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A Shave Obsessive

By Amalah

Amalah, Amalah, Amalah:
Can I just start by saying that I love Advice Smackdown, and if I could, I would eat it for breakfast every single day?
On to my question. I’m in a shaving gel rut. I hate every kind I’ve ever purchased in my entire life. It always smells too strong for me (read: I don’t want to smell like I did when i was 12 and didn’t even need to shave in the first place) and doesn’t do the job that it promises to do (moisturizes! prevents razor burn! for sensitive skin! be free of nicks and cuts! forever! we promise!) Plus, the can always gets all rusty — Skintimate Moisturizing Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin is what I’m using now, reluctantly — and I don’t want to use a razor anywhere near rust. Aside: Is that just a problem that I have? It seems weird to me.
Anyhow. What kind of shaving cream or gel do you recommend for legs/underarms? I have fairly dry skin and am very prone to razor-burn. I found an ok-looking brand that comes in a tube on called Alba Botanica, but I’ve just been (razor)burned so many times that I don’t want to buy it and find out that it, too, sucks. One more requirement: I don’t want to break the bank on this one. Philosophy has an $18.00 shaving gel called Razor Sharp but I just can’t see myself spending that much money on a shaving gel. Unless it is really, really good and will last a year or two.
Any advice would be appreciated. In fact, I appreciate that you took the time to read this e-mail, even if you can’t answer my question.
Thanks again, many, many, thanks,

You would probably never guess this, what with my millions of hair and make-up products, but I’ve got a really bad tic regarding bathroom clutter. I’m the reason God invented tissue-box cozies. And I cannot stand having lots of bottles and things in my shower. Ack, it makes my eyelid twitch. Before I lived with Jason I used to keep all my shampoo and things in one of those little plastic baskets, which I carried back and forth to the shower, all college-dorm-like. He made fun of me for this so I stopped, but I maintain this was not weird or obsessive or crazy. I was simply feng shui before it became all trendy.
Wait. What was my point here? Oh, right. Jason and I use the same shaving gel, just to keep the shower crap to a minimum. Which means no girly-smelling types. And since Jason was cursed with the HORRIBLE combo of a thick, coarse and fast-growing beard and skin so delicate that it will break out in welts if you look at it wrong, we have to use something that’s really good for sensitive, razorburn-prone skin.
aveeno.jpgANYWAY, ALL OF THIS TO SAY A REALLY SIMPLE ANSWER, OH MY GOD: We use . We like it a lot. It is good. And it is cheap.
Also, trying to think of interesting things to say about shaving gel? Kind of…uh, hard.
Although I totally hear you on the rusty can thing. I always found the Gillette ones to be the worst in that department, but since we’ve been using Aveeno faithfully for a couple years now Gillette could have improved their packaging. (And you can minimize the problem by either keeping your shower surfaces dry or storing things on ridged or textured surfaces that keep the water from pooling around the can…but sometimes it seems like the moist air is enough to cause rust.)
I just went and inspected our nearly-empty can of Aveeno, however, and there is only the fainest bit of rust. Four little specks, or so. And since Jason constantly leaves the can right on the edge of the tub in a puddle of water (gah! there goes that eyelid twitch again), it’s safe to say that the Aveeno stuff is pretty rust resistant on its own.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Kookaloomoo

    January 26, 2007 at 11:08 am

    My 2 cents worth: the Alba Botanica stuff is good for a few reasons: it’s thick, so protective, the tube won’t rust (duh), the scent is very subtle (no lingering), and I find it’s way easier to pack into my toiletry bag when I travel than a can is. Also, Trader Joe’s carries it- the label and packaging look exactly the same, except that the Trader Joe’s logo is where the Alba Botanica logo would be. Same stuff, slightly less expensive. Oh, and it’s best to use a thin layer, or it can clog your razor.

  • birdgal

    January 26, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I will second Aveeno shave gel! I use a slightly different kind (which is supposed to cut down on how much you shave–it does work somewhat), but it’s probably a similar formulation. And as for rust, I gave up storing shaving gel cans in my shower because we kept getting nasty rust rings on the shower surface (I have a similar tick to Amalah’s), no matter what I did. Now, I just cart the gel in with me when needed–a pain yes, but I love having a cleaner looking bathroom! 🙂

  • Vida

    January 26, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I, too, have hated every shave gel I’ve ever tried. I’ve never tried Aveeno, but what works for me is something totally weird: hair conditioner. I use cheap stuff, and I slather a very thin layer over my legs, and they end up soft as babies’ bottoms (minus the diaper rash). I have super sensitive skin; shaving usually makes my legs itchy, dry, flaky, and totally gross no matter what I use. Maybe I will try Aveeno, though, since I feel weird telling people I use conditioner to shave my legs.

  • Stephanie

    January 26, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Love, love, love the Aveeno shave gel. I have really dry skin and I break out with horrible bumps if I even think about shaving without it. As for the rust ring…I have a shower caddy (not the plastic one…the epoxy coated wire one to allow appropriate drainage) that hangs from the shower head and I place the can on that so I don’t get the ring on the edge of the tub.

  • miacara

    January 26, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Vida, don’t feel weird – I use conditioner to shave with too! I also use cheap stuff – TresSemme ooh la la…
    I have really sensitive skin so any kind of soap or gel stings.

  • r0seann

    January 26, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Just store the can upside down on its cap. That’s what we do. I haven’t had it affect the can in any way, as long as you don’t push the button while it’s upside down, I don’t think it will hurt it.
    Or get one of those mesh pocket shower curtains. That is what we have in the spare bathroom. The can bottom has a chance to dry, so we’ve never had anything rust while in one of those.

  • jeana

    January 26, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    The razor burn could be a result of the RAZOR. When I use cheap razors I get more scrapes, I’m more likely to get a rash, and my skin burns afterward. I really like the Venus ones.

  • Michelle

    January 26, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Ok I’m going to delurk for this one. Amy…PLEASE post again at again…I miss you!!!! (See complete with CAPS LOCK & !!!!!!)
    Ok well my point is I agree with jeana about this one. I used to try everything, including conditioner & even asked my dermatologist about it. She suggested using…nothing! Before you freak out though, razor is key. I’ve found the Gillette Fusion is the best for this & you need a showerhead that you can tilt & control where the stream goes. Point the water on your legs & shave away…haven’t broken out with little bumps & there’s nothing to dry your legs out. Of course I always use a moisturizing body wash & bath after I shave so maybe that’s why it doesn’t dry me out. Try it & even if you hate it or it doesn’t work for you you’ll still have a great razor, I personally like it better then the Venus I used to use.

  • leahkay

    January 26, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve never in my life used a shaving gel, and I also have sensitive skin prone to flaking and drying out post-shave. I used to use the lather from a bar of Caress soap; now I use the lather from a squeeze of whatever cheap bodywash smelled good at the store. I don’t usually have a problem with razor burn, and as for the dryness and flaking, the key for me seems to be moisturizing immediately after exiting the shower.

  • moobug

    January 26, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    I have such sensitive skin I asked my dermatologist what to do. My skin was always irritated and extremely dry. She recommended baby oil… I’ve been using it for years and love it. Plus the lavendar smell from Johnson & Johnson is loverly. It is very subtle smell and very mousturizing.
    plus, no rust!

  • slyeyes

    January 26, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I, too, use conditioner and love it.
    1. One less container in the bathroom.
    2. No need to moisturize afterwards, so one less step in the morning.
    3. Economical. One container of conditioner lasts longer than one container of shaving gel.
    4. Very effective.

  • dcfullest

    January 26, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    1. My sister has a horrible problem with razor burn and her dermatologist recommended the aveeno.
    2. I remember reading somewhere that most strippers use conditioner to shave, b/c it causes the least razorburn. I have no idea where I actually read this though, I don’t normally read a lot about strippers :).

  • kaitkait

    January 26, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Wow! Thanks for answering my question, and all these suggestions are great. I’ve tried conditioner, and it just didn’t work for me — but that was with a different razor. Maybe I’ll try it again with my Venus razor, which is relatively new.
    The rust on the can is actually on the top. I can’t figure it out, but it makes me really nervous. I store it on a rack in the shower. No rust on the bottom — just around the top. Always.
    Thanks again for all the help, everyone.

  • kalisah

    January 26, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I had similar problems as Kait – the razor burn, the impossible shaves. As much as I know Amy hates to hear it, I found the Intuition razor has solved all my shaving issues.

  • Prissy

    January 26, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    I have tried a lot of shave gels and now only buy Satin Care. It comes in several scents so you can find even plain fragrance free gel and it is only a couple of dollars. Also, I never buy anything less than a triple blade razor. In a pinch, I agree that the conditioner works too and you don’t need lotion after.

  • Boulder

    January 27, 2007 at 6:11 am

    I used to use Aveeno. Then one day Target was out, and I was in dire straits (not the band, the situational freak-out), and Target offered up the best thing I’ve ever found. My razor glides along, no bumps, nicks, dry skin or lingering smell. sells it for $2.69.
    Target? $.98.
    Mild smell + hair minimizing = less shaving.
    I’ve done the higher end (i.e,. Philosophy, Kiehls, etc.), I’ve done the conditioner, I’ve done it ALL, and this is the best stuff. I buy 3 cans at a time, because my Target is always running out of it – so others must agree too.
    Worst case scenario, you are out $.98, and then you try something else.
    Only other suggestion is a few of my friends rave about the Schick Intuition

  • mary ann

    January 27, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I have absurdly dry skin. Dry like “Don’t get in the shower more than once per seven days or it will CRACK and BLEED and HURT.” I use deep conditioner when I shave, which is only seasonally. And it works wonderfully. With the lack of frequency, the cost is negligible.
    Everything else I tried, including cheap conditioner, ranged from simple razor burn to “every pore on my leg has just turned red” to “hives. I have hives. I would rather have hairy armpits than itchy armpits full of hives.”

  • Devon

    January 28, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    First, please store your shave cans upside down! Second, I discovered this olive oil soap and found that it works better on my sensitive skin than any other shave cream ever has. It is made at a local farm here in Langley BC, but they do have a mail order business. The prices are sick (because I am Sephora addict, and used to paying up the nose for my product). Here is the link for your viewing girls:

  • Jonniker

    January 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I have to jump in here, albeit late, because I am *obsessive* about shaving gel. Alba Botanica/Trader Joe’s is great stuff – for all the reasons the first commenter outlined. However, if you can’t find it at Trader Joe’s, the AB stuff is pricey, considering how fast I find myself whipping through it.
    That being said, I use Kiss MY Face now, as it is a truckload cheaper and just as effective.

  • SFMommy

    January 28, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Oh my goodness, such a good question!! I personally have super sensitive skin and HATE shaving because I never know if I’m going to end up with bad razor burn or if maybe my skin will be nice for a change. Or that’s how it was before I found Kiss My Face Moisture Shave (I get the minty flavor but they have others). My husband and I both use this stuff and let me tell you – it totally rocked my world. No bumps (unless I use a bad razor – which is another story), not drying (even with the mint). The stuff is super rich and creamy and I love how it feels on my legs. Bonus – it comes in a pump bottle, not a can so no rust! 🙂 Around here we get it for a bit less than $6 and our current bottle is still going strong after about three months. Seriously, the stuff lasts forever. Try it, you’ll love it!

  • Shawnee

    January 29, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    I recommend Kiss My Face Moisture Shave too. My husband has very sensitive skin & it’s the only thing that prevents horrible razor burn (he already uses ridiculously expensive razors). Buy at or; I can also find it at the local grocery store chain & health food stores. Key Lime, Lavender & Cool Mint are my favorite scents. Good luck!

  • Mel R

    January 29, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Try putting a good amount of clear top-coat nail polish along the ring on the bottom on the can. It’ll keep it from rusting.

  • PaintingChef

    February 1, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    I’m also one of those people who shaves with conditioner… kind of… I use my husband’s Pert Plus. Conditioner! With Suds!
    But HE actually has a horrific problem with razorburn and he uses Neutrogena shaving cream. And it seems to work really well for him.