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The Grooming Manual

What Causes Razor Burn and How to Prevent Razor Bumps

What Causes Razor Burn and How to Prevent Razor Bumps

Nothing feels or looks worse after a shave than an irritated face and neckline. Unfortunately, many men struggle with burn, bumps, itch, and general discomfort after shaving. 

Even if that’s been your situation so far, you can make a change. Preventing razor burn isn’t difficult, but it does require some knowledge, a little bit of effort, and the right tools. First, learn what causes razor burn; then you’ll be in a better position to understand the steps to preventing razor burn and bumps. Really, it all comes down to how to properly shave your face.


What Causes Razor Burn and Shave Irritation?

Your skin is made up of two main layers. The top layer is old, dead skin cells, while the bottom layer is newly formed skin cells. When you shave, you naturally exfoliate your face and remove dead skin. 

Where does the irritation come into play? Razor burn and razor bumps occur when you don’t properly prepare your face before shaving. This leads to irritation in your newly formed skin.

Painful razor burn occurs when you’ve irritated the skin by shaving. Some of the common culprits are bad technique (usually too many razor strokes), bacteria from your razor infecting your skin, or a reaction from your sensitive skin.


What Are Ingrown Hairs?

An ingrown hair is one that bends under the skin as it grows, rather than pushing through the skin like it should. As the hair continues to grow, you might notice a red bump, itchiness, discomfort, or a pimple-like sore start to develop.

Some of the most common causes of ingrown hairs include:

  • An accumulation of dead skin cells on the face which clog hair follicles and block the hair's proper growth path.  
  • Hair that is cut too close to the skin; when it regrows the sharp, short end pierces the skin.
  • Curly hair, which is more likely to re-enter the skin after it has been shaven or cut due to its growth pattern.


Tips for Shaving: How to Prevent Razor Burn, Bumps, and Ingrown Hairs

Prevention is all about good preparation. So you’ll notice that many of these shaving tips should be applied before you reach for your razor. 

What if you have sensitive skin? These tips all apply to you too. Sensitive skin shaving isn’t much different from proper shaving for everyone else. Be patient, take your time, and always opt for a gentle approach when dealing with your skin.

  • Open your hair follicles with hot water. One easy way to do this is a warm shower. And be sure to never shave without thoroughly wetting your face first. Wet hair is dramatically weaker than dry hair, allowing for it to be cut more easily.
  • Exfoliate your skin. Use our Renewing Face Scrub on the area you’re going to shave. This loosens up hairs, allowing for a cleaner, smoother shave. Exfoliating also helps remove the top, dead layer of skin on the face allowing the blade to cut the hair closer at its base.

Man squeezing a tube of Renewing Face Scrub into his hand.

  • Free hairs with tweezers. Yes, you can tweeze ingrown hairs - but don’t squeeze them. Just like with acne spots, squeezing an ingrown hair will worsen inflammation. And it’s not even guaranteed to actually remove the hair. Instead, use tweezers to gently break the skin and free up the hair. But try not to pull the hair out, otherwise the new hair that grows in its place might become ingrown as well.
  • Always use a sharp, clean blade. Never use a blade more than 4-5 uses and keep it disinfected by pouring some alcohol on it before shaving (make sure to rinse after disinfecting with alcohol). One of the biggest causes of skin irritation is bacteria coming from your blade.
  • Use a natural, non-lathering shave cream. The ingredients used to create lather in most shave creams are irritating to the skin. Every time you shave, you’re creating microscopic cuts in the skin. If you then use a low quality shave cream with harsh ingredients, now you’re letting those irritating chemicals seep into your skin. This creates the perfect opportunity for irritation to occur. So stay away from those foaming, lathering products and go for a soothing, lotion-like formula like our Smooth Brushless Shave Cream.
  • Try shave oil. If shave cream doesn’t seem to help you get a smooth, comfortable shave, consider trying a shave oil instead. It creates a slick buffer between your razor and your skin to prevent any tugging or cutting. Our Hybrid Glide Shave Oil - made from argan and jojoba oils - won’t clog your pores and ensures an optimally close shave.

  • Shave with the grain of your hair, gently. Always shave with the grain of your hair and do not press your blade into your skin. Pulling the skin tight to get a closer shave causes you to cut the hair underneath the skin and can lead to ingrown hairs.
  • Rinse the blade off between strokes. This prevents shave cream, whiskers, and dead skin cells from building up on the blade which would lead to a dull shave experience.
  • Take your time. Following all of these steps is going to to take a bit of time. But here’s any easy way to never rush through shaving: give yourself ten minutes to do it. If you schedule that block of time to yourself just for shaving, you’ll have plenty of time to do a great job - and you’ll most likely finish with a few minutes to spare. 
  • Finish with alcohol free aftershave. Avoid products with alcohol or menthol - they dry out your skin, cause redness, and are irritating to many people. Our alcohol-free Instant Relief Aftershave contains natural alpha hydroxy acids such as sugar cane, sugar maple, and orange peel. These natural antiseptics help the skin repair itself without infection or red bumps. Its aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E restore lost moisture, allowing the skin to repair itself faster.

Collection of Brickell shave products.

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