You’re shaving when you feel it coming—the telltale prickle of razor burn. While it’s more common in the winter, especially in colder climates, you can get razor burn any time of year. The makeup of your skin makes it easy to irritate the skin when shaving. Not only does razor burn leave unsightly red bumps on your face or legs, but it also hurts. There are things you can do to prevent (and soothe) it, but prevention takes some preparation on your part.
What is Razor Burn?
Before you can prevent razor burn, it can help to know a little more about it. Check out our “Ask a Dermatologist” video with Dr. Christopher V. Crosby for an in-depth explanation of razor burn. However, what it comes down to is that your skin isn’t a perfectly smooth surface.
The skin may look flat, but it’s actually made of tiny hills and valleys. When you run a razor over that surface, you’re naturally going to catch a few of those hills and maybe even a few valleys. That leaves small tears or injuries on the surface of the skin known as razor burn.
Razor burn comes in varying degrees. Keep in mind that anytime you use a razor, chances are you’re leaving tiny tears that you can’t see. Sometimes you can feel them, and sometimes you might not notice, but they’re there. Proper care can reduce any discomfort or damage caused by your regular shave.
How to Prepare Razor Burn
- Warm and Moisten the Skin
No matter where you’re shaving on the body—face, legs, or anywhere else—warm and moisten the skin. Heat and water open the pores and soften the hair, helping it to cut easier. Most of the time, a warm shower is a quick way to prepare the skin before you pull out a razor. A warm washcloth can do in a pinch.
- Apply a Shave Cream or Cleansing Gel
Shaving creams or a cleansing gel like SkinResourceMD’s Total Facial Cleansing Gel create a protective layer that helps the razor glide over the skin. These types of products don’t get in the way of a close shave but further soften the hair and skin to reduce tugging, pulling, and (you guessed it) razor burn.
Pro Tip: Try not to shave when you’ve got goosebumps. If your hair stands on end, wait until it relaxes to shave. Those extra high bumps make razor burn more intense. (They’re also why it’s easier to get razor burn when it’s cold outside.)
- Use a Clean Sharp Blade
Dull blades are more likely to cause razor burn because you’re tempted to press and pull on the skin harder, worsening any damage to the skin. That isn’t to say you can’t get more than one use out of a blade.
However, make sure to replace it every two or three weeks or sooner, if needed. A good rule of thumb is to replace the blade every eight shaves. Razors collect dirt and bacteria over time. You don’t want a nick or razor burn to lead to an infection.
- Consider Using Fewer Blades
Many razor heads have three, four, or five blades. Each blade gets closer to the skin, reducing the number of passes you need for a close shave. However, if you have particularly sensitive skin, all of those extra blades are more sharp objects moving over the skin’s surface.
- Cool, Tone, and Moisturize the Skin
Take care of your skin after you’ve shaved, too. Splash some cool water on the shaved areas to close pores and rinse away hairs or leftover gel. Depending on your skin and preferences, after you shave is a good time to moisturize with our Total Skin Moisturizer or Visibly Moist Toner.
SkinResourceMD’s Total Skin Moisturizer is gentle enough for the face but strong enough for anywhere else on the body. It’s gentle, lightweight, and soaks into the skin, so it doesn’t feel greasy. If you’d prefer a spritz and deeper moisture, our Visibly Moist Toner applies cool moisture that sinks deep into the skin’s layers.
Final Thoughts on Razor Burn
You can cool the burn by preparing your skin, using a good (clean) razor, and soothing your skin after you shave. While you may not prevent all razor burn in your future, these steps can cut down on the number of times those painful red bumps appear. Remember—happy, hydrated skin will resist razor burn better from the very start.