Every man who shaves regularly knows the irritation of razor bumps – hairs that remain inside the hair follicle and begin growing into the skin. These ingrown hairs often appear as angry red bumps which can spoil the smart look of a freshly shaven face
Most men most have learned to shave from their fathers, uncles, or older brothers, who themselves passed the ritual down through countless generations. Along the way, they may have picked up some bad habits or methods that don’t work on their skin. If you are having trouble with bumps, burns, or irritation while shaving, follow these instructions for healthier, smoother skin.
Shaving to Prevent Bumps
Take a hot shower or wash your face with warm water. A hot shower with frequent face scrubbing will cleanse your pores more thoroughly than splashing water on your face a few times, but sometimes the snooze button wins that morning time struggle. Use soap and warm water if you’re washing your face. This will soften the hair and remove any grime or bacteria that clogs pores and leads to bumps.
This also opens the pores and cleanses the skin (it has to be warm, though). Not only will you be working
Use a pre-shave oil. A pre-shave oil is optional, but using some will add another layer of protection by moisturizing the skin and getting the hair to stand straighter off the skin. The straighter it is, the less likely it is to curl, grow in your skin, and form bumps. (This is why those with curly, coiled hair get razor bumps more commonly
Oddly enough, you can find pre-shave oils at health food stores. But don’t eat it. It’s made of silicone and is just used to cut down on friction and soften your hairs.
Use shaving cream to work up a thick lather over the hair. The thicker, the better. Never shave dry! Some men find lathering up easier to do with a shaving brush. Reapply for every additional pass of the razor.
Choosing shaving cream is usually a matter of personal taste. However, the better creams on the market are glycerin-based and contain these ingredients: aqua, stearic acid, myristic acid, coconut acid, sodium and potassium hydroxides, and triethanolamine. It’s best to avoid benzocaine and menthol, as those are both rather pore-clogging.
Always use a clean, sharp blade. A dull or dirty blade will cut your skin more often than a sharp one will. Replace your blade frequently, especially if you shave often. Cleaning the blade and removing any hair will extend the life of the blade. A blade with rust should be discarded immediately.
You can extend the life of your razor by taking good care of it. Wash out any hair trapped in the blades, but don’t leave it wet — the water will wear down the blades.
Shave with the grain. That is, in the direction your hair grows. You may think shaving up or against the grain gives you a closer shave, but cutting the hair this way changes the way it grows back, increasing your risk of razor bumps and ingrown hair.
Use light pressure. Pressing the razor too hard against the face or shaving the same patch in multiple strokes will cause irritation.
Don’t stretch the skin! For your pubic area this may be necessary, but your beard will do just fine on its own, thanks.
Take care of your shaving brush. You may think that the only culprit when it comes to razor bumps is, namely, your razor, but your shaving brush can be a bad guy, too. Make sure it’s clean when you’re done with it to prevent bacteria from starting their own little colony on your brush.
Hang it bristles downward so it drains after you’re finished using it. The shape of the brush will stay more intact, but you’ll also cut down on bacteria, cutting down on razor bumps. Everybody wins! Well, except the bacteria.
Rinse off the shaving cream with cold water. Warm water opens your pores, which makes it easier for the razor to get the hair. Cold water closes your pores and makes it more difficult for bacteria to get inside. You started with warm water, right? So finish with cold.
You can also press a cold, wet cloth against your face for five minutes to really seal the deal. Really, the more time you take, the better.
Rub the area with an alum block. That’s a bar that kind of looks like soap, but can be used as a blood coagulant. This can be purchased online or at any specialty shaving store and is more effective than cold water alone in closing open pores. This step is optional, but many men prefer to use one.
They are especially useful healing accidental cuts. If you get a quick nick, moisten the block and apply it to the area. It works as an antiseptic!
Apply aftershave. Either a splash of lotion or a smear of balm. Choose a product that has a scent you enjoy. Using aftershave will help prevent infection. If you’re more of the Chuck Norris/MacGyver type, why don’t you make it yourself? But it’s best not to use gasoline as aftershave like Chuck Norris does.
This step is imperative to restoring moisture to your skin. Go for an alcohol-free one to stay derma-hydrated. If that wasn’t a word, it sure is now.
You may wish to choose a product specifically made for sensitive skin. If you know yours reacts to everything under the sun, spend another dollar or two to go for the good stuff.