Before we start.
A main barrier to shaving is the sensitivity of our skin. Different people react differently to shaving, with some having no issues at all, while others may easily cut or nick themselves, for example.
Its therefore important to understand how to shave properly if you have sensitive skin. There are some simple things you can do and equipment you can use that will greatly reduce the chance of irritation and we discuss these in the below guide.
1. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools for the Job
If you are shaving your skin with a cheap throw-away disposable razor, your face and neck are more likely to be irritated and sore. This is one of those scenarios where your tools matter just as much as your skill!
As a bare minimum, you want a quality safety razor or cut throat razor and shaving soap or cream. The razor gives a close shave without cutting up your skin while the soap helps soften you up beforehand.
Aftershave, alum blocks, and other skincare products are brilliant too as they protect you skin and reduce any inflammation and redness. With this trio of tools (razor, shaving cream, skincare), you should be able to greatly reduce the chance of skin irritation!
2. Prepare Your Skin Beforehand
Never shave without prepping your skin! If you shave without prep, your skin will be dry, tight, and hard. Running a razor along such a surface is asking for trouble and you can guarantee that your skin will be irritated and you will be covered in cuts!
Instead, hydrate your skin with warm water first to soften your skin and facial hair. Additionally, make sure that you use shaving cream or shaving gel. If possible, look for a shaving cream that is suitable for sensitive skin and apply it with a quality shaving brush, this exfoliates the skin and brings the hairs off the skin – there are particular brands available.
The cream will help soften your skin and hair further and reduce the chance of cuts and inflammation.
3. Check Your Equipment
One of the main causes of irritation and skin damage is trying to use a dull blade. A dull blade will pull along your skin and can simply snag hairs or tug at them. This rough and unpleasant motion firstly feels horrible – you may as well rub sandpaper on your face!
But it also causes your skin to inflame and will increase the amount of cuts and nicks you get. You can tell when your blade needs sharpening because you will experience that tugging sensation. Additionally, your hair simply won’t shave as quickly.
To remedy this if you are using a cut throat razor a strop is essential. Leather strops are easy to use and you can use them to hone your blades and ensure they are sharp. Alternatively, for safety razors like Merkur products, you just need to have a spare supply of blades and change them regularly.
4. Rinse Your Blade Regularly
Some people make the mistake of shaving with a dry blade. This can be fine if you have normal skin, but if you are sensitive, it is a sure-fire way to cause irritation and cover your face in red rashes.
As you run your razor blade over your face and neck, the edge accumulates dirt, grime, and hair debris. This is worse for safety razors as there is more areas that the debris can get stuck and build up. It’s also true for cut throat razors though, but to a lesser degree.
This is why you should continually rinse your blade when shaving. We advise doing this after every few strokes. Simply run it under the tap and shake off the water and any debris.
This makes sure that your blade can glide freely across your skin without any resistance that could cause irritation.
5. Try not to Apply Too Much Pressure
Another common mistake that can cause sensitive skin to inflame is applying too much pressure.
When wet shaving, it’s the razor that is doing the work – not your hand and brute force! You aren’t trying to calve a layer of your skin off!
With a sharp blade, you should be able to gently stroke the razor across your face and get a close shave every time. Sometimes a lighter touch is appropriate and this is one of those instances. If you find that you do need to apply more force, your blade is probably dull so refer back to pointer three!
6. Shave With the Grain to Start
There are pros and cons for shaving with or against the grain. The grain is basically the way that your hairs stick out of your skin.
Shaving against the grain allows for a much closer shave. However, this is a sure-fire way to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.
To start, shave with the grain. This will trim the hairs neatly and get a pretty close shave. If you find that there are still some rogue hairs you can then consider shaving against the grain. By doing this only at the end, you should have reduced the resistance and thus reduce the chance for irritating your sensitive skin.
Thats a Wrap!
We hope you now have renewed confidence in your shaving abilities and are itching (not literally – that’s hopefully what you will avoid!) to pick up your razor and give it a whirl.
With these tips in mind, we are confident that you can reduce irritation and protect your sensitive skin both during and after shaving – good luck!