How to Shave Without Getting Razor Bumps

Razor bumps are common among Africans and Asians because of their hair type. However, there are some best practices that can help reduce the appearance of razor bumps after shaving.

Man shaving with a blunt blade

Razor bumps appear on the skin after shaving when hairs curl back to form ingrown hair. It can occur in any part of the body but mostly in the chin, neck, lower cheeks, groin, and legs.

If you experience razor bumps after shaving, you are not alone - many people do. And many people seek answers on how to shave without getting razor bumps.

Razor bump (also known as red bump) is often used interchangeably with "razor burn," but the terms are slightly different.

While razor burn is a term used to describe irritation and tenderness in the area affected, bumps cause red rashes in the area affected.

Tender, burning, sensations often accompany razor bumps. If you have a razor bump, you will notice solid bumps or papules, lesions filled with pus, and sometimes scars. Some people experience these together, while others might just have one or two symptoms.

In men, bumps appear more in the front of the neck due to the oblique nature and increased density of the hair follicles in the area.

The causes and symptoms of red bumps vary, and almost everyone has experienced these bumps after shaving.

This article will look at what causes red bumps, the meaning of ingrown hairs, and how to shave without getting razor bumps and skin irritation.

What causes red bumps after shaving?

Red bumps normally occur when curly hair gets stuck inside a hair follicle. This happens more with people who have coarse, curled hair. It is also common in people of African and Asian descent.

Shaving on dry skin and not shaving in the direction of hair growth can cause razor bumps (Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels)

While shaving, if you cut the point where the hair grows out of the skin, it is likely to curl back. This, alongside friction, can irritate the skin. When the skin is irritated, it can form itchy rashes and red bumps.

While there is no one standard practice on how to shave, there are some shaving habits that can increase the chances of developing red bumps, such as:

  1. Shaving on dry skin: One of the easiest ways to get a red bump after shaving is shaving without a lubricant, soap, or water. This does not apply to everybody, but shaving on dry skin causes most people to get a red bump.
  2. The direction of your shaving: If you constantly shave against the direction of your hair growth, you might develop a red bump.
  3. Shaving with a blunt razor: Using an old or clogged razor blade for shaving can cause red bumps.
  4. Using the wrong skincare product: Making use of shaving products that don't match your skin is another way to get red bumps.

Meaning of Ingrown Hair

When hair grows into the skin, it is called ingrown hair.

Hairs are meant to grow out of the skin. But, in some cases, when you cut curly hairs short, the other sharp end may pierce into your skin and grow back into the skin instead of away from it.

When hair grows back into the skin, it could cause a boil-like sore or bumps that may have pus inside them. This can be discomforting but often resolves on its own. In rare cases, it can lead to complications such as darkened skin, scarring, or infections.

Shaving is one of the most common causes of ingrown hair. Other things that can cause ingrown hair include waxing or tweezing.

Having ingrown hair after shaving leads to swelling and irritation, swollen bumps, burning, and itching.

10 ways to Avoid Razor bumps and Skin Irritation

It is often difficult to completely avoid razor bumps after shaving. But, here are some proven practices that can help you avoid razor bumps and skin irritation after shaving.

Shaving with sharp blades will help prevent razor bumps (Photo by Nacho Fernandez on Unsplash)

1. Shave with sharp razor blades

Aside from the bumps, shaving with dull razor blades causes a lot of discomfort. You should change your blade once it gets old. In this way, you will protect your skin from bumps after shaving.

2. Wet/hydrate your skin before shaving

When you shave on dry skin, it causes irritation. It is always better to hydrate your skin before shaving. It often helps to wet the area you want to shave for 2-5 minutes before shaving. This helps you to shave smoothly without getting razor bumps.

3. Apply moisture after shaving

As a follow-up after shaving, if you often experience red bumps, always try to moisturize. This will serve as further protection against razor bumps. Getting into the habit of moisturizing after shaving is a sure way of avoiding razor bumps.

4. Don't shave against hair growth

While shaving, you have to move in the direction of the hair growth. This will help prevent irritation and the formation of razor bumps.

5. Exfoliate before shaving

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the body. Removing dead skin cells before shaving will help prevent the formation of razor bumps on the skin. So, find an exfoliating cream or scrub that matches your skin type to help you shave without getting razor bumps.

6. Shave frequently

When you don't shave your hair for a long time, it will grow to the point where it can curl back into the skin. At this point, using razors or other means may not be enough to get it all out, and the ones left behind will tend to curl back into the skin, leading to inflammation. Therefore, shaving frequently is a way of avoiding razor bumps on the skin after shaving.

7. Use electric hair clippers

You can try using electric hair clippers if you often experience bumps on your chin. Electric hair clippers have adjustable guards. With the guards, you can adjust the width and prevent shaving at a close range. Also, it is advised that you leave a minimum of 1mm hair as this will lower the chances of trans and extrafollicular penetration of the growing hair shaft.

8. Avoid stretching the skin while shaving

It has been found that pulling or stretching the skin while shaving causes razor bumps. So, one way to prevent razor bumps after shaving is to avoid pulling your skin while at it.

9. Use aftershave

Finding a good aftershave that soothes your skin will help prevent the appearance of bumps. While choosing an aftershave, remember to consider your skin type.

10. Choose the type of razor blade most suitable for you

Some believe using a razor with three or more blades prevents bumps by providing the closest shave. There is no conclusive proof of whether this works or not. However, dermatologists also recommend using a single-blade safety razor. You can try out different razor types and stick with the one that works for you or speak with your dermatologist for recommendations.

Wrap up

Razor bumps are not only uncomfortable, but they also appear irritable to the eye. However, they are not life-threatening and often resolve on their own.

There is no perfect way of shaving off your hair to prevent razor bumps, but you can try to find what works best for you. Try out the steps outlined in the article on how to shave without getting razor bumps. They will go a long way in preventing future occurrences of razor bumps.

If the bumps and burns persist or get accompanied by scarring, abscess, or red papules, seek medical care by consulting your dermatologist.

References

  1. Adenola, Ogunbiyi (2019). Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment option
  2. Gray, J., and McMicheal, AJ. (2016). Pseudofolliculitis barbae: understanding the condition and the role of facial grooming.
  3. Marcelyn, K. and Andrew, F. (2009). Dermatologic conditions in men of African ancestry
  4. Vogt, A. and Urlike, B. (2015). Biology of the hair follicle