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Dealing with Constant Razor Burn When Cycling or Running

August 27, 2019

Dealing with Constant Razor Burn When Cycling or Running

This is a conversation I have CONSTANTLY with riding and running friends. Lady parts aren’t the only sensitive skin we deal with on the bike, and chafing isn’t the only issue we deal with on the run. Anyone else have some leg/shaving issues? (Hand up!)

First and foremost… I was lucky enough to spend time with some amazing girls and women this past weekend who reminded me of something that I had forgotten. If you don’t want to shave, that is 100% cool. It’s a completely personal preference and either way is cool.

That said, I generally prefer to shave my legs, because honestly, I have really coarse hair and find that I have more chafing issues if I don’t stay on top of things. Humans might have evolved to have body hair for a reason, but I don’t know that the reason my very Russian ancestors did was so that they could cover 30 very sweaty miles of trail. SO, I do a combo of shaving and waxing.

Anyway… I was having some leg shaving/skin issues on my legs all through December and January, so much so that a sweaty bike ride in tights would leave my calves and thighs covered with angry red bumps that mimicked razor burn. Of course, shaving was also leaving me with razor burn and tons of tiny cuts, so I knew something had to be wrong. I assumed I had some kind of infection or weird skin thing going on.

Cyclists + Runners_ How to deal with Razor Burn

Because this is the kind of thing I write about in Saddle, Sore, I kind of knew how to handle it. The same way you’d handle a saddle sore: clean, dry, and leave it the F alone. I went back to the basics and tried everything, but the only thing that really helped was finally stopping shaving for three weeks, and then getting my legs waxed.

A month later and looking back, I realized what happened. My legs were so freaking dry from a cold few months, and I was shaving them almost daily. No wonder I was having razor issues! But more than that, I was living in leggings when I wasn’t on the bike. That meant that the slightest amount of stubble—those days I simply couldn’t shave because it actually hurt too much—was making things worse, because the tiny stubble was catching on the tight leggings and dragging it in the opposite direction. No wonder I was rash-covered and miserable!

Get loose

I know plenty of you out there are like me and live in leggings when not on the bike, and that’s usually fine. But if you do find yourself in a similar skin position, do yourself a favor: take a couple days away from shaving, and from wearing leggings. Go to boyfriend-cut jeans or sweats, or dresses/shorts if weather allows.

That was what happened for me: the month after, I was finally able to wear shorts and dresses in slightly warmer weather, and sweats most of the time otherwise since I was at a training camp, and within a few days, my legs were feeling infinitely better.

And start moisturizing!

I use Eucerin Advanced Repair lotion because it’s fragrance free and works on my sensitive skin, but use whatever works for you. Do this at night, I find it’s easier when it doesn’t get in your bike shorts. (Also, hydrate. Moisturize from within!)

Take a day off

The same advice is true of saddle sores—a day of letting your miserably beat-up skin rest and recover, or at least not be stuck in the cycle of constant chafing and pulling.

Consider waxing or sugaring

Another thought…. typically, I don’t recommend leg waxing to everyone, but if you regularly deal with serious levels of razor burn, it is really worth trying at least once. I’ve found it’s painful day-of, but frankly, I am terrible at shaving and not cutting myself, so I’ve found it works really well for more long-term, and I don’t have issues with razor burn as often when I wax my legs every couple months. It’s a trade-off, for sure, but I’ve found it’s super helpful for me.

Get professional help

Lastly: if rashes/razor-burn are persistent problems for you, see a dermatologist. You might have folliculitis, which is treatable but may require some more intense prescription creams or even antibiotics. Don’t let it go until you’re absolutely miserable on and off the bike!

ALERT: On Friday, Saddle, Sore will be on sale on Amazon for 99 cents for 24 hours, so mark your calendar if you want even more info about comfortable, happy riding.


Let me know if this is something you deal razor burn while riding, and if so, if you’ve found any other great tips or tricks!


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One comment
  1. Steve

    I've found that shaving every 3 to 4 days stops the "burn", plus after that long there isn't any significant (visible) growth to make my legs look like I should be riding on a MTB more rather than a road bike - FYI, I ride both. I did find a great product - Leg Lube - but have since moved to DZ Nuts Bald shaving cream.....which is more readily available in the UK, and just as good I think.

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