Hair Care

10 Tips to Help You Avoid Razor Burn and Bumps

+ Pamela Friedman

With the warmer weather upon us, we’re wearing more skin-baring fashions, which means one thing: time to shave away the hair!

You may prefer other methods of hair removal, but if you’re a die-hard shaver—or just appreciate its simplicity—you may struggle with razor bumps. If you’re a guy with sensitive skin, these may be a constant thorn in your side.

Not only are they unattractive, but they’re irritating too, often itching and burning for days after you’ve finished shaving.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with it. Below are ten tips that will help both men and women prevent razor bumps in the future.

What Are Razor Bumps?

Before we talk about how to prevent them, it helps to know what they are in the first place. First, a little clarity: there are two types of razor bumps most of us have experienced at one point or another:

  • Razor rash: Also called razor burn, this is a red, tender area that forms after shaving. It often itches for a day or two and can have little raised bumps that form in the hair follicles.
  • Razor bumps: These are ingrown hairs caused by cut hair strands that curl back into the skin and grow there, causing pimple-like bumps.

Razor rash is typically more common than razor bumps, though both can occur after shaving. As to what causes them, we’ll go over that next, while providing you with some helpful solutions.

1. Get a Good Razor.

A dull, old, dirty, or poor-quality razor increases your risk for razor burn or bumps. Even a brand new, single-blade razor can cause problems. Here’s a secret: whether you’re a man or women, use a men’s 4-bladed razor with a moisturizing strip. It’s made to be extra gentle, so it’s likely to perform well on a lady’s sensitive skin as well.

By the way, you probably should toss the blade before you think you should. Most razors are designed to last between 5-10 shaves.

2. Soak the Skin in Warm Water

Soaking softens the outer layer of skin, making it easier to remove hair, which reduces your risk of razor burn. Sit back and relax in the tub or shower for 10 minutes first, or apply a warm, wet washcloth to the area you’re going to shave and let it rest there a few minutes.

3. Exfoliate the Skin

Exfoliating helps get rid of the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, which gives the razor a smoother surface to travel over while allowing it to get closer to the skin. Exfoliating can also tease out stubborn ingrown hairs before shaving.

Use a washcloth or gentle scrubbie with some exfoliating body wash to prepare the skin.

4. Try a Shaving Oil

If you use a little oil under your shaving cream, it will create a barrier that protects it while providing a smoother surface over which the blade can glide. It makes for a more comfortable shave all the way around. Plus skin that is soft and moisturized is less likely to host ingrown hairs.

Use only a small amount—it doesn’t take much. Try any moisturizing oil, including olive, jojoba, coconut, or almond.

5. Use a Thick, Moisturizing Shaving Cream

Shaving cream does one thing for you: it protects your skin. When you run that blade over your leg, you’re not only scraping away hair but a little bit of skin, too. If you don’t use enough shaving cream, or if your cream isn’t suitably fluffy and moisturizing, you’ll lightly abrade the skin, leading to that red irritation and itch.

After you’ve smoothed on a little oil, apply a thick layer of shaving cream.

6. Shave in One Direction

You’ve likely heard the debate about whether you should shave with or against the hair growth.

The prevailing wisdom is that going against the grain of the hair makes irritation more likely. So try to shave in the direction the hair is growing. You may have to take an extra pass or two, but it will be less likely to irritate those hair follicles and cause bumps.

Glide the razor gently along, keeping the blade down without adding too much pressure. If you have a quality blade, you won’t have to go over the same area twice (or more).

7. Rinse and Cool

As soon as you finish shaving, rinse the area with cool water. For sensitive skin prone to razor burn, calm the area with a cold compress for up to 10 minutes—it can help prevent irritation.

8. Apply an Anti-inflammatory Product

This is one step that many people miss. Your skin is vulnerable after shaving, so the first thing you should do after cooling it is to apply an anti-redness or anti-inflammatory product. This can help reduce your chances of experiencing irritation later on.

We recommend our Rescue + Relief Spray. It’s full of natural anti-inflammatory ingredients as well as calming aloe, cucumber, water lily, and comfrey. It will help soothe the skin and accelerate healing, and it makes a great aftershave.

9. Moisturize

After you’ve misted on some anti-redness spray, follow with a quality moisturizer. This helps lock in moisture so your skin doesn’t get dry, which can exacerbate irritation. Moisturizer also creates a barrier over the skin, protecting it. Moist, hydrated skin is happier skin.

Avoid products filled with fragrances and petrolatum and choose those with aloe vera, natural oils, and vitamin E. We suggest our Body Repair Lotion and Calming Moisture, as they both have oat kernel extract to reduce itching.

10. Clean the Razor

After every shave, sanitize the blade with rubbing alcohol and warm or hot water. This keeps any bacteria from settling into the razor, where it could irritate your skin the next time you shave. Then store the razor in a clean, dry place—it’s best not to leave it in the bath or shower as those are moist areas where bacteria can grow.

How do you prevent razor burn?

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