Razor bumps. Razor burn. Barber’s itch. Ingrown hairs. Pseudofolliculitis barbae, for the scientifically inclined.
No matter what you call them, you probably know what we’re talking about: those itchy, inflamed bumps that pop up shortly after you’ve given yourself a fresh, clean shave, ruining that smooth finish and causing a lot of discomfort in the meantime.
They’re annoying and uncomfortable, but the good news is that they don’t have to be inevitable every time you’re cleaning up your facial hair! Here’s what you need to know about soothing razor bumps, and how you can prevent them from popping up the next time you take a razor to your skin.
Why do razor bumps happen in the first place?
First, a little dermatology 101: Your skin is made up of three different layers called the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis. Your hair follicles start from inside your skin and peek out through your epidermis, which is the topmost visible layer of skin on your body. When you shave, you cut those visible hairs down to your skin layer.
Unfortunately, after your shave is over, your hair can start to grow and curl up into the skin, getting stuck beneath your pores as they grow back (otherwise known as “ingrown hairs”). This can also happen if your pores are already clogged with debris and dead skin cells, or if your shorter hair grows back and pierces your skin along the way.
This can then lead to that inflammation and those red, itchy, and irritating razor burns that we all dread so much. This is also why people with curly hair are more likely to experience razor burn, though it can happen to everyone else as well.
How to soothe and get rid of razor bumps
The bad news? Once razor bumps happen, they probably aren’t going to disappear right away. However, there are some steps you can take right away (like even immediately after you shave) to soothe your skin, calm the redness and itching, and promote healing.
Use an aftershave
Based on the name, you can probably guess what this is for: to treat your skin post-shave! Aftershaves are specifically meant to soothe and tone your irritated skin shortly after you take a razor to it, which makes them the most obvious answer for calming razor bumps.
For the best results, look out for natural products like American Provenance Aftershave which can help calm irritated skin without the addition of questionable artificial or irritating ingredients.
Apply aloe vera to the irritated spots.
Aloe vera is perhaps best known for its abilities to help cool off inflamed, sunburned skin -- and these same cooling properties also work pretty well for razor burn!
Use a topical steroid cream
If your skin is super itchy and uncomfortable after you shave, you might need to use something a little stronger, like a topical steroid cream. Hydrocortisone cream, for example, is available at most drug stores and is powerful enough to calm most razor-driven irritation without the need for a prescription.
Wash your face with cold water
As soon as you’re done with your shave, try washing your face in cold, cold water. The cold can help “shrink” your pores and alleviate some of the subsequent inflammation.
Try an exfoliating cream
If you aren’t exfoliating frequently, you might have some dead skin cells clogging up your pores and exacerbating your skin irritation. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub a couple of times a week to clear away the worst of the dirt.
Dry skin is very often irritated skin. Add a good moisturizer or Beard Oil to your skincare routine to keep the skin on your face soft, supple, and nourished and especially after you’re done shaving.
Preventing razor bumps before they start
So we’ve gone over tackling razor bumps when they happen … but you probably ideally want to stop them from happening altogether! So here’s how:
Make sure your razor is sharp and clean
Passing over the same patch of skin multiple times with your razor can further exacerbate your irritated skin, which means that dull, ineffective blades are a big no-no if you want to avoid razor burn. Make a point to replace your razor blades often, and make sure they’re clean to prevent a build-up of bacteria and other pathogens that can infect any cuts and make your skin irritation worse.
Shave “with” the grain, not against it.
Shaving against your hair’s natural growth pattern can increase the likelihood for your hair to become ingrown. Instead, move your razor in the same direction that it grows, minimizing your risk of hairs getting caught underneath your skin layer and becoming inflamed.
Use shaving products
They’re specifically meant to make your shave easier and smoother, after all! Applying a shaving gel to your skin before shaving ensures that you get a smooth, less-irritating shave that doesn’t require a second pass.
Open up your pores before you shave.
While you want to use cold water to “close” your pores up soon after you’re done shaving, you want the opposite to happen beforehand. So before you start, wash your face with warm water and use a gentle exfoliator to clear out any dirt and bacteria that might be lingering in your pores.
We’ve already mentioned it once before, but applying aftershave after you’re done shaving is such an important step that we’re going to go ahead and mention it once more. Not only does it help protect your sensitive skin and promote skin healing after you’ve taken a razor to it, but it can also fight off bacteria and other pathogens that can get into little cuts and promote infection and inflammation.
A good shave is an art form, and getting it right can lead to healthier, happier skin that’s free from annoying and irritating razor bumps. Before picking up the razor, arm yourself with the right tools for a clean, smooth, efficient shave, and follow up with high-quality Aftershave. Your skin will be thanking you!
Featured image credit
Photo by Mídia: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-taking-beard-shave-897262/