Getting Razor Burn After Shaving Your Face? Here’s What to Do

Ah, the pleasure of a good close shave. The invigorating feeling. Cheeks as smooth as silk sheets just begging for a commercial close-up. Except your skin feels irritated instead of invigorated and only like silk sheets if someone set those sheets on fire. The suggestion of stubble has been replaced with the unmistakable bloom of razor burn. Even after the angry red after-image of your beard fades away – a process that might take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days – you might be stuck with unpleasant mementos like razor bumps. The ingrown hairs that are the cause of razor bumps are actually a separate condition from the rash of razor burn, but the same shaving conditions likely caused both. Here are a few suggestions for taking the bump and burn out of your shaving ritual.

Set Your Yourself Up for Success by Exfoliating

Exfoliation might not be part of your daily vocabulary, but it’s probably already a part of your daily routine. Shaving actually dabbles in exfoliation by removing that top crust of dead skin cells as the razor blade scrapes across your face. But you’ll get a better shave if you take exfoliation off your razor’s plate so that it can focus on just cutting the hair.

Getting the top layer of dirt and dead skin cells out of the way allows for a closer shave. And probably a less painful one since exfoliation lifts the hairs up so that the razor can slice through them rather than yanking on them. So you get the extra bit of time you invested in that bamboo scrub right back with a more efficient shave. The icing on the cake is that there is less chance that the skin debris is going to be dragged back into the pores by the razor. That, in turn, minimizes the risk of ingrown hairs.

Put the Clean in Clean-Shaven

If you aren’t exfoliating, you should probably be exfoliating. But at the bare minimum, make sure you are working with clean surfaces. That means making sure your face is clean and your razor is clean. You don’t need a razor to wipe away your breakfast. Wash your face and let your razor do its job. And don’t insult your face with a rusty blade clotted over with the hair from a dozen shaves ago. Are you trying to put the hair back in or are you just courting infection? Make sure the razor is clean when you are done, rather than just leaving it in a puddle of bristle water.

Getting Razor Burn After Shaving Your Face? Here's What to Do

Use a Sharp Razor and a Short Stroke

Your razor can be clean as a whistle, but if the blade is dull, you are going to be playing a game of tug of war with your facial hair that nobody wins. That’s exactly what you were trying to avoid with the exfoliation. Use short, light strokes that aren’t going to get hung up on the contours of your chin or snag the hidden angles of your cheekbones.

Follow the Grain to Minimize Pain

If you can’t seem to shake your razor-induced aggravation, maybe it’s time to reverse course. Going against the grain does provide an opportunity for a closer shave, but if you are prone to irritation, you’re much more likely to end up with razor bumps than an incrementally smoother shave. Sorry to burst your stubble bubble.

Save Your Work

Your shave isn’t over simply because you put the razor down. Just because your face hasn’t started stinging or itching, it doesn’t mean that razor bumps won’t be popping up down the road. Razor bump cream shields that exposed skin. Not only does it provide an immediately soothing effect, but it will eliminate the bacteria that cause razor bumps just as the skin is most vulnerable to them.

If your skin feels tight after your shaving routine, it probably means that it is dehydrated, even though you’ve just been splashing water all over it. Hydrate with an oil-free moisturizer for dry skin, which seals the deal on the shave by repairing your skin’s moisture barrier.

Getting Razor Burn After Shaving Your Face? Here's What to Do

Persistent Burn

Some people simply have more sensitive skin. If you’ve adapted every other part of your daily shave to avoid irritation but still end up with razor burn, you might consider shaving only every other day. The five o’clock shadow is probably less noticeable than the inflammation.

It’s also possible that the rash isn’t razor burn, even if you happened to use a razor earlier in the day. Your skin might be reacting to something else that rubbed up against it, whether that is a skin care product that you use, the strap of your bike helmet or the unwashed case of your pillow. The rash might not be from contact at all. Compare your symptoms to those of other skin conditions like eczema or shingles to make sure you aren’t blaming your razor when you should be contacting your dermatologist.

You don’t need to give up on a smooth face due to razor burn any more than you need to abandon going to the pool to avoid sunburn. With the right supplies and some careful preparation, you can beat the heat so long as you don’t overdo it.

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