Shave Smarter: Tips For Preventing Razor Bumps
Shaving is still the most popular hair removal technique in the United States, with 75% of men shaving their face daily and women shaving their legs an average of 12 times per month (source). Unfortunately, the act of shaving can result in nicks, cuts, and razor burn. One of the most cited negative issues resulting from daily shaving is the development of razor bumps.
What are razor bumps?
Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae) are small (usually 1-3mm in size) red bumps that develop along the skin shortly after shaving. They are the result of inflammation and staph bacteria penetrating follicles that have been damaged by the act of shaving. Razor bumps can cause skin irritation, pimples, and scarring.
Razor bumps can occur on any area of the skin. Common places for their development include the neck, armpits, thighs, and bikini area. Razor bumps are most common among people with curly or coiled hair.
What causes razor bumps?
Razor bumps develop after shaving as new re-growing strands of hair curl inward and grow into the skin. These ingrown hairs become trapped under the skin’s surface, resulting in the formation of red and itchy bumps. Puss-filled blisters (pustules) can also develop if bacteria enter the damaged follicle. Razor bumps will most likely subside on their own without intervention.
Tips for preventing razor bumps
The only real way of preventing razor bumps is to avoid shaving (or shave as infrequently as possible). People who already have razor bumps will greatly benefit from not shaving for a few months. In fact, the act of shaving over existing razor bumps often extends their life and can lead to scarring.
Using an alternative hair removal method like waxing or laser hair removal can also help. Laser treatments use infrared light to target pigment in the hair follicles. Laser light converts to heat which causes follicular destruction.
If you have no other option but shaving, these simple tips can help limit razor bumps:
- Cleanse the skin with warm water and a gentle cleanser.
- Always wet the skin with warm water and allow time for the skin to soften. Never shave dry skin!
- Do some simple exfoliating prior to shaving. This will clear the area of dead skin/debris which can help limit clogged pores and follicles.
- Apply a liberal amount of shaving cream to the area and let sit for 5 minutes to soften up the hair.
- Use a new, high quality single-blade razor each time you shave. An electric razor will also work.
- Shave in the direction that your hair grows.
- Rinse the area with warm water after shaving.
- Apply a cold cloth to the area to close up the pores.
- Use a high-quality moisturizing lotion after dry.
Additionally, following a daily skin care regimen can help prevent razor bumps. Between shaving, make sure to:
- Regularly cleanse the skin with a gentle cleanser and warm water.
- Gently exfoliate the area on a weekly basis.
- Moisturize between shaves using a high quality, non-comedogenic product.
- Applying aloe vera, witch hazel, or tea tree oil to the area can also help, especially if the area is irritated.
- Consider doing spa treatments like chemical peels, facials, or microdermabrasion. These treatments can help minimize the appearance of current razor bumps and help prevent any future development.