Are you contemplating going ‘full cyclist’ by shaving your legs? Avid cyclist and former beauty editor Adele Mitchell explains how to get the job done like a pro.
So here are her tips on how to achieve a nice close shave with smooth legs and not a razor nick in sight.
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- How to bag yourself a Strava KOM/QOM
In addition to the essential technique and steps you need to follow, you’ll find a list of cycle-specific shaving products and a few alternative options if shaving isn’t quite your thing.
Why do cyclists shave their legs?
There’s been plenty written about the benefits of leg shaving for the keen cyclist; more comfort during massages (because you’re always having massages…right?), a more aerodynamic leg profile (debatable), and it may (or may not) enable faster healing for road rash.
In fact, there's a whole article on BikeRadar dedicated to answering the question 'why do cyclists shave their legs?'
I will add to that list by noting that a shaved leg also makes your ‘Mallorca training camp’ tan look better, shows off that mid-calf cog tattoo a treat and will make sure you’re never mistaken for a mountain biker. And, of course, it is what the pros do.
This article is for those riders who might be adept at shaving other body parts — chin, for example — but who have not yet embarked upon a fuzz-free lower body voyage.
How to shave your legs for cycling
So now you’re convinced that lower limb deforestation is for you, here’s how to do it.
Note: most riders opt to shave their legs with a razor: it’s quick, cheap and easy to do. The downside of shaving is that re-growth is soon visible because the razor only cuts the hair at skin level rather than removing it completely.
To get the closest and smoothest shave, it's best to start by exfoliating your legs to remove the fine surface layer of dead skin cells. This will also reduce the risk of uncomfortable in-growing hairs occurring post-shave. A body brush will do the job quickly and effectively.
2. Trim longer hair
If you are particularly hirsute, you may find it beneficial to trim your leg hair with scissors before you lather and shave — it will save you from clogging the razor up and speed up the process as a result.
3. Lather up
Next, wet your legs and lather up with happy abandon to keep your skin soft and supple, and lessen the chance of razor cuts. Soap, shaving gel, shaving foam, shampoo and shower gel will all get the job done, but The Cyclist Who Has Everything may prefer the floral notes of Rapha Shaving Cream, ‘a blend of natural ingredients and essential oils with a subtle fragrance of the flora surrounding Mont Ventoux’.
4. Use a new, fresh disposable razor
A new disposable razor will give the best results — once it starts to blunt you need to press harder and increase the risk of cutting yourself. So don’t just grab whatever is on the edge of the bath, even if it is only your partner’s (in fact, especially if it's only your partner’s — they’ll be fuming when they find out you clogged the razor up).
5. Leg shaving technique
To shave, simply start at your ankles and use long, upwards strokes to remove both hair and soap, making sure that you regularly rinse the razor to stop it clogging. Shave the whole leg, right to the top: hair-shorts are not a good thing and never will be. But don’t get too carried away with pubic topiary — instead approach your nether regions with caution and take heed of this advice offered to female cyclists by British Cycling.
Moving on, you will need a deft hand to tidy ‘bendy’ areas around the ankles and knees. Use shorter strokes that follow the curve of the joints, holding the skin taut with your free hand.
6. Apply lotion or cream
A little body lotion helps to keep the skin soft and supple post-shave — this is an optional part of the process by the way, but gives me the opportunity to mention that you can also get Post Shave Lotions (should anyone be working on a ‘no more cycling socks’ Christmas list already).
7. Optional: pop on some fake tan
Also optional, but worth a mention: if your newly shaven legs are ‘Milk Race White’ rather than ‘Tour de France Bronze’ on the tan shade chart, you may wish to indulge in a little fake tanning. This will quickly convince other cyclists that you and your bald, brown legs have been putting in some serious miles in the mountains. Of course, if this is not actually the case and they drop you on the first ascent, you can’t blame anyone but yourself, nor just wash it off (most fake tans last for three to five days).
In my opinion, Xen Tan is the KOM of the fake tan world — foolproof to apply and a really natural looking colour.
Top shaving products for cyclists
For the dedicated cyclist, there are plenty of products on the market from your favourite bike brands to ensure your legs stay smooth. We’ve collected a selection of our favourites.
Shaving creams for cycling
From shaving-cream scented with the flora of Mount Ventoux to one with an extra-thick formula and nourishing oils, there’s a gel or cream to suit every cyclist.
Rapha Shaving Cream
- £15 / $20 / AU$27
Muc-Off Luxury Shaving Cream
Muc-Off Machined Shaving Brush
Lab Series Maximum Comfort Shave Gel
Lab Series Cooling Shave Cream
Veloskin shave cream
After-shave lotions and creams
Keep your freshly-shaved legs supple and smooth by slathering on some lotion or cream. These products are designed to moisturise without leaving your legs a greasy mess.
Rapha Post-shave Lotion
- £20 / $30 / AU$35
Muc-Off Luxury Aftershave balm
Lab Series 3-in-1 Post Shave
Veloskin Post Shave Lotion
Alternatives to shaving for cyclists
Really getting into this naked leg thing? Check out the rest of Team Hair Removal…
This removes more of the hair than shaving so that re-growth occurs less quickly. It’s done by smoothing strips of sticky, waxed cloth against your leg, then yanking the strip backwards against the hair growth. You need specialist waxing strips by the way — now is not the time to improvise.
Waxing is, momentarily, super painful and tricky to do to yourself, so it's best to pay a beauty therapist to do it for you, but this does incur extra cost that you could be spending on espressos.
These are convenient to use and kinder to the skin than shaving because there is little chance of cutting yourself. Both dry and wet shavers work by lifting and cutting the hair using an oscillating head.
The dry shaver offers the convenience of being suitable for use anywhere (though perhaps not in public), but it's still best to wash and dry your legs first because this softens the hair and makes the skin more pliable.
A wet shaver is used with shaving gel on wet legs and is kinder to the skin because it is lubricated throughout the procedure.
On the downside, electric shavers simply cut the hair rather than removing it from the root, so re-growth time is similar to shaving.
This is an appliance that mechanically and rapidly grasps and pulls out each hair out at the root. Believe it or not, it hurts a little less than waxing and you can inflict — I mean, carry out — this treatment on yourself. Hair re-growth is slower and often thinner when compared to razor shaving or electric shavers.
It’s a mess-free process too and very straightforward, though you do have to invest upwards of £25 (and possibly quite a bit more if you go ‘top of the range’) on the unit. Still, for me this is hair removal’s strongest contender.
Hair removal cream
This stuff works by chemically dissolving your hair. You smooth it on, wait a few minutes then shower it, and your hair, away. Re-growth is quite rapid, not everyone likes the fragrance of the cream, and it's not always suitable for those with sensitive skins (a patch test is advised before you use it).
Also, it's unwise to put hair removal cream anywhere near your testicles, as this — possibly the best product review ever — explains.
What's your favoured method of hair removal? Or have you had any epilation misadventures? Let us know in the comments below!