There’s nothing like a close shave to start the day. Done right, a wet shave can reinvigorate and refresh you for the day ahead. But done wrong, and you could be left with a painful rash for several hours. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
What causes shaving rashes?
Shaving irritation usually results in a red rash, and it can sometimes include bumps, tiny blisters and pimples. In some cases, the pimples can become infected, and the skin can become tight, dry and sore for several days.
Even the smoothest of shaves has the potential to take a layer of skin off your face. In normal circumstances, this would be a good thing, as exfoliation removes the dark outer layers and promotes fresh skin growth — leaving you looking healthier and wide awake. However, shaving involves a lot of friction and heat on the skin and if you don’t take proper precautions, you could be left with pain and irritation for several days.
Some of the common causes of shaving irritation are:
- Using a product that is not suited to your skin
- Employing the wrong shaving technique
- Not preparing your face properly
- Using an inferior or blunt razor
5 steps to prevent shaving rashes and razor burn
1. Use a quality razor blade and know when to change it
A blunt blade will pull at hairs, rather than slice through them, and this can be a major cause of irritation. Your razor should be sharp, clean and free from obstructions (including hair, shaving foam and skin). It’s also important to clean your razor after every use. The moment shaving starts to cause you pain or discomfort, ditch your disposable blades and replace them.
2. Prepare your face before every shave
Shaving is always easier when your face is warm and wet, so it’s a good idea to shave just after a shower or bath. By using warm water your skin pores are encouraged to open wide, giving you a closer and more comfortable shave. When your face is still moist, apply a quality shaving cream.
3. Use an appropriate shaving cream
The shaving cream you choose should contain a rich moisturiser and lubricant. It should also give you a creamy lather without any effort, allowing the blades of your razor to glide effortlessly over your face. Try to leave the cream on your face for a minute or so before starting. This will give it a chance to soften your facial hairs and allow for a pain-free cut.
4. Use the right shaving technique
For the most comfortable experience, always shave with strokes that follow the direction of growth. Some people refer to this as ‘shaving with the grain’. Start with your cheeks, and gradually make your way towards your chin hairs — as they are often the toughest to remove. You won’t need to apply very much pressure if you have a sharp razor and quality foam. Rinse your blade under hot running water after every stroke, and try to cover each area of your face just once. This will require very slow, deliberate strokes.
5. Treat your face immediately after shaving
Even if you take all of the steps listed above, you may experience some irritation and mild razor burn. You should always clean your face after shaving with a moisturising face wash. Use a wash that contains tea tree oil, which includes a natural antiseptic agent that cleanses and reduces bacteria. Rinse your face with cold water, and finish by applying an after-shave moisturiser.
If you already have razor burn…
Razor burn and shaving rashes can cause significant discomfort and pain, but there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms. For instance, moisturising your face regularly, including just before bed can help. Avoid alcohol-based aftershaves, and use face creams containing witch hazel to soothe and cool your skin. You may also need to consider not shaving for a few days — until the worst of the rash has subsided.
With the right preparation and tools for the job, razor burns and shaving rashes can be kept to a minimum.