In my store, I am often asked whether I carry anything that can help get rid of razor burn. Generally, this leads to a look of disappointment when I say no. But the truth is, there’s no magic cure out there for razor burn, guys. Witch hazel and aloe can help, but as is the case with most things, the cure lies in preventing the problem from happening in the first place. So here’s a quick rundown on how to prevent razor burn on your face and neck.
The first step to getting a good shave is making sure that you’re using the proper equipment. Are you using cheap, plastic razors or one of those ever-popular multiblades? Consider upgrading. Those cheap razors are nick and irritation machines, and multiblades aren’t much better. But, if you don’t want to upgrade, you can still do a couple of things to make sure you’re minimizing your chances for post-shave irritation.
The Anti-Razor Burn Prep
The most important thing is to make sure you’re using a new, sharp razor. A dull one will pull and tug on your hair which is one of the primary sources of skin irritation from shaving. If your blade has been used multiple times, dump it and grab a new one. If you’re using a straight razor, this likely won’t be a problem as you should be stropping and sharpening regularly. (You are stropping, right?)
The next thing you need to do is to prepare your face. A good shave soap and brush are superior to canned shaving cream or gel for several reasons. Still, there are several decent shaving cream options out there. Just be sure to check the ingredients for things like sulfates, paraben, and alcohol. But, before you even lather up, there’s a couple things you should do.
First, wash your face with a good face wash that won’t dry you out. Again, watch out for sulfates and alcohol. Try to use something with aloe and other ingredients that will help to keep as much moisture in your skin as possible. Then, you should grab a large washcloth, run hot water over it–as hot as you can stand without scalding yourself. Then, hold the cloth to your face and neck for 2-5 minutes. If the cloth cools too much, quickly run it under hot water again to heat it back up and reapply to your face. This is going to soften your hair and skin, making the hair easier to cut and the skin more pliable.
After you have finished with the hot cloth, apply your shave cream/soap/gel. If you’re using a soap, you should work up a rich, thick lather. If you’re using a cream or gel, you should try to only use as much as you need to lubricate your face, especially if you’re using a multiblade. Too much shaving cream can make it difficult to see what you’re doing and it can clog your multiblade razors rather quickly.
The No Irritation Shave
So now you have your face ready to go and a nice sharp razor in hand. If you have very sensitive skin, you should consider only shaving in the direction of your hair growth. This won’t give you as close a shave as going against the grain, but it will result in far less irritation to your skin. If you have average skin, I would recommend shaving in the direction of the growth first, then reapplying shaving cream before going against the grain. The shorter the hair is, the less likely you’ll be to irritate the skin by shaving opposite the hair growth. By the way, this goes for shaving with the grain as well. Your very first step should be trimming your facial hair down before you even think of shaving.
If you’re using a “normal” razor, use light, short strokes and constantly rinse your razor to prevent it from clogging. If you’re using a safety razor or a straight razor…well, use them like you normally would. I’m going to assume you know how to use them already since they do have a bit of a learning curve to them.
The No More Razor Burn Finish
After you’re satisfied with the amount of hair you’ve taken off, rinse your face with cold water. Contrary to the popular mythos, this does not close your pores. It does, however, shrink them which will help to keep oil and dirt from clogging them and causing breakouts.
Then, dry your face with a nice, soft towel. Dab it dry, don’t rub. The more friction you apply to your freshly shaved skin, the worse you’re going to irritate it. Next, apply a good aftershave. Some people like alcohol in their aftershave, and it can be useful as it disinfects nicks. However, I think it’s probably unnecessary and best to avoid using if at all possible since it also dries out your skin. You can get an equal or superior cooling effect from products with eucalyptus, mint or menthol and products with witch hazel or calendula will also provide antiseptic benefits. Whichever you use, dab it on, rather than rubbing it in for the same reasons as when you were drying off.
This routine will give you the best shot at minimizing your likelihood of razor burn on your neck and face when shaving. However, some folks are just predispositioned to getting breakouts and razor bumps with even the most fastidious of shaving routines. If this is you, consider using a pro-quality trimmer like this one. A decent T-blade trimmer, edger or finisher should give you a trim so close that most people won’t be able to tell you didn’t actually shave. It may not leave you quite as smooth, but appearance-wise, it’ll definitely do the job.
So that’s how I go about preventing razor burn. What do you guys think? Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments!