Guide to Razor Bumps and Razor Burn

A good shave can be a great relief until razor rashes and bumps begin to appear. Both can be itchy and can cause discomfort. It can also be painful. Know how to treat it, including what causes them, and discover the ways to prevent them as you shave.

Razor Bumps vs. Razor Burn

These terms are often used interchangeably but are considered to be different conditions.

Razor burn is a kind of skin irritation caused by the friction of the razor. It also tends to cause areas of redness and irritation right away after shaving. It’s unsightly and uncomfortable and may cause stinging, and even bumps. People with sensitive skin are more prone to razor burn.

Razor bumps, on the other hand, are small abscesses or patches of darkened skin that can appear on shaved areas. These bumps are formed when hair that has been shaved grows back under the skin. It can develop several days after shaving, once the hair had enough time to grow into the skin and create a blockage.

Causes of Razor Bumps and Razor Burn

The razor you use, the manner in which you shave, and even your skin type can cause razor burn and bumps. For instance, shaving dry skin using a dull razor blade or a manual razor can increase the chance of developing razor burns and bumps.

Razor burn can occur when your skin is displaced, and the hair follicle is pulled and twisted by the scraping action of the razor blade. Modern multiple-blade razors allow a closer shave, but it can increase razor burn in people with sensitive skin compared with single-blade razors.

Razor bumps can also occur if a person doesn’t properly lubricate the skin with shaving gel or cream before shaving. This can also happen if you use a dull razor, or if your skin is sensitive to friction. Also, razor bumps are more common to people with curly hair. A study found around 83 percent of African-American men experiencing razor bumps.

Treatment for Razor Bumps and Razor Burn

Razor bumps and burns can range from small to large, and it can go away naturally. Though it may not get better instantly, there are several ways that can help remove it faster and allow the skin to heal. Here are some of your treatment options:

1. Apply a cold washcloth or calming lotion.

If you’re experiencing razor burns, apply a cold washcloth or a cooling and calming lotion with ingredients like aloe and chamomile to soothe irritated and heated skin, and prevent scratching that delays healing.

2. Place a warm towel.

On the other hand, it’s best to use a warm treatment to the affected area for a few minutes to help encourage ingrown hairs to break through the skin. Using a warm and wet washcloth can help soften the skin and draw the ingrown hairs back out.

3. Apply products made of salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid helps exfoliate skin cells. It can penetrate oil glands to help unclog pores and fight inflammation. It works to alleviate razor bumps and remove dead skin cells. It allows ingrown hair to make its way out of the pores and reduce the appearance of bumps. It can also help treat acne, making it a good option for men with both acne and razor bumps. There are many products that contain salicylic acid, including cleansers, lotions, and toners.

4. Use glycolic acid.

Besides salicylic acid, glycolic acid can also help the skin peel by removing old cells from the surface of the skin. It’s an alpha-hydroxy acid, just like glycolic acid. If you have razor bumps, glycolic acid can help get those cells out of the way to allow the hair to come back to the surface. It helps razor bumps to clear up more quickly because it can speed up the skin’s natural sloughing process.

5. Gently brush the skin.

Another choice for removing dead skin cells and debris that clog the pores is by using a soft brush in the areas where you shave. Some use a skincare brush, or simply a soft toothbrush. Brushing the skin can help guide the hair out of the clogged pores so it won’t become trapped underneath.

6. Be careful in using scrubs.

If you are using facial scrubs, use them with caution. Sometimes, a mechanical or physical scrub can remove dead skin cells that plug the pores and keep the hairs trapped inside. These types of skincare scrubs can remove debris and free ingrown hairs, but some people may have a skin reaction to the rough texture of the scrubs, especially those with inflamed or sensitive skin. If your skin is red, sensitive, or irritated, use scrubs with caution.

7. Use tweezers to remove ingrown hair.

If the ingrown hair in the bump is visible, it may be helpful to use sterile, pointed tweezers to pull it out of your face. Removing the trapped hair can get rid of the razor bump pretty quickly. But to avoid any additional problems, you must first sterilize the tweezers with alcohol and cleanse your skin and hands with soap and water before doing so. Use tweezers only when the hair is visible on the surface of the skin because otherwise, it could injure the skin, making the irritation and infection worse.

How to Prevent Razor Bumps and Razor Burn

The best way to deal with razor bumps or burns is to prevent them in the first place. Several methods can do it, such as:

1. Shave less often.

One foolproof way to avoid developing razor burns or bumps is to stop shaving simply. But for most men, not shaving at all isn’t acceptable. You must try to shave every other day or even less frequently to help minimize the risk of hair being too short or hair growing out of the skin, decreasing the risk of ingrown hairs. Men should shave perhaps two to three times a week.

2. Take a warm shower.

Taking a warm shower in the morning can help steam open your hair follicles and thoroughly wet your face. This weakens facial hair, allowing it to be cut more easily.

3. Exfoliate.

Using a face scrub and exfoliating the area where you’re going to shave can help loosen up hairs, allowing a cleaner shave. It also helps remove the top, dead layer of the skin on the face to allow the blade to cut the hair closer at the base.

4. Always use a new blade.

A rule of thumb is to use a blade only around four to five uses, and after that, it must be discarded. One of the biggest causes of razor burns, bumps, and other irritation is irritation coming from the blade.

5. Shave with the grain of your hair.

It may feel better to shave against the grain of the hair for a closer shave, but it’s not a good idea. Always prefer to shave with the grain of your hair and don’t press the blade into your skin. Shaving against the grain of your hair may cause the hair to grow into the skin, not out of it.

6. Rinse off the blade between strokes.

As you use your shaving cream, make sure to rinse the blade off in between strokes. This prevents the cream, whiskers, and dead skin from building up on the blade and causing the hair to grow into the skin, which ultimately creates a razor bump.

7. Use an alcohol-free aftershave.

Use an aftershave lotion that doesn’t contain menthol or alcohol. Instead, use creams or moisturizers that contain natural alpha-hydroxy acids like sugar maple, sugar cane, or orange peel. It’s also best to opt for aftershave lotions that contain an abundance of vitamin E, aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid. These natural ingredients help restore moisture into the skin, allowing it to repair faster.

8. Try another hair removal technique.

If you’re always experiencing blunders during shaving, get away from the razor and try other hair removal techniques. Some people use hair removal creams or depilatories, which dissolve the hair and reduce the risk of razor bumps. But be careful, as some hair removal creams can contain chemicals that can irritate your skin. A person with sensitive skin should be extra cautious about hair removal products. Another option is laser hair removal if you’re not fond of your facial hair.