Wouldn’t it be amazing if shaving was always uncomplicated and had no side effects? Sadly, that’s not the case and we men have to deal with various potential hazards when picking up a razor. One of the most common problems we face is shaving rash and razor bumps.
You have probably experienced one if not both of these issues and I aim to give advice on how to beat them below. It is possible and you don’t even need to do much different! Once you have digested the tips and info, you can enjoy an improved shaving process that leaves your skin feeling fresh, smooth, and hydrated.
What is Shaving Rash, Razor Burn, and Razor Bumps?
Let’s get our terminologies and basic understanding sorted first, shall we? Here are simple definitions of the terms:
- Shaving Rash: A type of skin irritation that occurs after shaving, also known as razor burn.
- Razor Bumps: Small lumps that form as a result of ingrowing hairs.
So, the first important thing to note is that razor bumps are something completely different. These are caused when you shave your facial hair short and the hairs curl over. When they curl into your skin, there is a reaction and red lumps form.
What it looks and feels like
Shaving rash typically appears just a few minutes after shaving and it’s when your skin is irritated. Most commonly you will notice a red rash on the area you shaved, and you may feel a burning and itching sensation.
The two are not mutual though and you can get a burning sensation without a rash and vice versa. Shaving rash isn’t exclusive to your facial hair either – you can get it anywhere on your body that you might shave including armpits and pubic hair.
What causes shaving rash?
The most common cause of shaving rash is going in dry! If you’re in a rush and don’t use any shaving cream, be prepared for shaving rash! When you shave your skin without any lubrication, the razor can drag and pull the hairs which causes irritation on your pores and skin.
The razor simply doesn’t glide along your skin as easily and there is far more resistance which ultimately damages your skin and results in rashes and burning.
This is the primary issue, but applying too much pressure and using a blunt razor are also major causes of razor burn. You need to let the razor do the hard work – you’re simply there to direct its flow – not try and scrape the top five layers of your skin off!
How to Prevent Shaving Rash
We say in many walks of life that the best cure is prevention, and this holds true for razor burn too! If you can stop it from ever occurring, then you don’t need to worry about getting rid of it right? Luckily, it is completely preventable if you follow these four simple tips:
Tip 1 – Don’t use dull razors
A dull razor blade is one of the primary causes of shaving rash. If you use a dull razor blade, it will not glide smoothly over your skin. Instead, the dullened blade will pull and tug at the hairs and be far less effective.
The natural reaction to this is to apply more pressure which only makes the problem worse. As a result, you could consider investing in a strop to hone your blade, or simply keep a supply of new blades if you use a safety razor with changeable blades.
Tip 2 – Try to refrain from re-strokes
Did you know that typically as you shave, nearly 75% of your strokes are re-strokes? Re-strokes are when you shave over the same area of skin multiple times. Basically, the more you re-stroke the same area, the more irritation you are going to cause, and this drastically increases the chance of shaving rash.
Therefore, make sure each stroke is careful, precise, and controlled so that ideally you only have to do one pass on each part of your facial hair. This is made easier by having a sharp razor and using shaving cream for lubrication.
Tip 3 – Shave with the grain and use minimum pressure
While shaving against the grain (i.e. against the direct your hair grows) can result in a cleaner shave, it also causes irritation and potentially shaving rash. This is because you are lifting and agitating the hairs on your skin in the opposite direction to which they grow.
You should always try and shave with the grain where possible as this greatly reduces the chance of razor burn. Coupled with this, try and use as little pressure as possible. I am luckily not heavy-handed so this is quite easy for me, but many people apply way too much pressure when shaving which really irritates your skin. Let the razor do the work!
Tip 4 – Rinse your razor after each stroke
You must do everything you can to keep your razor gliding smoothly over your skin to prevent tugging and reduce the chance of shaving rash.
A simple way to do this is to rinse your razor in water after each stroke. I understand that this means your wet shave will take longer, but the end results are worth it.
By rinsing your blade you are removing any skin debris, gunk, and hairs that could clog up your razor. This means there is nothing between your skin and the blade and it can work effectively.
Tip 5 – Consider exfoliating before shaving
I exfoliate with a simple face wash daily or before shaving and it keeps my skin smooth and soft. Don’t worry about your manly appearance! Everyone uses moisturizer and face wash these days so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
Just slap it on and your wet shaves will be that much easier and pain-free. Exfoliating really helps reduce the chance of shaving rash and it’s just a great idea for your skin and complexion in general. You can keep your pores clean and help prevent spots.
Tip 6 – Dry and store your razor properly
If you leave your razor wet and, in a room full of moisture like your bathroom then this is a breeding ground for bacteria. The next time you wet shave you are essentially wiping bacteria on your face – not too appealing right?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that bacteria will irritate your skin and contribute to shaving rash or other infections. To prevent this, clean and dry your cut throat razor or safety razor thoroughly after each use and store it in a dry area such as a dedicated storage box.
How to Get Rid of Shaving Rash
We’ve tackled the preventative measures but there may still be times when the inevitable happens and you make a slip, forget your exfoliating, or shave the wrong way, for example. It’s going to happen, and I still make mistakes too. In these instances, you need a backup plan – you need to know the best solution and remedies to get rid of shaving rash.
Method 1 – Use a cold compress
The simplest cure for shaving rash is something we have been doing for hundreds of years. The classic cold compress remains an effective technique. All you have to do is get a washcloth, rinse it in cold water and press it on the affected area.
The cold compress will reduce the redness and rash but also helps sooth your skin and stop any burning. Ideally, you should hold the damp cloth on your skin for five minutes for maximum effect.
Method 2 – Keep your skin hydrated
Keeping your skin hydrated is not just ideal for shaving rash – you should try and do it anyway to keep your face feeling fresh and to help reduce the chance of spots and infection.
A hydrating gel or face wash will effectively replenish moisture in your skin and greatly reduce the chance of razor burn. I find that hydrating wash also feels pretty good too and I always feel revitalized after using one!
Method 3 – Use a moisturizing aftershave
Aftershave is also essential to help prevent shaving rash. Ideally, you want a moisturizing aftershave as this will have a long-lasting effect that will keep your skin hydrated for longer. Of course, using an aftershave also makes you smell great too!
Let Shaving Rash be a Thing of the Past With a Quality Razor and Shaving Regime
You now have no excuse and I expect you to improve your shaving game significantly after reading this guide! The key is to remember these three things – tools, technique, and skincare.
Firstly, you need a high quality razor with a sharp blade to glide along your skin effortlessly without tugging at your hairs. Secondly, you need to use the right technique by shaving with the grain and applying just the right amount of pressure. Lastly, take care of your skin before and after shaving using exfoliators, moisturizer, and aftershave.
With these three things you can defeat shaving rash and always have your skin feeling sublime after a wet shave.