Ah, razor bumps – the scourge of mankind. This unpleasant shaving phenomenon can make your face look like a minefield.
For those of us who have struggled to fight the itching, pain and overall embarrassment that can come with razor bumps, any kind of relief that we can find from this burdensome condition would be most welcome.
While razor bumps are not a life-threatening condition or anything, they can make you feel awfully self-conscious, because let’s face it – nobody wants to walk around with a bunch of small bumps all over their face and neck. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and in some cases, it can even hinder your ability to feel confident in social situations. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help prevent razor bumps after shaving, but before we delve into those details, let’s find out more about what causes these aggravating little annoyances.
What Are Razor Bumps?
As the great Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu once said, “Know thy enemy.” If we plan on waging war against razor bumps, we first have to know what exactly it is that we’re dealing with.
Razor bumps (technically termed “pseudofolliculitis barbae”) are basically ingrown hairs that can begin to emerge right after you finish shaving. These tiny hairs curve back in upon themselves and begin growing into your skin, which irritates your skin and causes inflammation (e.g., the bumps). Not only can they cause regular bumps, but sometimes they can form pimples or pus-filled bumps, and if robust enough, they can even leave scars on your skin.
How To Avoid Razor Bumps?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the number-one way to avoid razor bumps is to avoid shaving. Unfortunately, for many guys that’s just not an option.
You may have a job that requires you to stay clean shaven, or you may not like the way you look when you try to grow your beard out. Your wife or girlfriend may prefer a clean shaven man, and if that’s the case, bro, do whatever you have to do to keep a smile on her face.
Keep in mind also that actions that forcefully remove facial hair, such as waxing or plucking, can lead to the formation of razor bumps as well. If you want to put the odds in your favor where avoiding razor bumps is concerned, make sure to avoid any kind of hair plucking activity.
In addition, some guys have sensitive skin that really gets ravaged when using a safety razor, so if that’s you, it might be better for you to use an electric razor for sensitive skin; just make sure to avoid using the closest setting. Make sure not to keep dragging the razor over spots that you have already covered; try to get a clean shave using the lowest amount of strokes possible to avoid irritating your skin.
How To Stop Razor Bumps?
The ideal way to keep razor bumps from rearing their ugly head is to take some decent preventative measures before the shaving fun starts.
One thing to keep in mind is that every man’s facial hair is different, and some guys have naturally curly facial hair, while other guys’ facial hair tends to shoot straight out. Normally, the guy whose facial hair grows out in a fairly straight line will have less problems with developing razor bumps than the guy who has tight, curly facial hair. It’s those naturally curly facial hairs that tend to return to the follicle from whence they came, making them a likely catalyst for razor bumps.
One of the most helpful ways to stop razor bumps before they start is to make sure that you have moistened your skin with warm water and some type of mild soap first. Performing this preliminary step will help to soften your facial hair and open up the pores of your skin. Make sure that the water is warm, because cold water will cause your pores to contract, which essentially defeats the purpose. You can either splash the water on your face, or you can press a warm washcloth on the areas that are to be shaved.
Also, make sure that you’re not stretching your skin when you shave; this creates undue stress on your skin and pores, which can cause your facial hairs to “overreact”, often leading to razor bumps.
How To Reduce Razor Bumps?
Reducing razor bumps really boils down to taking the time to really treat your skin right before, during and after the shaving process.
If there’s any way possible for you to increase the amount of time between shaves, that will really help as well. If your skin is easily irritated and susceptible to razor bumps, daily shaving can really wreak further havoc on already-sensitive skin.
One of the best first steps you can take is to use a thick, high-quality shaving gel. Ideally, you want to look for a shaving gel that contains natural ingredients that soothe the skin in order to prevent irritation. Try not to skimp on which shaving gel you use for the sake of saving a few bucks; you don’t want to put any type of product on your face that may contain poor-quality or inferior ingredients.
If you’re using any kind of fancy razor that has two, three or four blades, bear in mind that these types of razors function in a way that lifts your hairs up in order to shave them off your skin. This means that once the hair has been shaven, the remaining part of the hair shaft “snaps” back into place into your skin, which can traumatize the area around the follicle and cause irregular hair growth patterns, leading to razor bumps. Instead use an electric shaver suitable for sensitive skin.
Also, be sure that you’re shaving in the same direction that your hair naturally grows. Trying to shave “against the grain” can disrupt hair growth patterns, putting you at a greater risk for developing razor bumps.
How To Treat Razor Bumps?
Before we even discuss the different ways to treat razor bumps, it is important to mention that frequently rubbing your face or trying to scratch your razor bumps will only make the situation worse. Try not to pick at your bumps or pop any pimples, because it will only cause more damage.
If the itching gets so bad that it seems almost unbearable at times (which is not uncommon), try to gently brush against your face using the sleeve of your shirt or some type of soft, dry cloth instead of using your fingernails. This serves a dual purpose: first, you’ll be using something soft to address the itching (which will cause less damage), and secondly, you won’t be rubbing the natural oils from your fingertips into an area that’s already irritated. These oils can sometimes cause further inflammation in the affected area.
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways in which you can treat razor bumps using natural or holistic-style remedies. Here are my 3 favorite tried-and-true natural razor bump treatments that you can put into practice right away:
1. Lemon juice
Besides being one of the most potent natural cleansers around, lemon juice also possesses great toning and healing properties for the skin. Just slice a lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice into a cotton ball or a clean cloth. Apply the cloth or cotton ball onto the affected area. You should be applying enough juice for it to dampen the area without having juice running down your face. Once it dries, rinse your face with warm water.
2. Black tea bags
Black tea contains tannic acid, which is well-known for its ability to reduce inflammation and redness of the skin. Many people use black tea bags to cure sunburns as well due to its ability to draw out the heat and soothe the skin. Place a black tea bag in fairly hot water (not boiling or scalding) and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Gently rub the bag across the affected area for about 3 to 5 minutes. Do this every day for best results.
3. Corn starch
Not only is corn starch useful for baking, but it also has several household applications that may surprise you, one of which is its ability to soothe the skin. You can add about a tablespoon of water to a cup of corn starch to create a type of paste that you can then apply to the areas where you’re suffering from razor bumps. Leave this paste on for about 25 to 30 minutes, and then rinse it off. This will condition your skin and keep it feeling more smooth and supple.
How To Remove Razor Bumps?
One thing is for sure: You can’t just scrape razor bumps off of your face, or do anything else abrasive to get them to go away. You’re going to have to use gentle means in order to keep your skin healthy enough to still look good even after you have attempted to remove the razor bumps.
Depilatory creams are some of the most common products that people use to remove razor bumps; they actually dissolve the hair right at the surface level of the skin, which keeps it from forming razor bumps. In addition, there are other ingredients in depilatory creams that can help to get rid of dead skin cells, which can clog pores and block hairs from growing out like they’re supposed to. One tip to remember is that depilatory creams are most effective when used on a slightly damp face; this is because wet hairs are typically easier to dissolve than dry hairs. The only drawback to using depilatory creams is that some people find them to be too irritating to the skin.
Remember that razor bumps come from ingrown hairs, so one of the ways to remove razor bumps is to get to the source of the problem by redirecting the ingrown hair away from the face. You can do this by using a clean needle in order to release the shaft of the hair when you see a razor bump begin to form. Please note that this is somewhat risky, and you better have a steady hand, otherwise you could injure your face. If you choose to go this route, make sure to take your time, be very slow, gentle and deliberate with your movements, and be sure that nobody can come up behind you and startle you.
How To Cure Razor Bumps?
Many dermatologists recommend using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream in order to cure razor bumps. Hydrocortisone cream is basically a topical steroid that helps to control the chemical reactions in the skin that produce redness, swelling and inflammation.
For people who are not comfortable using any type of synthetic creams or treatments for razor bumps, another cure that is often endorsed by dermatologists is aloe vera gel, which is a substance that occurs naturally in the leaves of aloe plants. Aloe vera gel will calm and cool your skin down, and it can serve as an excellent skin conditioner as well. While you can buy aloe vera gel in any local drug store like CVS or Walgreens or from Amazon, some people take it a step further and actually buy an aloe plant. If you have an aloe plant, you can break open the leaves and squeeze out the natural gel-like substance, which can then be spread onto the affected area.
How To Prevent Razor Bumps After Shaving?
There are quite a few options you have available to you if you want to prevent razor bumps after shaving. Here are the 3 most popular ones:
- Apply a cold compress to the area immediately after shaving, and then apply some type of quality aftershave or moisturizing cream to help soothe your skin.
- One of the golden keys to fending off razor bumps before they can really set in is to fight off the infection that causes the inflammation. To do this, you need some type of germ-killing disinfectant, and one of the most surprisingly effective products along these lines is Amber Listerine. The antimicrobial oils and alcohol contained in this classic mouthwash provide a powerful defense against topical skin infections as well. You can apply it to a cotton ball or a soft cloth, and then gently rub it on the affected area for best results.
- Tea tree oil is another favorite natural antiseptic that people use to help prevent razor bumps after shaving. As with the Listerine, you can apply the tea tree oil to any affected areas using a cotton ball or soft cloth.
As you can see, there are a litany of options available to you if you’re looking for a way to shave without getting razor bumps. Just use the tips and suggestions listed above as your guide, and don’t be afraid to experiment a little until you find something that works for you!