Razor burn refers to the small bumps and rash that can be caused by shaving. Closely shaven hairs have a sharp edge which can cause inflammation and swelling of the skin – this reaction is similar to that of having a splinter. Razor burn can also be caused by ingrown hairs, especially on people with curly hair. The effects of razor burn are often worse for men than women as men shave almost daily and can’t simply cover up any unsightly lumps and bumps!
The most common causes of razor burn include:
• not using a decent lubricant (in other words, shaving gel or cream)
• putting too much pressure on the razor as you shave
• shaving against the direction your hair grows in
• using a dirty or blunt razor
Before you start shaving, make sure you exfoliate – this will not only remove dead skin but will also bring out ingrown hairs. Your face is also softer just after taking a shower and this is the best time to shave. If you can possibly help it, try not to shave early in the morning as your face can swell during sleep. Make sure you also buy new razor blades often as blunt, dirty and rusty blades aggravate razor burn. Apply a shaving cream, gel or oil liberally before shaving and avoid using ordinary soap as it can dry out your skin. We love Gillette’s Extra-Comfort shaving gel for a comfortable, close shave.
There are some tips and tricks you can follow during shaving to avoid razor burn. Shave with the grain of the hair in short strokes and don’t press too hard on the skin. Always rinse your razor between each stroke and use hot water as this makes the skin immediately relax and so your shave will be smoother. Avoid products that are scented if you have sensitive skin; you could try Neutrogena’s Sensitive Skin shave cream.
Always clean your razor blades after use to prevent rust and the build-up of mineral crystals and bacteria (all just waiting to pounce on an open cut on your face and breed in there!) on the blade. If your blade doesn’t have a moisturising strip you can rub your razor in alcohol to do the trick. Always wash your face and apply a moisturiser after shaving to keep the skin soft and clean. Aftershaves that contain glycerine, aloe and shea butter are great and help with the healing of the skin. We love Justine’s Soothing Moisture Balm SPF15.
You can also try tea tree oil which is a natural antiseptic – although it might sting sensitive skins a bit so always follow up with a soothing aloe vera-based cream. Witch hazel is also great (it also makes a brilliant and very budget-friendly toner for your face).