Shaving your face may not seem dangerous, but this everyday chore is actually a minefield of skin hazards. From regular old nicks and cuts to razor burn, ingrown hairs and razor bumps, the potential for some type of irritation is pretty high. Knowing how to identify, prevent and treat these common shaving issues can make your morning shave infinitely more comfortable.
What Is Razor Burn?
Razor burn shows up in the form of small, red, itchy bumps on the skin. Dry shaving or repeatedly dragging your razor over the same area can cause razor burn. Experts recommend shaving during or after a warm shower. Water softens and plumps hairs, making shaving easier and those red bumps less likely. Use a high-quality shaving cream or shave balm to allow the razor to glide across the skin and retain moisture during your shave.
More ways to prevent razor burn:
- Rinse the blade often
- Use a fresh razor with sharp blades
- Shave gently to avoid tugging at skin
- Shave with the grain
Using a natural shave balm not only lets you avoid potentially harsh ingredients; it also means benefitting from skin-loving herbs and oils. Shaving products from The Henna Guys contain essential oils and other beneficial ingredients.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs happen during shaving as hairs are cut to a length below the surface of the skin. When hairs curl in on themselves and grow sideways beneath the skin in a process called transfollicular penetration, the skin above the hairs becomes red and irritated. Worse yet, the area can become infected and filled with pus.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Regular exfoliation reduces the odds of getting ingrown hairs. Exfoliating sloughs off the dead skin cells that can trap ingrown hairs as they penetrate the skin. If your hair is coarse and/or curly, the likelihood of an ingrown hair is much higher. Regular use of exfoliators containing salicylic or glycolic acid helps reduce the odds. Slather on a good moisturizer afterwards to prevent irritation when shaving.
How to Treat Ingrown Hairs
If you still end up with the occasional ingrown hair, don't risk irritation or infection by trying to remove it yourself. While exfoliating the area may help it resolve itself, your doctor should remove an ingrown hair that doesn't go away on its own. You can also try treating them with serums and other products designed to get rid of ingrown hairs; just don't risk infection or skin damage by breaking out the tweezers.
What Are Razor Bumps?
Razor bumps are a type of ingrown hair caused by extrafollicular penetration. Unlike other ingrown hairs, razor bumps don’t grow sideways under the skin after curling onto themselves. Instead, they cause irritation as they start to poke through the skin.
What Causes Razor Bumps?
Sometimes, inflammation from razor bumps doesn’t happen due to curling. It occurs when hairs become too sharp from shaving and damage the skin a bit as they penetrate it. And, unlike other ingrown hairs, razor bumps develop in the time following a shave, not while you’re shaving.
How to Prevent Razor Bumps
Once again, exfoliation is your friend. A gentle exfoliator creates a smooth path for your razor to travel. Apply a moisturizing pre-shave oil before shaving in the shower to soften hairs and reduce the odds of razor bumps.
How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps
If, despite your best efforts, you end up with razor bumps, try these tips:
- Apply an anti-itch cream containing one-percent hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation
- Follow with an antibiotic to kill infection-causing bacteria on the skin
- Unless your skin is sensitive, use witch hazel after shaving to soothe irritated skin
Experiment with these options to see what works best for you and your skin. However, avoid rough shaving and products containing harsh ingredients at all costs to prevent making matters worse. From shaving in the shower to gentle exfoliation, a regular routine will help you prevent razor burn, ingrown hairs and razor bumps.