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Should Men Shave Their Legs? The Definitive Guide

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Believe it or not, many men choose to shave their leg hair for one reason or another.

But the question here is: should men shave their legs at all?

While nobody has to shave their legs, there are several reasons why a man might want to do so. This includes cleaning up his appearance and gaining the competitive edge in athletic competitions such as bodybuilding and cycling.

If you’re wondering whether you should shave your legs, this guide will help you reach a decision by going through all the reasons you might want to do so.

There are many benefits to shaving your legs as a man, which range from the purely cosmetic to the performance-related.

While it certainly isn’t necessary to do so, what’s the harm in exploring the possibility and the potential benefits of shaving your legs?

Cosmetic Reasons

It’s becoming increasingly common these days for men to choose to shave their legs because either it makes them feel more comfortable, because they believe it makes them look less like a yeti, or because it will highlight those hulking calves and other leg muscles.

Any of these are of course valid reasons, so let’s explore each in more detail.

Cutting Back on Excess Hair

For some of those men out there who look like they shared a DNA pool with a yeti or wookie, cutting back on the excess hair is a good way of creating a cleaner appearance.

If your legs look like they’ve been dragged through the bushes and picked up every bristle on the way through, then you might want to consider shaving your legs.

While of course this is a matter of personal preference, it’s arguably more attractive to a prospective partner if it seems like you have control over the hair on your body rather than looking like it’s out of control.

Embracing the Modern Man Look

The modern man has tattoos on his legs he wants to show off.

He wants to look his best at all times and doesn’t want to be burdened with an extraordinary amount of hair on his legs.

As a result, he takes every effort to keep his legs as smooth as possible, at the expense of those excess hairs.

It isn’t necessary to shave off all the hair on your legs to get the modern man look, though, since any attempt to at least get a handle on your leg hair will let people know you’re making an effort to look your best.

Showing off Leg Muscles

The last cosmetic reason to shave your legs as man is to show off your leg muscles.

If you’re not one for skipping leg day, and you want the world to know, then shaving your legs will give those around you an unobstructed view of every last ounce of muscle in your calves and quads.

This is something you might want to do if you’re a cyclist or runner with giant bulbous calves or if you’re an aspiring bodybuilder who goes hard on leg day.

Performance-related Reasons

The main reasons for shaving your legs as a man though are generally practical.

For a long time it’s been known that for the best athletic performance body hair has to go.

Now are we saying that shaving chest hair is essential for bodybuilders hitting that bench press with perfect form? 

No, we’re not.

But there is an indisputable difference in pain and performance between the cyclist with lots of leg hair and one without any.

Here are a few sports and physical pursuits in which a man could get a small performance boost from shaving his legs:

Cycling

One of the main sports that benefits from shaved legs is cycling.

We challenge you to find an active professional cyclist with hairy legs, it’s a tall order.

This is because shaving your legs as a cyclist can help you become more aerodynamic, cause less abrasion, and help you fit in with every other cyclist out there.

Plus, it’s never a bad thing to show off your cyclist calves in all their glory.

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is a type of competition which favors shaven legs, though this may be more superficial tan practical.

While it’s possible that shaving your legs makes it more comfortable to use certain machines and do leg exercises in the gym, the main reason professional bodybuilders do it is to show off the leg muscles on stage.

Swimming

Leg hair can create drag in the water while you’re swimming, so this is a compelling reason to get rid of it if you’re a swimmer.

Why Don’t Men Shave Their Legs?

So why is male leg-shaving only recently becoming more accepted in society? It’s simple, men don’t shave their legs for the same reasons that women do: cultural conventions. What is it about hair that society holds so closely to masculinity? 

Hair growth is mediated by hormone levels, specifically testosterone. These levels spike during puberty in men and prompt the production of more hair follicles. It’s easy to see how hair growth has readily become associated with the concept of ‘becoming a man’ for many male consumers. 

We only have to look to popular culture to see the image of the rugged male brandished by body hair. The cowboys we first saw in Western movies, and who are now upheld in Red Dead Redemption, are characterized by their unkempt facial hair. The macho superheroes like Iron Man and Aqua Man don stubble and floppy hairstyles to embody idealized masculinity. And even the hipsters of the 2010s era are famed for popularising the humble ponytail and the ever-elusive man bun

If the once traditionally feminine hairstyles of the 20th century are no longer discriminative of gender, then surely the same is set to happen for the removal of body hair. 

Reasons for Keeping Your Legs as They Are

There are also several reasons to leave your legs just as they are, so it’s only fair we touch upon a few of them.

Shaving Requires a Time Investment

While shaving your face as man is a fact of life, and something you’ll likely have to do on a regular or semi-regular basis, shaving your legs requires a greater time investment.

If you want the shaven look you’ll have to set aside time on a regular basis to stay on top of it, so you better make sure your reasons for shaving are good enough motivators to stick with it.

Shaving Can Itch

Just like hair anywhere else on the body, if you shave your leg hairs it can itch as it grows back.

This is uncomfortable and something that you’ll just have to learn to live with if you want to make this change to your appearance long term.

It can also be a painful process, since you can cause ingrown hairs to form on your legs as well as the usual redness and razor bumps that you’re probably already familiar with.

Replacing Razors is an Ongoing Expense

If you want to keep your legs clean-shaven in the long term, you’re going to have to be prepared for an ongoing expense.

This is because you need to switch out razors regularly, and while they aren’t expensive you will likely need to buy many of them over time.

The alternative, waxing, isn’t very cheap either so you’re just going to have to accept that if you choose to have shaven legs you’ll have to pay for the privilege.

What Happens When Your Legs Are Shaved?

So what actually occurs on those moments after you’ve shaved. Scientifically, your hair isn’t removed the way waxing or lasering may achieve. Rather, your leg hair is sliced at the root if your blazer isn’t dull. Your leg hairs basically get a mini hair cut. 

Razor burns and itching

Like we said, a good razor cuts right at the skin. However, this contact can easily cause irritation if you have sensitive skin. Gentle shaving foams and tailored razors can help this. But, the blunt regrowth of coarser hair can also have prolonged side effects of itching and redness, sometimes lasting a few days after a shave.

This irritation can also lead to getting rashes or blemishes—which no one likes of course. This is more likely to occur if you’re an inexperienced shaver as your skin will get aggravated every time you bring the blade to it. The tip to reducing this side effect is to shave more often. Yep, as counterintuitive as that sounds, seasoned shavers familiarise their legs to the effects of shaving so that their skin is less likely to react in an adverse way.

Taking care of sensitive skin

Of course we wouldn’t recommend this if you suffer from seriously sensitive skin. There are things that can help if your skin is easily irritated, like soothing creams and even exfoliating before a shave. This will remove dead skin follicles so that the razor doesn’t get clogged up. Plus, your skin will be more accustomed to a rough texture and ready for a shave.

The most important thing to do is consult your doctor before you reach for the razor, especially if you suffer from any serious skin conditions like eczema. Or even if you’re just concerned about the sensitivity of your skin. 

How Does Shaving Your Legs Affect Your Hygiene?

We tend to sweat more in areas where we have more leg hair. This is most prominent under our arms where we have a concentrated amount of sweat glands to match our hair follicles. But areas like our legs will also tend to sweat when they’re covered in hair. This is because hair essentially provides insulation. 

We have body hair as a result of evolution. While we may not have as much as our caveman predecessors, the bodily function of our hair is still to protect and keep our skin warm. Removing our body hair will therefore lower our basal temperature and reduce sweating overall. 

Plus, body hair can also add to body odor. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not the sweat but the bacteria on your skin that makes you smell. The less hair, the less surface area for bacteria to cling to and so the less stench you will give off.

If you’re looking to control your hygiene or even if you just sympathize with your fellow gym-goers when you’re pumping iron next to them, then hair removal might be the right step for you.  

How Is It Done?

So you’ve decided that shaving is for you. You’ve taken yourself down to your nearest drug store and you’re perusing the aisles looking for the right razor. You’ll likely be met with an array of products all promising different things but essentially providing the same end result.

Prepare your shaving tools

Don’t overcomplicate things. Like we said, sensitive skin should be met with a sensitive razor. Otherwise, we recommend a middle-range product for your first shave. Something which guarantees a few extra blades, but not with an extortionate price tag.

If you’re on a budget, a packet of disposable razors can go a long way, as long as you use the right lather for your shave.

For those of you that are thinking about making this a frequent habit, double- and single-edged razors will be cheaper in the long-term.

Skin preparation

On to that part, shaving cream isn’t necessary for a shave. But a lubricant definitely is. Choose something that will moisturize and not irritate your skin. Shaving gel is often kept near the razors so it’s an easy option. But a good body cream or conditioner can also get the job done.

Preparing your skin is another important aspect to the perfect shave. As we’ve advised, exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Preferably 24 hours before a shave so your skin isn’t raw when you start. 

The shaving process

Be sure to begin the process in the shower or bath so your skin is wet and your pores are open. Covering your entire leg in your chosen shaving lubricant like they do in the movies will help you keep track of where you’ve shaved and where you might have missed. 

When you’re already shaving, press gently. This will avoid irritation. Glide the razor up your entire shin in long sweeping movements and avoid going over the same area twice. If you have a lot of hair, consider trimming beforehand with an electric shaver or even hairdressing scissors. 

To avoid ingrown hairs, try shaving downwards rather than toward the heart as you may conventionally see it done. This catches the hair in the direction that it grows. You may have a slightly uneven cut, but you’ll save your skin a lot of hassle. 

TIP: If this is your first time shaving, then you probably have a whole leg of hair. Dry shave your leg hair down to a couple of millimeters first, so that your razor won’t have such a hard time.

Dry shaving

Alternatively, you can also dry shave the hair away. This will still leave stubbles on your legs, but you’ll avoid the risks of cutting your legs. It’s also much more convenient and quicker, if you can live with the short stubble.

Aftercare and extra tips

Take extra care around your knees and ankles, the skin in these areas has a slightly different texture than the rest of your leg so it often gets caught and cut. Slow down when you reach them. Or even avoid attempting to get the perfect shave in these areas. A slight compromise is worth avoiding the pain. 

When you’re all done and you’ve made sure you haven’t missed anywhere (check the back of your legs), pat your legs dry with a soft towel and be sure not to rub your skin too much. Any extra irritation should be avoided at all costs. As soon as you’re out of the shower, make sure to cover your freshly shaven legs in ample moisturizer. Remember also to avoid applying fake tan straight after a shave as it can obstruct moisturizing. 

You’re good to go! Now go and show the world your wonderfully smooth pins. Avoid shaving again in the same week following your first shave. Even if stubble starts to appear, embrace it. Nobody will even notice. Your first shave should have the slowest regrowth anyway, so enjoy it. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Men’s Leg Shaving

Is it OK for a man to shave his legs?

It’s completely normal for a man to shave his legs, and there are several instances in which this is even necessary.

The main reason to shave your legs is to remove a potential source of friction, which becomes more apparent when wearing tight clothing and sport-specific apparel.

This is why many male athletes and bodybuilders choose to shave their legs, since it can give them a competitive edge and help them perform at their best.

Is it necessary to shave legs?

No, it certainly isn’t necessary for a man to shave his legs, however, there are exceptions.

Usually, leg hair doesn’t get in the way of day to day life and shouldn’t cause you any major problems.

Yet if you compete in a sport either professionally or at an amateur level, you might want to consider shaving your legs to give yourself an edge which could make the difference on game day.

How should a man shave his legs?

To shave your legs as man, you should first soften up the hair as this will make it easier to cut, to this end it’s recommended that you take a shower or bath before you get the razor out.

When it comes to shaving, first target the long hairs on your leg, since these can cause the razor to get clogged if you don’t address them.

Then, apply shaving cream to the entirety of your leg and run the razor wn the length of your leg to ensure you do a thorough job and leave no hairs behind.

Will my muscles be clearer when I shave?

The bald bodybuilders that have graced the stages of fitness competitions since the days of Arnold Schwarzeneger and his winning physique are testament to the advantage that hairless legs provide for muscle definition. 

Shaving your legs and other areas of your body can, in fact, make your muscles appear bigger than they actually are. This is because they’re not swamped by hair and are exposed to more light, creating shadows and contrast, and distorting size. 

Should men shave their thighs too?

This is personal preference. If you shave your legs for streamlining your athletic performance then shaving your thighs is a given. But if you’re shaving for the aesthetic, you can get away with only shaving the area of your legs that will be on show. If you’re wearing shorts, then this might just be your shins.

Some people encounter more irritation when shaving their thighs, so they may choose not to do it. This is prominent higher up the leg as your pubic skin is often very sensitive. Try our tip of shaving downwards when approaching your thighs to prevent ingrown hairs and shaving bumps. 

A Final Word From The Trending Man

There are many reasons why a man might like to consider shaving his legs.

Most of them revolve around sports and competition, but it’s also becoming more popular for men to shave their legs for a cleaner look.

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The Trending Man

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of The Trending Man Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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