If you wet shave for some time now, there’s a good chance you’ve had a razor bump at least once in your life.
Noone likes them and noone wants them.
The even more frustrating thing is that these annoying bumps can basically happen even when you’re careful while shaving.
Even though razor bumps aren’t dangerous they can be quite a nuisance. They fill up with pus and cause irritation. It’s not the best thing to look at, not to mention, to actually have them on your face.
We can already conclude that we don’t want them and we don’t need them.
On today’s article, we’ll find out how to get rid of razor bumps and make your skin appear normal again. In addition, we’ll discuss about shaving techniques to reduce the chances of getting razor bumps in the future and finally, we’ll check out a few products that can help you cure razor bumps nice and easy.
But before that, it’s important to get a better understanding what razor bumps are and how they actually happen.
Let’s take it step by step.
What is razor bump?
Razor bumps are more common in people with curly hair; however, they can happen to anybody who shaves regularly.
They can be easily caused due to wrong shaving which causes the hair to curl back and re-enter the skin.
Not only are they annoying but they also look awful. Nothing to worry about though, we’ve all been there.
Sometimes these bumps fill with pus and constant scratching may end up opening the bump and allowing the pus to exit which can cause more bacteria and infections.
When one experiences razor bumps, it’s best to treat it right away rather than waiting and making it worse because having razor bumps causes irritation and incessant scratching. If you scratch you may risk opening the bumps which can lead to infections.
Fortunately, there’s a broad range of products and remedies available to make sure we don’t face such issues.
In fact, not only do mainstream products help get rid of razor bumps but they also help prevent them in the first place.
The health of your skin, the quality of your tools and the maintenance of these tools are important factors to be understood and taken into consideration before shaving.
How do razor bumps happen?
There are various reasons why someone might suffer from razor bumps but the majority is due to the preparation, the form of shaving and not using the right tools.
My barber once told me that to avoid razor bumps the best thing you can do is to shave in the same manner every time by following a thorough wet shaving preparation.
How to prevent razor bumps
The shaving routine
Use the razor slowly and without applying too much pressure. This may also irritate the skin and cause swelling or ingrown hair.
Make sure that you use a proper shaving cream instead of foams and gels and let it settle on your skin. Once your hair is soft enough and you have enough lather on your skin, you may start shaving.
Adjusting your angle instead of pulling your skin is considered to be a better option while shaving because too much pulling might end up shaving too hard and causing those nasty bumps again.
By the end of this article, I include a step by step guide to shave properly and avoid razor bumps.
Showering and Cleanliness
Showering in the mornings with hot water also makes way to clean pores thoroughly and remove all the bacteria which is stuck in our skin.
When showering with hot water use softening type soaps to make your rough beard softer. This will help during shaving as soft hair follicles are easier to shave off and thus don’t leave any mark.
Hot water automatically opens up the bumps and clears the bacteria that clog the pores. After opening up the pores and cleaning out the bacteria and dirt in your skin pores, use cold water to close the pores again.
Exfoliating is also one of the things you should do.
Men who have ingrown hairs must exfoliate in order to improve the skin’s surface. This can be easily done by buying a face scrub that contains salicylic acid.
Direction of shaving
As I mentioned before, a major reason for razor bumps is the way you shave.
Proper direction is important because if your hair is growing from left to right and you shave right to left it can cause the hair to curl and cause it to re-enter the skin resulting in ingrown hair.
Make sure you shave with the grain across your face so that you avoid stressing your facial hair on different direction. That being said, make sure that the blade is sharp enough so that it slices the hair instead of cutting it by slowly damaging it.
This point may seem peculiar but it is especially important when talking about ingrown hair and razor bumps.
Keeping your shaving brush clean
Keeping your shaving brush clean is also a big part though it may not seem to be so.
Before you use your brush make sure it is perfectly clean as constant use of the shaving brush can leave behind bacteria which can also irritate the skin and cause razor bumps and more.
Always leave your brush wet with water facing down so that it dries up and also maintains its shape instead of having the bristles haywire.
The type of products
Pre-shave oils/Shaving creams
Using a good pre-shave oil will add another layer of protection by moisturizing the skin and getting the hair to stand straighter off the skin.
The straighter it is, the less likely it is to curl and cause ingrown hair/form bumps.
Using a good quality shaving cream to work up a thick lather over the hair is another way to avoid razor bumps. The best quality shaving creams are the ones which are glycerin-based and they normally contain aqua, stearic acid, myristic acid, coconut oil, sodium hydroxides and triethanolamine.
It is better to avoid shaving creams that include benzocaine and menthol as those are pore-clogging.
A shaving cream alternative is shaving soaps. Most soaps build rich lather that gives your skin the protection needed and adds extra lubricity to your face so that the razor cuts the hair easier.
If you’re looking to learn more about shaving soaps you can also visit our relevant article where I talk about the best shaving soap you can buy and the criteria to consider before getting one.
The thing to remember is not looking for an oil or cream that smells good but one which has the proper ingredients to protect you against dry skin and razor bumps.
The top dog of all the tools is your razor, so make sure you don’t cheap out on your razor. Αlso make sure that you maintain its cleanliness and dryness when not being used.
Always make sure to clean your razor before and after you shave.
Sometimes due to excessive hair it makes it necessary to clean your blade at regular intervals because a blade with hairs trapped in them makes it difficult to get a clean shave.
Always use a razor that has a sharp blade and enough space between the blades to avoid your hairs from getting trapped in between because excessive friction also irritates the skin and causes razor bumps.
If you want to get a razor that is ideal for sensitive skin and minimizing the chances of razor bumps, prefer safety razors over cartridge razors.
Safety razors have one sharp blade to cut the hair while having enough space between the razor head and the blade. This space allows the lather and the cut hair to go through the razor without getting clogging. This hair is the one that would otherwise irritate your skin.
If you want any safety razor recommendation, go ahead and check out our review of the best safety razors.
Cartridge razors on the other hand, contain many blades which don’t necessarily shave successfully. The first blades cut the hair while the others scrape the skin. The repetitive stroke of the razor on the face may also twist the hair causing a razor bump.
The shaving brush
Shaving brush is more important than you think in your quest of razor-bump-free shave.
Besides building lather with shaving soap or cream, shaving brush is useful when it comes to exfoliating the skin and massaging the face.
By swirling the brush on your face, you remove dead skin cells, clean the face and lastly, make the lather reach deep in your hair roots. Your face is clean, and your beard soft, ready to be shaved.
If you suffer from razor bumps, I would highly advise a shaving brush with boar or horse hair. These two tend to have better backbone than badger and synthetic which leads to better exfoliation when you swirl the brush on your face.
If you need further help deciding what brush to choose, read our previous article on the best shaving brush. There you’ll find all types of brushes and how to choose one.
Using an Alum Block
Alum block is a bar that kind of looks like a soap, but can be used as a blood coagulant.
This product can be bought online or at any shaving store and is very effective compared to cold water for closing pores.
This alum block is also an antiseptic so if you nick yourself during your shave just wet the bar and apply it on the cut to clean it immediately.
On of the main reasons for razor bumps to even exists is due to our facial hair getting caught between the follicle or that it grows the other way back into the skin. This is what causes the swelling, redness and irritation.
Aftershave is important as it prevents infections and kills bacteria.
You may want to choose a fragrance you like so as to use the product more often but make sure you buy an aftershave balm that is alcohol-free if you are sensitive to aftershaves.
The secret ingredient is Salicylic Acid, this ingredient will moisturize, exfoliate and clear the pores thus avoiding infections and razor bumps.
Products to help you cure razor bumps
Make sure you shave regularly and not only your beard but also your private parts and underarms.
Shaving regularly makes your hair used to being removed and thus will gradually stop getting irritated and cause ingrown hairs.
For people who are looking for just the right products I have mentioned my personal list of products which I have been using to achieve the smoothest shave without facing any razor bump issues.
This shaving cream is one of my favorites.
It protects and comforts sensitive skin. The cream is useful for protecting your skin against razor irritation and adds great lubrication so that the razor glides nicely on your face without any problems.
If you’re looking for a shaving cream that provides you with a comfortable and close shave at that price, look no further. This is one of the best products to prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
It can be used daily without having to worry about any side-effects. It is also non-comedogenic which means that it will never clog pores.
Although I wouldn’t recommend cartridge razors if you suffer from razor bumps, this cartridge razor probably the best.
It gives you a really close shave without any irritation while having enough space between the blades.
I have been using this razor for many years and it’s always my go-to razor when travelling by plane.
The DE89 from Edwin Jagger is one of my favorite safety razors.
A high quality razor that many characterise it as an entry level although it’s perfect for any level or experience with a safety razor. Either you’re a beginner or highly experienced wet shaver, this razor doesn’t leave anyone unsatisfied and should be an integral part of your very best shaving set.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘good things come in small packages’?
Well, that’s the case with Pacific Shaving, the best product for reducing bumps and cuts for a cleaner and better shave.
Honestly, I found this product a bit pricey but after using it, you understand why it is so.
The primary components of this oil are a mix of natural oils, that give you a great protection layer between your skin and the razor.
What is surprising about this product is that it creates a nice way to set your hair up and protect your skin while shaving, while maintaining a refreshing fragrance and healing the dryness under the beard.
At this price is probably the best shaving brush you can get.
It has a proper gentleman club type look with that beautiful silver handle. The bristles have good backbone although they are a bit stiff in the beginning. If you use it on daily basis, they will start blossoming and become softer giving you a great lathering experience.
The bristles almost feels like being at a barber’s shop every time I use this brush.
The classic Old Spice aftershave won’t set you back by a lot and I don’t really think there is much needed to be said about this brand.
Old spice gives you the best quality and most masculine fragrance too. Well known high-quality brand that you can trust.
If you currently wear a beard and you’re looking to shave it off (I wouldn’t recommend it thought 🙂 ), a beard trimmer is ideal to shorten the beard at the level that allows you to shave it off.
This beard trimmer is the best option out there. This baby is one of the cheapest products for the performance that you get.
It is one of the most advanced rechargeable batteries out there, charge it for less than an hour and you can use it for hours.
The box comes with every type of manual available out there to teach you the proper manner of using this device.
The interchangeable heads are just amazing; there is the trimmer head, t-blade head, dual shaver head and the detailed head. Each one giving you different results depending on what you prefer.
The blades are great and give you one of the sharpest looks if only that you maintain and take care of the device. Also, it comes with those cool LED lights.
How to prevent and get rid of razor bumps step by step
1. Clean your face
Make sure you clean your face thoroughly before start shaving with a face wash that doesn’t dry up your skin and cleans deeply. Exfoliate if needed.
You can also consider taking a shower before you shave so that your face is clean and the facial hair softer. This way your shave will be more comfortable
Build lather with a shaving brush and shaving soap or cream.
Use a shaving bowl to do so and once you build the perfect lather, apply it on your face by swirling the brush. After you covered your face with a few swirls, start painting moves so that you direct the hair towards the direction you want to shave (HINT: with the grain).
Use a safety razor and start shaving with the grain. Even though you might be tempted to shave across or against the grain for smoother shave, don’t fall into that trap as you might cause razor burns and razor bumps.
A very important thing to remember is to not make any strokes on unlathered skin as this will irritate your skin. Make one pass and if needed, repeat the lathering and shaving process once more.
4. Aftershave care
Once you’re done shaving, make sure you wash off the lather and the cut hair very well until your skin is absolutely clean.
Towel dry your face and once every single drop of water has been absorbed, apply the aftershave balm. Prefer one with no alcohol if your skin is overly sensitive.
Massage a small amount of aftershave balm into your skin until your skin absorbs it.
Don’t apply the aftershave on skin that has water on it as this will dilute the aftershave and it won’t be absorbed by the skin easily.
If you got a razor bump, apply a razor bump cream to help your skin heal.
5. Maintain your shaving tools properly
Now that you’ve done everything to either prevent or get rid of razor bumps, make sure you clean your shaving tools properly with water. Leave them to dry and make sure your shaving brush is dry and hanged from the handle rather than placed with the handle down.
The main thing we all must understand that our form of shaving and the tools we use are really important but not as important as maintaining good quality skin.
If our skin is in bad condition is makes it easier for the bacteria to enter and cause infections.
The razor bumps on our skin mostly occur due to the poor health of the skin. If we have smooth skin the hairs are healthy and thus shaving won’t cause ingrown hair.
Go down to your nearest shop now and buy the most suitable products for your skin to say goodbye to razor bumps for good.
Main image courtesy: dolgachov/BigStock.com