Saturday, December 9, 2023

How to Reduce Ingrown Hairs and Razor Bumps When You Shave


Ingrown hairs and razor bumps are common shaving issues that can leave skin irritated and inflamed. For those looking to achieve a close, comfortable shave without unwanted side effects, learning proper shaving techniques and aftercare is key.

The days of red, irritated, bumpy skin after shaving are over with the right techniques. By understanding what causes ingrown hairs and razor bumps, using proper shaving habits, exfoliating regularly, moisturizing, and allowing time between shaves, smooth comfortable skin is attainable for everyone. You’re on your way to irritation-free shaves!

What causes ingrown hairs and razor bumps

Ingrown hairs occur when the sharpened tip of a shaved hair grows back into the skin instead of up and out. This causes inflammation and possible infection. Curly and coarse hair is especially prone to growing ingrown.

Razor bumps, on the other hand, crop up when the act of shaving itself causes irritation. They form when the razor cutting close to the skin triggers inflammation, causing small red bumps. This frequently occurs along the neck and jawline.

Both ingrown hairs and razor bumps are unsightly and can be painful if left untreated. Being aware of what leads to their development is the first step toward eliminating them for good.

Use proper shaving techniques

Employing proper shaving techniques are critical for preventing ingrown hairs and razor bumps in the first place. Following these habits help achieve a close, irritation-free shave. Preventing problems in the first place is the best approach. Here are some tips for good shaving habits:

man in glasses
Photo courtesy Rui Silvestre
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against. Going against the grain lifts hairs away from the skin, causing irritation when cut.
  • Use a sharp, high-quality razor. Dull blades tug at hair instead of cutting cleanly, leaving ends jagged and prone to growing ingrown.
  • Shave with a light touch. Pressing too firmly scrapes skin and contributes to bumps.
  • Before shaving, soak a towel in warm water and gently rub it on the surface area. You can use a heated towel rack or any best towel warmer you can find as an alternative. The heat opens pores and allows for a smoother shave. 
  • Apply a lubricating shave product. Creams, gels, or oils protect the skin and help the blade glide.
  • Stretch skin taut when shaving trouble spots. This lifts hairs so they are cleanly cut.
  • Rinse blade frequently to prevent buildup.

Use an exfoliating scrub before and after shaving

Regularly exfoliating the skin before and after shaving is a key way to prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells on the surface and clears away debris from pores.

When shaving, exfoliating first removes dull buildup so hairs are easy to cut smoothly. It also exposes trapped hairs about to become ingrown. Exfoliating after shaving then whisks away extra cells and oils that could clog pores, allowing new hairs to emerge naturally.

A woman bathes in nature
A woman bathes in nature | Photo courtesy Taryn Elliott

Look for gentle face scrubs with scrubbing beads or a small grit texture. Use them 2-3 times a week before shaving, and be sure to apply gently. Over-exfoliating can cause irritation. After shaving, using a soft washcloth to gently scrub can exfoliate as well.

Moisturize daily

Keeping skin well-moisturized is another key to preventing irritating razor bumps and ingrown hairs. When skin becomes dry and flaky, extra dead cells build up and can block emerging hairs. Skin that is hydrated and supple allows hairs to exit normally.

Apply an alcohol-free moisturizer designed for your face every morning and evening, even on days you don’t shave. If shaving at night, apply moisturizer right after to soothe the skin and keep it hydrated.

Look for moisturizers with beneficial ingredients like vitamin E, aloe, and jojoba or coconut oils. Avoid fragranced products which can further irritate just-shaved skin.

Allow time between shaves

It can be tempting to shave every day for the smoothest face, but this habit can worsen ingrown hairs and razor bumps. The skin needs a bit of time to recover between shaves, allowing hairs to grow out just enough to prevent growing ingrown.

Aim to shave every other day or even less frequently, especially when first adjusting the technique to prevent irritation. This gives time for hairs to emerge properly from follicles before being cut again.

woman armpits
Photo courtesy Billie

It can help to shave with the grain on the in-between days if needed, rather than against the grain which causes the most irritation. Just be patient and the longer hairs will lead to fewer issues.

Avoid tight clothing after shaving

The clothes that touch shaved skin can impact the development of irritation. Tight collars, headbands, and undergarments put added pressure on freshly shaved areas. This can lead to hairs becoming trapped and beginning to grow ingrown.

When possible, opt for loose, breathable clothing that won’t cling. Soft, natural fabrics like cotton are ideal for preventing friction. Changing out of constrictive clothes soon after shaving can help as well.

Tight clothes during sleep can also be problematic. Choose pajamas that don’t cling to give skin a chance to breathe overnight.

Apply a tend skin solution

Specialized tend skin products offer an easy way to prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps. They contain ingredients that work to soothe shaved skin and expose trapped hairs.

woman in bubble bath
Photo courtesy Vladimir Yelizarov

Look for solutions with alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid. These gentle acids are keratolytic, meaning they dissolve the “glue” between dead skin cells. Gently applying after shaving can prevent dead cells from trapping emerging hairs.

Other key ingredients are antiseptics which ward off bacteria, anti-inflammatories to reduce any shaving irritation, and some also include natural oils to moisturize. Tend skin products are widely available and easy to add to a shaving routine.

Never pick or scratch

It can be tempting to pick at a troublesome ingrown hair or scratch an itchy razor bump, but this will only worsen irritation. Picking at hairs may temporarily expose them, but also damages skin and risks infection. Any scabs or scars then further block hairs emerging properly.

Leave any bumps or hairs alone to heal, no matter how bothersome they may be. Continuing proper shaving habits and applying tend skin solutions is the safest way to clear bumps. If they become severely inflamed or painful, see a dermatologist.

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