Imagine the perfect shave: no nicks, no red skin from razor burn, and a clean, smooth, fresh feeling afterward. If this sounds like a fantasy then this article is definitely for you. Many good close shaves are ruined by razor burn, which involves little, itchy red bumps that appear a little while after you shave. But there are preventive measures to ensure that your face isn’t affected by razor burn post-shave.
Soften the hair with water. Hot water and steam open up your pores and soften skin and facial hair. For this reason it is most practical to shave right after you shower. Otherwise use hot water and a warm damp towel to prepare the hair. One of the top reasons for razor burn is shaving cold (ouch!) or using shaving cream on a completely dry face.
Use a face wash. Exfoliating your skin is a great way to remove dead cells, bring out ingrown hairs, and reduce razor burn rash. You can use either a gentle face scrub or a loofah.
Use a shaving brush. Instead of slapping on shaving cream with your hands, use a brush to lather it on. The brush helps the shaving cream to get up under every hair, raising the hair for an easier close shave. You should apply the cream with circular strokes and end with an upward motion to help lift the hair away from the face.
Use a sharp razor. This might sound a little obvious, but many guys don’t realize how quickly razor blades can go dull. Though it depends on the toughness of the beard, a razor should be thrown away after every three to ten uses. Don’t let the high price of razors deter you, because the price you will pay is painful razor burn. You don’t have to buy the best, just make sure to change out every time they get dull.
Use a safety razor. If you follow the suggestions above and you are still getting razor burn, then you might need a safety razor. Although popular advertisement would claim that the more blades on the razor the better, a lot of people complain that the extra blades actually make irritation and razor burn worse. If you think this is you then a single-bladed safety razor is your best bet. Plus you can buy them at a fraction of the cost!
Clean the blade with alcohol. Bacteria can build up on your razor blade, and this can affect irritation and cause razor burn. Simply wiping down the blade with rubbing alcohol before shaving will eliminate this concern.
Clean the blade after every swipe. Every time you make a pass with the razor, hair and shaving cream collects in the blades. This will affect the blade’s close cut and potentially create irritation. It is best to rinse off the blade after every stroke, and preferably with hot water rather than cold so as to avoid goose bumps.
Shave with the grain. Although shaving against the grain can produce smooth skin in one swipe, it is also a great risk for irritation, ingrown hairs, cuts, razor bumps, and razor burn. The best thing to do is to shave gently with the grain. You might not be able to get all the hair in one pass, so just lather up and repeat. The extra strokes will be worth it.
Shave in short, light strokes. The weight of the razor is enough to cut the hair, and most guys get razor burn because they press too hard in their strokes. Using short strokes is also advisable because you are more likely to press down with longer strokes. Also, make sure your face is forward and your chin is level. Oftentimes men shave with their chins up, causing the skin to become tight and the blade to pass too close to the face.
Rinse with cold water. Using cold water instead of hot helps close up the pores and lessens the chance of irritation. After rinsing you should pat (not rub) dry with a clean towel.
Rinse the blade as well. It is important to clean the hair, oil from your face, and shaving cream off of the razor after every use. Avoid wiping the blade dry with a towel because this will only cause it to dull quicker.
Apply moisturizer. No matter how carefully you follow the above suggestions there is still a chance for irritation at the end of the shave. To prevent this you can sooth the skin by adding moisture back to it with a moisturizing lotion. The best moisturizers will also have ingredients that make the skin feel fresh and cool. On the off chance that the moisturizer actually makes irritation worse, you can try a balm or an aloe-based cortisone cream.
Apply razor bump cream if necessary. If you are particularly susceptible to ingrown hairs and razors bumps, there are razor bump creams available. Use these products in the same manner as the moisturizer post-shave.