Don’t Get Burned—11 Proven Ways to Prevent Razor Burn
We're putting an end to the redness and burning once and for all.
Don’t skimp on the shave gel
“Using a high-quality shave gel or cream is important when you’re shaving,” says Joel Schlessinger, MD, a dermatologic surgeon. “My favorite is ELEMIS Skin Soothe Shave Gel because it’s an aloe vera shave gel that contains microcapsules of marine extracts and jojoba oil that burst to release intense soothing properties. It helps prevent razor burn and irritation while promoting a closer, smoother shave.” Creams traditionally have more moisture than gels, so if you do opt for a gel, make sure you go for an extra moisturizing one like Venus with Olay UltraMoisture. It is especially formulated to have the smooth feel of a gel, with the increased moisture of a cream.
Never dry shave
The next time you run out of shave cream or are on vacation and realize you forgot it, you may be tempted to go without, but don’t. “Dry shaving is one of the worst things for your skin as it causes the blade to tug and pull the skin with it,” says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. “A shaving cream or gel allows for the razor to evenly glide across the skin without irritation or causing nicks and cuts. It also helps hydrate and protect the skin.” Occasionally, she prescribes an antibiotic gel that can be used when shaving to minimize bacterial infections that can thrive when you have in razor burn.
Replace your razor blade regularly
The tools you use can make a big difference. “Make sure you never shave with a dull razor as dull blades are more likely to cause razor bumps, inflammation, and irritation,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “It’s also a good idea to avoid using multi-bladed razors, which shave below the skin and make matters worse. Switch to a new blade every eight to ten shaves.
Don’t press too hard
Pressing repeatedly on the same area is not necessary to get the perfect shave! In fact, it does the opposite. Using too much pressure can cause nicks, cuts, and irritation. The razor you’re using should allow you to go over each area once with a light stroke; if that’s not the case, you’re using the wrong razor.
Avoid disposable razors
According to Dr. Schlessinger disposable razors can be the worst for razor burn because they are often lightweight and require excess pressure to cut the hair. Too much pressure can cut hairs just below the skin level, encouraging hair to grow into skin and result in a bump.
Don’t share your razor
Razor blades can harbor bacteria that can lead to infections, so don’t share a razor, even with your best friend. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important to regularly switch to a new blade.
Technique is key
How you shave is also important. “Shaving in the same direction your hair grows can help prevent razor bumps, especially for those with sensitive skin” says Dr. Schlessinger. “It also helps to shave in the shower as the warm water will soften the hair, making it easier to remove.” Pulling skin taut while shaving can also cause ingrown hairs since the cut hair naturally draws back into the skin. “Those with coarse or curly hair are especially at risk since this type of hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter skin once it has been cut,” says Dr. Schlessinger.
Another major mistake is to never exfoliate. “People tend to forget that exfoliating prior to shaving will remove the dead skin cells, allowing easier gliding and better hair removal which will also dramatically decrease razor bumps and ingrown hairs,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “I love Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care Botanical Buffing Beads Body Wash as it gently moisturizes and cleanses while shedding the dead skin cells.” Also, never ever skip moisturizing the skin after a shave. “It’s essential to moisturize immediately out of the shower to lock in the moisture and reduce inflammation from shaving.” Also, make sure you avoid these showering mistakes.
Avoid shaving below the belt during your period
During your period, your skin may be more sensitive. (These are the 9 things your period is trying to tell you.) “It’s important to keep in mind that pubic hair does serve a function down there—it acts as a natural barrier to both friction and infections,” says Sejal Shah, a dermatologic surgeon in New York City. “The skin in the genital area is much more delicate compared to other areas that you may be shaving and tends to be moist (and dark), making it an ideal breeding ground for bacterial and fungal/yeast growth.” Because shaving can create micro injury to the skin, it increases the risk if infections in this area.
Consider laser hair removal
If you have the time and money, laser hair removal can be very effective. “The lasers in many cosmetic surgery offices today use a combination of intense light and heat to target the hairs by their pigment,” explains Dr. Schlessinger. “Each hair is then eliminated within the follicle. Some common treatment areas include the upper lip, chin, bikini area, legs, underarms, and back.” It’s important to note, however, that laser hair removal works best for people with dark hair and light skin. Patients with blonde, red, or gray hair won’t see the same results because there isn’t enough pigment present in the hair for the laser to be effective. Additionally, some machines aren’t compatible with tan or darker skin tones because there isn’t enough contrast between the pigment in the skin and hair.
I’m red and bumpy, now what?
If you’re red and itchy following a shave, you may find relief with an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. This product should be used twice a day for a few days until the irritation subsides. If irritation does not resolve with an over the counter hydrocortisone cream, visit your dermatologist for a possible prescription.