Anyone who’s shaved has, dare we say it, experienced the joys of razor burn. Yes, we’re referring to those unsightly red bumps that appear on your skin after a dry shave, a shave that’s perhaps a bit too harsh, or one in which you used dull blades.
Note that razor bumps and razor burn are not one and the same. Razor burn is irritated skin. Razor bumps are caused by ingrown hairs. But both are manageable.
“Razor burn is often confused with some other conditions associated with shaving. One can get ingrown hairs, including a specific type of ingrown hairs called pseudofolliculitis barbae (PB),” says Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
He goes on to add that “PB is a condition in which those with curly hair have the tips of the hairs grow back into the skin. These can cause numerous red bumps on the skin, especially in the neck area. For some, the only option is to grow a short beard. One way to tell if you have razor burn or ingrown hairs is if you notice that little hairs pop out from under the skin of the bumps several days later, it was an ingrown hair. Razor burn, however, appears immediately, meaning the same day, after shaving.”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should wet your skin and hair to soften it before shaving. In fact, the best time to shave is usually after a shower, when your skin is already moist and clean. Use shaving cream appropriate for your skin type. Shave in the direction of hair growth, which is a key step in preventing razor burn. And rinse after each swipe of the razor, and throw the blade away after using it 5-7 times, if you’re into disposable ones. And never use soap to shave, cautions Fenton, because it “will dry the skin out, the opposite of what you want.”
You want to moisturize after shaving. And if that’s not enough, “You can apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream after you shave to soothe the skin. If this isn’t sufficient, a dermatologist can prescribe something stronger. However, you can’t use a strong topical steroid on a daily basis, as it can cause side effects,” says Fenton.
Great, now we know how to hopefully prevent razor burn. But what about getting rid of it when you already have it? These products should help.
The Cool Fix is a soothing, cooling blue gel that immediately calms down your skin post-shave.
Pros: You apply this gel immediately after shaving, for immediate calmness. It helps reduce ingrown hairs, razor bumps, razor burn, and redness. It’s like an ice pack for your face. Glycolic acid to exfoliates and salicylic acid to clear pores.
Cons: Do a patch test first, because some say it really burns.
This product exfoliates to help prevent ingrown hairs, has a gentle astringent in it to help fight blemishes and acne, and it moisturizes your skin.
Pros: This aftershave serum, which contains ginger root and black walnut, is meant to be used after you shave to prevent razor burn, soothe ingrown hairs and reduce redness and inflammation for softer, smoother skin.
Cons: Do a patch test first, again, because some say it’s sticky and can leave a burning sensation.
The original, tried-and-true ingrown hair buster. When you apply a thin coat of Tend Skin after shaving, you reduce the appearance of ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
Pros: You can use this product both before and after shaving. Using it pre-shave helps you have bump-free skin after you shave. Using it post-shave will calms down your skin, reducing irritation.
Cons: It can be too harsh for sensitive, delicate skin and can also be overly drying.
We love Jack Black's formula because it's oil-free and acts as an astringent for oily and acne-prone skin.
Pros: Jack Black has created what could be the ultimate solution to razor burn. You get a powerful combination of lactic acid and salicylic acid to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, plus you dissolve the pore-clogging face oils that cause acne and blackheads.
Cons: Because it’s oil-free, this product is best for acne-prone and oily skin.
If you have a tough beard, don't hack away at it. Instead, use The Art of Shaving's pre-shave oil to soften your facial hair.
Pros: This luxurious oil softens the beard before you shave, thereby prepping your skin for a closer and more comfortable shave. It doesn’t leave an oily residue, and calms and soothes your skin.
Cons: It’s pricey, and goes on too thick for some tastes.
This popular Italian brand has created a pre-shave cream that preps your skin. Eucalyptus oil and menthol cleanse and tone, and leave your visage refreshed.
Pros: This pre-shave cream is the brand’s hero product. It’s suitable for any beard or skin type, and works by softening stubble and improving the skin’s elasticity for a nice, smooth shave. Plus, its cooling ingredients leave your skin feeling awake.
Cons: Some people really, really do not like the smell.
This is a nourishing post-shave moisturizer for men with aloe extract and allantoin to help deal with post-shaving skin irritation.
Pros: The key ingredients in this post-shave moisturizer are tea tree oil, menthol and glycerin. So you get an alcohol-free moisturizer that helps cool the skin, and prevent ingrown hairs.
Cons: It’s not great for oily skin.
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