Shaving with perfect execution can leave a man’s face looking clean, professional, and mature. Getting a nice, smooth shave every time can elevate his perceived credibility and sharpen his appearance.
But if you find redness and red razor bumps littering your face like terrible teenager acne, it can conversely lead your appearance more in the direction of looking immature, rough, and even unkept.
Here are 10 razor bumps treatments and prevention techniques that really work, compiled here just for men who want to step up their smooth shaving game.
What Causes Razor Bumps?
Razor bumps appear when the shaved hair starts to grow back and gets caught inside the skin at the hair follicle. The hair is then trapped and forms a red bump in the place of the hair follicle.
Razor bumps’ scientific name, pseudofolliculitis barbae, make them sound even more unseemly than they already are. These red raised spots and ingrown hairs that appear after shaving or at the hair follicle are not exactly easy to blame on one small mistake, nor are they easy to get rid of in an instant. Not only can razor bumps start to appear as regular acne or even add unwanted fire to regular acne, they can also be painful and prevent you from being able to shave the next time.
The causes are mainly attributed to the hair growing in the wrong direction, lack of proper exfoliation, and skin irritation through the process of shaving. The vicious cycle evolves as the razor bumps get shaved over and the skin gets more irritated, dry skin accumulates, and impurities get trapped. Sounds like a nightmare, but luckily there are lots of ideas to solve razor bump difficulties and prevent them in the future.
Summary of Causes:
- Hair growing in the wrong direction
- Improper exfoliation
- Irritated skin
- Trapped impurities
- Using the wrong shaving products or razors
- Improper shaving habits
Razor Bumps Prevention and Treatment
1. Stop Shaving for a Little While
Because razor bumps are actually hairs that have ingrown through the skin in the wrong direction, treatment can be tricky to begin immediately after they appear. Shaving the next day after ingrown hairs start to form can cause the skin to break and the razor bumps can even get infected, everyone’s worst nightmare.
The first step in razor bumps treatment is to decide on a routine change that you want to make and then waiting a few days for the bumps to dissipate rather than trying to implement the change on top of your aggravated skin. Waiting between shaves is always a sure bet because the hairs will eventually grow out enough to correct themselves and you can start over shaving in the correct direction with new shaving techniques that can help prevent and treat the bumps.
The best razor bumps treatment is actually razor bumps prevention and overall shaving style change.
2. Use Quality Shaving Products
If your razor bumps are in their early stages, not infected yet, and simply annoying, the first thing to try is changing up your shaving products. Before seeking specific razor bumps treatment, it is recommended that men with ingrown hairs plaguing their faces try higher quality shaving products and razors that are more moisturizing, lubricating, and soothing or otherwise specifically aimed to prevent razor bumps.
Aloe vera, which has anti-inflammatory properties, can sooth the skin to help reduce the redness and swelling that occurs after shaving. Properly lathering products with great lubrication can help the hairs be stripped away smoothly in a single direction so they don’t grow back in the wrong direction. For example, Boldnine’s new Shave While You Wash shaving cream and cleansing duo product contains aloe vera and glycerin to help with gentle lubrication, anti-inflammatory functions, and soothing.
Another great razor bumps prevention method to try is replacing razors more often. This simple change can also make a world of difference because new razors can slice the hairs more smoothly in a single direction with the grain of the hair in one swipe. Not only that, but the clean, new razor is less likely to have impurities that could contribute to your razor bumps becoming infected. Razor bumps prevention is second only to infected razor bumps prevention.
For more guidance on how to choose shaving products and tips for using each one, check out our All About Men’s Shaving Products article.
3. Correct Shaving Direction
Razor bumps prevention is often as simple as shaving in the right direction. In trying to achieve the smoothest and closest shave possible, many men have no choice but to shave in all directions or shave against the natural direction, known as the grain, of the hair.
Shaving against the grain might work in the short run and look great for a day, but if the super-short hair follicles are now pulled in the wrong direction underneath the skin, they are much more likely to be trapped and cause razor bumps to appear afterwards.
Going over each area only once rather than in several swipes can reduce the irritation and help with razor bumps prevention. Shaving downwards in the direction your hair naturally wants grow can help the hair start growing back in the direction it is meant to. It will be easier to shave the next time because the hairs are free and the follicles stay healthier without impurities trapped in them.
Another razor bumps prevention method is using single-blade razors. Contrary to the rules for getting the closest shave possible, using razors that achieve less of a close shave can actually be beneficial because the hair doesn’t even have the opportunity to grow back through the skin if it is longer to begin with. Going for less of a close shave or shaving less often and embracing the sexy stubble look (like Geralt in the new Witcher series is popularizing) can actually be a great idea for those who suffer from chronic, stubborn razor bumps.
But for those who find that waiting for hair to grow back is not an option and want a more quick solution, helping the process go along a little faster is an option. A common razor bumps treatment that helps relieve existing razor bumps more immediately is proper and careful exfoliation. This method must be used in moderation and carefully because over-scrubbing can worsen the symptoms of razor bumps and cause them to even get infected. Exfoliation can worsen the symptoms if overdone or if the razor bumps are already very irritated and combined with razor burn.
Therefore, it is often better to engage in razor bumps prevention methods first and try out new shaving techniques before trying exfoliation. However, if done correctly, exfoliation can rid the skin of trapped impurities and buried hair by relieving the outer layer of skin so the hair follicle can be free to grow back in a healthy way.
Getting rid of dry skin using gentle sugar masks that are applied and massaged lightly can help. For razor bumps treatment, look for a pore cleansing grainy mask that has ingredients that say they draw out impurities from the pores. In addition to masks and exfoliating cleansers that are the most common methods of exfoliating, there are also skin brushes.
Skin brushes are specially designed to be gently run across the skin to encourage natural healing processes and increase circulation while exfoliating the skin. They can be used before or after shaving and ideally before the razor bumps start to appear. The body then responds by healing and correcting the razor bumps before they become irritated on their own.
It is very important to remember that irritation can cause your razor bumps to worsen, so be gentle and work up to exfoliating thoroughly when attempting razor bumps treatments. Use sterilized tools and clean hands. Pick exfoliators that help draw out impurities, oil, and bacteria. Never pick at the razor bumps with your fingers and if they worsen or show signs of infection, consult your doctor for more guidance.
Speaking of focusing on preventing impurities in razor bumps treatment, it is important to keep your razor bumps as clean as possible. With razor bumps comes the risk of getting impurities trapped in the irritated and three-dimensional roughness of the skin that occurs. The last thing you want is your ingrown hairs getting infected, so when you exfoliate make sure to equally use good cleansers to keep the skin impurity-free.
Getting rid of excess oil can make all the difference and help clear acne and other skin imperfections at the same time. Cleansing while shaving can save you time and help prevent razor bumps all at once by reducing inflammation and helping encourage impurities to be pulled and washed away by the razor and your final rinse. Reducing the inflammation that occurs after shaving and reducing razor burn can be a great method of razor bump prevention because it keeps the skin smooth so the hair can grow out properly.
6. Salicylic acid
Like with acne, razor bumps treatment can include using exfoliating and redness-reducing ingredients like salicylic acid. Acne products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help reduce bumps caused by shaving as well as acne because they help exfoliate and reduce redness as well as reducing sebum secretion that traps impurities. Many acne creams also contain anti-inflammatory formulas that will surprisingly help in similar ways. Both acne and razor bumps appear as they are because they are both the body’s response to something it deems unsafe in the skin. Therefore, the use of similar solutions can yield surprisingly great results.
7. Great moisturizer and aftershave
Despite not being the most obvious form of razor bumps treatments, great moisturizer and aftershave can help with making sure the skin is soothed in between shaves. A huge reason razor bumps look so grotesque is because the redness and inflammation are a man’s body’s response to the hair that is curling inwards.
The body tries to protect from the foreign object in the skin (that is really just one’s own hair) and therefore triggers inflammation and causes itchiness and irritation as a sign that something isn’t right. This response by the body is annoyingly counterproductive because the hair can then get adversely more trapped than before. This unfortunate phenomenon makes it very important to calm down razor bump infested skin and smooth out the body’s three-dimensional responses.
When searching for products that provide razor bumps treatment action, make sure you’re looking for the most soothing ingredients that reduce redness and inflammation and that are good for your skin’s overall health. Look for aftershaves that contain quality ingredients that are designed to help prevent razor bumps from forming. Moisturizers like Boldnine’s Energy On Your Face can also help soothe irritated skin and reduce redness.
If you suffer from a few razor bumps that have visible ingrown hairs trapped under mildly irritated skin, one razor bumps treatment technique is to actually pluck away the hairs that are growing out incorrectly. Especially if the hair is poking out and easy to get a hold of with tweezers, it can be a great way to solve the problem directly and allow the skin some time to calm down until the hair grows back again.
Plucking lasts much longer than shaving before the hair starts to grow back, so it can be a good option for smaller problemed areas or to get at ingrown hairs that are growing back into he skin after they’ve grown out a bit (such as for men with medium length beards or stubble). Though plucking can be painful at first, with a little practice the body learns to accept the action and it will become less painful after a few tries.
The most important thing to remember when plucking is to always use clean tweezers. Quality tweezers can be boiled or disinfected before use for the best results. Try not to dig into the razor bumps or break the skin because it may cause further irritation and always be gentle.
9. Antibiotic and Prescription Creams
With ingrown hairs can easily come infections and a vicious cycle of the condition worsening with more and more shaving irritation. If your condition worsens or is chronic, make sure you consult a doctor or dermatologist that can help with more serious cases. They may prescribe antibiotic creams that can fight your infections or creams like hydrocortisone that are powerful in reducing inflammation and redness or stronger acne medications that could help with razor bumps such as tretinoin.
Many men who suffer from ingrown hair irritation who are doing everything in their power to execute a clean and consistent shaving routine may think that they are helpless in their plight.
However, with new razor-bump-fighting technology in skincare, more permanent solutions and creative fixes are available. Make sure you’re using the best and newest technology to prevent razor bumps and keep trying until you find what’s best for you.
Make sure you give it some time with any new product if you don’t see any changes right away because razor bumps often take time to dissipate. With good quality ingredients and the right combination of gentle exfoliation, cleansing, and soothing, every man can say goodbye to the vicious cycle of razor bumps.
Katerina Tsatsomeros, PR manager