Ever wonder why some guys let their facial hair run rampant? Beyond paying tribute to rugged explorers and philosophers of old, these men might prefer their unruly manes to the discomfort or pain that razor burn brings.
“You need to remember that shaving is a process that not only affects the hair, but also the skin,” says Dr Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. Shaving is a good form of exfoliating, or sloughing off dead skin cells, but overdoing it can bring redness, cause razor bumps, and expose tender skin.
If you’re red, dry or itchy, take a few days off to heal, says Dr Jeffrey Benabio, Physician Director of Healthcare Transformation at Kaiser Permanente. Read on for more dermatologists’ tips for reducing razor burn and getting the closest shave yet.
First, take a steamy shower
Warm water softens both your hair and skin, reducing tension as your razor blade cuts your scruff, Zeicher says.
Massage shaving cream into your face and neck in a circular motion and let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes. If you want to get fancy, try a badger shave brush to help lift the hairs, soften them, and spread shaving cream evenly, Benabio says. Feeling too lazy to lather? Keep in mind that a dry shave drags the blade across the skin, increasing the likelihood for ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and irritation, Benabio says.
Replace your razor
If you feel any tugging while shaving, ditch your razor and swap it for a new one, Zeichner says. A lot of guys use old blades that cause tiny tears in the skin that can be uncomfortable, Benabio adds. While your razor may have grown on you, it’s time to cut ties. For a standard shaver, use it about 5 to 7 times before trashing the tool.
Follow the order
Give the thickest hairs the longest amount of time to soften up with the shaving gel, Zeicher advises. Start with the sides of your beard, then move to your neck and up your chin, and end with your mustache.
Go with the flow
Shaving against the grain may give you a closer shave, but can increase your risk of skin irritation, Zeichner says. Doing so causes the hairs to be cut below the surface of the skin. When the hair regrows, it becomes trapped and curls back on itself and grows inward. This causes inflamed, red bumps that are further injured the next time you shave, Banabio says. Note that hair on different areas of your face may grow in completely different directions, so using a mirror is preferable than a blind shower shave.
Reduce the pressure
You don’t have to push hard to get a good shave, Zeicher says. It only increases skin irritation. To avoid rough handling, you can use a vibrating razor handle to help decrease the amount of pressure you apply.
Rinse and repeat
Wash the razor under warm water every one to two strokes to clear away stubble and cream blocking the blade, which can cause nicks in your skin. Don’t tap the razor to shake off the cream as it can damage the blade. When you finally get your face as smooth as it was before you hit puberty, apply a moisturizer to help your skin heal.
Words by Ashley Balcerzak. Image from Thinkstock.