It happened again. You shaved, and now your face and neck have broken out in red splotches and angry ingrown hairs. It’s no wonder that so many men choose to grow out their beards rather than shave regularly!
But you shouldn’t let a fear of breaking out or irritating your skin keep you from getting a smooth shave if that’s what you prefer. Instead, use a few tried and true tips for easing the burn and preventing it in the future.
1. Use the Right Products
If you’re buying 99 cent razors and shaving creams, stop right now. Those with tough, non-irritable skin might be able to get away with buying cheap products, but most need to spend a little more money.
Start with a high-quality shaving cream. Go for products that soothe and moisturize the skin at the same time. The best creams will be less foamy and more creamy when you lather. This helps the blade move more smoothly across the skin. If you have particularly sensitive skin, try a good shave butter.
Choosing the right razor is also integral to your success. Experiment with different razors to see which has the best effect. If you’ve been using a two-blade cartridge razor, try a more expensive version; up it to five-blades or try a safety razor. For many, the careful technique required when using a safety razor improves their shave significantly.
2. Replace Your Razor Often
Replace your razor often in order to minimize skin irritation. A dull blade will cause more nicking and tugging, increasing redness and ingrown hairs. You’ve probably heard some say that you should change razors every 10 shaves while others say it’s every three. But the number of shaves isn’t as important as the feel.
“When it comes down to it, there is no set number, though at the first sign of any tugging, discomfort, or rust forming on the blades, pick up a new one immediately to avoid any unwanted nicks,” suggests Marianne Mychaskiw of InStyle, recommending that you can extend the life of your razor by keeping it clean and dry.
3. Shower First
When your skin is cold, it creates goosebumps, which increases the likelihood of the blade nicking your skin or dragging against it, creating razor burn. A hot, steamy shower can eliminate this problem.
Additionally, the warm water will moisturize and soften your hair and skin. This means there will be less tension on the blade, so you won’t end up with skin irritation.
4. Shave with the Grain
You might have discovered that if you shave against the grain, you can cut your shaving time in half and get a closer shave. However, the result is razor burn, ingrown hairs, and damaged hair follicles.
“To avoid accidentally going against the changing directions of growth, always use short, gentle strokes, letting the razor glide over your skin without applying too much pressure,” advises Ryan Bailey in a Men’sHealth article. “Trust me, you might not necessarily get a closer shave but you most certainly will get a more comfortable one.”
5. Lighten Up
Pushing too hard as you shave can also cause razor burn. You don’t have to press hard to speed up your shaving time or get a better shave. Doing so will only increase irritation.
If you’re having a hard time lightening your hold, try a vibrating razor handle that makes it difficult for you to press hard as you shave.
6. Have a Good Skincare Regimen
So much of how your skin reacts to your shave is dependent on how well you take care of your skin in the first place. It’s not uncommon for guys to skip proper skin treatment during their hygiene routines, but if you want a good shave, you’ll do it right.
According to an article written by Zane Anthony, writer and editor at Yale University, adjusting your skincare regime for shave day is one of the best things you can do for a great shave. He suggests using a quality cleanser, avoiding toners on shave days, and moisturizing.
“I always double cleanse before I shave, as is advised,” he says, stressing the importance of moisturizing before and after a shave. “I will often repeat it after an hour has passed to ensure maximum absorption.”
He also says you should wait a few days to exfoliate your skin before and after shaving. “In my experience, the exfoliation step ought to be skipped altogether during shave days, as the use of a safety-blade razor is a form of intense exfoliation in its own right.”
If you do end up with razor burn after applying these tips, there are simple ways to soothe the burn. Wait a few days before trying again. With experimentation on techniques and products, you can eventually avoid the burn every time you shave.