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How to Prevent Razor Burn

Whether you use the latest in shaving implements or your baby face is quite sensitive, the threat of razor burn unfortunately lingers whenever hair removal is involved. When skin becomes inflamed, an individual may encounter redness, burning sensations, and sometimes the formation of facial bumps. A collection of factors affects the severity or frequency of such a condition, although various prevention methods are known to decrease the risk and outcome.

How to Prevent Razor Burn

What is Razor Burn?

Razor burn is an irritation of the skin that occurs when sensitive areas are shaved or improper techniques to remove hair are followed. In order to suffer the burning, itching, and redness associated with the condition, the hair follicle or surrounding skin is affected. Usually, it is the method of hair removal that causes the signs and symptoms of razor burn, which includes razors (manual or electric), trimming, and even waxing [1]. Tiny cuts made into the skin with a dull blade will also cause razor burn. This outcome is usually referred to as a “razor nick.” A poor electric shaver is known to produce the same effect. Sometimes, one may develop an infection of the skin, as a result of post-hair removal.

Razor burn begins as a mild rash that sometimes vanishes after a couple of hours, but in worst cases, remains on the face for a few days. Severe bouts of razor burn are often accompanied by razor bumps, which generally create the formation of red welts or infected pustules.

Razor Burn Risk Factors

People who have sensitive skin are common victims of razor burn, especially when they shave regions where coarse hair is abundant, such as the chest, beard, bikini line, and underarms. Improper shaving practices also contribute to the onset of razor burn. Some of the risk factors associated with this condition include:

a) Close Shaves:

Individuals who shave too closely to the skin increases their risk of overall irritation.

b) Improper Shaving Tools:

Using fresh and well-maintained shaving instruments is highly suggested, as inappropriate tools, such as old equipment with blunt edges or blades, causes razor burn to surface.

c) Dry Shaving:

Shaving without the help of water and/or specialized products increase the chances of suffering a bout of razor burn.

d) Poor Shaving Habits:

Applying too much pressure when shaving, as well as speeding through the process of shaving may lead to razor burn issues.

e) Going Against the Grain:

Shaving against the grain is another common culprit of razor burn.

How to Prevent Razor Burn

To make sure you don’t have to deal with the irritating appearance of a razor-burned face for your first day of work or patches of irritation on summer-ready legs, numerous razor burn prevention measures exist. Some of the most popular include:

a) Specialized Shaving Creams and Gels:

To prevent razor burn, the shelves of pharmacies and grocery stores are lined with products specialized for avoiding the condition. The purchase of such items becomes quite important because a dry shave is one of the main causes for razor burn [2]. For example, Edge Advance Gel Extra Protection provides users with extra lubricants aimed to prevent agonizing nicks, cuts, and razor burn. The use of effective foam, lather, gel, and other non-harsh shaving products are also made to cater to sensitive skin.

b) Pre-Shaving Techniques:

To prepare the skin for a healthy shave, it is important to thoroughly clean the area with a washcloth (preferably one dipped in a skin care product containing salicylic acid), which helps to remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. This will increase the efficiency at which the razor glides across the skin. It is also important to make sure pores are not clogged with grime before shaving, which will affect the overall outcome of a fresh shave.

c) Warmth:

A warm shower or heated towel has helped some overcome razor burn, as hairs are known to stand up and soften from the heat – making the shaving process much easier. A five or ten minute prep is recommended.

d) Pay Attention to the Grain:

In order to avoid razor burn, it is suggested to pay attention to the grain and determine the correct direction that your hair grows. As a rule of thumb, you never shave against the grain and always shave in the normal course of hair growth.

e) Shaving Cream Versus Shaving Gels:

When choosing a shaving product for application before hair removal, it is suggested to side with the old-fashioned choice of shaving cream. Not only does shaving cream provide an excellent supply of lubrication, but with the use of a shaving brush (or badger brush), hairs also stand up to create an easier shave.

f) Avoid Irritants:

They may smell great and make you feel refreshed, but many scented shaving products contain perfumes and other chemicals that increase the chances of suffering from razor burn. To prevent the condition from surfacing, use an aftershave product that contains aloe vera or other non-irritating emollients.

g) Cold Water:

After a shave, rinsing the face with cold water helps to soothe the skin and prevent the swelling and inflammation associated with razor burn.

h) Proper Aftershave:

Some people benefit from the use of an aftershave containing alcohol, which kills the bacteria known to inflame skin. Those with sensitive skin may forego this prevention method, but may also combat the drying effect of alcohol-containing aftershave products by using face lotions that prevent parched skin.

i) Shaving Habits:

It is suggested to make sure to apply minimal pressure when shaving; avoid scratching or irritating the skin; and resist the temptation to execute a close shave. When shaving a beard, it is recommended to pass the blade across the hair only once – in the direction of hair growth. If you reverse the stroke of your shave, you risk skin irritation [3].

j) Electric Shaver Settings:

When using an electric razor for your shaving needs, it is suggested to avoid selecting the closest setting, which is known to often cause skin irritation.[4]


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razor_burn
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-care/SN00003
[3] Mayo Clinic: Guide to Self Care (Fourth Edition; pg. 117)
[4] Razor Burn

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