The best part about shaving is the smooth, silky feel it gives your skin. So, it's annoying when your skin breaks out in small, irritating bumps soon after shaving.
Razor bumps are a common side effect of shaving any area of skin. But there are things you can do to speed up the healing process of razor bumps. Even better, there are things you can do to prevent them from happening at all.
Also known as "barber's itch," razor bumps are small bumps that appear on the skin after shaving. The medical name for razor bumps is pseudofolliculitis barbae. Typically red, they can be irritating and painful.
Razor bumps can appear in any area you shave, including the face, legs, groin and underarms. In severe cases, the red spots can fill with pus and have a blister-like appearance. This happens most commonly in sensitive areas with folds of skin, such as the bikini line.
The root cause of razor bumps is ingrown hairs. After shaving, the ends of the hair sit right at the skin's surface. The hair becomes trapped by dead or new skin cells growing over it. The hair then grows inward underneath the skin instead of up and out. The ingrown hair causes a bump; if the hair follicle becomes infected, pus forms around it.
Razor bumps are more likely to occur with thick hair than with fine hair. The skin around thicker hair produces more oil than fine hair, so it's easier for the hair follicle to become clogged and drive the hair to grow inward.
Razor bumps usually clear up on their own after a few days. Severe cases can take up to two weeks to clear. If a bump becomes badly infected, it can take longer to heal and even leave a scar.
If you shave regularly, such as daily facial shaving, running a razor over existing bumps can irritate the skin even further.
Applying heat and moisture to the area helps the pores open up and gives the hair space to grow in the right direction. The heat also draws the ingrown hairs to the surface and helps them break through the skin.
Take a washcloth and wet it under the faucet. The water should be hot without being painful to hold against the skin. Hold the washcloth against the skin for five minutes. The warm compress is particularly effective in combination with other treatments, such as exfoliation.
Exfoliation helps clear away any dead skin cells causing the ingrown hairs. However, it's important to be gentle when exfoliating. Going too hard with an exfoliation technique can lead to further irritation.
Choose an exfoliating cleanser that is gentle on the skin. Avoid using exfoliating products on sensitive areas, such as the bikini line.
You can also use a skin care brush to exfoliate the skin gently. Choose a soft brush and move it over the skin in the direction of hair growth.
Salicylic acid is an ingredient in many skin care products, such as cleansers, peels and toners. It is a beta hydroxy acid and is highly effective at removing dead skin cells and other debris. Salicylic acid clears the skin without the need for rough exfoliation.
Using salicylic acid cleanser on razor bumps helps unclog your pores and reduce inflammation, thereby speeding up the healing of your razor bumps.
Keeping your skin clean and hydrated is one of the best ways to clear up razor bumps quickly. Moisturizing the skin keeps it supple and allows the ingrown hairs to break through faster.
Look for a moisturizer with soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera or tea tree oil. The properties of these ingredients speed up the healing process and reduce redness and irritation.
Using the right tools helps prevent razor bumps by reducing the wear and tear on your skin during shaving. For example, the design of men's razors provides a close shave on the face. Women's razors are designed to remove hair on larger areas like the legs effectively.
Use razors specifically designed for the area of skin you're shaving. For example, use a bikini razor for the areas in and around the groin. For shaving your face, a high-quality razor makes a world of difference to the finish you achieve.
Dull razors are less effective at cutting hair, so you may need to go over the same area multiple times to achieve a smooth finish. This repetitive shaving irritates the skin and makes razor bumps more likely.
Your razor blades should always be clean. Rinse all hair and product from a razor after using it. Dry the razor after use and store it somewhere away from water. Leaving a razor somewhere damp, like the shower, allows bacteria to grow on the blades. The next time you shave, bacteria from the blade can transfer to the skin and contribute to razor bumps.
Shaving against the direction of hair growth often leads to a smoother finish. However, pulling the hair away from the direction of growth can cause the hair to curl under the skin's surface, leading to razor bumps.
Make sure to shave in the same direction as your hair grows out of the skin. You can still achieve a smooth and long-lasting shave with a high-quality razor and a sharp razor blade.
Clinique for Men Aloe Shave Gel
This gel becomes a soothing cream when applied to the skin for shaving. While it's marketed for men's facial shaving, it works just as well for the legs and other areas.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty
Use this gel on its own or add it to your favorite moisturizer for extra post-shave soothing. The aloe vera gel also contains manuka honey and tea tree oil to calm irritation and promote skin hydration.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.