First let’s clarify the difference between burns and bumps. Although they are often used to describe general discomfort associated with shaving, razor burn and razor bumps are typically considered different conditions. A razor burn is irritation caused after you shave, and razor bumps are the result of shaved hairs growing back and becoming ingrown.
Ingrown hairs may look like raised bumps or even acne. This may occur when you remove hair through methods such as shaving, tweezing, or waxing. When the hair grows back, it curls into your skin instead of away from your skin.
Similar to razor burn, razor bumps can cause tenderness, inflammation, and a red rash.
So, how to avoid these uncomfortable issues;
- Replace your razor or blade frequently and always use a clean sharp blade. A well-sharpened blade will make shaving quicker and you'll be less likely to irritate the surface of the skin. A clean razor is also important to avoid bacteria getting onto your skin and being spread. Rinse your blade frequently during the shaving process to avoid it becoming clogged with shaving products. Make sure to change your blade every 3-5 shaves or foils, if using an electric razor every 12 – 18 months to keep them clean and, well...razor sharp.
- Before wet shaving, apply a lubricant, such as soap or shaving cream. It's worth investing in a good quality shaving product. Cheap products often include parabens, sulphates, alcohols and preservatives. These chemicals not only cause irritation, especially when it comes to sensitive skin, but do nothing to nourish and protect your skin. For the closest of shaves choose a glycerin-based shaving cream or soap over a foam or a gel. Massage the cream into your beard and let it sit for a few minutes to work soften your stubble. Ensure you get the cream right down to the surface of the skin, lifting and suspending the hairs in the cream in readiness for cutting. A good quality lather will provide a protective layer between the blade and your skin, allowing the razor to glide smoothly across the face which will help reduce razor burn and redness and deliver a far more comfortable shave.
- Master your technique. If shaving with a blade always shave in the direction the hair grows. Use slow, careful strokes and move systematically over your face in the direction of the grain, not against it. When you shave against the grain, the blade of the razor tugs at the hair, pulling it away from the skin before slicing through. The pulling of the hair away from the skin increases the risk of ingrown hairs, which can swell up into sore, unsightly razor bumps. With a good foam, and a sharp blade you needn’t press the razor against your skin; go gently and use a light touch. If using an electric razor however, then shave against the grain of the hair.
- Try to shave after a bath or shower. The hot steam opens the skin's pores, and softens the hard bristles of a beard, making shaving easier and more effective. A splash of cool water after shaving will tighten the pores back up again and leave skin feeling softer and refreshed.
- After shave care. Make sure you finish your shave correctly. Rinse your face with clean, cold water as it closes the pores and pat (don’t wipe) your face dry with a soft towel. If you have any nicks or grazes treat them when rinsing to help heal the skin. A good aftershave balm will sooth the skin effectively. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to razor burn then choose one that is alcohol or fragrance free. A good quality post shave balm will close your pores and re-hydrate your skin whilst having a cooling and calming effect. Choose a product that contains naturally based ingredients. Aloe vera, camellia oil, shea butter or tea tree oil are good ingredients to look out for to soothe and calm the skin.
For razor burn, apply a cold wash cloth or lotion with calming ingredients like Aloe Vera to soothe heated or irritated skin and prevent scratching, which can delay healing.
For razor bumps, place a warm towel to the affected area for a few minutes to help encourage the ingrown hairs to break through the skin.
To treat both razor burn and bumps, keep skin well-moisturised to help fight the urge to itch any affected areas.