Razor burn is a skin irritation caused by shaving that many people suffer daily. If you have discovered lots of red bumps, inflammation, and itchiness post-shave, you probably are familiar with what a razor burn is. We all need to know how to prevent razor burn by having a good shaving session every time.
1. What is a Razor Burn?
Shaving is one of the most popular hair removal methods because it is relatively cost-effective, pain-free, and easy to do on your own. But just like any other form of hair removal like waxing or threading, it can lead to skin irritation, redness, and itchiness if not done right. This shaving irritation is called a Razor Burn.
Razor burn can occur on any body part where you tend to shave. It can be the face, legs, arms, armpits, and even your bikini line. It happens when the skin can not handle the constant glides of the razor because it is too harsh for the skin. This can be prevented by prepping the skin well before you start and having the right shaving routine.
2. Difference Between Razor Burn and Razor Bumps
If you have been experiencing irritated skin, red rashes, and itchiness of razor burn, common razor burn symptoms, chances are that you have also been acquainted with the symptoms of razor bumps. Unlike razor burn, which is a skin irritation that shows itself in the form of red rashes and itching skin, Razor bumps can look like red bumps, puss-filled lesions that hurt.
Razor bumps (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae) are caused when the hair cannot grow straight out of the hair follicle because of barriers caused by dead skin cells. This leads to hair curling into itself and growing underneath the skin barrier. Ingrown hairs can cause puss-filled pimples, painful red bumps, and even discolored skin that can be difficult to rectify.
3. What Causes Razor Burn
If you have sensitive skin, you probably can not avoid razor burn but there are many things we do wrong while shaving, and even before we start to shave, that can cause razor burn. It is important to know if you are making these mistakes so that you can know how to prevent razor burn.
3.1. Using a Dull Razor
Old, dull blades are not the best tools for shaving. Dull blades don’t give you a close shave, it leads to uneven shaving which leads to you going over the same areas more than one time to get all the hair. Dull blades also require more pressure on the skin than a sharp razor would. Using a new razor is how to prevent razor burn.
3.2. Not Exfoliation Before the Shave
If there are dead skin cells on the skin’s surface before shaving, they can lead to ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are caused when hair grows under the skin barrier because the hair follicles are blocked by dead skin. If you want to know how to prevent razor burns, start exfoliating before shaving.
3.3. Dry Shaving
Using razor blades directly on the skin without the barrier of shaving cream or shaving gel is very abrasive to the skin. The blades don’t glide over the skin smoothly because the skin is dry and the hair is also coarse and hard. A dry shave, especially on dry skin is a sure way of damaging the skin barrier and causing razor burn.
Stop dry shaving now if you want to know how to prevent razor burn.
3.4. Shaving Against the Hair Growth
People often think that shaving against hair growth can give them a smooth shave, but this can be very irritating because the blade forces the hair to go in a direction that is not natural for them. This is why, when the hair grows back, it often grows underneath the skin, causing ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
If you want to know how to prevent razor burn, start shaving in the direction of hair growth and you will see the difference.
3.5. Over-Shaving the Same Area
Shaving on one area of the face multiple times can make that area very sensitive and prone to irritation. Razors and blades are tools that are too harsh for sensitive skin of the face and other body parts like the armpits and bikini area. Constantly dragging the blade across the skin over and over damages the skin barrier and causes razor burns and bumps.
Therefore, avoid over-shaving if you want to know how to prevent razor burn.
3.6. Not Moisturizing Post-Shave
After you are done shaving, the skin that was exposed to the razor blade is sensitive and drier than normal. Dry, sensitive skin is more prone to stinging, dry patches, and razor burn. Using a good moisturizer after shaving can prevent this and you will be able to enjoy the smooth, silky feeling you get after a good shave for longer. This is how to prevent razor burn.
4. How to Prevent Razor Burn
You can prevent razor burns by prepping your skin well before the shave and by following all the right shaving techniques so that the skin feels as less abrasion from the razor as possible.
4.1. Exfoliate Well Pre Shave
It is important to remove dead skin cells from the areas you are going to be shaving hairs off of. As has been discussed above, having a layer of dead skin on the face before you shave is the prime reason for ingrown hairs. To prevent ingrown hair, you should exfoliate the skin that you’re going to shave pre-shave.
4.2. Use a Hot Washcloth on the Face
Warm water works wonders in relaxing and softening the skin as well as the hair that is to be shaved. It also makes the hair stand up which makes removing them easier. That is why many people shave right out of the shower. If you don’t take hot showers, you can simply use a wet washcloth that has been soaked in warm water and press it to your skin before shaving.
4.3. Apply Oil to the Face
To prevent razor burns, the skin needs to be prepped for shaving. When you shave, you need to make sure your skin is not dry and that it has some slip so that the blade can glide across it without tugging, pulling, or cutting the skin. Oils like sweet almond oil or coconut oil, in case of thick, coarse hair, make the skin soft and slippery.
4.4. Use A Shaving Cream Or Gel
Shaving cream or gel creates a layer between the skin and the razor which protects the skin from coming in direct contact with the sharp blades and getting cuts, nicks, razor burn, or razor bumps. Using a creamy shave cream also prevents the skin from drying up while you shave. It also softens the hair and facilitates easy facial hair removal.
4.5. Avoid Using a Dull Razor
A blade, whether dull or sharp, is a very harsh tool to use on the sensitive skin of our face or other parts of the body. This is why it is best to have as less contact between the skin and the razor as possible. Using a sharp razor ensures that you will need no more than two strokes to clean the hair off the skin.
4.6. Make Sure to Use a Clean Razor
When you remove hair with a razor, ensure it is clean and hygienic. Old razors that have hair and dead skin stuck in them are breeding grounds for bacteria and other organisms. Make sure you keep changing the blades every 5 to 6 shave cycles and keep rinsing the razor head between each glide.
Store the razor in a dry place because a wet razor will attract bacteria.
4.7. Shave In The Direction Of Hair Growth
Shaving against the grain can be very harsh and irritating because you are pulling the hair in the direction opposite to the one it naturally grows in. This shaving technique could give you many angry red bumps, rashes, and cuts. Not only that, when the hair starts growing, the skin starts feeling itchy and stings because the hair follicle’s direction has been skewed.
4.8. Rinse With Cold Water
Once you are done shaving, rinse the access shave cream off and press a cool washcloth against the skin that you have shaved. Cool water is very soothing to the sensitive post-shave skin. It can close any small nicks you may have given yourself and reduce the chances of any red rash, razor burns, or pimples by calming the skin and closing any open pores.
4.9. Apply Moisturizer
After shaving, the area can become dry. To avoid dryness and in turn, skin irritation caused due to dryness, make sure you keep the area hydrated and use a gentle moisturizer with no actives and preferably no fragrance because those can irritate the area. Taking care of the skin is how to prevent razor burn.
5. How to Treat Razor Burn
We have discussed methods of preventing razor burn by following the right shaving technique and doing the right aftercare for your skin. But what if it is already too late and you are already suffering from razor burn or bumps? For this situation, along with knowing how to prevent razor burn, know how to treat razor burns too.
5.1. Cold Compress
Applying a washcloth soaked in cold water or even cold milk and pressing it to the affected area can help reduce swelling and the burning sensation that is imperative with razor burn. A cold compress can also quicken the healing process by calming down the skin. You will feel relieved of the itchy feeling too. This can help a lot in treating razor burns.
5.2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is well known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. People use it on their sunburns too because this plant takes down the inflammation and a lot of the redness too. Applying a layer of Aloe Vera gel, preferably from the Aloe Vera plant on the affected area will give you a lot of relief from the burn and the itch of razor burn.
Colloidal oatmeal is an ingredient used in skincare that is recommended to people with eczema because it is anti-inflammatory and soothing on the skin. Because of this property, using oatmeal is how you can prevent razor burn. You can buy moisturizers with this ingredient in them or mix some oatmeal powder with water and put the paste on the affected area.
5.4. Avoid Shaving
If you are already dealing with a severe case of razor burn and it hasn’t gone down by doing the things discussed above, you should probably avoid shaving for a few days so that the area can heal without getting more aggravated by another shaving cycle.
Once the razor burn has vanished, you can shave again, following all the tips to prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn.
If the razor burn is particularly painful and you can’t see it getting better, it is probably time to see a board-certified dermatologist. They can take a look at the affected area and recommend to you some over-the-counter treatments like the Hydrocortisone cream that can help heal you better. Professionals know best how to prevent razor burn.
6. The Bottom Line
Razor burns can be extremely uncomfortable and almost unbeatable when you have the constant urge to scratch at them to relieve the itch, but can’t do it. The good news is, you can easily prevent it and even cure it by following the methods mentioned above. Now that you know how to prevent razor burn, we trust you will have a burn-free shave from now on.
7.1 Is There a Benefit to Using an Electric Razor to Avoid Shave Burns?
Contrary to conventional razors, electric razors may be smoother on the skin and less likely to cause shave burns. Nevertheless, based on their skin sensitivity and the specs of the electric razor, certain individuals might still experience irritation.
7.2 Is It Beneficial to Exfoliate the Skin Before Shaving to Avoid Shave Burns?
Exfoliating can help remove dead skin cells and unblock hair follicles before shaving, lowering the risk of razor burn and ingrown hairs. Before shaving, exfoliate the skin with a washcloth or a mild exfoliating scrub.
7.3 Can Use a Shaving Brush Assist to Avoid Burns from Shaving?
A nicer shaving experience can be achieved by using a shaving brush to lift the hair and assist generate a lather. It may lessen the chance of shave burns by distributing shaving cream or gel evenly and reducing friction.