered any questions you hairy legs Freds may have.

Now get to work.


I've come to find Nivea's Active 3 as my shaving cream of choice. I use it after I've showered, apply to legs, and shave. It's not too thick, and if it starts to dry a simple application of warm water will 'reactivate' it.

BTW - If you have any other questions, this link may be of some help.


CyLowe said...

Man, now all I need is a copy of Dave Z's "Main-taint-enance" tips and I'll be good to go.

Anonymous said...

err...nice black monster...