1. What is razor burn?
Razor burn (aka razor bumps) is the result of shaving off puckered hair follicles and irregular skin. It is often accompanied by ingrown hairs (Tips on how to get rid of ingrown hairs) and is caused by inadequate shaving preparation and poor technique. This article will show you how to treat and prevent razor burn.
2. Razor burn treatments
Since razor burn usually results in scabbing and raised skin, the best way to get rid of it is to allow it to heal before shaving again. There are of course, additional steps you can take to speed up the healing process:
- Use a mild exfoliant that contains salicylic acid daily. This will slough off old, dead surface skin that otherwise could clog up your pores and limit oxygen to the effected areas. Do not scrub razor-burned skin. (ow!)
- Use aloe vera or tea tree oil creams and sprays. They will speed up your recovery and soothe that raw feeling that accompanies razor burn.
- Shave carefully until it heals, switch to a razor with a single-blade or wire guard for a while. The shave won’t be close, but you won’t be slicing your skin up before it can heal either. (Learn how to get rid of razor bumps)
- If you continue shaving, combine these steps with the preventative steps in the next section.
- Use any products containing alcohol – it will dry out your skin and increase irritation.
- Scrub or scratch razor burned skin. It will increase irritation and the risk of infection.
- Apply colognes or perfumes to razor burned skin.
3. How to prevent razor burn
Proper razor burn prevention involves reducing the likelihood of slicing off anything other than hair. Adopt the following steps for a few weeks and see how they work for you:
1. Prepare your skin and hair for the shave:
- Bathe and exfoliate first. You can use a loofah, shower puff, or a chemical exfoliant that contains salicylic acid to remove dirt, oil and dead skin so the razor will glide smoothly and evenly.
- Cover the area to be shaved with conditioner or skin lotion and let it sit for a few minutes prior to shaving – don’t rub it into the skin. This will soften the hair and make the shave much easier. Don’t let it sit longer than five minutes either as your skin will start to absorb the moisture and puff up, keeping you from getting a close shave. Alternatively, you can soak some wash cloths with the hot, steamy water and apply them to your skin for a few minutes.
- Trade in your shaving cream or gel for some old-fashioned shaving soap, a mug and a badger brush. These soaps are less expensive, provide superior lubrication, and the use of the brush stands the hair up for a superior shave. Find them at your local supermarket.
2. Shaving technique:
- Make sure your blade is clean and sharp.
- Shave in slow, small strokes tapping the razor under hot water to clean it between each stroke. A blade full of hair won’t sit evenly against the skin.
- Loose skin should be held taut – but not stretched.
- Apply only as much pressure as is needed.
- Shave with the grain as much as is possible to achieve the closeness you desire.
- If you must double back over an area, apply more lubricant (soap or cream) first.
3. Post-shave skin care:
- Splash cold water or run an ice cube over your freshly shaven skin to close up your pores. Ice works just as well as alcohol and will not dry out your skin.
- Apply an aloe vera or tea tree oil balm to moisturize, soothe and cool your skin.
If after following the previous steps you still find yourself getting razor burn and ingrown hairs, consider experimenting with alternative hair removal methods. There are creams and powders that dissolve hair as well as waxes and sugar solutions that pluck it. If you’re set on shaving, see if your barber or stylist will teach you how to shave with a straight razor.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of razor burn.