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How to prevent razor bumps

Close up image of razor bumps from shaving
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Shaving is a popular way to remove hair and keep skin soft and smooth. However, it can often lead to inflammation, most commonly in the form of razor bumps.

These annoying red bumps are caused by ingrown hairs that look like raised spots on the skin. You may also be able to see the trapped hair or pus. Razor bumps can be painful and, in some cases, can lead to scars or permanent skin discolouration if left untreated.

Here we share the common causes of razor bumps, how to prevent them and the best way to avoid ingrown hairs with a good hair removal routine.

What causes razor bumps?

Razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis occurs when a hair gets trapped within the hair follicle due to dead skin or the hair being cut too short. This leads to inflammation in the form of raised, red bumps on the skin that may also be itchy, painful, or become solid. Sometimes spots (pustules) may also develop, causing the skin to darken or scar once healed. This can take 4-6 weeks to settle although the symptoms may persist if you continue to shave.

Both causes of razor bumps are commonly caused by:

  • Cutting the hair too short resulting in the hair shaft retracting back into the hair follicle (ingrown hairs), causing the hair to be trapped under the skin
  • Coarse or curly hair, which can curve back into the skin
  • Skin folds or scarred skin, where in-grown hairs are more likely to occur

Anyone can develop razor bumps and ingrown hairs however they are more likely to affect men with sub-Saharan African lineage and people with curly hair.

Are razor burns and ingrown hairs different?

Ingrown hairs and razor burns are both raised bumps found on the skin caused by shaving, waxing or plucking hair. They can appear anywhere on the skin where hair has been removed but are most likely found on the face and neck, legs, armpits and public area.

How to get rid of razor bumps

The best way to avoid razor bumps is to not shave and try another method of hair removal. However, there are also some things you can do whilst shaving to prevent irritation:

Dos

  • Rinse the razor each time your shave the skin
  • Use sensitive shaving gel and cream
  • Exfoliate after shaving to remove dead skin
  • Replace your razor frequently
  • Try laser treatment or a long-term hair removal method

Don’ts

  • Shave too regularly
  • Stretch the skin whilst shaving
  • Shave against the grain - always do so in the direction of hair growth
  • Use a blunt razor
  • Pick or squeeze ingrown hairs

How to avoid getting razor bumps?

Skin-related issues caused by shaving such as razor bumps and ingrown hairs can be avoided by having the right routine. Follow this 5-step process to improve your skincare:

1. Cleanse and exfoliate skin

Gently clean your skin with face wash, body wash or an exfoliant and warm water before you shave. This will remove dirt, oil and dead skin; barriers which stop your razor from properly shaving close to the hair. It will also help to release ingrown hairs before shaving.

2. Hydrate and shave

Use warm water and shaving products such as cream or gel to help keep the hair hydrated. This makes it softer and easier to cut. Gently shave the skin in the direction of the hair using light strokes, making sure to rinse each time.

3. Apply cold water after you shave

After shaving (using the above tips), apply cold water to soothe the skin and prevent irritation. This will help to prevent ingrown hairs and stop razor bumps from forming by constricting open pores and stopping any small nicks from scabbing.

4. Apply a soothing aftershave balm

If shaving your face, an aftershave balm will help to hydrate and calm the skin after shaving. This tightens the pores and will seal any cuts that have occurred.

5. Apply moisturiser to prevent irritation

The last step is to apply moisturiser to your face or body immediately after shaving. This seals in a layer of hydration, keeping the skin soft and supple and will help to prevent razor bumps.

You should also moisturise a few days later to avoid dry skin which is more likely to cause ingrown hairs. Look for moisturisers that contain calming ingredients such as coconut oil, shea or aloe vera that will further help your skin to retain moisture.

In summary, razor bumps are a common irritation that can occur after shaving the face or body. They are often ingrown hairs that turn into a red, swollen bump that may become itchy or painful. It’s important that you don’t pick or squeeze razor bumps but instead practise a good hair removal routine that will help to prevent them.

Gentle shaving and grooming products are key to avoiding razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Looking to upgrade your shaving routine? Check out our men's skincare and beard care range.

References

www.bad.org.uk/pils/pseudofolliculitis
www.nhs.uk/conditions/ingrown-hairs