Sugar Scrub Before or After Shaving – Which is Best?

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A good skincare regime will include your whole body, and regular exfoliation is key. Sugar scrubs are a great way to exfoliate. They’re cost-effective because they are super easy to make at home (of course, you can easily pick one up online , too!).

Part of your ‘scheduled maintenance’ probably includes shaving as well. Although shaving your legs is not essential to healthy skin, smooth legs always look good.

But it’s not always clear how to fit the sugar scrub into your routine. Do you use sugar scrub before or after shaving?

You should use a sugar scrub before shaving to help get rid of any dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. You’ll end up with fewer ingrown hairs and shaving bumps.

We’ll explain in detail below.


Do You Use Sugar Scrub Before or After Shaving?

Brooklyn Botanicals Sugar Scrub

The best practice is to always exfoliate before shaving. Exfoliating removes dirt and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. This cleans your skin and unclogs your pores.

Dead skin cells can clog the hair follicles and block new hair from growing outwards, resulting in those raised little bumps on your skin, a.k.a. ingrown hairs.

Ugly! Ouchie!!

This commonly occurs when epilating, and sometimes when waxing.

Exfoliating before shaving helps to lessen the chance of ingrown hairs, as it removes the buildup of dead cells. 

Removing this top layer of dead skin cells also allows your razor to get as close to the root of your hair as possible. This results in a closer shave.

Removing this top layer of dead skin cells also allows your razor to get as close to the root of your hair as possible. This results in a closer shave.

Not only is a closer shave going to give you smoother legs, but it’s also important for avoiding ingrown hairs as well.

If you don’t have a close shave, the remaining hair (especially if it’s curly) is much more likely to continue to grow back into the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs.

How To Use Sugar Scrub When Shaving

1 – Wash With Soap/Shower Gel

You should use your soap/shower gel first to clean your skin. The steam from your shower will also give your pores a chance to open. A shower works for your whole body in a similar manner to a facial steamer.

2 – Exfoliate With a Sugar Scrub

Removing dead skin first through a process of exfoliation will ensure the hair follicle is in the best condition for hair removal, and will also help allow for normal growth post-shave.

Whether it’s a store-bought sugar scrub  or you made it at home, sugar scrubs are great for exfoliating your skin. They aid in keeping it healthy by removing dead skin cells, lifting away dirt, sebum, and excess oil, as well as stimulating circulation.

The glycolic acid that occurs naturally in sugar helps to cleanse the skin and dissolve dead skin cells.

See our article on the best exfoliating scrubs for legs.

3 – Apply Shaving cream/shaving gel

Use a shaving cream  or a shaving gel  when you shave, not soap.

Soaps are surfactants designed to remove dirt and debris but they don’t have the skin-softening properties of shaving cream or gel.

The shaving cream/gel softens hair and hair follicles and also allows the razor to glide smoothly across the skin. This prevents the pulling and tugging of hairs. This reduces your risk of nicks, cuts, and skin irritation.

4 – Shave

You don’t need an expensive razor , as long as the blade is sharp. If your razor is dull, you’ll need to shave the same area more than once.

And more passes mean a greater chance of irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs.

You’ll be able to feel while you shave if your blade is starting to dull. It won’t glide as smoothly and you may feel tugging.

The number of uses you can get out of your razor before you need to replace it will depend on how often you shave and how you store it after use.

Leaving your shaving razor in a wet, humid shower will quicken the dulling process. This will cause the blades to rust, and allow bacteria to accumulate.

Dry your razor after use and keep it stored in a moisture-free environment in order to make it last as long as possible.

Do You Shave Up or Down?

It is recommended you shave down, following the direction your hair grows. This lessens the chance of nicks and cuts as well as all of the other unwanted after-effects of shaving. Especially if you have sensitive skin, you will want to shave down.

If you shave against the grain, you will get an even closer shave, but is that fraction of a millimeter really worth the risk of irritating your skin?

Step 5 – Moisturize

Follow up with a moisturizer.

The process of exfoliating and shaving can affect your skin’s protective film, called the stratum corneum, leaving your skin vulnerable to dryness burning, and redness. To avoid this, use a nourishing moisturizer .

Our list of shaving DON’Ts

Don’t use your roommate’s razor. You’re running late and you’re already in the shower. You might be tempted to just borrow your roommate’s razor if it’s just sitting there – don’t.

Bacteria can be transferred from one person to another and cause an infection… not to mention the bacteria it’s collected because she leaves her razor sitting in the shower!

Don’t leave your sugar scrub in the bathroom. Store it in a dry, cool, moisture-free place away from your hot, steamy bathroom. Moisture can cause your sugar scrub to harden, collect bacteria, grow mold and go off before it should.

Get all 411 on sugar scrubs in our article: Do Sugar Scrubs Expire?

Don’t use sugar scrubs made with raw sugar for this process. Raw sugar has bigger crystals that are more abrasive. They can make even those not usually sensitive to shaving, more sensitive.

A scrub made with regular plain old white sugar or brown sugar is best. 

Don’t use a product with alcohol. Even if you’ve followed all the right steps, if you have sensitive skin and experience any sort of burning sensation or irritation after shaving, you may want to reach for an alcohol-based product that ‘soothes’.

Don’t do it!

Any product with alcohol, will not only increase the burning, but prolong the irritation.

Don’t go swimming. Both chlorine and saltwater are drying. They can irritate your newly- exfoliated and shaved skin. Best to wait a day before jumping in.

Wrap Up

So the answer to the burning question (no pun intended) – sugar scrub before or after shaving is definitely to exfoliate with a sugar scrub before shaving.

Not only can exfoliating prior to shaving help you get a closer shave and smoother skin, it can also help prevent ingrown hairs. And if you follow our tips above, by using shaving cream or gel, using a razor with a sharp blade, and moisturizing, you will avoid the nicks and cuts, redness, burning, and dryness that often accompanies shaving.

You will have the smoothest, sexiest legs you’ve ever had.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).